Blooloop just released an article mentioning that the chain is looking to purchase some properties in the US close to their existing parks, to create synergy and a stronger local base. The goal is not only to increase revenue and attendance for the chain, but mainly to increase membership rates, which will provide a more stable revenue source for the chain.
This news is coming off another great year for the company, as they have reached record numbers yet again. Gone are the days of financial woes. Six Flags has worked their way back up to a fierce competitor in the industry. They are expanding overseas again, and seem to be much better off than in the mid-2000s.
So what parks could they possibly acquire? I'm going to use Waterworld in Concord, CA as an example. Six Flags recently entered an agreement with the park to lease and operate it. They rebranded it to Hurricane Harbor, and control the day-to-day operations more so than financials. So Six Flags makes the revenue, and basically just rents out the park rather than dealing with ownership. They may target smaller parks around the country to do the same.
Six Flags would essentially come in, run the parks to make profit for themselves and the owner, and not have to deal with shelling out huge money to own the land. At this point, I don't see the chain spending hundreds of millions of dollars to buy mid-large size parks, but they definitely can use leasing as an attractive option.
Others have also pointed to the chain reacquiring parks formerly owned by the chain, but sold due to financial problems. This includes parks like Darien Lake, Elitch Gardens, and Wild Waves. While the parks' demographics do fit the chain's targets, all of these parks (besides Elitch, owned separately) just entered new ownership with EPR Properties, and a long-term lease with Premier Parks. So it would take a lot of money and convincing to break those deals.
So all in all, I wouldn't expect to see Six Flags acquiring the Busch Parks or similar big box parks. But if it means acquiring a smaller park or water park close to a major property, that is definitely a possibility to try and increase membership rates. It's just really hard to think of many examples of this right now...
We have an update coming from Busch Gardens Tampa today, where the website Touring Central Florida has revealed that permits have been filed to completely demolish the remains of Tanganyika Tidal Wave. The attraction has been closed for 2 years now, and if you view one of our latest videos on our YouTube channel, it is one of two locations for future expansion.
While it is not a guarantee, this makes our guess/speculation of a Premier SkyRocket model a lot more likely. While I'm not a fan of the idea, I am totally okay with them finally demolishing the SBNO attraction, and replacing it with something new.
Closed rides at eyesores, and bad for business, as they represent a park that may be struggling financially, and look dilapidated/unsafe to the general public. Unfortunately, this will probably result in something happening to Gwazi's site being stalled for a little longer. It's a shame because that ride is front and center and can be seen from across the park. But in my opinion, parks should follow a guideline of remove or replace. An empty lot of land is better than one that holds an attraction that isn't operating.
The world is getting closer and closer to the debut of RMC's first Raptor Track coaster. Wonder woman Golden Lasso Coaster at Fiesta Texas is scheduled to have a media date of April 24th, and open to the general public on April 28th. Above we get a close-up of a finished train, and it is looking good!
Darien Lake is showing off the train design for Tantrum. The park has yet to announce an opening date for the ride.
They are still receiving final shipments of parts, and groundwork is still being finished up with the footers and paths. Only a couple of support beams are vertical at this point.
A reader has sent us a photo of the Carowinds construction site today, coming from Windseeker. As you can see, demolition of the old land is moving along quite quickly. From the release of our last video to yesterday, Sand Dune Lagoon is completely gone, and White Water Falls' old trough is also being torn apart.
At the rate that they are moving, I wouldn't be surprised to see site markers or footers being dug by the time summer rolls around.
We will keep you updated, as always. Also, feel free to send us any construction photos or updates that you may have! It helps us to continue producing content on a regular basis.
Carowinds Project Alpha 2019
Shame on me... I have already posted a YouTube video on this subject, but totally forgot to update the main site. Carowinds already has planning documents in place for a project named "Alpha". Land clearing is seen happening in the old White Water Falls and Sand Dune Lagoon sites.
This area is around 4 acres in size and many people are already pointing to a new roller coaster addition. Based off of what the park needs, they currently don't have a good thrill-scale wooden coaster, or any form of launch coaster.
Many people believe that the leading candidate is a GCI wooden coaster. Canada's Wonderland is currently getting the "big" project for 2019, so Carowinds is more likely to get a "B level" project in the investment scale of a wooden coaster.
If they go through with the plans, this gives them an opportunity to sacrifice Hurler down the line, without having to worry about a flagship park going without a wooden coaster. In the video, I mentioned the possibility of renovating Hurler with a launch, so that they meet that need down the line (in the style of Maverick of Lightning Rod).
I'm not going to mention too much more here, or give more updates until we see something happen, but the video can be seen here:
Kennywood teases land clearing
I don't think many people would be excited over a pile of dirt, but Kennywood is using it to tease land clearing for the 2019 roller coaster that has been teased for a few years now. Even though Tomas Town is the big update for this season, Kennywood is already generating excitement.
There is still no clear answer to what type of coaster the park will be adding, but the location of this picture is indeed right around the old Log Jammer plot. This coaster has the potential to be HUGE. We will keep you updated on any and all rumors we hear regarding this project.
The time has finally come... Cedar Point has released test footage of Steel Vengeance featuring Communications Director Tony Clark, and Park Manager Jason McClure. We all have been waiting to see any sort of test footage or content showing off the new ride, so here it is:
Matching it up with the animated POV, this thing is right on the dot when it comes to speed and pacing. All of the people out there who whine about RMCs having pacing issues and speed can eat their words on this one.
I feel like Tony and Jason are being completely genuine with the fact that this could potentially be the best roller coaster on the planet. Beating out Maverick is a pretty high standard to hold something too. Maverick is a top 3 coaster for me, and I'm excited to see how I feel about this one.
Cedar Point's opening day cannot come soon enough, and I hop that I will be able to follow through with my plans to visit the park by the end of May!!!
Is Kennywood adding more attractions to their new Thomas Town area than we originally expected? A report from KDKA Pittsburgh may have revealed this to be true. While watching a promotional news segment on the new area, I noticed video of a couple of rides that were not advertised in the initial press release.
The video, which can be found on YouTube shows these two rides, a mini ferris wheel, and a kiddie coaster. Neither of these two rides are advertised online, or in any concept art. Is this merely video that was reused from a different Thomas Town from around the world, or is Kennywood adding more to the actual park?
It would be nice to see a little more added than originally advertised, and it definitely would make the $8 million price tag seem a little more logical.
If anyone has any more info on this, please let me know!
Six Flags New England is making other improvements around the park to coincide with the new Harley Quinn Spinsanity Frisbee ride. One of which is converting the former Mind Eraser into The Riddler Revenge. The red and teal color scheme is gone, and was repainted to green and yellow, much like Magic Mountain's stand-up coaster.
The ride has also received new trains from Vekoma. They include the new vest restraints meant to minimize head-banging when experiencing lateral forces. Altogether, the improvements may seem kind of pointless for a 21 year old SLC, but these trains should greatly improve the ride quality.
SLC's aren't bad rides, they actually have quite a forceful layout. It's their reputable roughness that gets them bad reviews.
Six Flags Great America removes Hanna-Barbera theming
Six Flags seems to be rolling back on the Hanna Barbera IPs chain-wide, as now it has been reported that SFGAM has removed characters from the Camp Cartoon area, and has left the rides with generic names. While it's very unfortunate that these classic characters will be no more, I can't imagine seeing Six Flags spend money on licensing for an aging franchise.
Children probably do not relate with the brands as much as they used to. I would assume that the contract with Hanna Barbera has expired, since Six Flags Fiesta Texas has also removed their Scooby Doo dark ride. Hopefully the Looney Tunes themes will not suffer from the same fate in years future...
Frontier City gives Diamondback new train wraps
Frontier City refurbished Diamondback's (Arrow Launched Loop) train over the offseason, giving it new paint and a train wrap. The train really pops, and breathes some new life into the ride. This is similar to the train wrap that Darien Lake put on Viper a few seasons ago.
If anyone knows the company or manufacturer who produces these, please let me know! Their work is fantastic, and I hope that more parks catch on.
Some odd news has come out from La Ronde, as Six Flags has quietly removed the Carnaval en Folie from their website. Originally, the park was slated to receive 3 flat rides this season, including a Tilt-A-Whirl, Mid-size Ferris Wheel, and a Scrambler. The latter two are not showing up anymore, and all that remains is the Tilt-A-Whirl.
La Ronde has not been lucky as of lately with additions to the park as it is, but this one is strange. Does Six Flags think that people will just forget about the fact that 2 announced rides would not show up this year? This isn't the first time that the company has modified La Ronde's addition before the season, but it is the first time that rides have been scrapped completely.
Parts for the rides have already been seen on site in storage, which makes this whole story even stranger. Will the rides be added mid season, sent to another park, or just remain in storage for the time being? With La Pitoune and Cobra biting the dust, this park is truly starting to lag since none of which are being replaced by suitable attractions.
Forgot to post this the other day, but Knott's has officially released Hangtime's opening date... May 18th.
While it's a far cry from the original speculated date of March 31st, opening day is just a little over a month away. Instead of rushing the opening, they are taking their time with finishing off the station and queue areas, as well as getting the light programming down.
In my mind, it's better to open the ride when it's ready, as the media is going to be taking a boatload of pictures. There is also the chance of a soft opening a week or so beforehand.
Rumors continue to pour in about SFMM's 2019 plans. We previously heard rumors pointing to Deja Vu's old location over in Cyclone Bay. This speculation is picking up again, as some are suggesting that the WHOLE area may in fact be shutting down for rehab. For those unfamiliar with the park, Cyclone Bay is in the back portion of the park and includes Apocalypse, Jet Stream, Cyclone 500, and Dive Devil.
This area of the park has been under neglect for years now, and is in dire need of a refresh, similar to what was done in the DC Universe a couple of seasons ago. If the rumblings hold true, this may be the largest investment that the park has undergone in years. So large, that construction may begin soon, like we have seen with Canada's Wonderland.
People are clinging to the rumor of Dive, Dive, Dive, as this has been going around since there was the possibility of Viper's demise years ago. I think this is one of the best possibilities, as it is more compact, but could even break records for the park, and possibly push 300 feet. Magic Mountain currently has coasters in the 200 and 400 foot range, so a Giga would be a first.
Roaring Rapids, although in a different area, could be demolished in favor of making room for this new coaster. With Magic Mountain running out of room, it could clear up some space. Roaring Rapids is one of the older rides in the park, and most costly to run and maintain.
Not only does it rack up a huge utility and operational bill, but it has suffered from increased maintenance issues recently, making it more vulnerable to closing. It's quite unfortunate if that's the case, as Magic Mountain would be down to 2 water rides, but from what I've heard, the ride does not generate much interest anyways.
If these plans are truly in the books, the Cyclone Bay area would close somewhere around June to prepare for construction. Apocalypse and other rides would be safe from demolition, but they would be taking a period of increased maintenance and rehab, something that Apocalypse has been seeing a lot of lately. For Magic Mountain's only remaining traditional wooden roller coaster, I feel that close to a year off is necessary to keep in in decent condition.
This is a great way for the park to reutilize old attraction space for something new and improved, but also takes some of the load off of the older attractions that need some extra attention. Besides coasters, SFMM is low on other attractions, so a ride like Jet Stream needs to be preserved. It is good to see the park on a bit of a spur in investing, as they are seeming to round out their lineup, and rehab some of the plazas and areas, similar to Cedar Fair's strategy.
We will continue to look into this, and likely post a video soon...
SeaWorld Entertainment has just filed 3 trademarks, all corresponding with a potential name for a new roller coaster addition, all linked to Busch Gardens Tampa. The names, Tigris, Twisted Tiger, and Uproar all suggest a Tiger theme, which already has people speculating on their meaning.
Two possibilities have been suggested thus-far:
1. The elephant in the room is of course Gwazi, the former GCI dueling wooden coaster that has been SBNO for over 2 years now. Why would Busch leave the ride standing for so long, if it was permanently on the chopping block? The amount of closed and inoperable attractions at the park is growing, and surely must be hurting the park's image.
It's easy to suggest that the park may be looking to turn the ride into an RMC hybrid, considering I don't see many reasons why the ride has not already been demolished. BGT is surely lacking a wooden style coaster, and the steel I-box track would ensure its thrill factor, and longevity in the Florida heat.
2. Some have also speculated that Gwazi may be removed completely, and replaced by a Premier Skyrocket II, similar to Tempesto at sister park Busch Gardens Williamsburg. While this is definitely a huge downgrade, and not exactly too exciting, SeaWorld has been very fond of this model ride recently, and the name Uproar fits the bill.
Even though I wouldn't be too big of a fan, something is better than nothing when it comes to operating attractions. These names would pay homage to the ride that stood there before them, and would begin to turn around BGT's string of bad luck. In a perfect world, I would much rather hope that the former option was being considered considering the amount of land at play.
Vertical construction has begun on Universal Orlando's future roller coaster that replaced Dueling Dragons. Not much at all has been released yet on any specifics, but work is moving along steadily. I try to cover these parks as unbiased as possible, considering I'm ore of a reporter for this type of news, rather than just a fan. But Universal is still in my doghouse for removing Dueling Dragons.
With the great job that they did with rehabbing Hulk, the same type of thing could have been done to save one of the most iconic and photogenic coasters of modern times. But they had it out for the ride ever since JK Rowling and Harry Potter came into the picture.
The only thing that I've said will put Universal back on my good side is a ride that meets or improves upon the quality of DD. This picture is still too early to predict a manufacturer, theme, or ride system. If I had any say in what SHOULD be, it would be something tight and forceful, along the lines of an Intamin Blitz coaster, but my expectations aren't that high.
Escape from Gringotts is a good ride, and one of the best that Universal has ever manufactured, but I'm hoping for something a little longer and more intense, especially considering what its replacing. I have heard the possibility of a Ministry of Magic theme, but that is just preliminary speculation at this point. The idea of Hagrid's motorcycle also came into play, and possibly considering that Tron at Magic Kingdom will become a very similar roller coaster. this is definitely an intriguing project to follow...
All rides and attractions have height requirements, as well as a set of rider admission policies. These safety standards ensure that the rider conforms to the restraint device safely, and is developed enough to experience various forces exerted on them. But who makes up this number, and what factors come into play when determining that restriction?
1. ASTM Standards
First and foremost, the committee that oversees all ride manufacturers, parks, inspectors, and operators is the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). As they do with EVERY industry, their Volume 15.07 covers Amusement Devices and other recreational attractions. They are the ones who make "the rules" for everyone involved to follow.
From the moment that a ride concept is designed, to its fabrication, to construction, and finally operation/maintenance, ASTM has set standards to govern these bodies. One of their articles covers forces and acceleration exerted on riders. With the use of acceleration and G-Force graphs, they show the maximum boundaries and limits that can be subjected to a rider. There's a reason why many rides have similar height requirements (36", 42", 48", 52", 54"). ASTM suggests that a rider be a specific height as an average indicator for age and development. The higher a force range is on a rider, the taller they should be (which of course height isn't always a good metric for age, but it provides an average).
2. Ride Manufacturers and Restraints
When designing ride vehicles and restraint devices, a ride manufacturer needs to design a device that will be able fit the largest audience as possible, but also do so safely. I will use Intamin as an example. We all know and have heard about how unforgiving their T-bar restraint can be for larger riders. Intamin has tried many sizes and shapes of those restraints over the years to be able to safely hold more riders of larger proportions. But the larger a restraint becomes, the more you have to sacrifice riders of a lower height requirement who cannot fit.
Therefore, there is a balance in trying to achieve the greatest amount of potential riders as possible. Force-wise, ASTM standards may give a lower number, say 48", but a ride manufacturer can easily bump that number up, if their restraint device requires riders of a taller stature or with longer legs or torsos.
3. Park, State, Insurance Reasons
This one is more of a grey area, but parks themselves, state regulations, and (indirectly) raised insurance fees can all factor into the final decision for a height requirement. Similar ride models or trains may even have different height requirements from park-to-park in many cases.
Insurance companies charge fees to insure rides based off of risk, intensity, restraint type, etc. This is a very similar system to how pricing on car insurance, home insurance, and life insurance work. A ride that has a very high intensity or thrill factor will have a larger cost to insure than the teacups. If a park boosts the height requirement above the ASTM or manufacturer minimum, they could help alleviate insurance costs due to more mature riders taking part (lower risk). Another scenario is a ride with a dual-redundant locking mechanism being supplemented with a seatbelt, to add more factors of safety.
Millennium Force at Cedar Point is over 300 feet tall, built by Intamin. Although it is 100 feet shorter in height, and has the exact same train design as Millennium Force, Ride of Steel at Darien Lake has a 54" requirement, vs MF's 48". Insurance costs and the park's personal opinion on the issue played a role into this ride's increased requirement, despite being a smaller ride.
SFMM Guest Surveys show off crazy new coaster concept
On the most recent ride planning survey, Six Flags posted this video of what would be a revamped Superman: Escape from Krypton. The ride would reutilize the current structure, but become a single full circuit coaster, rather than two shuttles. The ride would feature the world's tallest inversion, connecting the two sides.
Of course this is an extremely primitive model and is going to need extreme engineering analysis. The structure is going to have to hold the new load of this updated track, as well as fall into safe force ranges with Lex Luthor being on the same drop tower. I actually received this same concept through Great Adventure's survey, so they are receiving an opinion chain-wide. I would be totally for this project happening, but would rather see SFMM get its 20th ground up coaster, rather than a repurpose.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg debating Sesame Place area
BGWFans has uncovered a guest survey for a potential new Sesame Place area added behind France at BGW. The land would be open by 2021, and feature 6 family attractions. This project would not be a part of BGW, rather a "third gate" added onto the property. This is an attempt to take full advantage of the Sesame Street IP, much like what is being done in Pennsylvania.
The new park would include a shopping district, dry ride area, an mini water park. While I find it weird that this wouldn't be a part of the park, like Busch Gardens Tampa's Sesame area is, this seems large enough to be sustainable on its own. It just needs to have the right admission cost, and draw in enough families with small children who really enjoy the IP.
Thorpe Park opens Walking Dead Coaster
Thorpe Park has opened their rethemed version of X: No Way Out the other day. Initial thoughts from the public are that the ride was rushed, and does not improve over the original ride in any way. While the preshow and queue areas are well done, the ride itself did not change much. Not many effects or memorable moments were added. It seems like this was more of a project to get a quick flip on the popular franchise, although a rumored 20 million pounds was spent on it, and not much work was done.
Knott's Hangtime continues testing
Hangtime was never able to make its March 31st deadline, but work is continuing to be done at a rapid rate. As shown by this screengrab of the park's webcam, all of the ride's lights are now operating and look stunning. The ride's queue and surrounding areas are still being worked on with shade structures being added, and the ride itself continues cycling until it will finally be opened.
Darien Lake receives first Tantrum pieces
Darien Lake is finally showing off their first track segment and support columns arriving for Tantrum, a new Gerstlauer Eurofighter. While the ride is a bit behind schedule due to weather, groundwork is complete and ready to begin building the track. The ride will not be ready for opening weekend, but by Memorial Day weekend is a good aim for this to open up.
We're barely into the 2018 season, and it's already time to start reporting on rumors for 2019 and beyond. This one comes from Hersheypark, where it seems like a planning document has been uncovered noting a 2020 attraction. Considering the early timeframe and year of this proposed attraction, it will most likely be of larger scale, such as a roller coaster.
Hershey's last coaster addition was the enclosed Laff Trakk of 2015, but you have to go all the way back to 2012 for their last new thrill coaster, and my personal favorite, Skyrush. Of course this document does not reveal any specifics, as it is very preliminary in nature, but it does signify that something big is happening.
2018 brings a massive water park expansion for the park, with a new slide complex and water coaster. It may be safe to say that 2019 will be kind of an off-year considering the major investment. On the horizon, it will make sense that the next marquee attraction will be a thrill coaster, as the park is overdue for one.
I don't want to begin speculating too much, as we don't have a lot of info, but a few possibilities that come to my mind are:
1. RMC Wildcat- The coaster is the worst of Hershey's wooden collection, and RMC would need to be booked this far in advance due to heavy demand.
2. New steel coaster- Intamin or B&M could make a return to the park if this is the case.
At any rate, we will definitely continue to look into this and inform you of any updates!
Worlds of Fun finally reveals Nordic Chaser
After months of waiting, Worlds of Fun has finally shown off the model of their new ride for 2018. It will indeed by a Mack Seesturmbahn (Sea Storm) ride. These models are smaller family rides that can be found at a few Cedar Fair parks around the chain. While it isn't the more elaborate, enclosed model that Mack produced back in the older days, these rides are still a lot of fun for all. Think of it as a Himalaya-type ride with small pops of floater airtime ad revolving boats.
Lagoon puts Millennium Flyers on "Roller Coaster"
We've reported that Lagoon's classic wooden roller coaster would be receiving track work and new trains this offseason. The park is currently testing their modifications, which was seen to be Millennium Flyer trains from GCI with custom headrests.
Dorney's Stinger is getting scrapped
According to NewsPlusNotes, while we did already know that Dorney Park was removing their Vekoma Invertigo, Stinger, this offseason, it will be recycled instead of relocated. The ride was seen listed for sale online earlier this year, but it appears that nobody came through. Stinger was known to be problematic over the years, and its expedited scrapping before the beginning of the season is a sign of no interest for it around the industry.
In a shocking move the other day, Sansei Technologies of Japan announced that they have purchased Vekoma. Sansei was a big name in the Asian industry for many years, before acquiring S&S Power a few years ago. Their main claims to fame are projects overseas, and some Omnimover products that they have designed for Diseny. Since then, the company has only acted as a management firm for S&S, still allowing them to operate the same way and participate in their own projects.
Now, the Sansei umbrella will operate their own manufacturing firm, S&S, and Vekoma. This is quite ironic, as it joins together the remnants of S&S's Arrow parts division with Vekoma, the company indirectly credited to the beginning of Arrow's financial issues.
Over recent years, Vekoma has undergone quite a change to their products and image in the industry. While their Boomerang and SLC models have garnered them the greatest publicity since their inception, and not necessarily in a good way, Vekoma has broadened their horizons quite a bit since then. They have worked with Disney on multiple impactful roller coaster projects, designed brand new trains and track design techniques, and have introduced new models that are beginning to receive more attention and credibility. Vekoma also nearly won the bid to construct their first hyper coaster model for Energylandia, before losing the bid to Intamin.
While Vekoma has flourished recently, and have constructed more roller coasters than any other manufacturer in the world, this deal is not necessarily a sign of financial weakness for the company. S&S was a fairly well known company for their roller coasters and tower rides before their merger. Since then, S&S has done some of their best work yet with the El Loco, Free Spin, and Tower Models. They have even shown signs of innovation with the reintroduction of Arrow's Steeplechase ride. Sansei may have also given the company a boost in the Asian market, as they have been involved with a few parks in Japan recently.
This is a really good thing for Vekoma, as they might find these successes of their own in the Asian and North American markets. With the plethora of innovative new models that they have been offering, we can only hope to see more parks jump ship and sign with Vekoma to build some of these closer to home. Keep in mind that even though they have a new owner, the day-to-day operations and dealings of the company will be left up to them.