New Height Waiver Filed
We previously reported on the 315 foot height waiver that was submitted by Busch Gardens, likely for a "Project Madrid". Now, the park has filed a permit for a 90 foot structure, located in the Ireland section of the park.
Nobody seems to understand the direction of the Busch Parks right now, and they seem to be scrambling to make plans work. Ireland currently lacks any large attractions, besides the brand new Battle for Eire. 90 feet is not that tall, but tall enough to still fit in a mid-size coaster. It would be a benefit for the park, given that not many of their "family coasters" have a low height requirement, but it would also be a bad move given that they have not installed a quality thrill coaster in a while.
Some people have already thrown around ideas such as a Mack Spinning coaster similar to Cobra's Curse, or a themed launch tower ride that was debated years ago. If it is a coaster, I am certain that it will be f the smaller scale.
Project Madrid Update
This project seems more likely to be a 2020 addition now, and it may have also been modified. Although plans are still very primitive, Festa Field seems to have a new structure in the plans looking very similar to an amphitheater. So instead of the aforementioned 315 foot attraction, it may just be an upgraded Royal Palace Theater instead. It's really difficult to know what Busch really has in store until they actually begin construction, as their leadership is sort of in shambles right now.
Project Madrid may open without a major attraction, or be something that is built up over the years. It's not really a surprise to me, seeing that the chain's financials do not justify a huge new investment like a new area.
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.
Here's an update showing off some of the rehab going into various coasters this season...
Loch Ness Monster
Busch Garden's Park President has confirmed that Nessie will indeed be getting updated trains for the ride's 40th anniversary. While I believe that the chassis of the train has been reused and rebuilt, everything above is new. The train bodies, and headrests have been reshaped and resemble Arrow's later train models. Parts of the track are also being repainted to commemorate the historic ride's tenure.
Six Flags New England- "The Riddler"
Mind Eraser is currently being transformed into The Riddler. The red and teal paint scheme is turning into green and yellow, similar to that of Six Flags Magic Mountain's Riddler's Revenge coaster. Along with the new name and paint, I believe that the ride will also receive second generation SLC trains from Vekoma, like those found on Morey's Nor'easter.
Canada's Wonderland- Vortex
Along with the construction of their 2019 roller coaster, it seems like Canada's Wonderland is already getting a head start on the surrounding area refurbishment. Vortex's trains have gotten a cool new paint scheme, and is rumored to be getting a "timber" themed name as well.
Sources are unconfirmed, but by next season, the track may be getting a full paint job too.
Loch Ness Monster Receives New Trains
To coincide with the 40th anniversary of the ride, it seems as though Busch Gardens has purchased new trains for the classic Arrow ride. While the train's source is still unclear, Coaster Square believes that they were either built in-house using parts from the old trains, or came from a shop that supplies Arrow products in Richmond. I would go with the latter, or S&S's Arrow parts division stepping in.
Taller headrests, increased space, and a new body design are all new features of the rolling stock. Despite budget cuts and recent controversial business decisions, it seems like Busch Gardens is taking another step in the right direction to celebrate this historic attraction.
Valleyfair removing Riptide???
We have also heard a rumor that Valleyfair may be removing their HUSS Suspended Top Spin, Riptide. The ride has disappeared from the park's website, and with the installation of Delirious, it could be an early indicator. Along with the log flume removals, the removal of HUSS Top Spin rides has been happening far too often. These rides are known for their high running and maintenance costs, and usually do not age well due to the nature of the machinery.
By now, I'm sure that most people are aware of the financial troubles of SeaWorld parks. Ever since the release of the Blackfish film in 2013, the parks have suffered from decreased attendance, revenue, and profits. A public traded company, stock prices have fell over 50% from its peak a few years ago.
Unfortunately besides the three SeaWorld branded parks, the company also owns the two Busch Gardens parks, as well as Sesame Place in Pa. Once noted as one of the best brands in the industry when it came to overall theming, service, and attractions is now in shambles and at risk of going under.
The subject of animals in captivity is highly subjective, and each person will take their own perspective on how zoos and animal based parks should handle owning live animals. With the world that we live in today, it is not surprising that these attractions are taking a huge hit from the press, even if they have five star veterinarian care and facilities. Especially when it comes to marine animals who need extensive space, parks do not find it hard to get a bad rap from organizations like PETA and other activist groups.
While the Busch Parks are seen in a better light due to less of an involvement with animals, and more of a focus on rides, they are suffering from undeserved treatment due to SeaWorld's financial troubles as a whole. Over the past few seasons, the Busch Parks have had to shutter or close multiple attractions to help alleviate budget cuts.
Popular rides such as Busch Gardens Williamsburg's Curse of Darkastle, and Busch Gardens Tampa's Gwazi have been forced to close due to increased maintenance costs and lower budgets. Gwazi has not been touched in 3 years, and left standing but not operating, with no clues as to what will happen to the structure.
It is bad business to leave rides standing but closed to the public. Guests may see a ride from across the park and head over, only to be disappointed when they find out that the ride is not operating. Malls perform a similar tactic when stores close, and the exterior is boarded up with drywall and advertisements. The empty space of a defunct store is shielded from the public.
It's bad enough that headlining dark rides and roller coasters have been forced to close, but even playgrounds, play structures, and other family attractions have seen a similar fate.
Of course I am focusing on Busch's sake here, as SeaWorld parks have never been branded as theme parks, rather as marine parks focusing more on the animals. Although SeaWorld is removing some of the animal attractions and replacing them with true rides, I still think that unless the animals are removed wide scale, the parks will suffer from a bad image.
It's time for SeaWorld to sell the Busch Parks to a different chain. SeaWorld needs to solidify this new direction that they are taking with the marine parks. The Busch parks have always been profitable and good attendance pullers, so they shouldn't have to suffer from woes that the SeaWorld parks have caused the chain from the increased press.
Whether it could be the rumors of Merlin or Palace being interested in the parks, SeaWorld should entertain selling the more lucrative properties to help out their financial standing. The Busch parks are way too nice to have to suffer from this.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced the closure of the Curse of DarKastle dark ride yesterday via social media. While this is something that has been speculated for a few months now, it is still a shock that the park is deciding to close the unique ride after only 12 years of operation.
Based off of speculation around the industry, the ride's low popularity could not justify the ride's maintenance costs and the budget given to the park by SeaWorld. Even on the busiest days, the ride did not generate much of a line compared to larger attractions.
The ride's technology was not of the most modern in the industry, and was likely in need of a renovation, much like the similar Spider-Man ride at Universal. While it was not of the best quality, many fans of the ride cite its one of a kind story and impact on regional parks as their reason for disdain over the closure.
Unlike many dark rides installed by theme park chains not named Disney or Universal, the ride was not a "clone" or copy of another ride. It was the first and only of its type, and generated a cult following among BG fans. With the park hosting Halloween and Christmas events, it is an odd move to close one of the only indoor and climate controlled rides, that was almost guaranteed to be running.
Busch Gardens will be opening Battle for Eire this season, a brand new dark ride featuring a VR system. This ride is slated to use some of the latest technology in the industry, but it would also be able to coincide with DarKastle in the same park. Not everybody likes to strap on VR goggles, and some people who have motion sickness simply cannot. DarKastle is different enough where guests would not see the two dark rides "as the same thing".
Personally, I am not TOO upset with this decision, as you always have to look at things from a business perspective. If the ride was not generating the appropriate foot traffic, it doesn't make sense to spend a good chunk of the budget to upkeep the costly special effects. At least another dark ride is coming in this year, rather than just losing one altogether.
In my mind, it makes sense, but I am 50-50 about the whole ordeal. It is becoming more of a common trend in the industry to quietly close rides, rather than announce it far in advance, mainly because they want to try and avoid the bad PR.
Magic Mountain Land Clearing Update
The land clearing that we reported on yesterday apparently is not owned by Magic Mountain. Instead, it is owned by a development company who plans to build a massive community right behind the park. The project will consist of infrastructure and thousands of homes once complete.
As for a new roller coaster, I would still look at Deja Vu's former plot for any progress in the coming months. With this rumor being debunked, it also puts the status of Viper's future back into question as well.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg Height Balloon
As some may have noticed from the Rumor section, Busch Gardens Williamsburg has recently conducted balloon tests and filed paperwork for a height waiver of 315 feet. This is seeking approval for a new attraction of that height in the park.
The odd aspect of it is that the paperwork was filed under the name "Busch Gardens Madrid". The park was formerly known as the "Old Country", and is currently named "Busch Gardens Williamsburg". The park is home to many European themed hamlets, none of which involve Spanish culture. This leads many to believe that this project name is not only going to be one ride, but a whole area dedicated to Spain's capital city.
This mystery is not the only one that remains unsolved, as the type of ride is also unknown at this point. It is only referred to as a "Structure" in all city filings. Many would point to 315 feet as the perfect height for a new giga roller coaster. The park already has a drop tower, and an observation tower, which rule those attractions out. The only other rides that reach that height would be a Ferris Wheel, slingshot, or Sky Screamer/Windseeker attraction. These all seem unlikely for the park, but a swing ride could be the most believable of the three.
Many soil testing and planning documents show a large parcel of land being used for this expansion, so a roller coaster may be the best guess. This would be a clear shot in the competition with nearby Kings Dominion and Intimidator 305. Check back for continuing updates on all projects.