Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New Turbo Track Coaster Opening at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi in March

Opening toward the end of March at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, Turbo Track is a new launched shuttle coaster that has been designed by Intamin.

The ride starts inside the enclosed theme park, but after a launch section with a small hill and dip, the track blasts through the park's center glass enclosure and outside.  The train will then travel vertically up to a height of just over 203 feet, twisting 180 degrees as it goes.

Ferrari World released this teaser clip of the ride that shows off the location of Turbo Track within the park, and the twisting vertical tower:

The trains, which according to this news story, will have forward and backward facing seats, will accelerate to a stop speed of more than 60 miles per hour.  The twisting spike at the end of the ride will provide a nice sensation of zero gravity as it trains stop, then plunge back down the tower.

© Ferrari World
The article also details the elaborate engineering that was required to safely break through the park's glass center for Turbo Track to head outside.  The above photos shows just how awesome looking the outside spike it - certainly worth all that effort!

While the launch area's small rise and following dip are pretty gradual, it will still be interesting to see if there will be any air-time during that point, considering it just after the launch area!

Turbo Track will be the park's 4th coaster, with another planned to open later this year.  That ride is said to be the first "SFX Coaster" from Dynamic Attractions, filled with special track elements and digital enhancements.

Monday, January 30, 2017

California's Great America's Concept for New Marketplace Addition + A Peek at New Coasters?

Now that the requested zoning changes have been approved for California's Great America, the documents and video from the city meetings can be found online.  We've already covered some of these documents previously, but I noticed a couple other drawings that are interesting to look at, and the first is for the new marketplace - a shopping, dining and entertainment area outside the theme park's gates - that is planned.

© California's Great America
You can click the larger image, but due to the fact that this is a .pdf of a scan of a paper document, there's only so much you can clearly read.  Granted this is a concept, but here is what I can interpret from the image that is planned (following the numbers on the drawing):

1 & 2 - Full service restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating.
3 - Restaurant, Deli/Bakery style with indoor and outdoor seating.
4 - Coffee Shop with indoor/outdoor seating.
5 - Entertainment/Restaurant, light fare with a bar.
6 - Entertainment/Restaurant, live music and bar.
7 - Merchandise, Park exit gift shop.
8 & 9 - Merchandise, boutique with clothing and sundries.
10 - Merchandise, market with light fare, coffee.
11 - Restrooms.
12 - Entertainment, including the existing Redwood Amphitheater, Showtime Theater, Great American Theater and multi-purpose building.  New additions include an outdoor stage, a gathering area with shaded pathways, open space and fountains, along with "programmed space."

© Bing Maps
Taking a look at an aerial of the park, the entire space within the green lines will be the Marketplace, according to the concept.  This is a very outdated aerial, though, with Gold Striker missing for instance, but it still gives a general idea of the part of the current theme park that could become space open to the public.  One has to wonder if the park's Carousel and Wave Swinger, unless moved (doubt the Carousel is going anywhere) will be pay per ride, or just exactly where the new entrance gates will be.  Plenty of time to figure that out, though, as this place seems a few years away, at the least.

The video of the council meeting also includes that the park may consider adding bowling to the area as well.  So it certainly sounds like these plans are still evolving.

Speaking of the video, there's one more image from it that's pretty interesting:

© California's Great America
Okay, this is quite blurry I know but it's the best I can do.  This is a view of the Marketplace from the planning meeting video.  It seems to include a version of the Marketplace with a bit less of the current park, ending at the main fountains and Carousel.

But how about the park next to it?  There is what appears to be a red roller coaster sitting over top of the park's river rapids ride, near the water park.  The design looks similar to a compact B&M wing coaster if you ask me.  Then just below it, in orange, is what looks like a part of a hyper coaster that has a turn around where the park's flying scooters are now, with track running in a straight line across the park.  There's also a new water park entrance accessible via a walkway that runs under Flight Deck.  How I wish a more clear version of this image was available!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Busch Gardens Williamsburg Releases an InvadR Change + New Animation

Along with revealing a new feature for InvadR, Busch Gardens Williamsburg recently released a new animated point-of-view video of the all-new wooden coaster.  Here it is, I think the 'addition' will be pretty obvious:

Well, in case you did not catch it, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has added a tunnel to about 3/4 of the ride's initial 74 foot drop, which then dives into an underground tunnel.  As a recent update on the coaster's website points out, this will make the sense of speed (the ride will hit 48 miles per hour) seem even greater, going from outside to inside, to out then in once again in a quick moment.

The update also mentions that the ride's lift hill is complete, and that 40% of track is in place - though there are no photos of this progress.  Hopefully the park will release more photos in the near future.

When complete, InvadR - which has been designed and built by Great Coasters, International and features sister-park's Gwazi trains - will stretch 2,118 feet through the wooden New France section of the theme park.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

New Water Slide Tower Announced for Frontier City in 2017

Frontier City, located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, has announced a new water slide tower named Gully Washer for the park's 2017 season.

The new body slides will be located adjacent to the existing Wild West Water Works play structure, which opened in 2012 and was the theme park's first dedicated water play area.  The 2017 addition will add some thrill to the area with 3 new twisting, high speed body slides.

© Frontier City
Seen in the background of the concept art above, Gully Washer will start on a 66 foot tall tower overlooking the area.  Riders will travel down one of three separate body slides, in total the slides will stretch 1,249 feet.  Each of the fully enclosed slides will feature "back-to-back turns, thrilling dips, and tight 360° curves" on the path downward.  The slides will have a 48 inch height requirement.

The new slides, along with Wild West Water Works, are included with a general admission ticket to Frontier City.  The park plans to have the expansion complete in time for the water area's May 13th opening.

Friday, January 27, 2017

SeaWorld San Antonio Debuts New Wave Breaker Website

SeaWorld San Antonio has launched an all-new website dedicated to Wave Breaker: The Rescue Coaster, the theme park's brand new roller coaster opening this summer.  The ride will be themed such that visitors will ride jet ski-style trains as they launch up and over the park's central lagoon, mimicking SeaWorld rescue teams on a mission to save an animal.

The first of its specific kind in North America, Wave Breaker has been designed by Intamin and will have two separate LSM launches during the experience with a maximum speed of 44 miles per hour.  The trains will soar up to 61 feet in the air, while also diving and swooping through 2,600 feet of track.  The coaster's 48 inch height requirement will allow a larger portion of the park's visitors to experience it.

© SeaWorld San Antonio
Wave Breaker's new website contains information on the ride, recent news stories that include the attraction, as well as photos of the ride's trains and construction progress.  The above photo, from the website, shows that a portion of the park's lagoon has been drained with a significant amount of footers already in place.  Ride components have already started to arrive at the park, with more on the way.  That means vertical construction should be just around the corner, which is when things get even more exciting!

For a closer look at how the completed Wave Breaker will look at the park, check out the below animation that SeaWorld San Antonio released:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Scott & Carol Present: NASA's Day of Remembrance

Today is Nasa's Day of Remembrance, when they pause to recognize those who gave their lives pushing the envelope of space exploration. Neil Armstrong said it best,"The rate of progress is proportional to the risk encountered. The public at large my well be more risk advers than the individuals in our business, but to limit the progress in the name of eliminating risk is no virtue."

It was fifty years ago today, when Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee perished in a "plugs out" ground test of command module 012. The test was the first time a mission rehearsal was done under the spacecraft's own power, using the pure oxygen like that would be used on the first mission. Everything was proceeding normally except for some troubleshooting of the communications system when at 6:31 PM the crew report fire in the Command Module. They suffered for only 17 seconds, when they perished due to inhalation of the toxic gases from the fire. "Go Fever," and a nationwide belief in the infallibility of America's Space Program had claimed their first victims. Today NASA opens a long overdue display honoring the trio at the Apollo/Saturn V Center at the Kennedy Space Visitor Center. In the under thirty months fallowing the tragedy, NASA flew five missions and landed on the moon, where Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted an American flag. America had won the space race to the moon, albeit as a high cost.

The Space Mirror Memorial was dedicated in 1991 by the Astronauts Memorial Foundation to honor all astronauts who lost their lives on missions or during training. It was designated a National Memorial by Congress in that same year. It serves as a reminder that space is an unforgiving and very dangerous environment.

The astronauts have flown T-38 Talons for over forty years, both to keep their flying skills sharp, and also to travel to contractors and do public relations work. Unfortunately, four member of the astronaut corps have lost their lives in these planes. Their names are Ted Freeman, Elliot See, Charlie Bassett, and Clifton Williams.

Following the Columbia accident in 2006, NASA took thirty-two months to return to flight. Along with some recovered parts of the orbiter, there are memorabilia honoring the flight crew, as selected by their families. It give a more personal appreciation of each individual. Here is a listing of the crew: Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon.

It only took thirty months for the space shuttle to fly again  after the Challenger accident in 1986. The flight crew is similarly honored with personal effects selected by their families. Here is the complete crew list: Francis Scobee, Michael Smith, Judith Resnik, Ellison Onizuka, Ronald McNair, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.

Today at 10:00 AM, NASA will pay tribute to their colleagues, with a ceremony at the Space Mirror Memorial. Following the wreath laying, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will provide flowers for visitors to place at the memorial. NASA's Day of Remembrance honors members of the NASA family who lost their lives while furthering the cause of space exploration and discovery.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Joker Free Fly Coaster Nearly Complete at Six Flags Over Texas

A benefit to parks located in the southern part of the U.S. is that they can work on new rides through the colder winter months without the interruption of piles of snow, and Six Flags Over Texas has taken advantage of that when building their all-new Joker Free Fly Coaster.

The park has been sharing photos of the coaster's progress on their website, here's one semi-recent one:

© Six Flags Over Texas
The Joker will become a part of an expanded Gotham City themed area when it opens, which is helping to push out the park's boundaries into what was a small shopping center.  The new coaster is located right along the park's boundaries, which allows for extra-nice photos of the construction process from outside the property.  You can see a recent update at Over Texas Thrills, showing that just a bit of the top layer of the ride, and the highest part of the lift were left to be installed as of a few days ago.

The photos are also a great look at the new color scheme that the 2017 batch of Joker coasters have, which involves not only alternating purple and green track, but supports as well.  Looks good!

Monday, January 23, 2017

SeaWorld Orlando Shares Details of New Seven Seas Food Festival

Starting on February 11th and running for 14 consecutive Saturdays (through May 13th), SeaWorld Orlando will soon debut their all-new Seven Seas Food Festival.  Described as "combining unique culinary delights with memorable performances," the festival will offer visitors a new reason to check out the party each week.

©SeaWorld Orlando
Each day of the Seven Seas Food Festival SeaWorld Orlando will feature international coastal cuisine offerings that can be paired with craft beers and wines.  There will be a total of 55 different craft brews available, featured exclusively during the festival.  A wide variety of wine and specialty cocktails will also be offered.

The food will be set up among eleven new "global markets," featuring Asian, Latin, European, Polynesian and North Atlantic dishes - more than sixty different treats in all.

© SeaWorld Orlando
The menu of just some of the samplings could easily make you hungry, such as the cinnamon slow roasted pork belly with sweet plantain mash at the Caribbean Market, or the southern creamy cheese grits with blackened shrimp at the Gulf Coast Market.

Along with the food and beverage will be special live performances each Saturday from top country, rock and Latin artists.  Already on the line-up are acts such as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Styx, Phillip Phillips, ZZ Top and Oscar D'Leon.

The Seven Seas Food Festival will start at 11 a.m. each Saturday during its run, going until the park closes.  The event is included with park admission.  To learn more, check out the event's website here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Look at California's Great America's Bright Future

It is already well established that Cedar Fair has worked on a new zoning plan for California's Great America, one that would set the stage for the park to grow significantly in the next 20 years.  As part of the approval process the park created a presentation about the future of the property, shared via the planning commission for the meeting where it approved the plan.

© Cedar Fair
The master plan document gives a look at just why the park wants to expand, how it is able to justify the new zoning, and how it intends to grow over time.  Above is a look at the park as it currently is, which makes a nice starting point for review.

© Cedar Fair
This map is an imagined 20 year plan of growth for the park.  There are some significant changes - but keep in mind that this is a concept, not a hard blueprint for the future.

First, a portion of the theme park around the current entrance is set to become an entertainment district, not a gated part of the park (similar to Knott's Berry Farm).  The water park will take over some of the existing theme park space, and through use of existing open areas and other changes, there are plenty of new rides and attractions listed.  If you click the larger image you can see some of them lined out - keep in mind though that this is a 20 year concept - a lot of the items listed could easily be swapped out over time for the latest or greatest of that period.

If you look at the acreage chat on the before and after maps, you'll see how the park's land will be redivided:

                          Before     After  (in acres)
Theme Park       75            52
Water Park         11            15
Entertainment     4             34

© Cedar Fair
So, even though the theme park is envisioned to become more than 20 acres smaller in size, that doesn't mean there won't be big new rides to draw in guests.  Several pages give ideas of what could be coming, starting with a steel hyper coaster that could be up to 250 feet tall.  The document references Diamondback at Kings Island as a similar ride, and even without that happening it seems B&M is a logical choice to supply the ride.  Another coaster listed here is an Intamin launched coaster, like Wicked Twister at Cedar Point.

© Cedar Fair
This page references a new wood coaster for the park, specifically stating that and "out-and-back version" would work at the park.  Seems a bit odd considering the park just added Gold Striker, but in the span of 20 years it doesn't seem so strange.

© Cedar Fair
Other large attractions that are mentioned are a 250 foot StarFlyer type swing ride, a new water flume ride, and a slingshot tower.  Mentioned elsewhere in the planning documents, but not on this slide, is a large pendulum ride as well.

© Cedar Fair
Family attractions will also be added, with some potential rides coming online such as a mid-sized steel coaster (referenced is the inverted family ride at Kings Island), a "mini wood coaster" that would be 35-40 feet tall and 1,400 feet long, and of course new "flat rides" for kids.

© Cedar Fair
Also listed as ideas are a large climb and play structure, which I think would be a first for the Cedar Fair parks, and also a Dinosaurs Alive type exhibit, certainly not the first for the Cedar Fair parks.

© Cedar Fair
California's Great America's water park would also see plenty of new changes.  Several water slide towers, like those that have gone into a half dozen Cedar Fair parks in the past few years, is listed as an example addition up front.

© Cedar Fair
The water area would expand to take over some of the existing theme park, and have a new dedicated entrance built for it - so guests could access it from outside the park.  A water coaster is listed as a possible addition, which is fantastic because Cedar Fair outdoor water parks lack these.

© Cedar Fair
Rounding out other potential water park additions are the ever-popular mat racing tower, slides with aqua drops, and a family raft ride which is currently missing from the park's line up.

The document also goes through the details of the special event area that is planned, along with other seasonal special events that could be used to make the park a year-round operation.  It sounds like the future of the park is very bright, and I personally cannot wait to see what is announced for 2018 to kick things off.  In more current news, the park has removed their Top Spin ride, and though no official announcement was made, photos of the ride being taken out have appeared on social media.  Change is certainly in the air!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Latest on Kings Island's Mystic Timbers Coaster Progress

© Kings Island
After getting an early start on construction this past fall, Mystic Timbers, the brand new wooden roller coaster at Kings Island, is now proudly standing over the park's Rivertown section.  Not only standing over, but also snaking through the woods of the land as well, with the structure weaving around and over the White Water Canyon rapids ride.

When completed, Mystic Timbers will have 3,265 feet of track that starts with the 109 foot lift hill that can been seen in the photo above.  As trains plummet down the curving first drop (right near Diamondback's first drop) the trains will hit speeds of around 53 miles per hour.

Kings Island has done a great job of keeping updated construction photos of Mystic Timbers available on the park's website; if you haven't kept up with it make sure to check them out here.  Also, there are some really great aerial photos of Mystic Timbers available on this blog.  It's really neat to be able to get a feel for just how many times the coaster will use bridges to pass over the river ride below!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Presidential Gallery at the NMUSAF

A few months ago we brought you stories about the new gallery of the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Since it houses over 70 aircraft, we just gave you a brief overview, and in honor of Inauguration Day, here is some more detail on the Presidential Gallery, sponsored by Boeing. On a cold day in April 2016, some of the final planes were brought across taxiway to their new home. Here is what it looked like:

This VC-121E, Columbine III, served during President Eisenhower administration. It was parked close to VC-118, Independence, used by President Truman, and VC-54C, Sacred Cow, used and specially modified for President Roosevelt. There is a total of ten aircraft at the present time.

If you were alive when President Kenndy was assassinated on 11/22/1963, you will remember SAM 26000, the plane where President Johnson was sworn into office and it also carried President Kennedy's body back to Washington, DC. You can see where the bulkhead was cut to allow the loading of the casket on the top deck because the flight crew did not want to put it in the cargo hold. This aircraft is presently being retrofitted with LED lighting for preservation and guest comfort and will be open for walk-through tours again on 2/4/2017.

You can actually walk through many of these aircraft and get closer to history than you ever thought possible.

These aircraft represent more than 70 years of fulfilling the United States Airforce mission of dedicated presidential service. They have even planned ahead for the retirement of the present aircraft, as the main repository for aircraft retired from the presidential fleet.

Something not widely known is who takes care of these planes and how do they do it? Retired Master Sargent Danny  Bowen talked to us and shared a little about how difficult it was to go home and tell his family that they would have to find out where he was by watching for the plane on TV. He also mentions that they spent lots of time cleaning and polishing because when the plane is overseas it is the symbol of the United States of America.

All of these aircraft were formerly on the other side of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where about seventy-thousand visitors could tour them annually. Now, they are open daily, with some brief exceptions for restoration and refurbishment for future generations, every day the museum is open. Effectively, every one of the approximately one million visitors to the museum can step back into, and experience these unique historical artifacts.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Michigan's Adventure Releases Concept Art for 2017 Expansion

Toward the end of this past summer Michigan's Adventure released plans for an expansion of the Half Pint Paradise kids area in their WildWater Adventure water park.  At the time there was no concept art for the development, but since then the park has given us a look at the new area:

© Michigan's Adventure
The new Half Pint Paradise will be a combination of several small water slides for kids, along with a splash pad play area.  In the art above (click for more detail), you can see that the expansion will have a colorful and modern look, just like similar expansions at other Cedar Fair parks in recent years.  This area will also be connected to the Beach Party interactive water funhouse as well via some new pathways, creating a larger section aimed at smaller guests.  Additional seating and cabanas are also a part of the plans.

Michigan's Adventures plans to have work on the expanded Half Pint Paradise ready for WildWater Adventure's 2017 opening day.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

EPCOT's Candlelight Processional

Each winter Epcot guests experience a remarkable transformation, Holiday Around the World changes the World Showcase yuletide celebration, with the centerpiece being the Candlelight  Processional at the American Garden Theatre.

With this wide angle shot, you can see just how many performers are required for this Walt Disney World classic. 

Joe Morton, Emmy winner of Scandal and The Good Wife fame, was the guest narrator for the night we attended, and his rich voice resounded through the air as he recounted the Christmas Story

Trumpeters move around the audience during the performance, lending a new definition to surround sound. Here they are on the side wings of the theater, which resemble stain glass church windows.

The music director has a 50 piece orchestra at his disposal, who start out with the Candlelight Overture, an instrumental medley of Christmas Music. The choir is assembled with processional music, composed of traditional Christmas Carols. In this photo, he is conducting the guests as they sing along with Silent Night.

Also under direction is a tremendous choir, led by the Voices of  Liberty singers. If you plan your day just right, you can catch a performance of the Voices of Liberty just prior to a showing of the American Experience. Check in with any of the cast members at the American Experience for details.The acoustics in the lobby area are a great way to indulge yourself in the Christmas Spirit and cool down if it is 84 degrees outside like it was during our visit.

Here are a few of the highlights of the Candlelight Processional performance that we attended. If you plan to go next year, we highly recommend a dining package to ensure a less stressful experience. These performances are so popular that people line up hours prior to the venue opening to make sure they get in. Although this isn't too bad, because then you get to hear the music twice. Our thanks to Mike at Walt Disney World, for helping us and giving us tips for a better experience.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Taking a Closer Look at Six Flags' International Plans

This article, published on Blooloop, is actually from a couple months ago but I just recently came across it.  A lot of industry fans have been wanting to know more about Six Flags' plans to enter new countries around the globe via park franchise developments, and the story paints a lot of color as to just how they're making those plans a reality.

© Six Flags Zhejiang
Six Flags has tapped John Odum, a long-time Six Flags employee who's led several parks, to be the head of the international division.  So far park projects have been revealed for Dubai, China and Vietnam... with what sounds like more already in the works.  The story gives more depth into the role that Six Flags will play in the new parks, which is a bit more than just the name license and design.

It also gives a nice example of how the company is designing using local themes - specifically mentioning the use of a local tale as the backbone of an entire themed area in Six Flags Zhejiang.  The parks sound like a blend of local themes along with Western ones that will appeal to visitors alike.  And speaking of Six Flags Zhejiang, there's a post on this site that has what is said to be a layout of the park, showing a similar - but not exact - selection of rides as the Dubai park.

I case you missed the link up top, follow through here to read the story on Blooloop.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Collectors Alert: Knott's Berry Farm to Hold Memorabilia Auction

Knott's Berry Farm is planning an upcoming auction, to be done by Heritage Auctions, of more than 200 lots of items from the park's famous history.  This could be a dream come true for many fans of the park, as many unique and one of a kind items will be up for auction.

© Knott's
The auction will have a host of really interesting items, from quite large ticket (Mr. Knott's original Model T car) to smaller collectibles like paintings that originally hung in the park's restaurant. 

Ride fans can rejoice over the opportunity to own animatronic characters from Bear-y Tales, the Calico Mine Ride and the Timber Mountain Log Ride, or even the sign from the long-gone Haunted Shack.  From the photos in this news story it also appears as though several Haunt-related items will be up for auction, which will also attract many park fans.

The full auction catalogue will be available toward the end of February, with the actual auction planned for about a month after that. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Dorney Park's 2017 Expanded Catering Area Making Progress

One of Dorney Park's major additions for 2017 is a brand new catering facility, to be known as Parkside Pavilion, and it's already made significant progress already this off-season.  The park's general manager shared this photo of the work site:

© Mike Fehnel
The photo was taken from the top of White Water Landing, the splash ride located next to the development.  As you can see there is already steel going up for the back set of buildings, with plenty of footings, sewer lines and more also underway.  Parkside Pavilion will be quite large - the two buildings being framed will be joined by a center building to the left, then two more large pavilions as well - able to handle 2,000 diners at a time.  More details on Parkside Pavilion's offerings is available in this recent news story.

© Bing
For those not familiar, this is the site for Parkside Pavilion.  The land was previously a backstage area that housed a couple maintenance areas and also storage.  The setting will be perfect for a new catering area, out of the way from the bustle of the park but still centrally located.

The park is also adding two new rides in 2017, Dodgem and Kaleidoscope, a new Cirque Imagine live show and making improvements in Wildwater Kingdom.