New planning documents have revealed that California's Great America is planning to construct a 236' tall ride for 2019 or 2020. Based off of the park's 20 year master plan released last year, the location of the proposed structure will either correspond with the tower ride, or hyper coaster.
The coordinates of the new ride will be located where Peanuts Pirates (a HUSS Breakdance) currently lies. Coming off of a large investment with Railblazer this season, it would be unlikely that the park is already planning for the hyper coaster next season. Considering the construction period of the ride, it is a possibility that they have already filed for the hyper coaster to be installed for 2020. Of course, none of the heights correspond with the ones listed in the original plan, as many projects are modified slightly before final renderings.
Ignore the arrows, but this image is the only clue that we have to help give us perspective of the future. The hyper coaster would be the long straight yellow lines that turnaround along the Eagle's Flight flat ride. The ride's station would either reside where the go karts currently are, or where Log Jammer used to be. Marked by the red cursor in the Google Maps image, the tallest point of the ride would be there in either scenario.
This makes me believe that a Star Flyer model will be coming in 2019, and the hyper coaster is tentatively scheduled for 2020/2021. Let's explore both possibilities:
Case 1: Star Flyer in 2019
- A Star Flyer would fit on the ride pad of Peanuts Pirates
- Coming off of Railblazer, this is a smaller investment, but enough to market
- Valleyfair's North Star ride is around the same height (230 feet)
- The "star" attraction of the chain in 2019 is scheduled to be a Dive Coaster at Canada's Wonderland
- The hyper coaster would have to cross at a diagonal for its tallest point to be at the cursor
Case 2: Hyper Coaster for 2020/2021
- Logger's Run and HMB Endeavour have been removed to clear land leading to Eagle's Flight
- Paperwork is being completed earlier to account for the large scale of the attraction
- If the Star Flyer is coming in 2019, the go kart attraction could also be removed to make way for a station/queue area, which is diagonal from the location on the documents
- This gives Cedar Fair more of a buffer zone to spread out capital investment
- Although there is always a tolerance, the hyper coaster was slightly taller than the submitted height
All of this is speculation, but I am reasoning why I believe that these two attractions will fall into this plan. A Star Flyer is a great supplementary addition to help ease the blitz of removals that CGA has been undergoing. Then a couple years after the marketability of Railblazer has worn off, CGA would build their next "big thing".
As more updates come along, we will post them right here as always. Check YouTube tomorrow for a video update!
Railblazer's First Train Arrives
CGA has posted pictures of their first Railblazer train arriving. It will take the theme of an ATV or similar off-roading vehicle. I am impressed with how these single rail vehicles turned out, and the colors really pop along with the orange track.
Rockwork and other theming has also begun for the ride, which installed its final track piece a few weeks ago. It'll be interesting to see when this project begins testing, as it is one of the most unique and exciting coaster concepts to ever be created.
Six Flags may have announced their own Wonder Woman model first, but this one is truly going above and beyond what was expected of the final product. Hopefully this spurs a mass desire for other parks to install similar or larger models.
HMB Endeavour being Removed
The Intamin Looping Starship ride HMB Endeavour is being removed from the park this offseason. Along with Logger's Run, this will be the second ride removal. The ride operated for 30 years, and was among one of the few of this model ever constructed. Although Intamin still produces the ride, it probably suffers from higher maintenance costs, and lower ridership over the years.
Despite the park installing a brand new type of coaster, and having an exciting master plan for the future, it is sad to see two ride removals in less than a year. Hopefully this means that planning is already underway for what 2019 will bring.
Over the past three years, six log flume rides have closed at major parks. Once a staple ride of the industry is now becoming somewhat of a rare breed. Why are parks deciding to close them? What attractions are replacing them? These are questions that this post will address.
Invented by Karl Bacon of Arrow Dynamics in the early 1960s, the log flume was the first ride of its type seen since "Shoot the Chute" rides constructed in the 1900s. Instead of focusing on a single drop into a lagoon, the log flume was versatile. It could meander through a customized course, climb through multiple drops, and return right back to the station at the end of the ride. The first installation is known as "El Aserradero", which opened at Six Flags over Texas in 1963.
This form of attraction became a fan favorite. They allowed for a wide audience to ride, featured large drops, and was a refresher on a hot day. Over the course of their history, Arrow built more than 50 log flumes.
So why are they going away?
The largest reason, as with anything in the business world, is money. In their hey day, a log flume was one of the largest additions that a park could invest in. That came with the caveat that they were also some of the costliest to maintain and operate.
As machines age and deteriorate, they either need a costly rehab, replacement, or downright removal. Log flumes take quite the beating over their lifespan. Water is heavy to move, and these flumes are responsible for moving thousands of gallons of water per minute. As pumps get older, they are in need of more maintenance and become less efficient. The decision of replacement or elevated running costs comes into play. Lift motors, station brakes, and filtration pumps all suffer from the same issues that come with age.
The structures of the ride also have to carry a large load. Since the logs are not fixed down to a track, they can freely float and bump along the surface of the trough to navigate the course. Loaded boats combined with velocity of the water erode the materials of the ride, meaning that once they become weak enough, segments of the ride will either need resurfacing or total replacement. This is important because the vast majority of Arrow's flumes were constructed of fiberglass. Along with the trough, many of the support structures were built of wood, which can warp and rot when combined with years of moisture.
Finally, there are actual operational costs. Remember that water is heavy? Imagine the electricity costs involved with pumping thousands of gallons of it per minute up and own drops, running multiple lifts that carry heavy boats, and all of the other brakes, controls, and motors. It's not a cheap bill. The water also needs to be tested and filtered daily, to ensure that it is clean enough to come in contact with people. Now you need people to run the ride. Log Flumes often need larger crews than most rides to attend all station positions, run the main panel, and attend the lifts in the event that an emergency stop is necessary.
For a ride that isn't marketable anymore, and isn't bringing any new people to the park, it is understandable why some parks decide to close their older flumes for expansion space. Although there's costs required with refurbishments and upkeep, park's can't really go out and announce "New for 2018: We replaced the log flume's pump! Come ride this thrilling new experience."
Some parks actually have decided to put down the money to refurbish their flume rides. Names that come to mind are Six Flags over Texas, Six Flags over Georgia, and Kings Dominion. Notice a trend there? They are all larger market parks, and their flumes not only have a historical value, but remain some of the top attractions in the park when it comes to capacity. In a case like this, the park has justification to use their budget on the existing ride, rather than remove it.
We've already been over the nostalgia and tradition that log flumes carry. For over 50 years, they have become popular, family favorite attractions that nearly everyone can enjoy. However, when parks make that tough decision to demolish them, many park fans and visitors have made their thoughts known.
Just breezing through a few of the top comments on different park's Facebook pages will give you a bit of an idea of how people feel. The main argument is that parks are removing these rides "just to build a new thrill ride" and that "they don't care about the families anymore". This is far from true. Parks don't decide to remove log flumes just for expansion. It usually comes from a combination of running costs, safety issues, and age.
La Pitoune at La Ronde was forced to shut down without notice due to structural problems. Darien Lake's Thunder Rapids sat closed for half of its final season in need of pump replacements. Even Kennywood's Log Jammer almost didn't open on its final scheduled day due to a maintenance issue. With age comes reliability problems, and parks are merely just trying to replace these older rides with something that will be open more often, and leave less people disappointed.
What's replacing log flumes?
We mentioned that six major parks have closed their log flumes in the past three years. Here is what is replacing them, or has already replaced them.
So four of these parks have already confirmed that roller coasters are replacing the flumes, one is rumored to be, and La Ronde is adding three new rides for families. So the people on Facebook have a legitimate gripe. Many of these parks are redeveloping the land for a thrill ride.
Why shouldn't they? Most amusement parks around the world are limited on land. Once they begin to run out of this resource, they are known as "landlocked" parks. With log flumes taking up multiple acres of space, it is a perfect piece of land to build a larger scale ride on upon their removal.
Thrill rides and roller coasters are also some of the most marketable rides. Not only will they keep local clientele coming back, but they also will bring in people from other places. With more admissions, and a larger population to pull from, this gives parks more of the capital that they need to continue profiting and building up, including future attractions for the whole family. In most cases, it is the thrill rides and roller coasters that give the parks their levels of success.
Companies such as Intamin, Hopkins (now White Water West), and Mack still manufacture flume rides similar to Arrow's original concept. While I believe that a few international parks have added them recently, the only ride in the US that came close to a traditional log flume addition was Shoot the Rapids at Cedar Point. The ride was plagued with problems and completely scrapped after only 5 seasons of service.
Will log flumes ever make a large scale return to parks? It's hard to say. But it is clear that the big focus of the industry right now is to continue constructing the latest and greatest innovations in thrill rides and roller coasters. At the very least, hopefully this article clears up a little bit of confusion, and pays homage to the great attractions that now find their home in the graveyard.
It's been rumored ever since Rougarou opened at Cedar Point, and now it is finally here!
Vortex, the park's B&M stand-up coaster, will be retired at the end of the season, and it will be upgraded with floorless trains and renamed Patriot. As well as a more comfortable and enjoyable ride experience, the ride will also feature a new paint job and sleek trains.
While it may not be the best layout in the world, Patriot should be much more enjoyable for riders, and will save the park a lot of space in the long run. It's also better than just scrapping the coaster and getting nothing out of it. Rougarou has been very successful for Cedar Point, and many people say it is a giant improvement over the old Stand-Up model Mantis.
Besides Mystic Timbers, this is the only other current coaster for Cedar Fair so far. CGA fans will be very happy to hear that possibly a former fan favorite will be upgraded to become great again.
Vortex will give its final ride on September 5th.
Reason: Many people argued that this treatment would be a waste for Vortex, but it really isn't. the landlocked park will be able to save some space, while also technically adding a new coaster experience.