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.
Hangtime Opening Date Revealed???
Rumors are floating around concerning Hangtime's opening date. While Knott's themselves have not announced a date yet, the general feeling is that they are shooting for Easter weekend. A screengrab from the Knott's app, may have leaked the ride's opening date, as it says that the ride will debut on the 31st, this Saturday.
Sources close to the park say that the ride itself is mechanically ready to go, with the first live passengers taking a ride the other day, but the area surrounding the ride still needs work. The queue, station, and gift shop are still incomplete, and may not be ready by the time this date rolls around. This is still nearly a week away though, and if work is done around the clock, this may change by the weekend.
As we reported earlier, the maintenance and testing on Xcelerator are complete, and the ride has finally reopened to the public as of last Saturday!
After a couple seasons of standing but not operating, La Ronde is finally dismantling their Intamin stand-up coaster "Le Cobra". This was only one of 3 stand-up models ever manufactured by Intamin, with Shockwave at Drayton Manor the only one remaining in operation. The other formerly operated as Batman: The Escape at Astroworld, before being stored at Darien Lake for many years, and finally being recycled earlier this year.
Judging by the picture above, Le Cobra is also likely going to the scrapyard, as there wouldn't be much interest to rebuild it. Intamin's stand-up model never gained traction as they were noted to be on the rougher side, and B&M created a similar, but improved model soon after these rides debuted. Many riders complained of the awkward restraints and unappealing track layout that these coasters offered.
Cobra was not the first ride to be removed by La Ronde this year, as La Pitoune (Log Flume) was also forced to close after a safety issue correlated to age. This will bump La Ronde down to 9 roller coasters, and some are speculating what's next for the Six Flags owned park.
Cobra's footprint took up a lot of room near the front of the park, making it a perfect place for a new roller coaster. La Ronde's last investment on a brand new roller coaster was Goliath in 2006. I would say that this park is long overdue for a new headliner attraction.
Unfortunately, Six Flags has not been too kind investing in this park in recent years, focusing more on flat ride investments than larger scale ones. Something like an S&S Free Spin seems like a safe guess if that's the route in which Six Flags wants to go with this new space.
Silver Dollar City's newest thrill machine is finally open after months of speculation and waiting. Time Traveler opened yesterday along with the ride's media day event to amazing crowds. At its peak, the ride's queue was said to have reached a length of over 2 and a half hours. That is simply extraordinary for Silver Dollar City.
Below is some POV footage from the ride:
Time Traveler is certainly unique, as it becomes the world's first spinning coaster to contain a vertical drop, launch sections, and inversions. This ride not only breaks barriers for SDC and the industry, but for MACK Rides as well who have been on a roll lately.
I must say that the spinning element was performed delightfully. The spinning is not too fast as to make many riders sick, but it offers a different ride each cycle, as it is free spinning. This should keep guests returning for more and more rides to see the different orientations that can happen during the course of the ride.
Time Traveler's theming is also on point, with heavy scenery around the queue and entrance areas. Not to mention that the ride vehicles themselves are beautiful. I hope to make it out to SDC within the next few years to check out all of the great investments that have been unveiled in recent years.
Today I'll briefly go over the status of the three coasters at Knott's currently under construction or maintenance:
Hangtime is Testing
I'm a little late with this one, but here is some great footage from Parks Bros of Hangtime testing, up close and personal. Be sure to check out their channel for a bunch of different testing videos of the ride. Hangtime looks almost ready to open, as they are now in the phase of testing and adjusting. I have seen a little variance of speed over different videos, but the most recent cycles seem tuned to the correct speed of the ride. With a couple of Knott's coasters down already, hopefully this ride is on the brink of opening.
Work on Xcelerator
Good news for Xcelerator, as work has finally commenced on repairing the ride. Xcelerator has been down for quite some time now, first going down around late summer of 2017. The need of specialized parts shipped from Intamin, in combination of the ride needing its annual maintenance seems to have kept it down for the count for this long time. The park has released no specific info or timetable of the ride's potential return.
Pony Express Track Segment Removed
A section of Pony Express' track that goes over Bigfoot Rapids has been removed mysteriously. The ride is currently undergoing a scheduled rehab, and is supposed to reopen on the 16th of this month. Reasons surrounding this disappearance are unknown, although a park local has mentioned that that section of track and supports has seen a lot of corrosion from the rapid ride down below. Two possibilities are that Zamperla has manufactured replacement track for that segment, or Knott's is recoating the track with corrosion free paint themselves.
No matter the issue, I will be shocked if they can reinstall that track and have this ride up and running in only 4 days or so.
Wonder Woman is TESTING!!!
SFFT Source has not only posted this awesome construction site tour, but also was able to capture Wonder Woman's first testing footage. I must say that in all my years of covering and following the amusement industry, I have never seen a coaster train fly so fast through initial test runs.
Normally, parks have to worry about coasters stalling or not moving fast enough through those first cycles, but that does not even remotely seem like an issue for this attraction. The coaster is hauling through the course so quickly, that trim brakes may even become in the picture elsewhere besides the first drop.
We can only hope that this is a sign that Wonder Woman is right on track to open soon, but there is still some work to go. It looks as though the lift device is either not completely in place yet, or needs tweaking, and there are 2 more trains to install, and operations procedures to create. From my sources, weighted or water dummy test cycles have not begun yet. So progress is being made, but I wouldn't call the grand opening imminent either. Expect a few more weeks to a month or so.
Dark Ride Update
The name for the refreshed Scooby Doo dark ride has been released.... and it will be Pirates of the Deep Sea. Scooby Doo's ride layout will remain intact, but the vehicles will be re-themed to boats, and the laser guns will now be "pirate blasters". This should give the ride system a more modern feel, with more traditional effects than the previous black light ones. SFFT expects the ride to be up and running around Memorial Day weekend.
Pigeon Forge TN Guide has uncovered even more information about Dollywood's 2019 expansion. Visible attractions in the 5 acre area are a swinging ship, family inverted roller coaster, and a large building among other smaller attractions.
These plans come from a town environmental hearing, so are very primitive in nature. Most of the attention from the industry so far is around the colored tube structure, which resembles a roller coaster. Many people have already imagineered crazy ideas of what the coaster's concept could be, but this is a clone layout of a standard Vekoma 453m family suspended coaster. A similar ride is Orkanen in Denmark, seen below:
This model has not made an appearance in North America yet. While it is a cookie cutter addition, Herschend's theming will make up for it. What is most intriguing to me however, is the large warehouse-like building in the background. Could Dollywood finally be getting an immersive dark ride that it has been missing for years?
Many enthusiasts look over the fine details and just rampage about various coaster models and statistics, while proposing impossible features.
Another interesting thing to note of is the flat tracked ride in the upper right corner of the document. It seems really short for something along the lines of an antique car ride or miniature train, but I am going to dig up an idea from the old guest surveys.
Flashback to 2012, when Herschend operated Darien Lake in New York. They created a family area named Rowdy's Ridge and added a popular attraction called Moose on the Loose. This ride is a single rail powered attraction featuring bucking moose that travel through different scenes.
While it is a unique interactive ride, its manufacturer Metallbau estimates its hourly capacity at only 240 riders per hour. A ride like this would surely be a hit with families, and not be able to meet the demand of the park without modification, such as Omni mover loading.
Although this area is on the smaller scale, there are still a lot of possibilities to be excited about. While most of the immediate attention will go to the coaster, the unknowns are what makes this for me.
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.
According to Pigeon Forge TN Guide, plans have been leaked that may hint as to what Dollywood may be receiving for their "largest expansion yet" in 2019. Park officials have stated at a local planning meeting, that the area will be around 5 acres large, and feature 8 new attractions.
These attractions are accompanied by a restaurant, restrooms, water features, and shade structures. Once what was thought to be along the lines of a roller coaster or major thrill ride now seems more like a family or children's area investment. This area may reflect an addition like Fireman's Landing at Silver Dollar City a few years ago. While I am hopeful that at least one or two rides will be thrill rides, it doesn't seem like the case.
If Dollywood still has a major roller coaster in the plans for the near future, it is kind of contradictory to market this as "the largest expansion yet". Even though Herschend Parks are more geared towards family fun, for a park with rides like Wild Eagle and Lightning Rod, a family area is a miniscule feature, even if well themed.
I won't rag on this addition too much until we see the specifics of it, but I am hopeful that it will have a better theme or attractions than SDC's did. While I am a fan of Firechaser Express, having a whole area themed to firefighting is kind of generic and unappealing.
Dollywood's locals seem mixed about this news so far, with some wanting more kiddie rides and shows, and others wanting more thrill rides.
I had to laugh at this one... Yet another optimistic individual has proposed a plan to generate an insane amount of money to attempt and reopen Geauga Lake, which closed in 2007. A little background for those not familiar to the story of this park, Geauga Lake operated for over 100 years beginning as a family summer resort. After many years of success, different theme park chains purchased the park, and overdeveloped it to a point that it could not sustain running costs.
Six Flags is the culprit of this poor business model, and tried to cut their losses by selling to Cedar Fair, their largest targeted competitor, as Cedar Point was only about an hour away. Unable to turn things around, the dry side of the park was closed in 2007, and the water park side finally closed in 2016.
Since then, the grounds have been subjected to abandonment and slow demolition. The only attraction left standing was the classic Big Dipper wooden roller coaster, built in 1925, but it was finally demolished as of last year. Cedar Fair had no intentions to reopen the park or sell off to another theme park chain, as it could pose a threat of lost revenue to Cedar Point. They plan on selling the land to a developer looking to build something more along the lines of a community project.
Of course, the whole story is a sad one, as no park should ever have to close due to having too much land or attractions. A GoFundMe has been set up by Brian Roote, a local 22 year old community college student, who is expecting to raise $20 million in order to purchase the land.
This wonderful graphic drawn with crayon shows the initial "plan" for the park. No rides will be involved, and the grounds would be rehabilitated and feature activities for families to do. Not only that, but once the $20 million is finally reached, an additional $430 million would need to be raised to invest in actual attractions.
Now let's pause before going any further. $20 million just to buy the land, and it's not even a guarantee that Cedar Fair is going to sell it for another hopeful theme park to open. That's IF that amount of money is even possible to be raised. This guy might make a few thousand dollars from this GoFundMe, which I hope that people won't fall for this trap, but I highly doubt he would be able to crack the hundred thousand dollar barrier, let alone $20 million.
His costs are just random numbers thrown out there, with no studies, design firms, or any other figures to back them up. He only has a hand drawn map as his concept, and it looks extremely small. Roote hasn't even graduated from community college yet, and seems to be the only person helping out with this campaign.
I could continue to go on and on about why this plan won't work, but it's time to let Geauga Lake be a park of the history. It's proximity to other major resorts and vast amount of land made it unfeasible to continue operating.
I just thought that it would be a funny little article to share. I have also heard that Roote has been deleting any comments or concerns posted on the account's webpage, even though they are more realistic than his entire plan.
Joel Manby has stepped down as CEO of the struggling chain earlier this week. After a massive loss in attendance and revenue since the release of the Blackfish film in 2013, the company has struggled to keep a positive public image and business strategy.
We recently posted an article on the deplorable state of SeaWorld's operations, and it is no surprise that the board is looking to shake things up. Manby joined the company in 2015, after serving as Herschend Family Entertainment's CEO. An industry veteran, Manby was able to help plan growth and development of those major parks over his tenure.
Upon arriving to SeaWorld, Manby cannot be credited fro much success, save for removal of killer whale shows and a few major ride additions such as Mako, a B&M Hyper Coaster. It's quite unfortunate that SeaWorld hasn't taken the hint by now and begun removing marine exhibits wide-scale.
While I do believe that SeaWorld's animals are given some of the best veterinary care from around the world, the perception of abuse looms, especially as a public traded company. It seems pointless to remove animals from a marine based park, but this would only stand for the larger animals, such as orcas and those who need extensive space. Replacing them could be exhibits featuring animatronics ir new rides with a marine theme.
SeaWorld does not have to strip themselves of the wildlife fully, but should definitely seek growth through attraction investment instead, much like they've done for this upcoming season. The interim CEO, John T. Reilly should focus on replenishing the park's revenue, attendance, and budgets, and creating atmospheres more like the Busch Gardens parks.
At this point, only a massive rollback on animals, or a massive transition to full fledged theme parks will probably turn things around. We will see what happens over the coming years...
Cedar Point hints at BIG changes to Boardwalk
According to reports from yesterday's Winter Chill Out event, despite putting finishing touches on Steel Vengeance, the park is already looking to the future. Last season, we learned that the Extreme Sports Stadium would be demolished for future expansion. This led to speculation that the "boardwalk" area around Wicked Twister would be the next to see investment.
Cedar Point's 150th anniversary is looming, and will be a two year celebration according to the park. This is the perfect opportunity to open another roller coaster, with a setting along the beach and Lake Erie. Similarly with the former Good Time Theater, where Valravn now stands, this older school structure was large, bland, an eyesore, and blocks views of the beautiful waterfront. Something much more aesthetically pleasing deserves the real estate.
Park spokesman was very cryptic with his hints yesterday, as expected, but did plug a little bit about this area dramatically changing very soon. We will be searching all year for updates.
Six Flags Fiesta Texas eyeing 365 day operation
Coincidentally, we posted an article about Magic Mountain's gloomy performance so far with all year operation. Depending on the result, Fiesta Texas may be the next park in line to see an extended schedule. With a perfect climate and growing attendance level, the park may not dive right into 365 day operation, but an all year schedule focusing on weekends and holidays.
Kentucky Kingdom 2019 Rumor
It's been rumored for a while that 2019 would bring a large attraction to Kentucky Kingdom. According to a park spokesman at a recent winter event, these plans will likely come to fruition. While not directly stated, Mile High Falls (a Hopkins Shoot-The-Chute ride), may be the next one on the chopping block. Mainly due to its age, and large plot of land, the landlocked park may see its land as more valuable than the ride itself.
Mile High Falls is one of the returning attractions to the park after the new owners came in. With a large water park, and the river rapids ride finally back in operation, it may be okay for the park to sacrifice this attraction for a larger or more appealing one.
Along with the announcement of Crazanity for Magic Mountain's 2018 addition, Six Flags made the shocking announcement that the park would also be going to 365 day operation for the first time this year.
While we are only 2 months into the year, the move seems like a mistake so far, due to the lack of attendance during the weekdays, when the park would usually be closed. Was this too big of a jump too fast? Is there just not enough interest or demand for a Six Flags park being open all year compared to powerhouses like Disney and Universal?
If you search for pictures of Magic Mountain's queues during the week so far, you will see results with baron, empty station houses, with nobody in them besides the park staff for the most part. With many of the likely visitors being season pass or membership holders, the park is more likely than not losing money by keeping rides open. Not only does the operational cost come into play, but maintenance and cycling the rides for only a few guests does as well.
With Six Flags' track record of maintenance and budgets, it is almost a scary thought to see what happens when rides begin to need extensive maintenance, new vehicles, or rehab. Will the company just cut their losses, and begin mass removing older rides that require more attention due to extra cycles and wear? At least to this point, it would've been smarter for Six Flags to roll out the program slowly, and at a smaller scale than offering the full park.
It costs a lot to staff different attractions hourly, especially with short queues and no riders to cycle. Utility costs also come into play just to keep the ride system running on standby. A potential solution that I came up with was a rotation schedule for certain rides or areas of the park. Especially on slower days, certain rides would only be open during a certain time frame, which would minimize the amount of staff needed to operate. This way, more capacity and volume is driven towards those few options, and rides with nearly no demand would not have to sit idle.
As expected demand and capacity changes, more options could become available. This also helps preserve the ride maintenance and costs, as you are not cycling trains for 2-3 guests at a time. With this move, the park could go longer without having to purchase or manufacture specific parts for upkeep. The older rides would especially see a lightened load, as their total lifespan could be increased.
Along with this model, during slow times of the year, major attractions could be closed altogether for a few weeks or a couple of months to perform that annual rehab and maintenance. Disney is very successful at this model on major attractions so that they run smoothly during peak demand. If implemented right, only 1 or 2 of these major rides or roller coasters would be down at a time during the average visit.
Considering tourism to the region, and the large pull that theme parks have with families, I believe that the new operating schedule is a step in the right direction, but the park's operations and staffing needs to be addressed so that most days do not end up being a total loss.
Six Flags should look not to cut this program altogether if things do not turn around by the end of the year, rather the specifics of it should definitely be tweaked to become more profitable.
What qualifications do you need to become a roller coaster engineer?
You probably won’t find the specific title “Roller Coaster Engineer”.
Manufacturing firms assemble teams of engineers of different disciplines to help design certain components of a roller coaster. For instance, controls and hardware is often outsourced to a third party company.
The types of engineers that work on roller coasters are civil/structural, mechanical, and electrical (most commonly). So an engineering company will hire a team of a wide range to help focus on certain aspects.
Rocky Mountain Construction for instance, has a lead structural engineer, and a team of mechanical engineers to help design their structures and trains.
It’s a very competitive and specialized business. At the very least, a company will be looking for a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and most likely industry experience.
How are the rides in theme parks tested before opening for the public when factors like neck spasm, palpitation or giddiness are different for different people?
Generally theme parks downright prohibit riders with medical issues from riding attractions, as even something as gentle as a carousel or train ride could lead to an incident. I have witnessed many guests claim discrimination against disabled people, but it is simply the theme parks trying to keep their guests happy and safe.
When rides are constructed, they are not necessarily tested for different medical conditions or intensity factors. It is a mix between manufacturer recommendations, amusement codes and local laws, ADA guidelines, and the park’s discretion to come up with criteria for rider restrictions based on the nature of the ride.
For example, at the park that I work at, we are told that guests with neck/spinal problems, heart conditions, pregnancy, and motion sickness, among other major conditions should not be allowed on any ride. While these medical issues are not always visible to the eye, it is the job of the ride operators to be vigilant and inform anybody who has a doubt about riding. “Ride at your own risk” comes into play, because only the rider knows their general health.
In the US, it is general practice to place ADA signs at ride entrances, and provide disabled guests with accessibility guides telling them the different policies for each attraction.
So in conclusion, it is more of a standard practice to restrict riders off the bat, rather than test rides to see if a medical condition can cause potential harm to a rider. The end goal of a ride manufacturer is to construct a safe and exciting ride, while designing it so that the majority of the general public can ride it.
Thorpe Park will be transforming the X: No Way Out roller coaster into a Walking Dead themed ride. Enclosed inside of a building, the Vekoma Enigma roller coaster originally opened in 1996.
The park is marketing the ride as a totally immersive scare experience, that doesn't just start and end with the dispatch of the train. Scare actors and other effects will line the queue and surrounding areas, making this more of a complete attraction. Replicas of props from the show will also be placed in the building.
18 months have been put into the design of the reimagined ride, and the ride's lead creator has gone back to watch all episodes of AMC's popular show to develop as realistic of an experience as possible. This will be the first Walking Dead themed ride to debut at a park. Auditions are being held to find the most realistic zombie actors from around the area to help create the desired atmosphere.
We heard about the franchise branding their show a couple of years ago, with the Sally Corp marketing their concept for a Dead themed dark ride.
Not too much more info has been released yet, as I'm sure that Merlin wants to keep much of the ride a surprise. Hopefully they have gone all out on this one, instead of touting a ride that hasn't added too much effect or scenery wise. The park is scheduled to open March 23rd.
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!
This won't be too much of a lengthy update, but I thought that I would post some of the latest pictures of the projects under construction for 2018!
Great American Scream Machine to run Backwards for Limited Time
Beginning March 10th, Six Flags over Georgia will be running their wooden coaster "Great American Scream Machine" backwards for a limited time. This is the first time that the coaster will run backwards since the 1990s. Georgia Cyclone's old trains will be used for this limited time conversion.
GASM will join Six Flags St. Louis's Batman as one of two rides to run backwards for a portion of the year. It's good to see Six Flags continue this rotation cycle and find a low cost marketing asset for long existing rides.
New Area Names and Twisted Cyclone Update
Twisted Cyclone will be bringing new names to existing areas of the park. The British section will become the Coastal section, and France will be transformed into Piedmont. I'm hoping that some extra work will be done to the surrounding areas, like Cedar Fair has been doing with the addition of new rides.
My hopes aren't too high for Six Flags to do the same though. Twisted Cyclone will reportedly be ready right around Memorial Day weekend, as track work is already 25% complete. 2018 will be one of the biggest in Six Flags over Georgia's history.
Take it for what you will, but the park has been teasing some unannounced elements being added to the ride, and the possibility of another lap. The pre-lift section has already been seen to be modified from the animation video.
Elitch Gardens may be removing Ghost Blasters
This is an UNCONFIRMED rumor at this point, but word has been going around that the Sally Dark Ride "Ghost Blasters" may be removed at Elitch Gardens. Reports say that the ride building has been gutted, an will be removed or reused for a 2018 attraction.
Ghost Blasters is only 10 years old this year after a major overhaul in 2008. Although the same or similar storyline is present in many models of Sally rides, namely "Boo Blasters" at Cedar Fair parks, this is a quality dark ride for a small regional park.
For what it's worth, the ride is still listed on Elitch's website, and no mention of a 2018 attraction has been made over social media. Considering the shocking close of Busch Garden's Darkastle dark ride, anything is possible, despite ride age.
Dark rides are among the most expensive to maintain the effects, especially for a smaller scale park like Elitch's. We will keep you updated on any more developments from the park. Elitch Gardens is scheduled to open on April 28th.
Six Flags Dubai interested in Mack Hyper Coaster (2019-2020)
Currently still in development and construction phases, Six Flags Dubai will reportedly scrap the idea of a "Goliath-like clone" RMC wooden coaster for a Mack hyper coaster. The ride may be similar to the DC Rivals coaster over in Australia.
This will be the third rendition of the ride site, as plans changed from an Intamin Prefab coaster, to the RMC Topper Track model, now to this. No specific information has been released in regards to the official opening lineup of the park.
If plans had to be changed, it could be due to the fact that RMC may already be booked for those years. I have heard that the plans of eventually opening an RMC ride have not been completely scrapped. This would become the first major project from Mack that Six Flags has installed in quite some time, and may lead to a future relationship between the companies.
Alabama Splash Adventure is adding five new family rides for 2018. While it seems like a lot for the small park, they are still recovering from buying the park and rebuilding most of its attractions, meaning that this will give them a good amount of things more to do.
The rides will include a trackless train (pictured above), a Zamperla Rockin' Tug, a Scrambler, a Tilt-a-Whirl, and a Yo-Yo ride. Many of these are typical family rides for a small park, but it shows that the ownership team is committed to growing the park even more.
While the water park is the main draw for this park, they're dry side was once more vast, including three roller coasters, two water rides, and a plethora of flat rides. After 2011, the park closed, and sold off many of its attractions, until Dan Koch purchased the property in 2014.
This isn't a huge announcement, but a good one to see, as a large amount of closed parks have been reopening and revitalized over the past few years. Even if small, more open amusement parks helps the industry and growth of it than less.
After months of being called the "World's Largest Loop Coaster", Six Flags has finally given Great America's new ride a name. Mardi Gras Hangover will be the world's largest Larson Giant Loop ride, standing at 100 feet tall. This is nearly a 30 foot increase of the traditional model that Six Flags has been installing around the country.
The ride will be installed in the park's Mardi Gras area, replacing "King Chaos", a unique Huss Top Spin ride. A hurricane related theme was slated to be the original name for the ride, but the idea was scrapped due to coincidental timing with hurricane season, and Hurricane Harvey. This move was likely made to save the company from bad PR.
Personally, while I am not a huge fan or enemy of the Super Loop model, I would rather have seen King Chaos stay a little longer. Nonetheless, I am happy to see that this model will feature a larger structure, and a larger train, which should be the whole point behind the "looping coaster" gimmick.
Unfortunately, the ride is seeing some bad press already due to the play on words with "hangover". All I have to say about that is people need to lighten up a little. Advertisements and graphics for the ride show no suggestion to alcohol or its effects on people. I love the play on words, and it is a nice little easter egg for adults visiting the park. The ride itself features many hanging moments, and poses no bad influence or graphics that could harm children.
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.
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.
Flashback to just over two weeks ago, we have some updates regarding these two parks, and a couple of the rumors that we addressed.
Magic Mountain Green Lantern Update
Good news to some, bad news to others, crews have been spotted finally working on Green Lantern's structure. The ride has been down for several months now, and rumors of its demise began to swirl around.
Park regulars are speculating that trim brakes may be added to the ride to help make the ride experience smoother and entice less flips. Parts were likely ordered from Intamin, and took a while for manufacturing and shipping overseas. It's hard to find many people who actually enjoy Green Lantern's previous ride experience. The restraints were tight, uncomfortable, and the ride threw you around uncomfortably.
I'm satisfied with this move, because as bad as Green Lantern is, it's better than the park removing it, and merely replacing it with a Free Spin coaster next year. That decision would totally be a "Six Flags thing" to do.
Six Flags over Texas could Reinstall Troika
We also reported on the removal of the Crazy Legs/Harley Quinn Spinsanity Troika ride. Some reports indicate that this may be for a wider scale refurbishment of the ride, so it can be reinstalled at a later occurrence.
While the ride was just refurbished two seasons ago, that was only for paint and retheming into Harley Quinn. This project could see the ride's mechanical system and ride vehicles see more attention. This is just a light rumor at this point, but is definitely a possibility considering the longevity of troika ride lifespans.
Although we have previously heard that Walibi Holland would be installing an S&S Free Spin for their next roller coaster, they have opted to revamp their Vekoma wooden roller coaster "Robin Hood" instead. RMC has been confirmed to be utilizing their I-box track, making it a hybrid coaster, a first in all of Europe.
Ironically, Vekoma is RMC's broker for all projects and marketing overseas. This project has very similar circumstances to White Cyclone at Nagashima Spa Land, which has just been confirmed to be receiving the same treatment a few weeks ago. Reviews from both rides came to a consensus that they were very rough rides, and were in need of some rehab work.
2019 is the first year that RMC will construct multiple projects overseas, and this will become only the third RMC product outside of North America. Robin Hood will continue to operate for the 2018 season, so that guests can get in their last rides.
Vekoma has only constructed 3 wooden roller coasters over the company's history. Robin Hood opened in 2000, and 2 more wooden models followed in 2001. The company quickly closed their wooden coaster division, as these rides became very rough and in need of maintenance quickly.
This project is a part of Walibi Holland's plan for a major theme renovation, and the entire Sherwood Forest area that the ride resides in will be seeing updates.
Along with Goliath and Lost Gravity, the new Robin Hood will be another world class coaster to add to the park's collection. In my mind, that makes Walibi Holland a criminally underrated park, and a hidden gem in the industry mainly due to its location.
No specs or details on the ride's new statistics have been released, but we will be sure to share once that info has been made available.