Monday, August 31, 2015

Universal Studios Japan's New B&M Flyer Going Up Fast

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
Some new updates on the construction of Universal Studios Japan's new B&M Flying roller coaster, carrying a Jurassic Park theme, have been uploaded to Twitter via Made_in_USJ.  The custom design's full layout is not known to us ride fans just yet, but the construction progress is giving that away piece by piece.

Above is a photo of the newly installed lift, well at least most of it.  The ride will have dual stations to help with capacity, and after the stations is a slight turn and then directly up into the lift.  Unless this ride is much taller than we expect, there should be another stretch of track then the support that will hold the crest of the hill after what is seen here.  It could be the angle of the photo, but here the lift appears pretty steep.  One other thought is that due to the layout of the Jurassic Park area, I'm not sure there will be room for a big swooping first drop like on most B&M Flyer coasters, so there is a chance for a more straight first drop here.

© Made_in_USJ via Twitter
Before the lift went up the park installed the final track pieces to the ride, which take place just before the brakes.  Those pieces happen to be a nice heartline roll, showing that the theme park isn't afraid of adding inversions to this new ride.  I know the track and support colors are pretty simple, but they look great among the lush setting of Jurassic Park.

As for what comes next, we will have to wait and see.  I did some analysis on how far this ride might stretch in a previous post.  There's still quite a bit to go!

Make sure to follow Made_in_USJ on Twitter!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cedar Fair CEO Talks Future Coaster Additions with L.A. Times

The L.A. Times has published another very interesting article about Cedar Fair (the first being the one about the company scouting for classic flat rides in Europe), this time to talk about the future of roller coasters at the parks.

It sounds like Matt Ouimet has plans for a couple more park front entrances to get "deckerated" like Cedar Point and Carowinds did, with coasters running in front of, or even through them.  The term "deckerated" comes from Rob Decker, principal designer for the company.

The article also confirms that a couple more coasters will be converted like Mantis was into Rougarou at Cedar Point in 2015.  Rumors are swirling that we will see this happen in 2016 on Vortex at California's Great America.  Also of note is that the company's leader doesn't believe in relocating coasters to other parks, noting that if they are no longer popular at one park they're probably better retired for good than relocated.  Good news for Dorney Park!  I kid, I kid.

The article has plenty of other gems and is worth a read for any fan of the company.  Check it out at this link.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Two Kings of Halloween Unveil 2015 Horror Lineup

The 25th anniversary of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida is quite an achievement, and it's wonderful to see the park celebrating the milestone.

Year year's mix of original attractions that contain throwbacks to popular scares of the past 25 years is especially nice, evenly mixed with popular intellectual properties that are on the big screen today.

In all, Halloween Horror Nights 25 will offer 9 mazes, 5 scare zones and 2 live shows.

Going over the original content first, one of the most anticipated mazes is Jack Presents 25 Years of Monsters & Mayhem.  Hosted by former event host Jack, the house will feature both classic Universal monsters and famous characters from the last 25 years of Halloween Horror Nights and revived scenes from some of the best and most popular mazes.

RUN: Blood, Sweat and Fears is based on the premise of being on a twisted game show where participants have to run for their lives... with poor results to be expected.  The maze is based on two previous RUN houses, featured many years ago.

Body Collectors - Recollections is another throwback to previous houses under the same name.  The famous body collector are out once again, this time looking for parts in Shadybrook Asylum.

Finally we have Asylum in Wonderland 3D, a bright and trippy visit into the world of Alice, where things have taken an even darker turn than in the familiar tale.

Most of the major movie-tie in themes were announced previously, but to do a little recap here they are.  We'll have a Freddy vs. Jason maze which should be quite a battle to head through, and of course a very large The Walking Dead: The Living and the Dead maze that follows this past season's storyline, and an Insidious house that covers all three films.

The Purge has been used before at the event, but this year will be the theme of its own house.  Finally, the park announced that the American Werewolf In London maze, a huge hit in 2013, will be coming back for an encore at this year's event.

The park's five scarezones all sound quite interesting this year, and include Psychoscareapy - Unleashed where a van of crazies from Shadybrook Asylum have escaped, and Icons - HHN which will feature some of the biggest and best icons that have ever hosted the event.  Another great looking scare zone is Evil's Roots, which appears to be using some 'traditional' Halloween characters, like simple scarecrows, in frightening ways.

Bill & Ted's Excellent Halloween Adventure will be back taking aim at pop culture again this year, and Jack's "The Carnage Returns" show will prove he always gets the last laugh.

For more details on Halloween Horror Nights 25, check out the event's official website.

Knott's Scary Farm is back this year and is also bringing back popular mazes and scare zones along with several new attractions.  In total there will be 11 mazes, 3 scare zones and 2 live shows.

One of the bigger surprises of this year's lineup is the return of the use of the Calico Mine Ride as a scare attraction, this year named My Bloody Clementine.  Riders will travel through the mine where Clementine and her father were murdered, and their ghosts are out for revenge.

Another new maze will be Paranormal Inc. - Case #13 The Haunting of Hayden Hill.  Visitors will enter a dilapidated hospital where patients were secretly tortured by staff for years.  Both the spirits of the victims and the demented staff will be on hand to hunt visitors, and Knott's promises plenty of "high flying aerial stunts and scares" in the maze.

Announced earlier, The Dead of Winter is the final new maze this year.  An evil Snow Queen has an army of Viking warriors and is out for blood, eliminating anyone who enters her frozen domain.  The maze will be the brightest the park has ever done, contrasting white, black and of course blood red.  Sounds like an interesting approach, for sure.

The park will also bring back a host of popular mazes, many with new additions, longer sections, and newly designed Skeleton Key rooms.  The park's three popular scare zones, Carnevil, Fiesta De Los Muertos and the Ghost Town streets will also be back.

Live entertainment is also a big part of Scary Farm, and The Hanging will take on the biggest news of the year once again, especially taking some fun jabs at fellow Southern California attractions.  Once again the real Elvira can only be seen at Knott's this fall, in her own show called "Elvira's Asylum," a mix of comedy, music and dance.

To read more about this year's Knott's Scary Farm, click here.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Carowinds Continues Transformation with New For 2016 Carolina Harbor Waterpark + More

Today Carowinds announced the epic transformation of their Boomerang Bay waterpark into the all-new, greatly expanded Carolina Harbor Waterpark, the main focus of an even larger 2016 park expansion.

Carolina Harbor Waterpark will feature an all new theme along with a host of new attractions, amenities, food offerings and more.  Pulling back to 30,000 feet for a moment, here's a look at the entire new waterpark and what it will have to offer:

© Carowinds
As you can see the transformation is pretty radical, with plenty of new fun mixed in with existing attractions.  The waterpark will also feature its own entrance for guests who want easy access to the slides and pools, and a new exit out of the parking lot by the development.  With the expansion Carolina Harbor will be the largest waterpark in the Carolinas.

© Carowinds
Starting to look at the 2016 additions, this is Blackbeard's Revenge, a six story tall water slide tower that features a total of six slides and three types of experiences.   The tower features Pirate's Plank, which uses a trap door start to plummet riders down into flatline loops, Cannonball Drop which features multiple tight curves in the dark, and Captain's Curse features exhilarating twists followed by large drops into the splash pool.

© Carowinds
Seaside Splashworks is a traditional water funhouse that features over 80 interactive elements, with different levels of play and several small water slides included.  The giant bucket on top will fill with 423 gallons of water, before tipping it down onto the crowd below.  The area will be able to handle a great amount of guests at a time, greatly improving capacity for families.

© Carowinds
A giant wave pool, the park's second full sized one, will be called the Surf Club Harbor and cover 27,000 square feet.  The pool will be capable of generating six foot waves and feature several fountains and jets at the entrance area.  An adjacent stage will allow guests to lounge about with live entertainment present.

© Carowinds
Finally, two new smaller children's areas round out the major water additions in Carolina Harbor.  Known as Myrtle Turtle Beach and Kitty Hawk Cove, the two areas will keep the small ones busy for hours.  Plenty of interactive features like water jets, giant water dropping plants and water channels will be a highlight of the areas, which when combined with Seaside Splashworks will cover an impressive 2 acres.

Carolina Harbor will also feature plenty of amenities to keep guests happy and content.  40 new cabanas, available to rent, will sprout up around the park, 1,100 new chairs and lounges will be added, a new bath house and several sand volleyball courts will be added.

© Carowinds
Food and Beverage offerings in the waterpark will also be improved, largely by the addition of the brand new Harbor House restaurant.  Seen above, the location will offer popular Carolina food such as BBQ and seafood, and have 2,400 square foot patios with plenty of seating.  An all new bar, named Schooners, will also open next year.

Carowinds has launched a very detailed website for Carolina Harbor Waterpark, available at this link.
Outside of the historic waterpark expansion, there's even more coming to the park next season.

A major new live entertainment production will debut next year, named Cirque Imagine.  The 30 minute show will premier next June and feature an "incredible showcase of strength, balance and athleticism."  A similar show has been playing at Kings Island the past few years and regularly fills all the theater's seats, a sign of it's immense popularity.

© Carowinds
Carowinds' new main entrance area will be made even better in 2016 with the addition of a full service Starbucks location.  Covering 3,000 square feet, the location will have indoor seating available for up to 100 guests - that's a pretty big space!

As if all this wasn't enough, Carowinds has even more in store for 2016.  At the end of today's presentation the park gave a tease at what they described as another "world's first attraction" that will open in 2016, and from the tease (see video from Screamscape) it seems to be themed to the popular Plants Vs. Zombies game series.  Very interesting - the park plans to reveal those details in October.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

New GCI Wooden Roller Coaster to Open in Belgium in 2016

© Plopsaland De Panne
Belgium's Plopsaland De Panne will be building a family-sized Great Coasters International wooden roller coaster for the park's 2016 season.  After some teasing with the park's fans, the reveal of the ride's theme and concept art was recently done on Facebook, which is where the above image is from.

The ride will feature a very elaborate station and queue area, themed to one of the owner's many television intellectual properties.  I like how the redevelopment will closely incorporate the park's splash ride near the ride's main plaza as well.

© Plopsaland De Panne
As for the details of the ride, the park released this schematic that shows exactly what to be expected.  The ride is an out and back design, with one cross over in the middle of the layout.  It will stand around 75 feet at the top of the lift hill, meaning it will be thrilling but still family friendly.

After looking at this a bit my mind was telling me it seemed familiar, and then it clicked.  I felt like I rode this already last fall....

Which is because the layout is nearly the exact same as that of White Lighting at Fun Spot America, another Great Coasters design.  With no doubt in my mind I will proclaim that this is a great thing, as I really enjoyed the zippy design of White Lightning, so much that I think I put on Twitter that every park should have a ride like it.  It's not too intimidating that it scares away younger riders, it's fast but comfortable, has air and laterals and just screams roller-coaster-fun.  (and no this is not a paid endorsement by Fun Spot!)

So while it looks like the new Plopsaland ride will have much more theming than the Orlando version, I have a feeling riders in Belgium will be quite pleased when the ride opens next year!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fast & Furious: Supercharged Headed to Universal Studios Florida

© Universal Studios Florida
After its recent debut as a part of Universal Studios Hollywood's famous Studio Tour, the blockbuster Fast & Furious film franchise will be coming to Universal Studios Florida in 2017.  In today's announcement the resort revealed that visitors will take part in one of the park's "most action-packed ride experiences" when Fast & Furious: Supercharged opens.

The park is not saying just exactly what kind of ride experience the new attraction will be, but based off the fact that in Hollywood it takes place on the tram, I think we're looking at something more unique in Florida.  The park is only saying that riders will board "specially designed vehicles" for the attraction.  Other than that the ride is described as featuring the film's stars and is sure to be action-packed... but not much detail.

© Universal Studios Florida
This is one other piece of concept art that the park released with the announcement, which appears to be a giant queue area, set in one of the movie's large garages.  Obviously some of the most famous vehicles from the films will be on display here, and it's nice to see that the waiting area will probably feature shade and air-conditioning.  Always a plus in Orlando.

For the new Fast & Furious: Supercharged attraction to be built, the park will retire both Disaster! (formerly Earthquake) and the Beetlejuice Graveyard Review.  That will nicely clear out the entire block seen above, with the Beetlejuice theater on the left and the Disaster! queue, preshow building and L-shaped ride path wrapping around it.

I'm very curious to see if the buildings will be reused in anyway (that would also be a major hint at the ride system) or totally razed.  Disaster!, more so when it was Earthquake, was an impressive set of special effects, but after checking in on the experience last Fall it's definitely not up to the rest of the park's standards.  Hopefully we here more about the "guts" of the ride sooner than later.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Six Flags Great Adventure Begins Major Park Renovation for 2016 Attraction

While we have to wait until September 3rd to hear the details, Six Flags Great Adventure has started to do some major work to get ready for the park's 2016 addition.

This means that some older structures in the park are being demolished, and work on that has kicked into high gear this week.

It appears as though the park is removing several lakeside structures, including the Fort Independence aqua theater, the Festival Stage that's next door to it, and the large grandstand that used to be a vast seating area for stunt (and other) shows that took place on the lake.

Here is a look at that section of the park, for those unfamiliar.  The yellow line goes around the aqua theater, orange around the festival stage, and red around the large grandstands.

This means that when the structures are gone there will be a fairly long, somewhat narrow plot of land open for redevelopment for next year.  At least I'm assuming this is for 2016, at least.  If you take into consideration the path that is upward and to the right of the grandstands, that's even more room to work with.

As for the demolition, as I said work is now in high gear at the park.  Great Adventure History has shared some photos of the progress today, and Six Flags Great Adventure Insider Updates shared a video.

As for the park, they're remaining pretty tight lipped about next year, but did share in an e-mail today that fans can "expect a major addition" in 2016 and that a "new skyline will take shape in one of the park’s original sections that has remained nearly unchanged for four decades."

Can't wait to find out more!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Dorney Park Unveils 2015 Haunt Attraction Lineup

Last night was the preview event for the 2015 Halloween Haunt at Dorney Park, where this year's lineup of attractions, entertainment and more was revealed.

First, we have a slew of returning Haunt attractions - many popular favorites.  The scare zones that are returning are Carnevil, Age of Darkness, and Cut Throat Island.  Returning mazes are Grave Walkers, The Asylum, Mansion House Hotel, Desolation and Chamber of Horrors.  Blackout will be back, but will remain for Fright Lane purchasers only.

That means that the outdoor scare zone Head Hunters and the maze Bloodshed will not return this year.

Returning entertainment includes Blood Drums and a big hit from last year, Skeleton Crew.

The brand new haunt that is going to be located in the new structure by Steel Force is Trick or Treat, a new maze.  The attraction looks to be a version of the popular house that began at Knott's Berry Farm.  I'm not sure how similar the entire experience will be, but the facade drawing seen here is somewhat similar to the one at Knott's.  Additionally, one of the scenes in the image below, upper left, looks pretty close to the opening scene at Knott's as well.

These comparisons are a good thing, in my book, as Trick or Treat was one of the coolest looking haunts I took notice of in a while at Knott's.   The maze utilizes scares as we would expect, but is also big on an overall creepy vibe and the use of some neat special effects.  Again, no idea if the maze will be that similar to the Knott's version, but I wouldn't mind if it was.  Really looking forward to checking this one out!

You may have noticed that CornStalkers was not mentioned in the returning list, but also not retired either.  That's because the maze has moved to the former go-kart track and is now known as CornStalkers: Barn Bred & Blood Fed.  The building we've been watching go up will serve as the entrance to the haunt, which will be themed to an old farmhouse.  To me it looks like the best of Bloodshed and CornStalkers are being combined in this attraction, though only keeping the latter's name.

Here is an awesome schematic of the new CornStalkers.  Guests will enter into "Mama's House" and then through the extended cornstalk portion of the maze, ending with a trip through "the barn."

Fright Lane will give extra scares to visitors again this year, with six Skeleton Key rooms including new ones in CornStalkers, Age of Darkness, and Trick or Treat.  The popular Mansion House Meal and Fright Feast will also return, offering great ways to take care of dinner while at the Haunt.

Dorney Park has uploaded all the information they revealed for this year's Haunt for all to see, make sure to check that out here.

All images are © Dorney Park

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Busch Gardens Pairing with Hollywood Creatives for 2015's Howl-O-Scream

Busch Gardens Tampa has revealed the theme of this year's Howl-O-Scream event, subtitling it Unearthed.  As with each year's event, the park has put together a cohesive theme and host for the scare-fest, including a signature haunted house featuring the character's storyline.  This year the park has also joined forces with some Hollywood industry veterans to amp up the scares further than ever before.

Meet Scarlett, this year's Howl-O-Scream host.  She looks pretty, don't you think?  Her backstory is that she was a "village healer who turned to dark magic to avenge her husband’s killers.  As her powers grew, she was hunted, trapped and buried alive deep beneath the park…but has now been Unearthed to summon terror on unsuspecting guests."

She will be featured in her own haunted house named Unearthed: Scarlett's Revenge, where visitors enter a centuries old house where Scarlett summons demons and collects body parts to try to bring her husband back to life.  Yikes.

The park will also bring back prior fan favorite haunts like Zombie Mortuary, The BASEMENT, Death Water Bayou, Dead Fall: Thirst for Blood, Zombie Containment Unit 15: Moving Targets, and Circus of Superstition: The Last Laugh.

To help design the entire Howl-O-Scream event, Busch Gardens Tampa has brought Robin Cowie on board to work on the Unearthed theme.  Robin has a long history of horror movies, serving as the producer for the Blair Witch Project among many other projects.  Writing for the event is Jamie Nash, who's credits include V/H/S/2 and Ben Rock, who also worked on Blair Witch and several SyFy specials.  Barry Anderson will be heading up Special Effects Make-Up for this year's event, and he has a long Hollywood history as well, including Jeepers Creepers and Day of the Dead.

For more details on this year's event, check out the official Howl-O-Scream event page from Busch Gardens Tampa.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Dorney Park 8.21.15 Halloween Haunt Prep Update

We are nearing the end of Summer and that means that at Dorney Park the preparations for Halloween Haunt are in full effect.  Visitors are greeted with the Haunt monster truck out front of the gates, advertising that the festivities that begin this year on September 18th.

Down on the former go-kart track the brand new haunt maze is receiving its finishing touches.  The large facade that was built has been painted, and now fully resembles a farm house.  It looks pretty similar to what was out front of Bloodshed the past few years.

Here is a zoomed in look at what can be seen from the midway by Demon Drop.  The walls to the right of the structure create an outdoor maze that leads back behind the facade, where there is more set up.  You can see the layout from Steel Force, which is a mix of open air structures and other props that create a winding path.  The haunt will not use the entire go-kart track, actually it looks like only about a third of it will be used.

We can tell a couple other haunts that are definitely returning this year as well, due to them being mostly set up already.  The walls for Age of Darkness are up, along with the additional area they built with all the torture devices.  While not pictured in this update, the Mansion House Hotel is also coming together currently, and the expansive Gravewalkers maze is also being put up.  It is harder to see when in the park, but it looks like work on the outdoor sets for Desolation is also underway.

The new structure that we saw just starting to be worked on a few weeks ago is now up.  It is located just next to Steel Force's photo booth, seen above from the ride's exit.  You can't easily tell from this angle, but the building is a backwards L shape, extending longer on the side closest to the coaster.

Workers were still on site finishing up the building - though it looks complete there is still much work to be done.  The park has removed the fences that were in this area to open up the front of the building to the midway.  I would imagine once the hard construction of the structure is completed, the park will quickly get to work on adding some theming (though we don't officially know yet what that theme will be).

One final shot of the new Haunt building, showing how close it is to Steel Force.  This photo makes it look even closer than it really is, there's plenty of clearance for the coaster's train to pass by.  Still, it's pretty neat how the park was able to squeeze in a whole new building here!

Tomorrow night is the season pass holder Haunt reveal event, unfortunately I won't be able to attend.  But after tomorrow we will all know what the park has in store!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Knott's Berry Farm Plans Extensive Refurbishment for GhostRider

via Bing Maps
2016 will mark the 75th anniversary of Ghost Town at Knott's Berry Farm, and the park is planning a large celebration to mark the occasion.  In order to have everything in top shape for the event, the theme park is planning to close GhostRider, their large wooden coaster, on September 8th for an extensive refurbishment and "comprehensive restoration."

No word yet on when the coaster will reopen, or who will be performing the restoration.  Some had hypothesized that Rocky Mountain could perform the work, but other contenders like Great Coasters are high on the list as well, at least in my opinion.

As part of the greater Ghost Town 75th Anniversary celebration work, the park will also remove the Screamin' Swing after September 8th.  The ride is currently located in the middle of the themed area, and has never thematically fit.

Knott's Berry Farm plans to reveal all their plans for 2016 sometime in November, after the popular Halloween Haunt wraps up.  Great to hear that GhostRider will be brought back to proper running shape, as it has the potential to be a great ride!

Expanded Planet Snoopy Coming to Worlds of Fun in 2016

© Worlds of Fun
Next season is all about families with younger kids at Worlds of Fun, which will be expanding their existing Planet Snoopy area with five new attractions.  The addition will modify one part of the existing Planet Snoopy, while adding on an entire new section as well.

The concept art above shows the expanded area.  Changes will be made on the far left, and then also in the newly added area on the right.

This aerial view of the current Planet Snoopy has the areas of development highlighted.  Going off the concept art and the press release, we can detail what changes will be made.

Over on the left in the existing Planet Snoopy, one building looks like it will be demolished, and the giant inflatable Snoopy bounce will be removed.  Replacing the bounce will be a set of Larson Flying Scooters named Woodstock Gliders.  A new ride named Flying Ace will make a home where the removed building was.

The new expansion area will have a small train ride in the back near Timber Wolf called Snoopy Junction.  Two other rides, the Linus Launcher and Snoopy Space Buggies will also populate the area.  This section once was a part of the park's children's offerings, but was cleared out as Snoopy moved in.  Here is what the area that is being redeveloped looked like a few years ago:

“Thrills come in all sizes,” says Worlds of Fun vice president and general manager Frank Wilburn. “It’s important that we continue to create the best family environment for our guests and what better place to do that than right here at Planet Snoopy where we create memories that last a lifetime.”

Planet Snoopy was added to the park in 2011, and previously served the park in a smaller form as Camp Snoopy.

Get Delirious at Kings Dominion in 2016 on New Thrill Ride

The removal of the stand-up coaster Shockwave will not leave a blank space in Kings Dominion's ride lineup, as the park announced a major new thrill ride to take the coaster's place in 2016.  Riders will be sent on a high-flying, spinning thrill machine named Delirium next year, to be located in the Candy Apple Grove themed area of the park.

© Kings Dominion
Delirium is a swinging pendulum style ride, only one of the extremely large ones found at few theme parks.  The ride holds 40 passengers per cycle, each seated facing outward on the outside of a giant circular ride carriage with their feet dangling below them.  As the ride starts to swing, the carriage spins, creating a disorienting experience.  The ride continues to build momentum until it reaches a maximum height of 115 feet above the ground at an angle of 120 degrees.

No ride manufacturer has been listed yet for Delirium, and several companies provide rides with similar statistics.

Canada's Wonderland Flying Into 2016 With Two New Rides

Canada's Wonderland has announced two new flying-themed rides for the park's 2016 season.  Both attractions offer riders an interactive feature, making these attraction a compelling addition for the entire family.

© Canada's Wonderland
First up is a set of Larson Flying Scooters named the Flying Eagles.  The popular attraction has been installed at many Cedar Fair parks in the last few seasons, and will have fans of Canada's Wonderland soaring 28 feet above the ground next year on the Flying Eagles.  Riders use a front wing to control their car's swing, allowing them to soar upward and downward as they fly, or they can just enjoy the view of the park as they spin.  Flying Eagles will be family-friendly, with a smaller height requirement that will allow younger riders to take part.

© Canada's Wonderland
The second new ride will be named SkyHawk, and is the first of its kind to be installed in all of North America.  The high-flying thrill ride will allow riders, who are seated in individual planes, to control their movements including complete 360 degree rolls.  The planes are connected to a tower that rises and spins to a maximum height of 135 feet above the ground.

Skyhawk appears to be one of Gerstlauer's Sky Roller rides, several of which have been installed in Europe.  The ride is customizable in size to fit the needs of the park, but this looks to be one of the largest Sky Rollers that the company has created to date.