---- THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS ----
(12/11/13) Universal Studios - Gary Goddard and New Monster Movie Shared Universe (MORE...)
(12/11/13) BlooLoop reports that Merlin will open a new Madame Tussauds location in Singapore at (MORE...)
(12/10/13) Final Eight - Vote for the Park of the Year (MORE...)
(12/9/13) Disney Buys Rights To Future Indiana Jones Films
(12/5/13) Walt Disney's Birth Home Restoration On Kickstarter (MORE...)
Disney World Hidden Mickey App - (11/10/13) Congratulations to the following three winners who are being sent a download code to get the new Disney World Hidden Mickeys app: John, Terry and Eric! Your codes have been sent, so check your email!
(11/8/13) Good news for fans of Hidden Mickeys! The all new Version 3.0 of the “Disney World Hidden Mickeys” app for iPhone and iPod Touch will now also work on iPads as well. It contains over 150 fun Hidden Mickeys along with high-quality photos showing them off throughout the four Walt Disney World theme parks. (Android fans have not been left out, there is also an Android version of the app available on the Google Play store as well.)
2012 Park Attendance Report - (6/5/13) The 2012 TEA / AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report has been released and can be downloaded in PDF form here. Most of the numbers are as you would expect to see from the major players, with Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom topping the North American market with over 17.5 million guests, up 2.3%. The big mover this year was Disney’s California Adventure which opened Cars Land in 2012 and saw park attendance rise by 22.6% to hit an all time high of 7.775 million! Meanwhile nearby Universal Studios Hollywood also wowed the same local market by opening Transformers: The Ride 3-D and saw attendance at the Hollywood park soar 15% to 5.9 million. Both of those parks invested heavily in major new attractions and it really paid off for them both… so let that be a lesson to the rest of the industry.
By contrast, the only top park in North America to see a big decline in 2012 was Knott’s Berry Farm who saw attendance drop 4% to 3.5 million, which was likely due to the lengthy delay in opening the park’s new Windseeker ride… quickly followed by the shut down of Windseeker a few months later as some guests may have held off their visit until they knew the new ride was running.
The European market was a bit on the soft and runny side however, with many parks seeing sagging attendance figures and only Parc Asterix pulling in a solid increase of 8% aided by the addition of their OzIris B&M inverted roller coaster.
You can also still download the attendance reports from several previous years too:
Download the 2011 Report
Download the 2010 Report
Download the 2009 Report
Download the 2008 Report
Download the 2007 Report
Download the 2006 Report
General News - (12/2/13) Disney & More welcomes a new contributor this past week…one I’m sure many of you may have heard of. Gard Goddard has joined up and will share his own stories from the theme park attraction design universe with the world week after week. Gary starts things off this week with some new concept art from new attractions in the works as well as many more for attractions than never got off the ground. Always fascinating to see and looking forward to reading more from Gary in the near future.
(11/10/13) As odd as it seems the head of Lionsgate Entertainment has said that they have been approached about building amusement park concepts themed to The Hunger Games series in two different territories of the world. Of course with the second film set to open in theaters in less than two weeks, I’m more inclined to just blame all this on the Hollywood Hype Machine.
The reality is that unlike most other movie-based themed worlds that come to life in a theme park, the world of The Hunger Games is one of misery and slavery where a greedy capital city keeps the rest of the nation on the brink of starvation. The primary focus of the movies thus far has been on The Hunger Games themselves, an annual wargame that pits 24 randomly selected children (12 girls, 12 boys) between the ages of 12 – 18 in a fight to the death. Doesn’t that just scream theme park fun?
The most I could see may be to use the idea of the games themselves as the theme for a live action stunt show spectacular, with a focus on hand-to-hand combat rather than edged weapons. It works for Universal’s Waterworld… also based on another world of misery where the popularity of the stunt show has far outlived the film it was based on. Other than a stunt show, when you get down the meat and potatoes of what you really need to have to bring The Hunger Games to life in a theme park… it just doesn’t sound like something that would translate well to the typical family friendly theme park environment. On the plus side, there could be some great T-Shirt sales from this beyond the typical, “I Survived the 75th Annual Quarter Quell” and “District 12” gear.
(11/4/13) CoasterTalkNoBSZone is attempting to perform a census to determine the whereabouts of the remaining NAD coaster trains, no matter if they are in operation, in storage or just sitting in a boneyard somewhere, left to rot. If you know anything about the location of an NAD train somewhere, please do let them know.
(9/27/13) The latest episode of Lost Parks of Northern California is now live as they tackle the Manteca Waterslide park that closed down 9 years ago. I’ve embedded it below for your viewing pleasure… enjoy!
(9/25/13) Valtiner & Partner GmbH have announced that they will reveal a new ride system to the world at IAAPA this November. This is a new motion theater style concept, one that you will experience standing up. They have been working to perfect the system for years, including trying out a prototype at Vienna’s famous Prater, then refining the system and experience, and finally they have built a full scale system in their factory of what they call the E-Motionboard.
The guest experience is where the E-Motionboard stands out from its peers. Instead of sitting in a seat riders stand in front of the Motion Grid, and that instantly engages and immerses them in the action. Valtiner said, “Riders are not just watching images on the screen, guests feel like they are flying. It is like nothing else the industry is currently offering and we are very proud of it.” Look for the E-Motionboard to be on display at the Ride Entertainment Group’s IAAPA Booth (#5151).
(9/10/13) A family swing ride at a small festival in Connecticut suffered an accident on Sunday afternoon, causing it to suddenly stop in mid-ride and injuring 18 people, 12 of which who were children. Fortunately there were no life threatening injuries. An investigation will take place to determine just what happened. According to the report, the ride was identified as a Zumur, which FlatRides.com says was manufactured by Chance Rides.
(9/3/13) ThemeParkTourist is currently holding a contest to give away $50 Amazon gift cards to readers who submit reviews to their very large Park Guides page. Click here to see all the rules on how you can submit and win!
(8/21/13) An interesting statistc was posted to AmusementToday this week. According to this report theme park visits by “teens” has declined by 9% over the past 5 yeas. The believe price may be a primary factor behind this decline, which makes sense. Only a portion of the teen demographic has a real-world job due to age restrictions, and of course we all know the job market these days is a lot slimmer than it was 5 years ago. Meanwhile the price of admission or a season pass has only gone up, while disposable income for teens is getting hard to come by. Plus you’ve got to consider there is steep competition for what income they have, especially if you consider how fast smartphone usage has spread over the last 5 years as well. It makes me wonder if some parks may be on the verge of pricing themselves out of reach from a valued demographic.
Internet Fun - (12/10/13) The Park of the Year voting has now moved up to the final eight, who will battle it out in the latest round of voting. The final eight parks are: Universal Studios Florida, Dollywood, Disneyland, Cedar Point, Universal Studios Hollywood, IdleWild, Silver Dollar City and Busch Gardens Williamsburg. Click here to vote.
(12/4/13) Time to vote for the Waterpark of the Year award over at Behind The Thrills. I suspect a little social media foul-play, but somehow Aquatica San Antonio is leading the pack by a large margin, followed by Schlitterbahn New Braunfels, Aquatica Orlando and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Go vote!
(11/28/13) Need an idea for a special gift to your favorite coaster enthusiast? The great 2014 Roller Coaster Calendar from the folks at Coaster Talk No B.S. Zone have now added a 15% discount on it, dropping the price to $14.02 plus you can get free shipping by entering the promo code FREESHIP, plus get an additional 18% off with the code FBC18. Click here to purchase one!
(11/19/13) Voting for the Theme Park Website of the year has begun again at Behind The Thrills… and Screamscape is proud to have won it for the past 3 years in a row. The ranks of the competition have swelled this year with more sites than ever trying to take the honors… so Screamscape would love to take it for a 4th time. Please do vote for your favorite site here. I believe you can vote each day as well.. so vote… and vote again.
(11/14/13) The latest polls are live at Behind the Thrills who are asking you to vote on the Attraction of the Year and Region 4 (West Coast) Park of the Year.
(11/7/13) Two new polls going on this week at Behind the Thrills where you can vote for which park has the best food as well as the Region 3 Park of the Year (Midwest).
(11/1/13) You can vote vote for Region 2 (North-East US) for the Park of the Year Award at Behind the Thrills. Click here to vote. This is sure to be a highly contested voting area, with Busch Gardens Williamsburg already out ahead of the pack with a strong lead.
(10/29/13) The latest vote in the Thrill Weekly Poll is to choose the Best Family Friendly Theme Park Destination for 2013.
(10/24/13) Voting for the Region 1 Park of the Year has begun at Behind the Thrills this week. Region 1 includes all park sin Florida, Georgia, both Carolinas, Alabama and Tennessee. So far Universal Studios Florida has a staggering lead, but after opening Transformers The Ride 3D and Springfield in the same year, I’d have to vote for Universal myself as well. Who do you think is the Park of the Year? Vote Now!
(10/22/13) BehindTheThrills latest edition of their awards poll this week focuses on Halloween events, with two polls… one for theme parks and one for stand-alone haunts.
(10/16/13) A fantastic looking new 2014 Roller Coaster Calendar is now available for sale online, created by the folks at Coaster Talk No B.S. Zone. You can see images from the calendar on their Facebook page and can be purchased here for just $14.84 right now while there is a 10% Early-Bird Special going on. They are also selling some mini-prints and poster versions of some of the same photos here.
(10/14/13) Behind The Thrills has launched their annual Thrill Weekly Polls, starting with votes this week to nominate an Attraction of the Year and Best Show awards.
(10/10/13) Want to know what it’s like to build and work in a haunted house? It seems there is a haunt somewhere in the Chicago area run Chicago’s Zombie Army Productions. If that wasn’t enough, they’ve been running a web-based reality series for the past four seasons called Days of the Living Dead about the inner workings of the haunt biz. Looks interesting, funny at times and educational as they show off how you can build some of your own great looking haunt props. Check it out!
(9/30/13) It appears the sudden media attention that came to Shocktoberfest over their planned Naked & Scared Challenge event was a bit much, and the local city council has clamped down hard on them for it, forcing them to cancel the event. For now it seems the ‘prude’ option will still take place, allowing guests to run through in their underwear. You can read a small update on the change over at ThemeParkUniversity.
(9/19/13) In one of the stranger news articles this week, Theme Park University reports that the Shocktoberfest event in Sinking Spring, PA, has a unique new offering this year. In addition to all the regular haunt fun, they will offer something called the Naked and Scared Challenge, where guests have the option of going through “The Unknown” haunted house completely naked as long as you are 18 or older.
You’ll be taken into a special prep-room to strip down, place your belongings into a sealed and numbered bag that will be guarded by the staff until you exit, and then you will be sent in, naked and vulnerable either alone or with whatever group of close friends you brought with you. This is done to space you apart from other groups while in the haunt to prevent any accidental groping in the dark by a stranger. This special naked version of the haunt will only take place after all the regular guests have left.
(9/11/13) AmusementToday has posted the winners of the 2013 Golden Ticket Awards. While I don’t hold a lot of stock in these awards, there are a few that are well deserved mixed in with a batch of very questionable ones, some very questionable categories and the predicable old / stale awards that seem to “somehow” go to the same parks and attractions year after year. Click here to read this year’s list.
(8/23/13) Great news, Kali, the 12-year old girl who was battling the brain-eating amoeba infection has started to recover to the point that she can speak a few words once again. They believe she became infected after visiting an unusual “waterpark” attraction in Arkansas that has since been shut down.
While there have only been 130 cases of this recorded in the US over the last 50 years, the result is nearly always fatal. In fact, there is only one known survivor in the US from this, and a second in Mexico.
Doctors believe they have eliminated the parasite from her system, but serious damage has been done and she will need therapy and time to attempt to recover from this. Best wishes to Kali and her family, and follow the link to read the story about how speedy and experimental treatments seem to have saved her.
B&M - (8/7/13) Truck loads of blue supports have been spotted at the B&M track fabricator (see below). While they didn’t get close enough to see an ID sticker, it does look to be for the same project that the blue station track was for. (Update - It was for Banshee at Kings Island)
(7/29/13) All new blue supports (that appear to be for a Transfer track or station structure) have appeared on site at B&M’s fabricator in Ohio. According to the label, these are for a new Inverted Coaster for somewhere. Could this be for Kings Island or will it go somewhere else. (Update - It is for Banshee at Kings Island)
(7/19/13) According to several sources that single piece of green B&M coaster track sitting at the plant in Ohio is assumed to be an old piece intended for Ocean Kingdom in China that never made the trip. It is assumed to be either defective or damaged and will likely be scraped in the future.
Cedar Fair - (11/8/13) Cedar Fair has reported their Q3 results and you can read a good detailed report over at Marketwatch. The company reported record net revenues of $592.1 million in Q3 (up 7% over Q3 2012) and park attendance was also up 2% compared to the same quarter last year. “On the strength of its core operating season, the Company now expects to achieve full-year net revenues between $1.125 billion and $1.135 billion. It also anticipates being at the high end of its Adjusted EBITDA guidance range of $415 million to $425 million, a 6% to 9% increase over last year's record Adjusted EBITDA.”
(10/23/13) Cedar Fair reports that they have signed an updated contract with CEO Matt Ouimet to keep him with the company through to at least Dec. 31st, 2016, along with a an increase in his base annual salary from $850,000 to $900,000 through to June 2015.
(9/27/13) It has been over three years since Dick Kinzel (then CEO of Cedar Fair) and Jack Falfas (then COO) got into a heated argument that resulted in Falfas’ departure from the company. Kinzel reported that Falfas quit and Falfas says that he was unfairly fired… and the rest has been a wild case through the court system with a series of crazy up and downs.
During the last round a judge rules that Jack was unfairly terminated and that Cedar Fair owed him not only back pay and benefits for his time lost, but that the company needed to reinstate him as well. Cedar Fair was going to settle with the back pay and benefits, but was not willing to reinstate Falfas to the company, leaving us in limbo until today when the Ohio Supreme Court announced that they would review the case to finalize a ruling once and for all. Stay tuned… this should be interesting.
(9/5/13) Cedar Fair reported strong results for the company in their latest report, with net revenue up $51 million (6%) through Labor Day Weekend compared to the same period last year. As a result the company has raised their 2013 full-year expectations and remains on track for a four consecutive year of record results. Also worth noting is a reported 5% increase in percap guest spending, 7% increase in out-of-park revenue and a company wide overall attendance increase of 1% to 19.3 million visits, made even more impressive since the chain has one less waterpark now than it did last year after selling the Soak City park in San Diego to SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment in late 2012. Click here to read more details.
(8/16/13) Cedar Fair has reported that the test of FastPay cashless RFID wristbands at Dorney Park has gone over very well this summer. They will expand the system to several other Cedar Fair parks on a case-by-case basis in 2014.
(8/15/13) Cedar Fair has sold the Knott’s Soak City waterpark in Palm Springs to CNL Lifestyle Properties. The park will keep the Knott’s Soak City name through to the end of 2013, but the park will have to be rebranded after that. The price of the sale was not released.
(8/9/13) Cedar Fair reported strong Q2 results, with record net revenues of $403.4 million for the first six months, up 5% over the prior year, a 5% increase in guest PerCaps and 6% increase is out-of-park revenue.
Overall attendance was down less than 1% compared to last year, which seems attributed mostly to the sale of the Soak City park in San Diego to SeaWorld. If you remove last year’s attendance figures from the equation, Cedar Fair’s 2013 attendance for the first 6 months is actually up 1%.
(4/29/13) In a very interesting development a court of appeals has now ruled that former Cedar Fair COO Jack Falfas, who claims he was fired by then CEO Dick Kinzel back in June 2010, should be reinstated to his job as COO of Cedar Fair. This follows along with the original court decision from February 2011 which also states that Jack be given his job back and paid his salary and benefits for the missing time. Cedar Fair appealed and the judge ruled that they need to pay Jack his benefits and backpay, but said that the law did not permit them to require them to reinstate his job with the company. Jack Falfas then appealed that ruling which resulted in this new ruling that if Jack is ready and willing to return to work, he should be given his job back. According to Cedar Fair, they are going over the ruling and deciding what their next step should be… will they take him back or opt to try and appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court for a final ruling.
Disney - (12/9/13) You know it wouldn’t take long for this to happen once Disney purchased LucasFilm, but this week it was confirmed that Disney has reached an agreement with Paramount to take over the future of the Indiana Jones film franchise as well. Paramount will retain ownership of the four existing completed films in the series, and will apparently get some kind of “financial participation” on any future films that may be produced and released.
While the future of any Indy 5 production approval was always in question, this seems to ensure that Indy 5 will be moving forward after all.
(12/5/13) Is there something special about the Chicago area house Walt Disney was born in? Brent and Dina, the founders of attraction design and animation firm Super78 are hoping so, as they have just purchased the Disney birth home for about $173,000. When the Disney family sold the home and moved to Missouri Walt was just 4 and his brother Roy O. was 12.
Since then the home has had several owners and undergone a lot of upgrade work over the years, but the new owners have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $500,000 to restore the house back to it’s original state and hope to have it granted official landmark status. Make the jump over to check out their Kickstarter campaign, see what kind of goodies you can earn if you donate towards the project as well as check out the concept art and official plans.
Oh… and Brent? When you’re done with the Disney house, can we start a campaign to renovate my home next? I’ve got some ideas…
(10/10/13) Disney park fans, want to know about the inner workings and lifestyles of the Disney Cast Members? Someone has started a new blog called the Disney Cast Blast, which aims to share the true behind the scenes stories of Disney Cast Members. This could get interesting… as long as no one gets fired.
(10/1/13) Looks like the new marketing tagline for Disney starting today is “Show Your Disney Side”. So far I like where this new ad campaign might take us… check out the first great promo video below.
(9/20/13) Disney Research has come up with a strange new concept they call Inshin-Den-Shin that allows a person to speak a message into a microphone, which is then amplified and send back into the speaker’s body through physical contact with the microphone as a high voltage/low current signal. This signal turns the speaker’s body into an electrostatic audio source that can’t be heard through the air, but instead the message can be delivered silently to your intended target simply by touching them on or near the ear. There is a video… so watch it and be amazed.
Talk about all the incredible ways you could use this in a themed environment or show. Want to meet Professor X from the X-Men? With just a touch, he could seem to be projecting his very thoughts right into your brain. Talk about a very unique charcter Meet & Greet opportunity.
(9/12/13) Disney has come up with what may be the worst idea of all time… a little something they are promoting with special showings of the new 3D Little Mermaid film that they are calling Second Screen Live. Breaking all the rules a traditional movie theater experience, Disney wants people to bring their iPads to the theater with them to interactive with the film, play games, interact with other audience members and more. Just watch the trailer for the experience and see if you don’t feel a sickening cringe when the entire audiences raises their bright iPad screens up over their heads in unison to point them at the screen.
I can’t bare to watch any grown adult try to visit a theme park with an iPad… as there is no way to hold that giant screen up to use as a camera in the middle of a crowd and not come off looking like the dimmest bulb in the bunch. (If your guilty of this… sorry I had to be the one to tell you…) Now imagine an army of these people trying to ruin your movie watching experience. As bad as the occasional bright cell phone flash in a theater is… I just can’t fathom why anyone would invite this kind of foolishness into a movie theater. From the comfort of your own home is one thing, maybe while watching a live event like the Superbowl… but don’t do this in a movie theater.
(8/23/13) InParkMagazine reports that Hero Ventures has teamed up with Marvel Entertainment to create “The Marvel Experience”, a new traveling attraction concept. They describe it as a ‘first-person’ Super Hero adventure experience allowing the guests to step into the Marvel universe to become part of the story. It will feature a one-of-a-kind traveling dome complex the size of two football fields, a 4D motion ride, 3D animated features, holographic simulations and more when it launches in 2014. Now the only question is, where will it appear first.
Dynamic Structures - (8/8/13) Empire Industries has announced that their Dynamic Structures unit has been awarded an $18 million contract to build a new ride for “a global leader in amusement parks” that will be installed in a park in China over the next 18 months.
Screamscape Translation – The contract has been signed for Dynamic Structures to build the long rumored Soarin’ over the Horizon ride for Shanghai Disneyland.
(5/6/13) Empire Industries has announced they were awarded of a new $30 million contract to build a new attraction for a major theme park in the United States through their Dynamic Structures business unit. According to the press release the contract will be “executed” over the next two years.
Dynamic Structures is known best for building the Harry Potter ride for Universal Orlando as well as several high profile rides for Disney over the last decade including the two Soarin rides, Test Track, Radiator Springs Racers and the revised Space Mountain at Disneyland.
I’ve got a feeling that this contract may have been the official signing off for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride system for Universal Studios Hollywood, as a nearly identical announcement also came from Empire/Dynamic Structures 1 year ago for another $30 million contract (over 2 years) for a “media based attraction” going into a theme park for “a global customer”. Last year’s contract was likely for the same ride system now being installed at Universal Studios Japan in late 2014. The statement also mentions that the deal was important to Empire because this was the third such contract awarded to them, and this would be the third version of the ride system to be built.
Garner Holt - (11/20/13) IAAPA 2013 is now in full swing and our friends at CoasterCrew on the show floor and shooting video interviews with the major players of the industry as well as being on the hunt for new and interesting creations. Today they visited the wizards at Garner Holt and chat with the man himself… Garner Holt!
Great Coasters International - (11/20/13) GCI will build their biggest roller coaster ever in China to open in 2015 at the Wanda (Nanchang) Culture Tourism City. Check out the preview video animation of “The Viper” below featuring a 50 meter (164 ft) tall lift hill and 1,500 meters (4921 ft) of track.
Great Wolf Lodge - (6/18/13) According to this article Great Wolf Lodge is looking into a plan to buy an existing Holiday Inn hotel and expand and transform it to become a new Great Wolf Lodge waterpark resort in Fitchburg, MA.
Herschend Family Entertainment - (10/2/13) In a move that I did not see coming, Herschend Family Entertainment has announced they signed a deal to purchase the Harlem Globetrotters traveling show company for an undisclosed amount from Shamrock Holdings, an investment company started by Roy E. Disney.
While HFE is a theme park company, their portfolio also contains a number of other location based attractions such as aquariums, musical theater shows or Ride The Ducks tours. However this seems to be an interesting new branch-out for them to enter the Arena / Traveling Show marketplace dominated by Feld Entertainment. Feld runs not only the Ringling Bros. shows, several motor sports shows but also Disney on ICE, Disney Live and the upcoming Marvel Universe Live show for Disney. It should be interesting to see how the Globetrotters fit in with HFE’s current efforts.
IAAPA Conventions - (11/4/13) According to IAAPA, the upcoming 2013 IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando will have the most square-footage of displays seen in the past decade, featuring 1,100 different companies in an area the size of 13 football fields. They have completely sold out the entire indoor show floor, and the outside display area reserved has hit a record size as well. Should be a great show this year!
(10/8/13) NewsParcs has posted two wrap up reports from the Euro Attractions Show in Paris. The first is a global look with a recap of the various events of the week while the second is an exhibitor’s wrap-up.
(9/23/13) NewsParcs has posted a great photo update showing off their coverage of EAS 2013 from Paris. You can find it posted to Facebook here.
(9/18/13) NewsParcs has posted pictures showing off the Euro Attractions Show 2013 being set up this week in Paris Expo Porte de Versailles. I can’t wait to hear about all the cool secrets that will be on display!
(6/6/13) IAAPA has announced that Cedar Fair President and CEO, Matt Ouimet, will deliver the Keynote Address at IAAPA 2013 this November in Orlando.
(2/28/13) IAAPA has informed is that the Asian Attractions Expo will move to Beijing for the 2014 show. The trade show will be held at the China National Convention Center from June 17-20.
(2/18/13) The 2013 IAAPA show will take place in Orlando once again from Nov. 18-22.
Lo-Q - (11/8/13) I seriously had to make sure there wasn’t an April Fools Day style holiday going on somewhere in the world, because this is just kind of insane. According to BlooLoop, the virtual-queue masterminds at Lo-Q have somehow justified the idea that they will change their company’s name from Lo-Q to “accesso Technology Group plc” starting on November 12th.
According to the report they want the new name to reflect their expanded capabilities and offerings following Lo-Q’s acquisition of “accesso LLC” last year, and will now continue to use the existing accesso brand logo and imagery. Keeping in mind that I’ve never really even heard of “accesso” and that Lo-Q was best known for their globally successful “Q-Bot” virtual queue device, I just find this move a little mind boggling. Goodbye Lo-Q… it was nice knowing you.
Merlin Entertainment - (12/11/13) BlooLoop reports that Merlin will open a new Madame Tussauds location in Singapore at Imbiah Lookout on Sentosa sometime later in 2014. The new wax museum will open next to the existing Images of Singapore attraction which will also be “refreshed”.
(9/5/13) ChinaDaily confirms that a new Madame Tussauds wax museum will open in Wuhan, China on September 28th.
(7/11/13) I must have skipped over the fine print, because I learned something very interesting about Merlin’s Legoland Discovery Center attractions today. Adults are not permitted into them unless they are accompanied by a child. A senior citizen LEGO fanatic discovered this the hard way this week after undertaking a several hour drive to the Toronto location with his adult daughter, only to end up broken hearted at the entrance when they were denied entry to the attraction.
Now to be fair, unlike the full scale Legoland theme parks, the indoor Legoland Discovery Centers really are designed to entertain children for the most part. They have fun 4D theater films as well as an interactive dark ride that adults would enjoy as well, but everything else is designed for the kiddies.
So consider yourself educated on this matter going forward because, “Knowing is half the battle.”
(7/5/13) According to the local news Merlin Entertainment is keeping close tabs on the situation taking place with the Singapore Flyer giant wheel, which hit financial difficulties and went into receivership in May 2013. They have also been poking around Singapore for possible sites that may be right for some of their other attractions. Merlin is known for grouping their attractions together when possible in order to sell combo-tickets, and much like how they own and run the London Eye as a hub for several smaller nearby attractions, I’m sure they are keeping an eye out for any similar takeover opportunities that may arise with the Singapore Flyer. Any opportunity to take over the Sinagpore Flyer would give them a launch pad from which to expand more of their branded attractions into the Singapore market.
(5/14/13) A report from South Korea mentions a few possible future theme park projects may be in the works again for South Korea, including a Legoland South Korea park that could open in 2015.
NoLimits 2 - (11/26/13) The new NoLimits2 team has posted a new progress update with new screen shots… this time showing off some incredible looking new wooden coasters. They also breakdown the pricing information between the regular version of the software and the “Pro” version.
has been granted an exclusive reveal this week for NoLimits2, showing off the brand new Suspended style coaster trains in action. I’m told that to date these trains have not been seen outside of the development team. The suspended style is shown in full glory and in full swing! The swinging motion is dynamic and affected by the forces acting on the coaster through the track. The swinging is calculated in real time and looks fantastic! Check it out!!
(10/18/13) NoLimits 2 has posted a new update showing off a new 4D Train option along with important information like system requirements, a list of new features, package prices as well as an expectation to see it released before the end of 2013.
(9/23/13) The latest episode of the Season Pass podcast talks about the creation and development of NoLimits and the follow up, NoLimits 2 that is currently in the works. Give it a listen!
(6/17/13) It has been some time since we’ve last heard about the No Limits 2 coaster simulator program, but a new demo video has been released today showing off the fruits of their latest game engine. As you will see, No Limits 2 has the ability to produce both coasters as well as flat rides as well as environmental features like lighting, atmosphere and more. The start of the video shows comparisons from NL1 and NL2.
(1/29/13) ThrillNetwork has published a new set of teaser images (showing off one of the new train designs) for the NoLimits 2 roller coaster simulation software as well as an interview with the creative forces before NoLimits 2.
(1/3/13) The team working on NoLimits2 posted an update on new features coming to the follow-up edition of the coaster simulation software program. According to the update NoLimits2 will feature new building methods for the coasters, including a radius comb, new track textures (like rust and peeling paint), an auto-generated catwalk system, switch tracks for dual sided stations, and confirmations of 4D coaster track, B&M Flyers and the addition of the B&M Dive Machine style “splash effect”.
Ride Entertainment Group - (10/10/13) According to a press release from Ride Entertainment Group we can expect to see a crazy new Skycoaster open “early next winter” with a custom monopole design, installed on the edge of Mexico’s world-famous Copper Canyon. The ride will be located at Parque de Aventura Barrancas del Cobra in Chihuahua, Mexico. I can’t wait to see a picture of what this looks like…
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line - (4/17/13) Royal Caribbean has announce
d some interesting details about new features that will be built into their two newest ships, Quantum of the Seas (Launching Fall 2014) and Anthem of the Seas (Spring 2015). For example, take a look at a little thing they call the North Star, a large glass capsule that will hold 14 people, attached to the end of a large arm that will rise up and swing out into the sky high above the ship. They are expanding on the Disney Cruise Line concept of the virtual porthole technology used for interior rooms and will instead offer “Virtual Balconies” instead on their interior cabins.
There is also the SeaPlex, described as the largest indoor sports and entertainment venue at sea. The multi-level space will feature roller skating, a flying trapeze school, full size basketball court, dance floor and… BUMPER CARS. Yes… they are putting bumper cars on a cruise ship if you can believe it. (I think I’d almost rather have bumper boats though… since you could use them as a lifeboat in case of emergency.) On top of the ship they will off RipCord, the first virtual skydiving wind tunnel experience at sea and along the back they will offer a FlowRider stationary surf wave. They will also offer a new two-story music / dance / concert facility call Music Hall and a new entertainment venue in the aft of the ship called Two70º, which evolves from a relaxing place during the daytime into a unusual entertainment venue at night.
With three very active kids and a limited budget, my wife and I don’t usually get to play in the cruise industry, but I’d love to try out the Quantum of the Seas someday. To date we’ve only managed to try one cruise ever (without the kids I might add) on Carnival which we enjoyed. Maybe someday we’ll try again…
S&S WorldWide - (11/16/12) A great and long interview with S&S Worldwide’s Kevin Rohwer was posted by Coaster Crew where they go over a large number of new products that the newly combined S&S-Sansei Technologies Inc are now offering.
They show off a new four-seater version of the El Loco ride car that incorporates the new open look that was first used last year on the 8-seater car for Green Lantern. They also were showing off a seat and artwork for a new 20-seat circular tower ride design that will first open at the Sochi Winter Olympics amusement park called the Sochi Tower that will open in late 2013/2014. The new circular tower design will be evolved once again for a new ride concept coming out in 2015/2016, but no more details were given.
Another new idea is very interesting and at first glance looks like a typical observation tower ride, but there is more to it. It comes in two flavors, the Polar Coaster and Sky Spiral. The Sky Spiral is the mild version, which has a twisting layer of track wrapped around the outside of the tower on which observation cars will slowly climb to the top, where you can exit at the top floor to look around an observation platform, or ride back down again. The entire ride experience is said to take upwards of 30 minutes. In essence, it is a perfect mixture of an observation tower ride experience with a Giant Wheel style ride. S&S Sansei is offering to build these between 200 and 1000 feet in height, running anywhere from 20 to 50 gondolas at a time, with 6 to 20 passengers inside each. If this looks familiar, this attraction concept is also a partnership idea licensed from US Thrill Rides, LLC, created by Bill Kitchen.
On the other side of the coin in the Polar Coaster which will use El Loco style coaster cars that will wrap around the tower stucture to create a giant spiral lift hill all the way to the top, before the coaster cars begin a series of twists, turns, dives and inversions on their way back towards the ground level once again. The Tower height offered here is between 200 to 300 feet tall, but allows for a very tall, large and thrilling coaster experience in a space that only takes up a 50 ft diameter spot. There is an elevator option to rise up through the center to an observation deck at the top that can serve so many purposes.
Finally we’ve got information on that new 4th Dimension style ride, which is actually a combination of the 4th Dimension coaster and the FreeFly concept from 2009. They’ve ditched the canoe style seating on the ends of the FreeFly car, and mounted 4th Dimension style pods that have forward and backwards facing seats. However, rather than spin around like a 4d Dimension coaster, these seats spin sideways like a FreeFly style car, except they can be made to flip over wildly creating a random number of inversion possibilities. They call this one, appropriately enough, FreeFly-X.
They are also offering a new off-shoot coaster from the 4th Dimension concept called 4D FreeSpin or 4D Free Ride. It uses shorter 8 passenger cars, with 4D style flip-over pods, made to fit into a compact space much like the El Loco coasters. However instead of the additional rail system used to hard-wire the flips and spins as they do on a true 4th Dimension coaster, the 4D FreeSpin will use a series of magnetic discs placed along the track used to “encourage” forward and backwards spin momentum. In a way this is S&S taking a shot at Intamin by building a bigger and better ZacSpin style ride, which is fun since the ZacSpin was Intamin’s attempt to rip off S&S’s 4th Dimension coaster experience in the first place.
Sally Corp. - (11/22/13) Our friends at Sally Corp. (Hi Drew!) talk about their latest Dark Ride projects with Coaster Crew on the IAAPA show floor this week. Screamscape also has to send our congratulations to John Wood for being inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame. Check it out below!
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment - (12/2/13) In an interesting article, it seems the current strategy of the SeaWorld Entertainment parks is to sacrifice a little attendance, but aggressively raise their prices and put new “ticketing strategies” into play. So far the parks have pulled in 1 million fewer guests so far in the first 3 quarters of 2013 resulting in a 5% attendance drop, but guest PerCap spending however has jumped 10% in the same time period. Click here to read more.
(11/21/13) I’m a little shocked by this, but the Blackstone Group who has held the controlling interest in the SeaWorld Entertainment company since it’s departure from Anheuser-Busch/InBev has filed a plan to sell off enough of it’s shares that it will no longer be the majority shareholder. Blackstone will be selling as many as 15 million shares, and pull in an estimated $480 million. Once complete Blackstone’s ownership percentage will drop from 63% to 43.6%.
The spun-off SeaWorld Entertainment company says they are in talks to buy back 1.5 million shares from Blackstone as well. With the departure of Blackstone as the majority shareholder, internal changes will also have to be made within the spun-off company, including a reconfiguration of their Board of Directors within the year to be more independent of Blackstone, who currently has 3 Blackstone members on the board. Make the jump over to the Orlando Sentinel to read more details.
(10/16/13) SeaWorld is turning 50 and to celebrate they are building a massive themed float that will be featured in the 2014 Rose Parade on January 1st. The theme for SeaWorld’s float in the 125th Rose® Parade presented by Honda is a “Sea of Surprises.” Inspired by some of SeaWorld’s most popular animals, the float will feature depictions of killer whales, penguins, sea turtles, dolphins and more.
(9/27/13) Odd new developments from SeaWorld Parks this week. For starters they applied for a new Trademark for the name, “Yonaguni”, but not for the typical park attraction use, but instead as something that could be used for an animated television series, live-action & animated entertainment shows, interactive programs, audio/visual media, as well as to be used in theme park show and costume character form. So this begs the question, is Yonaguni a show title or the name of a new character?
Meanwhile they have let the previous application for Taruka Rush die. Taruka Rush was the rumored possible name for the new slide attraction coming to Aquatica Orlando.
(9/12/13) A couple more interesting notes regarding the forced labor-hour cuts at SeaWorld Parks have come in. It seems my suspicions were on target, as an insider did confirm today that Seasonal status workers are allowed to work up to 52 hours per week during the six-month time period they are employed by the company, in sharp contrast to the measly 28 hours a week that part-time staff will be capped at starting in November.
Another item of note that came in from a reader is that currently part-time staff who qualified and opted to pay for their own health insurance plans through the company are being informed this week that their current health care plans will soon be canceled entirely with no replacement options being offered.
(9/11/13) Sad news for the Part-Time labor force at SeaWorld Entertainment parks, as the chain has confirmed that they are reducing hours for thousands of PT workers in order to avoid being forced to offer them medical insurance coverage under the new government health care reform program that kicks off on October 1st.
According to a statement sent to the Orlando Sentinel, the company employs about 22,000 employees across their 11 theme parks in the US, and nearly 18,000 of them are part-time or seasonal workers. The new policy is not to schedule part-time workers any more than 28 hours a week, down from a previous cap of 32 hours.
So far Universal Orlando says they have no plans to cut back hours for their employees and Walt Disney World is still “evaluating” the matter and in talks with their labor unions.
Another interesting labor change that has not made the local news however has been sent in by Screamscape readers. They claim that “seasonal workers” at SeaWorld parks will now be limited to only working for a 6 month time period… however, at the end of the 6 months they are strangely not eligible to be rehired again by the park for an additional six months. While I’m not certain, I do wonder if the plan is to hire more seasonal status workers, work them longer hours, and then dismiss them for 6 months as a work-around to Obamacare.
(8/15/13) Bad news for SeaWorld Parks, according to the Q2 report attendance and earnings have plunged so far this year, though they hope to see it return back to normal levels for the second half of the year. In Q2 alone SeaWorld Parks lost $15.9 million in contrast to a $39.1 million profit in the same quarter last year. Attendance for Q2 is also down 9% over the previous year’s results. For the most part they have blamed poor weather days and an early Easter holiday for the poor results.
(7/5/13) The Orlando Sentinel has posted an article about how the big theme park chains in Floirda are always looking to make small cutbacks to save money, often to their labor forces. Previously I had covered some cutbacks I've been noticing being made within the SeaWorld parks chain, and they talk with the SeaWorld CFO about this who also mentions that they are also looking at the possibility of opening their parks in stages during the slower months of the year as well. While this has been done before to some extent at some of their parks previously, they are now looking to, "get more aggressive in that area to manage down hours."
To recap what we’ve seen take place so far this year from the SeaWorld Parks, earlier this week Busch Gardens Williamsburg announced they were closing that park’s Europe In The Air simulator ride that just opened in 2010 for the remainder of 2013. This was an especially odd move to see take place just before the extremely busy long July 4th holiday weekend. Previously the park had also made some striking cutbacks to their typical evening entertainment package as well.
In Busch Gardens Tampa they just cut back their late Friday and Saturday night hours just 3 weeks after announcing them in the first place, on top of leaving half of Gwazi closed for almost a year now.
Then SeaWorld Orlando opted to cancel their big firework/water fountain/projection night spectacular show on the lake entirely this summer, replacing it with a very brief fireworks finale at the end of Shamu Rocks.
Mix this in with other reports and some guest service complaints sent to me privately and it seems clear that the SeaWorld parks chain have kicked off a chain-wide series of budget cuts that will affect each park in different ways. It isn't clear if this is an early reaction to possible lower than projected park attendance figures. Of course, this could also be an "I told you so" moment when I warned everyone that SeaWorld Parks going through with an IPO and being forced to respond to shareholder whims would only bring bad news to the chain. Previously the SeaWorld parks were protected somewhat from the chaotic nature of the stock market by being just one segment of a larger company... both as being fully owned by Blackstone and before that as part of the Anheuser-Busch Company who's primary income generator was beer sales. Back then an off year at the theme parks was barely noticed compared to the Budwesier sales report figures. Now they've got nowhere to hide... and if budget cuts are coming right as we begin peak summer season, this doesn't bode well for the rest of the year, or for any capital projects yet to be finalized.
Simworx - (9/18/13) Simworx has announced the creation of a new 4D simulation attraction called the Immersive Tunnel. It uses a 30-passenger tram style simulator car (using 1, 2 or 3 linked together) and the cars can either sit static, or be mounted to a track system that will transport the ride into a show theater area and back out again. The simulator platform can rise and fall, sway, and is armed with an assortment of 4D theater style effects systems along with dramatic lighting effects, all the while the tram cars are surrounded inside a 3D projection tunnel room with screens on both sides as well as in front of the tram.
If the Simworx “Immersive Tunnel” sounds strangely familiar… it should. In short they have built their own ride-system based clone of Universal Studios’ King Kong 360º 3D attraction, right down to the promotional artwork showing off a bunch of hungry dinosaurs attacking the tram cars. Check it out here.
Six Flags - (11/13/13) Would you let this man ride alone with your kids? According to this article a self confessed flume ride fan named Jay Marc Harris, who calls himself “Flume Dog” currently has a ‘nationwide ban’ from Six Flags theme parks since 2006 for his behavior, but is taking the theme park chain to court to get it reversed.
So what did Flume Dog do to get banned from every Six Flags park in the nation since 2006? It seems the final straw was when he was visiting Six Flags Fiesta Texas and was reported to the park after he asked three different women if he could take their children on the flume ride with him. Previous hits on his Six Flags record come from Six Flags over Georgia where Security found him chained to a tree in the park. Security over at Six Flags Great America near Chicago found him inside the park before it had even opened and discovered that he had apparently slept somewhere inside the park overnight.
So what’s Flume Dog’s excuse? He claims he is being discriminated against “based on gender and religion” because he is a Hasidic Jew.
I’ll let that one sink in for a moment.
Ready? Good, because I don’t get it either. Granted, I’m not Jewish, but I don’t see where trespassing or trying to ride flume ride’s alone with children have any remote connection to possible religion discrimination.
Digging a little more, I found another article which goes into a little more detail, but it also seems as if some of his questionable actions were also in the waterpark at Fiesta Texas, where he was reported as seeking “young boys” to ride with him on a 2-person raft side. While this sounds immediately terrible and shocking, he claims innocence, as his religious beliefs would not allow him to ride with a female. I can see how this kind of thing would get out of control quickly… it sounds almost like an outtake from one of the Leslie Nielsen “Naked Gun” movies.
Still… is Flume Dog just misunderstood? I can’t say… I do understand the love of theme park rides and wanting to travel across the nation from park to park. Still… it’s hard to excuse some of the things he is said to have done. Perhaps Flume Dog just needs a traveling companion to keep him on a short leash.
(9/23/13) Sad news for the industry today… according to Screamscape source, Gary Story, current partner of Premier Attractions Management with Kieran Burke and former CEO of Premier Parks / Six Flags passed away over the weekend from a suspected Heart Attack.
(7/22/13) Screamscape sources tell us we may see several Six Flags parks add Aqua Twist wet flat rides in 2014. I’m told that the first one just installed at La Ronde for 2013 (a Mack Twist ‘n’ Splash) has been quite the hit for the park. Adding more fuel to the fire, Six Flags has also just filed for a US Trademark for the Aqua Twist name on June 28, 2013.
(5/10/13) Good news for Six Flags stockholders this week as the Board of Directors has just approved a 2 for 1 stock split that will go into effect in June 26th to those owning stock as of June 12th.
Theme Park Studio - (10/21/13) Theme Park Studio has posted a new update and video regarding the program on their Facebook page. Check it out the update for new details, along with a great new video showing off the kind of detailed parks you can create. They have also posted a new updated timeline as to when the program is likely to be finished, and now soon those who supported their Kickstarter campaign can expect to get their hands on a early release version of the software to help test some of it out ahead of the final release.
in adding to the game’s features and content. They also point out that anyone who missed joining in the Kickstarter campaign can still provide funds to the project and get into the closed Beta by clicking here.
(8/23/13) Theme Park Studio is back with a new update about their progress
They report having expanded the art team and are creating many assets as well as fulfilling the ride requests from the Kickstarter backer rewards. More progress on the lightning module, expanded custom scenery importing, a file exchange system and lots of polish so they can move towards an Alpha test as soon as possible. In the meantime, a ton of new pictures have been sent out for you to enjoy.
(7/25/13) Theme Park Studio is back with a new progress update showing off several new highly detailed coaster train designs, some of which will be familiar to Cedar Point and Hersheypark fans.
(5/22/13) Pantera Entertainment tell us that while the initial funding of Theme Park Studio on Kickstarter is over, the group is now trying to achieve their “stretch goals” and has launched a new crowd-funding site for this purpose. The great news is that all the great rewards they offered on Kickstarter are still be offered for a limited time. The stretch goals posted note include hitting the $130k mark would fund a Mac version of the program. $180k will see money and theme park management aspects added in and $250k will see them create a PS3 version of the program as well. Find out everything you could want to know about Theme Park Studio at the new official funding site.
(5/20/13) Good news for Theme Park Studio fans, the simulation game achieved their Kickstarter funding goal the other day and had released new screenshots (see below) and video showing off how simple it is to make well themed pathways as well as giving us our first look at peeps to populate your park with.
(5/13/13) It is crunch time for Theme Park Studio this week as the project enters the final week of funding on Kickstarter. As of this morning the project has earned $69,000 of the needed $80,000 goal price. If they don’t make it to the full $80,000, they lose it all, so if you really want to see this project get made, this may be your last chance to help fund them.
We have seen how great the rides in Theme Park Studio will look, but over the last week the program has really been showing off just how well you can use the program to create themed environments. For example they have posted a picture of some great old west Saloon style buildings made with the software as well as some fine examples of realistic looking theme park pathways lined with realistic trees, sidewalks, benches, popcorn machines and plenty of flora. They have also posted another video showing off the “particle effects” of the software, which shows off some of the night lighting you can do with the park, lighted fountains in lakes and much much more.
Theme Park Studio is more than a theme park simulator or roller coaster creator. We’re looking at an entire themed environment design studio that could very well be used by both fans and professionals alike to show off their visions for things even beyond the theme park world with ease… from public parks to a haunted ghost town. Once this hits the streets and the public community gets their hands on it, there is no telling how many fantasic new themed worlds you will be able to download, share and experience. I can’t wait… but they’ve only got 6 days left on Kickstarter, so if you want to get in early, fund their effort and earn yourself a copy of the program at the same time.
(5/1/13) Theme Park Studio has made a few more announcements regarding new features on Kickstarter. Over the past couple of weeks they have shown off several new coaster types that will be included in the game including the Mack Blue Fire style launched coaster system, wooden coasters, a B&M Inverted coaster and now an Intamin Hyper/Launched Coaster Train design. Now I’m curious… if they are going to simulate all these rides, how realistic are they going to be? Will launched coasters mis-fire from time to time and experience roll-backs? So far they are a little over 50% of the way to their goal, but only have 19 days left.
(1/21/13) The Pantera Game Studio crew has sent out a few new images from the Theme Park Studio game, showing off some incredible looking ride models they’ve created to show off an Troika flat ride. These and more can also be seen on their official Facebook page.
Earlier I had a chance to ask a few questions about the program to someone at Pantera. For starters, this software is being designed for the PC at first, however they have borrowed a lot of code from their own proprietary game engine which can also run on Xbox 360, PS3 and OpenGL ES, so future ports of the program to work on consoles as well as Mac are indeed possible, based upon public demand of course.
I also decided to bring up the one thing I know I had always wanted to do with Roller Coaster Tycoon but was never able to build…. A true Dark Ride experience. You will be happy to know that they are indeed targeting for the creation of custom dark rides in the game as well. “Our goal is to allow the consumer to be as creative as possible.” This alone excites me quite a bit, as it’s great fun to see homebrewed coasters in action, but I think the creations that have really impressed me the most were some of the coaster videos on YouTube where the creation attempted to make a dark ride style environment for their attraction. With the right software, like what you can do with Theme Park Studio, I can’t wait to see the kind of dark rides (dry or wet) that people can dream up.
Stay tuned… I think more good stuff is coming soon!
(1/4/13) Screamscape was contacted by Pantera Entertainment, a video game developer, who wanted to tell us all about a new project they have in the works that will be of interest to coaster and theme park fans. The new title is called Theme Park Studio.
“Theme Park Studio merges all the flexibility of an advanced coaster design tool, with a full graphics' engine, rich with powerful features and technologies. 'Oasis' is Pantera Entertainment's custom graphics' engine used in video games and medical software, for the serious games industry. We exhibited our technology at the Game Developers Conference and the Austin Game Conference. Many of its features have been integrated into Theme Park Studio, providing unprecedented control over the theme park design process.”
They’ve posted some images showing off just what can be done with Theme Park Studio on the program’s official Facebook page here along with a couple of videos showing off the program in action. They didn’t specify, but I can only assume that this will be a PC program at launch, as I’m not sure if a console version is possible. More as we find out.
Universal Studios - (12/11/13) Inside Universal has posted Part 1 of a great new interview with Gary Goddard about his involvement with several attractions with Universal Studios over the years from classics like Conan and the first King Kong in Hollywood up to more modern projects like Jurassic Park and Terminator 2: 3-D.
In other Universal news, Cinelix reports that Universal may be attempting to not only revive their classic Universal Monsters (Frankenstein, Wolfman, Dracula, Mummy, etc) as new modern film incarnations, but is making long term plans to link them together into a shared film universe in the same fashion that Marvel has been doing with their comic book universe properties.
Current plans are already in place to create the kick-off this new unified cinematic universe with a reboot of The Mummy in 2016 followed by a rebooted Van Helsing film that may star Tom Cruise as the infamous monster hunter. While these planned films have been bouncing around in development limbo since at least 2012, Hollywood insiders claim that they are still very much alive. With the right planning in advance to do these the right way, following the lead of Marvel, I’d very much like to see how this could develop.
(11/29/13) In an interesting move the planned World of Warcraft movie has been pushed back from December 2015 to March 11, 2016 in order to completely get away from Disney’s new Star Wars film slated to hit theaters December 18, 2015… the same date as the Warcraft film.
(10/4/13) Universal’s parent company, Comcast, has dropped another $420 million to purchase the Universal City Plaza skyscraper next to Universal Studios Hollywood. The tower was once owned by Universal but sold off under Vivendi’s ownership of the company back in 2003. It is expected that the tower would be used for new office space for various Comcast and NBC/Universal divisions, putting everyone under one roof.
(10/3/13) I think the next big clue about what Universal may be planning for the Universal Orlando theme parks has just dropped. According to this article an official blockbuster budget World of Warcraft feature film has now been dropped onto the theater release slate for December 18th, 2015. The film will be the product of that new partnership between Legendary Entertainment and Universal Studios, and as such the IP would likely be ripe for the picking for the Universal parks to dream up any number of potential World of Warcraft themed attractions and tie-ins.
In terms of the video game, it goes without saying that World of Warcraft has been a fairly global phenomenon. Bringing the game’s distinct visual style to the big screen will launch the IP from PC gaming crowd into the mainstream for sure.
(9/13/13) Warner Bros. has announced a new partnership with J.K. Rowling who will make her screenwriting debut to create a new spin-off film series set in the Wizarding World, 70-year before the events of the Harry Potter book series. The new film will be called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, inspired by the Hogwarts textbook of the same name, and featuring the fictitious author, Newt Scamander.
This is not technically a prequel to the Harry Potter series, but mearly an extention of the Wizarding World universe. The story will start in New York, set 70 years before the events of the Potter series. I can only imagine that the gears may already have started to spin over at Universal Creative, looking for an opportunity to incorporate elements of this new series into their Wizarding World theme park universe.
(7/11/13) Interesting things are happening in Hollywood this week. Legendary Entertainment has signed a multi-year deal to work with Universal Studios on select projects, while retaining their existing relationship with Warner Bros as well. While the deal mainly allows Universal to distribute their films to the international market as well as work in some deals for future NBCUniversal TV programming, InParkMagazine also reports that the deal includes the possibility to create Theme Park attractions as well based on some of Legendary’s work.
While Legendary was the force behind the Batman Begins trilogy of films as well as the new Man of Steel film, other highlight films from their past include 300, Watchmen, Clash of the Titans and Inception. Of course their list of future films on the way is also impressive and includes Pacific Rim, 300: Rise of an Empire, Seventh Son and an all new Godzilla film.
While the DC comic based films may be difficult (but not impossible) for Universal to bring into their parks due to existing deals with Six Flags, some of the other films could likely be used in the Universal theme parks. One in particular that stands out is Godzilla, as Universal has a history with monster movies anyway, and it opens the possibility for an interesting “clash of the titans’ if they were to mix King Kong and Godzilla together for a the modern audience. The ink on the deal has only just dried, so don’t look for anything to happen just yet… just something to think about moving forward. Unless there is a Legendary IP that would be perfect for Halloween Horror Nights, and then we could be hearing about that much sooner…
(12/19/12) According to this article, the city’s commission for urban planning in Moscow has given approval for the Universal Studios Moscow project.
(5/1/12) Disney and More takes a look at the concept artwork for the Universal Studios Experience project for Moscow this week as well as the rest of Galactica Park.
(4/25/12) ParkRumors has some concept artwork of what the new Universal Experience project as well as the entire Galactica Park complex may look like.
(4/19/12) Screamscape sources tell us that the Universal Studios Moscow project is legit, and has been working under the name “Universal Experience Moscow” so far. Due to the harsh winters in Moscow, the entire park is expected to be enclosed to allow for year-round operations. If things go as planned, the current target date for the Universal park to open is in late 2017.
(4/18/12) I’m not sure how serious to take this article, but they claim that NBC Universal is in talks to build a theme park project in Moscow with a local developer who is planning an even larger overall resort complex to be called Galactica Park. From the sound of it, they are attempting to copy the basic concept put to use at Resorta World Sentosa in Singapore by linking up their own Universal theme park with hotel resorts, an aqua park, numerous retail and dining options, underground parking and even plans to add a 20,000 seat sports and concert area. Galactica Park is planned to cost an estimate $2.8 billion, with at least $500 million to go towards building Universal Studios Moscow. If the plan moves ahead, look for it to break ground as early as 2014 and have the first phase ready to open by 2018… just in time to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Village Roadshow - (10/25/12) Village Roadshow looks to have signed a deal with Guangzhou R&F Properties to build a new theme park in Hainan Island, China. The name right now is Ocean Paradise, but the park will be very similar to Village Roadshow’s Sea World park in Australia, and will also include a Wet ‘n’ Wild waterpark.
WhiteWater West - (5/22/13) It seems 2013 has been a good year for WhiteWater West Industries, as the company has reported a record volume of sales orders worth $70 million during Q1 2013. Geoff Chutter, WhiteWater’s President & CEO said, “We attribute this success to the energy and momentum built by our commitment to creative innovation coupled with our long standing reputation for quality and customer service. We have been thrilled with the response to our newest generation of ORIGINAL innovations.”
WhiteWater has seen a surge in interest in its interactive play structure, AquaCourseTM; the 3 newest MEGAtubesTM, the RattlerTM, AnacondaTM and AquaSphere; the linear induction Water Coaster, AdrenaLIMTM; and the interactive mobile app, Apptivations.
“Nothing excites our 530 employee base more than the satisfaction of delivering the most memorable, ‘WOW!’ experiences to people throughout the world,” said Chutter.
Andrew Wray, WhiteWater’s Director of Sales, reported that orders were equally divided among the Asian, European/Middle East and North American markets. Continued worldwide growth for the company is expected throughout the year with several exciting new projects soon to be announced.
Zamperla - (11/4/13) Zamperla may have been bitten by the theme park bug after building and running the new Luna Park at Coney Island, New York. The company has now pitched a concept to transform the small abandoned San Biagio island in Venice that was once home to an incinerator facility into a new family attraction for $110 million for the city. While it wont be simply an amusement park, the project would feature a 55 meter Ferris wheel, roller coaster and many other rides along with numerous cultural installations that would detail the long history of the city as well as “illustrating the Venetian lagoon’s fragile ecology.”
The project, which includes a promise to clean up the toxic site, will create 500 new jobs, could be open in 2 years if all goes smoothly. But this is Venice and things like this rarely go unopposed, so we’ll have to wait and see where the wind blow on the “L’isola San Biagio” project.