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.
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!
Kennywood has been receiving some attention lately for their huge new roller coaster project coming within the next couple of seasons. That isn't stopping them from investing big in 2018, as they will be adding an $8.5 million area themed to Thomas & Friends. The park is boasting it as their largest expansion since the Lost Kennywood area in 1995.
The area will hold eight new rides and attractions; 4 new family rides, 3 attractions, and one redesigned ride. Cranky's Drop Tower, Flynn's Fire Training, Diesel Drivers, and Harold's Helicopter Tour are the names for the brand new rides. I suspect that they will be similar in nature to the Thomas Town rides that Six Flags used to operate:
Six Flags' contract to license the Thomas & Friends brand expired, leading them to retheme the areas as "Whistlestop Park". Many parks are rolling back on that theme altogether.
Journey with Thomas will be a modified version of the Olde Kennywood Railroad. A Thomas themed locomotive will be added to the tracks, and it sounds like part of the ride course will be tweaked. The new ride will take riders close to the Monongahela River and the Edgar Thomson Steel Works.
Along with the new rides, guests can expect to see a live stage show, play area, gift shop, and party pavilion as part of this major expansion.
It's interesting that the park would sign with this IP, given I don't know how many kids relate with Thomas anymore. Nonetheless, I expect Kennywood to hold onto this brand longer and take better care of it than Six Flags did. It's great to see the park adding new elements to the railroad to get some more riders on it, given its historic status.
Not only that, but the Thomas theme should bring some more brightness and modern infrastructure to the park, something that I feel they have always needed a bit more of.
This expansion, and the future investment that the park will be bringing should give Kennywood fans a lot to do over the next few years. If the new roller coaster is as big as some sources have been speculating, Kennywood might be trying to become more of a big player in the industry.
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.
Six Flags Magic Mountain Land Clearing- Possibly New Coaster
Bulldozers and other construction vehicles are currently present behind Apocalypse at Six Flags Magic Mountain behind Apocalypse. These vehicles are currently clearing land, spiking rumors that Six Flags will be building a new roller coaster for 2019 or beyond.
Rumors swirled last year of Viper possibly being removed for a new roller coaster, but these rumors have cooled. No signs are present of the classic Arrow coaster being removed for a replacement.
With 19 operating roller coasters, Magic Mountain still is the record holder for most roller coasters in one park. It would make sense that they would build one ground-up, rather than replace a current one to finally hit the milestone of 20 roller coasters, an unprecedented achievement in the industry.
The name B&M Dive Coaster has been thrown around, but keep in mind that if added, this would have likely been replacing Viper, or taken up most of where Deja Vu used to reside. This clearing seems much more substantial, and could be home to something much larger. Magic Mountain has not added a roller coaster since 2015, when Colossus was transformed into Twisted Colossus. This is a "large" drought for building coasters for the California park, who is currently on 3 years without a roller coaster investment. We'll definitely be keeping an eye on this clearing going forwards.
Kennywood 2019 Coaster Update
Based on leaked plans, land clearing, and the removal of Log Jammer, it is quite apparent that Kennywood is planning a very large scale roller coaster in the near future. However, it is still very much in the air of what type of roller coaster this will be, and what manufacturer is going to be designing it.
The earliest of rumors indicated that this could be an RMC Topper track roller coaster, and that it potentially could break The Beast's record for world's longest wooden coaster. Based off of the amount of land that this project could cover, that may be true, but according to varying sources, the original project proposal may have been heavily modified.
The original proposal most likely would have kept Log Jammer intact, but as we know, the iconic log flume is no more as of the end of the 2017 season. Instead of working around it, new plans may have the station and brake run areas taking up the old plot of land. There are also rumors that the project may also now be a steel roller coaster instead.
I think that it is too early to predict a coaster type or manufacturer, but RMC should still be considered one of the front runners. It is probably safe to say that by next season, most of Log Jammer's space will be occupied by something. Keep in mind that Kennywood still hasn't made any announcements for 2018.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas- Scooby Doo Dark Ride Replacement
As if the new Wonder Woman RMC Raptor roller coaster wasn't a large enough addition, Six Flags has announced that Scooby Doo: The Mystery of The Haunted Mansion will also be replaced for the 2018 season. The ride was a Sally Corp product, that ran for 16 years, from 2002-2018. It seems like Six Flags wants to step away from the old Hanna Barbera characters, as this was the last ride of its type to operate in the US.
While immediate responses pointed to another Justice League dark ride clone. a teaser was released by the park that depicts a pirate theme. Park President Jeffrey Siebert has confirmed that it will fit into the boardwalk theme of the area. With Wonder Woman being a large enough investment, a Justice League clone would absolutely be a budget breaker.
This announcement comes as a bit of a shock, as the park had just modified the ride last season to include a "moving station" set up to increase capacity. While no manufacturer has been announced yet, it is likely that the Sally Corp is involved in this rehab. In order to save on costs, the park will likely try to keep as much in lace as possible, and just switch around the show scenes. The moving station and track layout should remain the same, as it is all fairly modern.
This attraction will not take long to construct, as it is slated to open by Memorial Day 2018.