Tuesday, August 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Waldameer Continues Water World Expansion in 2018 + New Family Ride

© Waldameer Park
Shortly after opening their new-for-2017 attraction, Waldammer Park has spilled the beans on their planned expansion for 2018.  The park will build a new water slide in their water park, Water World, along with a family ride in the amusement area.

The expansion will cost the park around $1 million, which is on top of the $2.5 million they spent on additions this year.

Water World will open a new bowl style water slide, popular in water parks for many years now.  The slide will be one of Proslide's Cannonball 30 slides and will depart from one of the park's existing water slide towers.  Passengers will ride in two person tubes down a curving drop and into a large bowl where they spin around and round before existing in the center.

Coming to the amusement park will be a Zamperla manufactured Samba Balloon Ride, in which kids and their parents can both ride together in fanciful hot air balloon baskets.  The balloons rise and fall as they rotate, providing an exciting but gentle ride.  The attraction will be placed near Kiddieland.

© Waldameer Park
Also the park just recently opened their new for 2017 attraction, a giant water play structure named The Battle of Lake Erie.  Filled with small slides, different levels and tons of interactive water features, guests are already loving the addition.  Waldameer has spent several seasons expanding Water World, starting with the addition of a wave pool a couple years back.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Taking a Guess at Valleyfair's Looping Addition for 2018 Season

It seems that not only the four Cedar Fair parks that are adding coasters will be announcing additions this Wednesday, but all of them.  Valleyfair tweeted today that in four days we will find out their 2018 addition that will "turn things upside down."  The tweet, seen above, also featured a bit of what looks like blueprints for the addition.

It's hard to make heads or tails of what's going on in the image, with the top portion perhaps being the queue or some adjacent structure.  The bottom is even more vague without more context.  However...

© Larson International Inc.
I was browsing rides that seem possible and came across this schematic of a Larson Giant Loop, an attraction that most certainly turns things upside down.  A recent popular instillation at many Six Flags parks, the Giant Loops pack a thrilling punch in a small space.  Looking closer at the diagram revealed an interesting similarity to Valleyfair's image.

If you look closely at the supports for the base of the Giant Loop, it looks pretty similar to the shapes on the right of Valleyfair's image.  Here, allow me to rotate Larson's schematic for a comparison.
There.  Looks pretty close, eh?  Now this could be a coincidence, you just never know.  If it does turn out to be a Giant Loop then the park will have a nice thrill ride to advertise for the 2018 season, when many expected a water park expansion to materialize.  That might still be a couple years off, however, and one of Cedar Fair's recent conference calls seems to hint that Valleyfair's big expansion was pushed back a few years while they study the park's market a bit more.

Either way we will find out on Wednesday!

Friday, August 11, 2017

SeaWorld San Diego Wins Approval for New 2018 Roller Coaster - Electric Eel

© SeaWorld San Diego
SeaWorld San Diego will be electrifying guests with a brand new roller coaster, named Electric Eel, in 2018 thanks to a final approval from the California Coastal Commission.  The thrilling coaster will be a second phase to this year's new Ocean Explorer themed area, aimed at older guests looking for a high-intensity experience.  This year's additions in Ocean Explorer were aimed at younger guests, so the attraction will help to round out the offerings of the land.

The ride was previously announced but SeaWorld San Diego did not have approval to build the ride at the time.  With final approvals in hand, major construction on the ride can begin right away.

Electric Eel will stand 150 feet tall and feature multiple launches and a top speed of 62 miles per hour.  The coaster will be manufactured to Premier Rides, one of their popular Sky Rocket II models.  After the multiple launches riders will enter a heartline roll that completely inverts them 150 in the air.  The trains will then dive downward into a non-inverting loop before completing the circuit.

The theme park has agreed to use colors on the ride that will help it blend in with the sky, and also not illuminate it above the 60 foot level. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Wins Approval for 315 Foot Tall New Attraction

Busch Gardens Williamsburg has received approval to build a 315 foot tall attraction, according to news reports.  The local county's Board of Supervisors approval a height limit waiver to allow the attraction to be built, which the theme park applied for just recently.

There's no word on what the new ride will be, though there are a limited amount of attractions out there that reach heights of 315 feet.  Naturally a roller coaster comes to mind, though coasters of that size are quite costly and might not be a part of SeaWorld Entertainment's current plans.  The park already has a free fall, so that leaves other tall structures, for example a swing ride, as more likely possibilities.

© Google Maps
The planning documents that the park submitted when requesting the height waiver only give a few clues about the project.  First, the approximate location of the ride is shown, just South of the Fiesta Italy themed area, in a currently open area (see map above).  The documents also refer to the project as "Busch Gardens Madrid."  Spain has been a long rumored addition as a themed land, but has never come to fruition.  That begs the question of whether the land will finally be built, but it could also just be the park's name for a singular new ride that's meant to throw us all off.

The park has three years to build the attraction from the approval of the height waiver, and has already announced a new virtual reality simulator experience for 2018, so the earliest this ride will open is 2019, it would seem.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg's current tallest ride is Mach Tower, the 246 foot tall free fall ride added to the park in 2011.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hersheypark Announces Multiple Attractions for The Boardwalk in 2018

© Hersheypark
Today was the big reveal for Hersheypark, which announced the addition of two large new water slide attractions for The Boardwalk in 2018.  One of the additions, Whitecap Racer, will be a giant mat racing slide and the other, Breakers Edge Water Coaster, a high-tech water thrill coaster.

As depicted in the concept art above, both new attractions will sit in the back of The Boardwalk, utilizing some previously undeveloped space along with some ground formerly occupied by Roller Soaker.  The additions are planned to open on Memorial Day weekend, 2018.

© Hersheypark
The most thrilling of the two additions is the Breakers Edge Water Coaster, which uses hydro-magnetic technology to blast rafts both downhill and uphill, much like a traditional roller coaster.  The park says that the water coaster will be the first of its kind in the world with flying saucer turns, seen above.

The ride will utilize the former loading station of Roller Soaker, and carry about 600 passengers per hour through a one minute and thirty second ride.  Breakers Edge Water Coaster will feature purple and blue slide sections, with bright green accents.

© Hersheypark
Whitecap Racer will be The Boardwalk's second new attraction, a giant set of mat racing slides that tower 70 feet over the park.  The attraction features six separate lanes for guests to race down, and two different sets of horizontal loops that each lane slides through.  The attraction will be the longest of its kind in the world when it opens, according to Hersheypark.

Both new additions are being provided by ProSlide Technology, and both have a 42 inch height requirement.

For more on the expansion, check out Hersheypark's page along with the video below.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dorney Park Haunt X Pre-Season Update

We are still about 5 weeks away from the start of Halloween Haunt X at Dorney Park, but the park is already working hard on setting up for the event.  While no formal announcements have been made yet, it appears as though we may be getting up to three new attractions this year, which is pretty exciting!

The first of which is actually a former attraction, Club Blood.  The park has put up the sign seen up top near the arcade building, which has housed Chamber of Horrors (wax museum theme) for the past three Haunts.  That would lead me to believe that Chamber of Horrors might be done, with Club Blood ("Under New Management") making a return.  I'm curious who the "new" management is, though!

Club Blood was a long running haunt (2008 through 2011), located in the building behind White Water Landing.  It was replaced by Desolation, which in turn was replaced by Blood on the Bayou last year.

Age of Darkness is already under construction, showing that it will return again for Haunt X.  The walls for the scare zone/maze hybrid attraction are already going up in the area near Thunderhawk, but still only in backstage areas.  You can see the dragon that the park created if you look above the bordering fence.

One haunt that is definitely new this year is replacing the Mansion House Hotel, which ran from 2010 through 2016.  We've seen a giant facade going up all season long, and it now looks like it is in the final stages of construction.  I must say that some of the architecture the park has used is reminding me of how some row homes in San Francisco look.  Who knows if that turns out to be a true hint, or if I'm just reaching.

Either way there's definitely a new indoor maze going up behind those walls, the theme for which is still a mystery.

Our last clue to a returning haunted attraction is this campsite that's been set up next to Revolution.  The sign says "Welcome Back Campers" with the name Camp Cudie next to it.  That was the name of the camp setting for Backwoods, which ran in the forest behind Steel Force's station before the dinosaurs moved in.

I'm interested to see if that's where this maze will return, as it was one of my all time favorites the park has done.  One could also speculate that it would take over the field directly behind the tent in the photo, but (I didn't get a photo) they've already started setup for Grave Walkers again this year.

The return of at least two former attractions could be in honor of the 10th anniversary of Haunt at the park.  Stay tuned for more as we get closer to Haunt season!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Silver Dollar City's 2018 Coaster's Surprising First Element Installed

Getting closer to the big reveal, Silver Dollar City is continuing to pump out new teasers for their 2018 new coaster.  The one embedded above is one of the latest, featuring a quote from Jules Verne with part of what looks like a flying contraption under it, along with plenty of gears in the background.  Another teaser recently shared asks fans "what can fly without wings?"  It certainly seems that the ride will have an elaborate theme and back story, in addition to some thrilling elements.

Speaking of those, the track for a vertical, or nearly vertical, plunge directly out of the ride's station was just installed toward the end of the week.  Check out this video:

Even with the park's thick tree cover obscuring the entire drop, it's obvious that this new coaster is going to have one heck of a start.  Previous aerial photos showed that at the base of what would be this drop is an area that's being reinforced with large retaining wall blocks.  Perhaps there will be some sort of theming element at the base of this super steep drop?

Can't wait until August 16th to find out!  Keep tabs on the park's website until then, it seems that a bit more has been added to it, though I'm not sure if it's a clue or just slick web design.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Six Flags Fiesta Texas Announces New Wonder Woman Themed RMC Single Rail Coaster for 2018

In a surprise announcement today, Six Flags Fiesta Texas revealed their plans to build the Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster, described as the world's first single-rail roller coaster manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC).

The coaster will open in 2018 on the site of the park's shoot-the-chutes ride, which is being removed to make room for the coaster.  Much anticipation has gone into seeing which park(s) would be the first to announce a RMC Raptor design, which is what the company is calling their coaster of this style. The ride's three trains will each have eight cars, with each car seating one rider.

The ride's track is only 15.5 inches wide, and requires less supports than most coasters, which gives Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster a unique look:

© Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Featuring bright yellow single-rail track and equally bright red supports, the coaster is sure to attraction attention.  It starts with a 113 foot tall lift, then a quick 180 degree turn into a 100 foot long, 90 degree first drop.  The ride's top speed will be 52 miles per hour.

The first element is a large dive loop that dives down toward the pond that will be under much of the ride, left over from the shoot-the-chutes.  Then the trains navigate a large S-curve hill, a curving upward climb and then an s-curve section.  Diving down once more, riders fly through several twists, two more inversions (called a 180-degree stall and a zero-g roll) along with several curves and airtime hills.

© Six Flags Fiesta Texas
To help increase capacity on the coaster the park has announced that it will feature a moving loading station platform.  The ride will feature theming that is obviously centered around Wonder Woman and her story, featuring "tropical landscaping, Greek architecture, and even Steve Trevor’s crashed plane."

In addition to the ride's official announcement, Six Flags Fiesta Texas gave an exclusive story to U.S.A. Today, in which they talk more about how open and free the trains will be (the concept video shows over the should strap-like restraints) and smooth the ride will be.

We also have a concept video that the park released, showing off the ride in action.  Make sure to check it out embedded below.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Heard On... Cedar Fair's 2nd Quarter 2017 Conference Call

Today Cedar Fair announced their results for the 2nd quarter of 2017.  The quarter ended with $393 million in revenues, a new record for a 2nd quarter, $5 million higher than last year.  The quarter also had a 2% rise in attendance, and a 1% increase in out-of-park revenues.  The operator doesn't sound overly happy with the results, even though they seem pretty good.  The conference call gave some additional details, let's take a look.

•  Cedar Fair also gave an update on July, the 1st month of the 3rd quarter - which had strong results.  Revenues for the month were up $4 million over last July, with a 2% increase in attendance.  For the first 7 months of the year, revenues are up only $1 million, and attendance is up 62,000 to 15.1 million.

•  This year's big capital projects are well received.  Kings Island's new wooden coaster and the return of WinterFest are projecting the park to have their best year in their history.  The water park expansions at Cedar Point and Knott's have been well received and resulted in longer guest stays, and both water park expect to post record attendance.  Kings Dominion's Planet Snoopy expansion and Pre-K pass have them on track to post their best attendance in 10 years.  The Pre-K pass will roll out to more parks next year.

•  Across all the parks, this year's upcoming Halloween Haunt festivities will feature 120 haunted attractions, more than 40 live shows, and 5,000 monsters roaming the parks.

•  Sales of season passes and similar all-season benefits (food, beverage, photos) are up 10% over last year, which was the best year ever.  The company has beat their record and sold more season passes this year than ever before.  This also created an increase of $20 million of deferred revenue that will be recognized throughout the end of the year.

•  The outdoor sports complex near Cedar Point has been a big success in its first year.  They have booked more than twice the amount of tournaments that they expected.  They're in negotiations for the indoor expansion at the Cedar Point location, and in talks for a second location.

•  WinterFest, as previously announced, will come to Worlds of Fun and Kings Island this year (joining California's Great America), and is expected to generate 500,000 visits among the parks.

•  When asked about the closure of Wildwater Kingdom in Ohio, the company mentioned that it did just over 200,000 visits per year.  It also had no big impact in loss of revenue, and an even smaller impact in EBITDA.

•  With regard to capital expansions, the company is sticking to spending about $130-$140 million per year now.  New sports complexes or hotels would be on top of that amount.  In general terms, they plan for about 9.5-10% of revenues for the figure of further out yearly capital expansions.