Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sol Spin - New Thrill Ride at Knott's Berry Farm - Now Open

© Knott's Berry Farm
This is a ride that's only for the brave of heart and the emptiest of stomachs, but it does looks like a ton of fun.  Just opened yesterday at Knott's Berry Farm is Sol Spin, a new-to-the-park thrill ride that spins and inverts passengers at up to 60 feet above the ground.

Located in Fiesta Village, Sol Spin sits in the area that was once occupied by WindSeeker.  Its bright colors fit in with the theme of the vibrant area wonderfully, livening it up considerably as well.  The main arm twists in an elevated circle while the passenger gondolas rotate and flip freely, a dizzying effect.  Here's some video of the ride in action that I noticed on Twitter:

Sol Spin is a "classic" flat ride that came to the park though parent company, Cedar Fair's, efforts to purchase these types of rides from both Europe and Japan.  It is a Mondial Top Scan, which are pretty popular on the European fair circuit.

Knott's adjacent water park, Soak City, will also open a major expansion in a couple months, featuring a brand new family raft ride and a tower with multiple slides including some with a trap-door freefall start.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dutch Wonderland Close to Vertical Construction of New Family Coaster

© Dutch Wonderland
One new-for-2017 coaster that we haven't heard much on in recent months is Merlin's Mayhem at Dutch Wonderland, though the park has been getting ready for the new ride through the winter.  Just recently the family theme park started to receive track and supports for the inverted ride, seen in recent photos shared by the park.

As depicted in earlier concept art and animations, Merlin's Mayhem will feature cobalt blue supports and gold/yellow track.

© Dutch Wonderland
Dutch Wonderland's parking lot is currently the staging area for the arriving parts, plenty of which are now on site.  I haven't seen photos of the actual construction site, but I would think that the park has footings ready to go, just waiting for track and supports to arrive.

Merlin's Mayhem is a family inverted coaster designed by S&S Worldwide.  It will stand 60 feet tall at the highest point and stretch over 1,300 feet long, ending with a short tunnel before the brakes.  Since Dutch Wonderland is a family park oriented toward kids, the coaster will have a low 39 inch height requirement.

© Dutch Wonderland
Here is some of the coaster's track that is on site.  The colors of Merlin's Mayhem will really stand out at the park, and I believe the coaster is near the main entrance so it will also serve as a nice billboard for the park!

Check out the below animation of the ride to get familiar with it - won't be long until we see it standing at the park!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

World's Tallest Drop Ride to Feature Virtual Reality Experience at Six Flags Great Adventure

Six Flags Great Adventure has announced the addition of virtual reality headsets to the world's tallest and fastest free fall ride, Zumanjaro, creating an all-new experience called the Drop of Doom.

The attraction will open with the new Samsung Gear VR headsets on May 5th and run for a limited time during the 2017 season.  On board the ride visitors will battle "giant, mutant spiders" while plunging down more than 400 feet at speeds of up to 90 miles per hour.

© Six Flags
While on board the Drop of Doom, riders will enter a virtual world where "they become pilots of a futuristic gunship under attack by mutant spiders."  The climb to the top of the tower will send passengers virtually up 100 stories while teetering on the edge of a helicopter.  At the top they will experience 360 degree views above "massive skyscrapers that are under siege by enormous spiders," then move on to a "high-intensity gun battle against a giant arachnid," which spews baby spiders at them that will virtually crawl all over.

Between the fear of heights and the common fear of spiders, Drop of Doom is sure to get everyone's blood pumping!

© Six Flags
After the 90 mile per hour drop, which takes place inbetween tall buildings within the virtual world, there will be a "final showdown with a spider the size of a van, teeth-gnashing and in full attack mode."

“As the leader in innovation, Six Flags launched the very first VR coaster experiences. Now, we are taking virtual reality to the next level with the introduction of the first VR drop rides,” said Neal Thurman, park president. “Drop of Doom VR plays upon two of our greatest fears – extreme heights and spiders – and delivers an entirely new thrill for the spring 2017 season.”

For more on the new Drop of Doom at Six Flags Great Adventure, check out the park's website and also this teaser video:

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

New Multi-Launch Gerstlauer Coaster Now Open in the Netherlands

© Attractiepark Slagharen
Attractiepark Slagharen has officially opened their brand new, custom designed roller coaster, Gold Rush, to eager park visitors.  The compact coaster has been designed by Gerstlauer and features a forward and backward multi-launch system to give the trains their power.

Fully decked out in Wild West theming, Gold Rush packs a lot of ride into a small space, but doesn't go light on the thrills.  At the end of the launch sequence the trains rush out of the station at 56 miles per hour and up to the top of a 108 foot tall twisting top hat.  The first element after the plunge down from the top hat is a sling loop, also one of the ride's two inversions.  A mid-course helix leads to a dive loop that places tracks on the brake run just before the station.

A trip on Gold Rush is over pretty quickly, but that doesn't mean that the coaster doesn't pack a punch!  Take a spin on the new ride with this video from the park:

Monday, April 17, 2017

New Virtual Ride Shows Off Liseberg's New For 2018 B&M Dive Coaster

Back in October Sweden's Liseberg made a big announcement of new rides over their 2017 and 2018 seasons.  New this year is a giant pendulum ride, Loke, which is already standing at the park.  Perhaps more interesting to coaster fans was the announcement of Valkyria, a new B&M dive coaster that will open in 2018.

At the time of the announcement several concept art images and statistics were revealed, but much of the ride was still a mystery.  Now Liseberg has released more details - like the aerial view of the ride above - and an even newer animated point of view video of the coaster.  Care to take a ride?

Valkyria will begin with a steep lift hill that takes trains to 154 feet in the air, followed by a 90 degree right turn to the start of the 164 foot vertical plunge into a tunnel.  The trains will speed at 65 miles per hour up into a giant Immelmann inversion, followed by a sweeping turn to the ride and into the second half of the ride.  Next is a large zero-g roll, a helix and finally a slow and sweeping heartline roll before the turn into the brakes.  When all is said and done riders will have covered 2,296 feet of track.

Liseberg recently premiered a sprawling double-launch Mack coaster, Helix, and was already home to hits like Balder, an intense Intamin wood coaster and Lisebergbanan, a classic terrain Schwarzkopf coaster.  The park is crafting quite a selection of rides!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Kraken Unleashed Invades SeaWorld Orlando This June

Previously announced, SeaWorld Orlando has revealed additional details on the addition of virtual reality to their popular Kraken B&M floorless roller coaster.  Firstly, the ride's official name will be Kraken Unleashed, previously the attraction was just being called Kraken VR.

Set to open on June 16th, riders will be able to wear virtual reality headsets and plunge into a world ruled by the Kraken who is fiercely trying to defend the legendary city of Atlantis.

© SeaWorld Orlando
Riders will encounter many different real and imagined creatures on their journey, pictured above are some mean looking crabs found in an underwater lava field.  The theme park has connected both Kraken Unleashed and Journey to Atlantis through storytelling; the Kraken has been reimagined as a giant squid-like creature that wants to keep riders away from the city at any cost.  That is the main theme of the virtual reality experience, with several intense interactions with the Kraken planned.

As with similar virtual reality roller coasters, the virtual world will sync up with the physical movements of the trains, so for instance a virtual plunge will take place on the coaster's 144 foot first drop.

© SeaWorld Orlando
This post from Inside The Magic has some great details on the experience as well, including an interview with the park's designer.  There has been a lot of careful attention put into the creation of the virtual world, and I'm looking forward to see how it is received by guests.

SeaWorld Orlando has also made it clear that Kraken can still be ridden without the VR headset, should the guest choose so.  They also hinted at, but gave no details for, a new ride reservation system to eliminate waiting in a traditional queue for Kraken Unleashed.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Harry Potter Themed Lands at Universal Orlando Resort to Celebrate Christmas in 2017

© Universal Orlando
The big Orlando area theme parks have long been a special treat during the holiday season, and Universal Orlando Resort has announced a new way to make the holidays even sweeter.  Starting this upcoming winter, Christmas will be celebrated in both The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure and Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida.  This is something that fans have long wanted, though I've no doubt that all visitors will enjoy the holiday layover.

Both of the themed areas will be fully decorated top-to-bottom for the season, including appropriately themed garland, lights and more.  There will be special holiday food and retail, some of which is taken directly from the world of Harry Potter.

There will also be special live entertainment during the festivities, including a brand new show using Hogwarts Castle as the focal piece.  The latest projection mapping technology will be utilized to make the famous castle come alive with holiday "décor, candlelight and festive moments inspired by the films."  This is something that Harry Potter fans will not want to miss.

More details, along with some on a new holiday parade set to take place at Universal Studios Florida, are available in this video from the parks:

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Infinity Falls To Splash Into SeaWorld Orlando in Summer 2018

© SeaWorld Orlando
Today SeaWorld Orlando announced the addition of a major new water-based attraction, named Infinity Falls, which will open at the park in the summer of 2018.

The ride will be a highly themed river rapids adventure that will be located in a totally rethemed section of the park around the current Sea Garden area.  This new section will be set in a village covered by rain forest canopy and will offer "interactive experiences that combine play with education to create a positive impact on freshwater ecosystems. SeaWorld’s Animal Ambassadors will also provide up-close encounters with animals native to South America."

© SeaWorld Orlando
Infinity Falls will be manufactured by Intamin and use a traditional river rapids ride system that's merged with a high-tech vertical lift and drop sequence.  The 4 minute plus trip will stretch 1,520 feet long and feature elaborate theming along with "category 4" rapids that are encountered.  It will culminate with a vertical lift that raises the boats up to more than 40 feet above the park, after which they will plunge down a 40 foot drop into the rapids below - this is depicted in the concept art featured above and below.

The 40 foot drop represents a world record for a river raft ride, according to the park.  The use of the elevator vertical lift is also the first of its kind in the U.S.

“We are constantly looking at new ways to amaze our guests - Infinity Falls will do that, and more,” said Jim Dean, President of SeaWorld Orlando Parks. “From the excitement of the thrilling rapids, to the unique vertical lift element, it will be an adventure that appeals to the entire family. Infinity Falls continues our commitment to investing in our park, and developing new ways to entertain and inspire our guests with meaningful, fun-filled vacations.”

© SeaWorld Orlando
Riders will sit in 8-seater, custom designed rafts that feature expedition theming while on Infinity Falls.  The ride will be family-friendly and come with a low 42 inch height requirement, so many members of the family can ride together.

As with all SeaWorld attractions, Infinity Falls and the new village area around it both have a compelling backstory that has been created:

Not long ago, a drone sent to explore the jungles of South America discovered previously uncharted structures in a remote area along the banks of a freshwater river. A group of explorers and scientists
were sent to investigate the discovery.  Upon arrival they set up base camp near an abandoned structure.  They studied and explored the river, falling in love with its power and the nature
living along its banks.  Inspired by the river, they developed a sustainable camp for others to
visit and explore so they too, could learn more about the jungle and how their connection to the waters of the world.

To further the excitement of the addition of Infinity Falls, check out this promotional clip that SeaWorld Orlando has created - make sure to take note of the on-ride virtual footage for an idea of the experience.  Looks great!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cedar Point Shores Water Park Readies for Late May Opening

Cedar Point is entering the final stages of construction on the newly branded Cedar Point Shores Water Park, which will open to the public on May 27th.  Visitors will find a "new main entrance and exciting new attractions, dining options, a new merchandise store and new amenities that show a dramatic transformation of the 18-acre beach waterpark paradise."

Cedar Point Shores will feature several brand new slides and attractions, along with a total refreshing of the existing attractions including new names and bright color schemes.

© Cedar Point
The park has been keeping fans up to date on their renovation progress, including photos on different social media feeds.  Above is a photo from a selection posted to Twitter, showing the brand new slide tower that features both the trap-floor dropping Point Plummet body slides and the Portside Plunge tube slides.  More photos of the work can be seen at this link.

Just as there will be new slides and play areas for kids, Cedar Point Shores will also feature a beautiful new town-square area with a premiere food location named Crystal Rock Cafe, a large marketplace style eatery.  The Muffleheads Beach Bar will provide a relaxing area for adults to enjoy a beverage, and the all new Schooner's Beach Bar will be opened near the wave pool.

In anticipation of the water park's opening, Cedar Point just recently released this virtual fly-through of Cedar Point Shores.  It shows off all the new fun that is being added, and gives an idea of the new atmosphere that the water park will have.  A big part of the renovation is to open views of the adjacent Lake Erie to visitors, fitting since the beach was such a big part of the Point's history.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Blackpool Pleasure Beach Gives a Name to its 2018 Launched Coaster

Blackpool Pleasure Beach has been hard at work on their new for 2018 roller coaster since last fall, and today announced that the ride will be known simply as Icon.  The name is simple, but powerful, and helps enforce the park's belief that it will be one of the most iconic roller coasters ever built.  The coaster is the largest project that Blackpool has ever taken on, and it will interact with the park's other rides 15 times throughout its layout.  Blackpool is known for having a great amount of rides packed into a small space, so to build a ride of this size is no small undertaking.

Icon is being built by Mack Rides and will feature two LSM launches, one to start the coaster and one halfway through the ride.  The twisted layout stretches 3,750 feet and features elements such as an Immelman, an in-line roll and two tunnels.  The maximum height Icon will hit is 89 feet above the park, and trains will zoom at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

To celebrate the announcement of the Icon name, Blackpool has also released a new teaser video.  It shows not only some of the recent construction work, but also hints that the ride may have an Asian-inspired theme when complete.  Check it out below.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Holiday In The Park Opening at Six Flags New England This Winter

Sure, it may only be the start of April, but that doesn't mean we can't think about the upcoming holidays, right?  Six Flags New England certainly has them on their mind, with the recent announcement of their first-ever Holiday In The Park celebration.  Set to take place starting November 24, 2017, Holiday In The Park "will be the largest holiday celebration in New England, delighting guests of all ages with sparkling lights, festive shows, tasty holiday treats, and photos with Santa."

Visitors will find more than 50 rides, shows and attractions open during the festivities, along with roaming holiday characters, storytelling with Mrs. Claus, fire-pits around the park, synchronized light displays, magical snowfall each night and of course Santa himself.

© Six Flags
“Holiday in the Park will be a wonderful must-see spectacle for families to enjoy. We are thrilled to offer our guests the opportunity to enjoy a summer of thrills including New England’s largest water park—Hurricane Harbor, our scariest Fright Fest ever and then complete the year with a trip to the North Pole,” said Six Flags New England Park President John Winkler. “The benefits of a 2017 season pass or membership to Six Flags New England just got better with the addition of Holiday in the Park.”

© Six Flags
A special treat for ride fans, the addition also means that the theme park will have its longest season ever, meaning a smaller off-season!  The park's website for the event lists that coasters including the brand new Joker, Thunderbolt, Mind Eraser and Batman The Dark Knight will be operating.  Pretty nice to be able to experience rides like that during December in New England!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon Opens at Universal Studios Florida

Now open at Universal Studios Florida is a brand new simulator-style attraction dubbed Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon.  The host of the "Tonight Show" is taking passengers on a crazy trip through New York City where he races them through the Big Apple, "completely immersing them in the world of America's favorite talk show – "The Tonight Show."  The experience is action-packed, taking riders through the busy streets, past many landmarks, and even up in the skies.

© Universal
The attraction has taken up the space formerly occupied by the Twister experience, and as depicted above resides in a recreation of the NBC Comcast building in Manhattan.  Guests are able to experience a "virtual queue" before the ride portion where they are able to freely roam and play games, take in entertainment, or even meet with Hashtag the Panda.  Color coded groups allow visitors to know when it is their turn to stop playing and take a ride through New York with Jimmy.

© Universal
Jimmy Fallon was on hand this past week for the ride to open, along with a "New York-style ticker tape parade in Universal Studios Florida that featured tons of confetti, a custom float and beloved Universal Orlando characters.  Joining Jimmy on the float were "Tonight Show" house band The Roots, announcer Steve Higgins, and an array of characters from the show, including Hashtag the Panda, the Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet, and even Stepdad Gary from the popular "Ew!" sketch."

For more on Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon, check out Universal's website.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

New Mardi Gras Celebration Now Underway at Six Flags Fiesta Texas

Six Flags Fiesta Texas, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, has kicked off their first-ever Mardi Gras Festival & Parade, a new event for 2017.

The celebration is aimed at bringing more guests to the park during the early season, and what better to do that then a new parade, great culinary treats, and a party atmosphere?  The festival started at the theme park on March 24th and will take place each operating day until April 30th.

© Six Flags
The big draw for the Mardi Gras Festival is a parade featuring eight elaborate floats "handcrafted by world-renowned float designer, Kern Studios. The intricately designed 16-foot tall floats will feature a variety of themes including the Mardi Gras King and Queen, the seasonal festival, Dia de los Muertos, and other celebrations from around the world, like Rio’s Carnival."  Guests are able to line up and watch as the parade passes by, filled with equally colorful performers keeping the crowd pumped.

The new parade will also feature the King William Brass Band performing at two locations along the parade route.  Of course, each float will have plenty of green, gold and purple beads to distribute to the crowds.  Other features of the new parade include stilt walkers and street performers.

© Six Flags
Along with decorations throughout the park, the Mardi Gras Festival will also have authentic culinary treats for visitors to discover.  Items such as gumbo, king cakes, beignets and jambalaya are served, along with adult beverages like New Orleans Hurricanes and Southern Comfort Sweet Teas.  Retail souvenirs will also be available, like jester-style hats and large novelty beads.

The Mardi Gras Festival & Parade is a kick off to what will be an exciting 2017 season.  Later in the summer the all-new Thunder Rapids Water Coaster will open in Six Flags Fiesta Texas's water park section.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Impressive New Vekoma Coaster Going Up at Legendia

© Vekoma
2017 will be an interesting year for new coaster debuts at parks around the globe, and one that I couldn't help but notice recently is the Lech Coaster at Poland's Legendia theme park.  Designed by Vekoma, the ride features a multitude of inversions and extreme elements.

Pictured above is a view of the intense-looking first drop of the Lech Coaster, which turns 90 degrees as it plunges from a height of 131 feet.

© Vekoma
After the ride's first drop the trains will encounter a twisted layout that interacts with several planned themed elements.  In total there will be 2,979 feet of track, two corkscrews, a reverse sidewinder and several helices, according to the statistics posted to Roller Coaster Database.

© Vekoma
Vekoma also shared this photo of Lech's rolling stock - complete with a nicely themed front piece.  While the trains feature over-the-shoulder restrains they look to be the vest-kind that hopefully will provide a comfortable ride experience.  The trains will consist of six cars each with four seats for a total of twenty four riders.

© Legendia
I'm not 100% sure that Lech Coaster's theming will be completed right away, but the park has posted these images of what they have planned.  I love how this building is incorporated into one of the corkscrews, with riders passing through it while upside down.

© Legendia
This larger aerial view not only shows all the theming elements that are planned, but also the coaster's full layout.  Vekoma has long been known for their production model roller coasters, so it's great to see a unique new design going up.  The ride looks well paced and has a nice element mix that has a little bit of something for everyone!

For more photos of the ride and its construction, stay up to date with Vekoma and Legendia's Facebook pages.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Gives a Look at the Making of InvadR

It won't be long until we are all able to take our first spin on Busch Gardens Williamsburg's first-ever wooden roller coaster, InvadR, with the coaster opening this coming weekend.  Leading up to that exciting day, the theme park has released a really neat 'making of' video about the design and construction of the ride.

The addition of InvadR is sure to liven up the usually quiet New France section of the park.  The coaster now weaves its way both under and over the park's log flume, and has a couple passes over the park's train track as well.

The video shows all the effort that went into creating the ride, and the intricate backstory and theming that has been applied to both the ride and its surroundings.  We got some more details on that as well in Scott and Carol's recent story on the attraction.  Plus the video provides some awesome aerial footage of the ride that we haven't seen yet.

Hopefully all that are planning on visiting Busch Gardens Williamsburg this coming weekend to try out InvadR have a great time, it looks like a wonderful attraction.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Additional Entertainment Options Announced for American Dream

© The American Dream
The American Dream, located just outside Manhattan in New Jersey, will not only be a giant shopping facility when it opens, but also an entertainment destination.  We have already heard of the developer's plans for a Nickelodeon themed indoor amusement park, as well as a DreamWorks themed indoor water park, observation wheel and an indoor ski slope, but now even more options are being revealed.

Blooloop has published an interesting interview with developer Triple Five's President about their ambitious plans for The American Dream, including more on entertainment options.  These include:

• A large performing arts center and theater, with developers partnering with Cirque Du Soleil on a show.

• Merlin Entertains will open both a LEGO Discovery Center and a Sea Life Aquarium inside the facility.

• The first instillation in the U.S. of KidZania, a popular international brand where kids can train and work in well known businesses set inside a themed mini-park, learning as they go.

• SMAAASH, a "gaming and entertainment center that connects sports, virtual reality and dining into a highly interactive and innovative social experience."

• Other sports activities such a climbing walls, trampoline parks, mini-golf, ropes courses and ice skating.

© American Dream
Triple Five hopes to have the American Dream open by the end of 2018.  Park fans, myself included, are still anxious to hear more about just what will be added to the theme park.  Hopefully more will be released as the grand opening approaches.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Playland Aiming for May Opening of New Gale Force Roller Coaster

© Playland's Castaway Cove
According to a recent news article, Playland's Castaway Cove is planning on being able to open their new roller coaster, Gale Force, this May.  The compact design coaster, created by S&S Worldwide, was originally to set to open a year ago, in May of 2016.    Several delays made the ride sit idle as the summer passed by and the news story gives light on just what happened.

It turns out that one piece of the ride's track didn't set exactly as designed, one where the coaster enters the station, which was making for a safe, but bumpy ride.  S&S Worldwide decided that the segment of track needed to be re-manufactured, so the ride's opening was put off until this year.

Gale Force features a triple-launch, forward and backward, to get the individual, 12-seater cars moving at more than 60 miles per hour, but that one bumpy track connection would have been passed 3 times each cycle, and at high speeds.

The new track is now installed and the ride has been modestly tested in recent weeks.  With more testing set for the coming weeks, Playland's Castaway Cove will then be able to apply for a state inspection and sign-off and open the coaster.

In addition to the three LSM launches, Gale Force will also feature a maximum height of 125 feet and a beyond vertical plunge mid-ride.

Friday, March 31, 2017

SeaWorld Entertainment Gains New Chinese Investment + Possibility of New Parks in Asia

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced last week that a Chinese diversified holding company, the Zhonghong Group, had purchased a 21% stake in the company.  The group purchased the public company's shares from Blackstone, the investment company that purchased the chain in 2009 and made it a public company in 2013.

The Zhonghong Group is focused on "strategic growth opportunities in the leisure, tourism, and culture industries" according to SeaWorld Entertainment's press release about the transaction.  The sale was priced at a 33% premium over SeaWorld's stock price, showing that the Chinese company was quite motivated to take on a share of SeaWorld.

And, not surprisingly, it's because they will now be able to use SeaWorld's theme park expertise to develop parks in Asia.  The release states that SeaWorld will now "advise Zhonghong Holding exclusively on the concept development and design of theme parks, water parks, and family entertainment centers to be developed and operated by Zhonghong Holding, including exclusive rights in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau."  As we continue to see theme parks in Asia being built frequently, this means that several of the countries listed above could have a licensed SeaWorld, Aquatica, Discovery Cove, etc themed park built.

SeaWorld has already stated that their commitment to ending orca breeding programs will stand regardless of what new parks come online in the future.

Zonghong Group is currently building Monkey Kingdom, a large theme park located outside Beijing in China.  The group will fill two new seats on SeaWorld's board, and they cannot dispose of their company shares for at least two years.

This news article also details that they will pay SeaWorld millions of dollars for the ability to license a SeaWorld park over the new few years, along with more payments for design and consulting fees.  As SeaWorld continues to work on their brand image and declining performance, this move is generally being seen as a big positive for their future.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk to Feature Two New Rides This Summer

© Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Last fall we first heard of Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk's plan to spend $12 million to fully renovate, modernize and beautify their entrance area and improve several of their existing attractions.  The massive work has been underway since that time, but now it appears as though the expansion is going to be even bigger than before, with the addition of two new rides and an increased project budget of $14 million.

The two new rides will be a part of the renovated entrance setion, and can be seen in the beautiful concept art (above) that Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has created.

© Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
The first new ride opening this summer is named Typhoon, and it will spin two giant arms in a full circle - upside down - at 60 feet above the boardwalk.  Manufactured by A.R.M., Typhoon will be similar to a ride the park used to have (also named Typhoon), but with modern upgrades.  The ride will be located just inside the new entrance, greeting visitors with a thrill as they start their day.

© Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
Also joining the park's lineup of thrills is Shockwave, a popular Mega Disk'O ride from Zamperla.  Riders will be seated facing outward on a giant disk that spins as it moves up and down a 65 foot tall curved track.  The seats are akin to those of a motorcycle, giving passengers a uniquely free feeling as they twirl up and down.  Shockwave will be located on the park's upper deck, next to the Undertow coaster, looking over the expanded entrance area.

The park's previous announcements also covered changes to both the Fright Walk haunted house and The Vault Lazer Maze Challenge, along with new food, games and amenities.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mega Wedgie Arriving at Elitch Gardens This Summer

Even though they've already announced a new ride for 2017, Elitch Gardens was sitting on another surprise addition in the form of a water park expansion that will feature Mega Wedgie.  A silly name perhaps, but it is sure to get the attention of visitors!

Mega Wedgie will be a trio of new body slides, part of an overall $4 million capital plan for 2017 that also includes the Star Flyer - a 17 story tall swing ride already standing at the park and opening this spring.

© Elitch Gardens
Mega Wedgie will start sliders at the top of a six story tower, and they will reach speeds approaching 40 miles per hour on the way down.  Above is concept art of the new slides, showing that there are three different paths to the bottom on the ride.  One features a straight steep plunge, another has several bumps along the way down, and the last features tight turns throughout.

Elitch Gardens currently has a similar set of speed slides, and while the park did not clarify in the press release it appears as these will be updated/replacement versions that are being built.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fun Spot America's Mine Blower is Going Up Fast

© The Gravity Group
Each day that goes by Mine Blower at Fun Spot America, located in Kissimmee, Florida, is growing bigger.  This past week the new wooden roller coaster's construction crews completed a very important part of the ride - and that is seen above.  The coaster's steep 65 degree first drop of almost 81 feet is seen above in a beautiful photo from the ride's designer, The Gravity Group.

© Fun Spot America
Fun Spot America is also working hard to keep fans updated on Mine Blower's construction progress via social media.  They shared a set of photos a few days ago that also show the new coaster towering over the park.  In the above photo we can see that the focus lately has been the first drop, but the ride's lift hill (seen in the center of the pic) is also going up quickly.  At the top of the lift the trains will navigate a quick 180 degree turn before dropping down.

© Fun Spot America
Here is another aerial view of the coaster from the park.  It is amazing how much track will be contained is a rather small area - but the ride will still feature just under 2,300 feet of track when complete.  More of the low-level turns are also going in currently, showing off the extreme banking that will be featured on Mine Blower.

Still to come is the ride's full inversion, a corkscrew, that will be built after the first drop and over the coaster's station!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Sneak Peek At Invadr, Busch Gardens Williamsburg's 1st Wooden Roller Coaster

What a wonderful way to start out the first visit of the year to Busch Gardens Williamsburg. This park is known to be one of the most beautiful parks in the world and this entry billboard only adds to the eye candy!

Busch Gardens Williamsburg allowed fans of the park to choose such things as the name, the logo and the train design. Here's a couple of banners that show off the very cool looking lead cars that were revealed at IAAP last fall.

This concept drawing gives a lot of information as well a the layout of this GCI family coaster. It also shows how the new attraction interacts with both the log flume and the train.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg put a lot of effort into a back story for this ride. A great battle will ensue in the loggers' village of New France. Vikings will invade, forcing the loggers to defend their village and Magnus was trying to recruit Scott to support the Viking invasion.

While this ride entrance side is cool, it is extremely understated...

When compared to the eye candy that you walk under when entering the queue. The "War Wagon" was provided by Weber Group, Inc. This link takes you to their park portfolio which is a great walk down memory lane for park enthusiasts.

A special treat was in store for season pass holders on preview day, here is the video.

Here is a look at part of the queue, and you can see the auxiliary generator that will be used if the electrical grid goes dark.  Griffon is in the background, celebrating its 10th birthday this May.

And, a station view showing where the adventurous battle begins. That is the flume above the station.

Suzy, Director of Development and Engineering, fills us in on some of the details about Invadr. The park is thrilled to be sharing a wonderful new coaster with their guest this spring. That's right, spring, not sometime in the summer.


This view of Invadr was taken on the bridge between New France and Germany. Behind the log flume, you can see the sinuous curves of Invadr and a view of the covered first drop from the other side.

This tunnel goes below ground level and soon this entire area will be landscaped to Busch Gardens Williamsburg's exacting standards.

One of the nine airtime hills throughout the ride, with a little bit of train steam floating above and Griffon on the left with Alpengeist on the right. Kinda like heaven, with two Bolliger & Mabillard coasters next to a brand spanking new woodie. April 7, 2017 can't get here soon enough.

Rather than their traditional all wood structure, Great Coasters International used a galvanized steel support structure for Bush Gardens Williamsburg's newest attraction, a break from their normal practice. But you can see, they kept the fun from their past with turns like this.

You can see the beginning of the above ground tunnel for the first drop from the other side, and the train track run right through the coaster layout. You can also see the extensive steel structure. Our thanks to Ron and Suzy for their help on Season Passholder Preview Day.