---- THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS ----
(9/27/16) Internet Fun - Ride A Coaster To Pass Kidney Stones (MORE...)
(9/22/16) IAAPA To Move HQ To Orlando and Extends Orlando Show Contract (MORE...)
(9/21/16) Dynamic Attractions Awarded Major New Thrill Ride Contract (MORE...)
(9/21/16) Skyline Attractions Shows Off Facinating New Skywarp Ride Animation (MORE...)
(9/14/16) IAAPA - EAS 2016 Show Preview (MORE...)
2015 Park Attendance Report - (5/29/16) The big annual TEA / AECOM report on theme park attendance figures for 2015 has been released. You can find the links to download the 2015 report along with several reports from previous years by clicking here.
(6/4/15) The 2014 TEA / AECOM Theme Index attendance report has been released. The list shows double-digit attendance increases for Universal Studios Japan (16.8%) Universal Studios Florida (17%) and Universal Studios Hollywood (11%). Mild growth rates were reported for most Disney parks between 2-4%, however Disney's Paris parks both took a hit, each dropping 4.7%. Meanwhile in the US the SeaWorld branded parks took the biggest attendance hits of the year, reported to have dropped 8% at SeaWorld Orlando and 12% in San Diego. A couple of noteworthy growth spurts also took place in the European market with Parque Warner (Spain) jumping up 25.9%, Parc Asterix (France) gaining 11.1%, Futuroscope (France) gaining 13.7% more visitors over the previous year. Follow the link to download your own copy of the report for the full details.
You can also still download most of the previous years attendance reports too:
Download the 2013 Report
Download the 2012 Report
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 - (7/26/16) Ok... I don't know if I've ever had to say this before... but this accident video is not going to be for everyone to watch. A woman was killed at the Badaling Wildlife World safari-park which allows guests to drive their cars through areas filled with wild animals. According to the report (and you can see the security camera video below) a family stopped their car and a middle-aged woman ignored all the warnings and exited the car in an attempt to switch seats with her husband who was in the driver's seat.
Just as she reaches the other side of the car and opens the driver door a tiger leaps out from off-camera, attacks her runs away with her. The driver gets out to try and save her, but the tiger was too fast and she died minutes later. A younger woman in the back-seat gets out of the car to run after the first two, and according to the report she too was mauled by the tiger, but rescued by park security and taken to a hospital where she remains in intensive-care.
(7/13/16) Longtime readers may remember hearing about an amusement park proposal by the name of Wild Escape that was pitched for a couple of different sites (and even under a couple different names) around the US but never could get off the ground. Well the developer of the park, one Steve Minard, has now filed a $25 million lawsuit against Ohio County in an attempt to get back what he said was invested in the project. According to his claims the county used his 2006 proposal for the theme park to lure in other tenants to area, but then took actions that made it impossible for him to build the park at the site.
Given how this and his other proposed sites all went no-where, I don't think he has much to go on here with this lawsuit, but we don't know everything that took place, so you never know how this might turn out.
Internet Fun - (9/27/16) This is kind of a wild story, but would you believe riding a roller coaster could help through the painful process of passing a kidney stone? According to an article posted by the LA Times, it seems some actual scientists did research on the idea, and actually did some simulation testing on Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster to help attempt to prove the theory that, yes, riding even just a “medium” intensity roller coaster like Big Thunder Mountain can result in the painless passing of kidney stones. As coaster lovers know… your best results will come from riding in the back. Now if only you could get a doctor to write a prescription for that kind of treatment.
Escape Authority (www.escapeauthority.com) has added a highly requested new feature - an interactive Escape Room Finder map that allows you to locate and browse through every single game across the United States - each manually programmed one by one to ensure its accuracy! You can search for games in a certain location by inputting an Address, City, State, Zip Code, or even by using your mobile device's GPS location, making this the most comprehensive and most mobile friendly game finder you'll ever use. While you're there, be sure to give their Facebook page a like to show them some love!
(9/12/16) For all your coaster calendar enthusiasts out there, Coaster Talk No BS Zone is now taking orders for their new brand new 2017 Roller Coaster Calendar which features some of your favorite rides like Knobels, Kentucky Kingdom, Waldemeer, Cedar Point, Dorney Park, Six Flags New England, Darien Lake, Kings Dominion, Kings Island, Lakemont, Rye Playland and Holiday World.
(9/8/16) CoasterDynamix, the guys beyond those very cool and functional roller coaster model kits, have launched a new Kickstarter campaign to help fund the creation of a new LEGO compatible coaster model kit. You can find all the details here.
(7/28/16) Our friends at Escape Authority have added yet another great new feature, furthering their goal to become the online social hub for all things escape room. On top of their already detailed game reviews from all of the country, impressive articles and the most comprehensive interactive map of every known game across the US, they now can add Podcast to their resume. Have a listen to their brand new Second Hand Podcast on their site or look for it now on iTunes! The premier episode just debuted, and it's a three part special talking about game design, the best (and worst) games they've played and much more. They've also already announced the special guests scheduled for episode 2 - the owners of The Basement in Los Angeles, which is widely acclaimed as the best escape games in all of the United States - and invite you to submit your questions you'd like them to discuss for that show right now on the Escape Authority Forum.
20th Century Fox - (5/16/15) According to this article, another 20th Century Fox based theme park is under consideration for South Korea on Yeongjong Island, Incheon. If possible, they would like to build it as a resort project that would feature not only a theme park, but hotels as an entire entertainment complex. Fox itself is not funding the project however, but the Incheon Metro Government will serve as a partner and help conduct the search for investors.
Previously Fox was said to be looking at sites in South Gyeongsang, but may have since moved on to Incheon, possibly due to an investigation being conducted into the politicians in Gyeongsang. Currently the first 20th Century Fox World theme park is now under construction in Malaysia at Resorts World Genting.
Apex Parks Group - (9/2/15) Apex Parks Group has announced the purchase of the Indiana Beach amusement park. This is the second purchase this year, following the purchase of Sahara Sam’s Oasis indoor/outdoor waterpark.
B&M - (4/2/16) According to a post on Twitter yesterday new golden brownish colored track was spotted outside the B&M track plant in Ohio. A further piece of information sent my way claims that the track labels on the pieces indicate that this is for a new MegaCoaster going to Hot Go Park in China, or actually a second Hot Go Park next to the first park which built a Wing coaster that opened earlier in 2016.
Cedar Fair - (8/5/16) Cedar Fair announced their 2016 Q2 earnings this week and claims to be on track for another record year. Revenues are up 3% for Q2 with a 2% increase in park attendance and a slight increase in guest spending. The big gains however have come from the parks with resort hotels, where the out of park revenue stream increased by 7% so far this year.
They also confirmed that WinterFest would be expanded to THREE more parks in 2017. So far we've heard rumors of it coming to Kings Island and Carowinds, and I'd be willing to bet that Kings Dominion would be the third.
(6/11/16) According to the local news, the Cedar Fair board has decided that they like the performance of CEO Matt Ouimet enough that they have put into effect a contract extension with Ouimet that has no expiration date. In short, it sounds like Ouimet can safely stay onboard as CEO as long as he likes, barring any future act of the board to remove him, which would be unlikely.
(4/14/16) Just something to ponder, but remember back before Fury 325 was announced for Carowinds and all the teaser and hints were about the name Centurion? It's worth mentioning that while Cedar Fair filed for a trademark to use the Centurion name for the coaster way back in October of 2013, the trademark is not only still listed as being "Live" for Cedar Fair, but it was also "Published for Opposition" back in October 2015, about 5 or 6 months after Fury 325 opened. Sounds very much like Cedar Fair is still planning on using this name for a new coaster somewhere in the near future... like maybe for the 2017 season. Stay tuned!
Disney - (7/2/16)
While I don't discuss every new Disney made film to hit the theaters, Disney did make some exciting news the other day with the announcement that Wreck It Ralph 2 is in development and will hit theaters on March 9, 2018. While the plot is secret, they did reveal that it will involve Ralph (with Vanellope) escaping the arcade world and being unleashed to do what he does best on the Internet.
(3/30/16) Disney has announced the dates for the next D23 Expo in Anaheim, California to take place on July 14 through 17th, 2017, with tickets to go on sale starting July 14, 2016. As you may have noticed, they have bumped up the event which was previously held in mid-August by a month, which will likely put it the week before the insanely popular San Diego Comic-Con. While the San Diego event has yet to announce dates for 2017, the 2016 event will take place July 21-24, which would make July 20-23rd the most likely matching dates for 2017. With the two events being so close, things may get interesting.
Dynamic Attractions - (9/21/16) Dynamic Attractions has announced that the company has been awarded a contract worth over $21 million to build a ride system for a major theme park opening in Asia. The contract is said to run for the next 36 months (3 years), so with that in mind I wouldn't be surprised if this ended up being another Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction for the new Universal Studios park planned to open in China in 2020.
(9/6/16) Dynamic Attractions has signed a co-op agreement with Altair (Shanghai) Space Technology Ltd. Co to design, develop and co-own and operate a new theme park to be called Space Park in Hangzhou, China. The project has an estimated budget of CAD$ 600 million (3 billion yuan). While it is too early to go into details on the attractions yet, I'd expect Dynamic Attractions to pretty much roll out their entire impressive catalog of known attraction concepts, as well as some secret new ones the world may not have seen yet. They do say that the attraction lineup will feature both Virtual Reality as well as Augmented Reality attractions to thrill the park's guests as well as make the park stand apart from other attractions in China through a heavy use of high technology. If all goes as planned, Space Park could be ready to open as early as 2020.
(6/15/15) A fun video showing off some of the inner workings and rides being designed by Dynamic Attractions was posted to YouTube which shows off a non-Disney version of the Soarin' style ride system as well as a section of trick track for a Specal Effects Coaster (tilted drop) they are working on for parks in Abu Dhabi (maybe Ferrari World?) with a second ordered for an attraction in Kuala Lumpur. The parks I've heard of in Kuala Lumpur are either defunct or on the small side, so I wonder if that second order is for the 20th Century Fox World park under construction at Resorts World Genting, about an hours drive away from Kuala Lumpur.
Extreme Engineering - (7/7/16) BlooLoop has posted an interesting article about Extreme Engineering and their new Cloud Coaster project, filling the gap between ZipLines and Coasters, will open at Rockin' Jump in Dublin, California. This actually isn't the first Cloud Coaster from Extreme Engineering, as we mentioned not long ago that another version has just opened at the new Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi.
Great Coasters International - (8/2/16) Our friends at In the Loop have posted a new interview with Adam House of Great Coasters International. Check it out.
IAAPA Conventions - (9/22/16) IAAPA has announced that they will relocate their global headquarters from Virginia to Orlando in 2017. Along with the move, they also confirmed that the annual IAAPA show contract has now been extended to keep the tradeshow in Orlando through to at least 2030.
(9/14/16) BlooLoop has posted a small preview of what you can expect to find at the 2016 EAS show in Barcelona, Spain taking place next week from Sept. 20-22.
(8/13/16) IAAPA has sent us a reminder that the Euro Attraction Show 2016 will be taking place at the Fira Gran Via Convention Center from Sept. 18-22 (Trade Show from 20-22). The new detail however is that during the show there will also be access opportunities to visit PortAventura World (which will include a tour of the new Ferrari Land), Tibidabo (one of Europe's oldest amusement parks), Aquarium Barcelona and the Illa Fantasia waterpark. You can find all the official information here.
(3/15/16) IAAPA has announced that the 2016 EAS show will be located in Barcelona, Spain for the first time, from September 20-22 at the Gran Via Convention Center. Follow the link to find out more details from the official website.
(5/28/14) Good news for fans of IAAPA’s Orlando location… IAAPA has announced that they have signed a new agreement that will extend the run of IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando by an additional 6 years… which will take it through to the 2025 show.
Intamin - (3/14/16) Intamin is showing off two unique new ride simulator concepts at CAE 2016 in Beijing and a report posted about them on BlooLoop has images and details. One is called the Dome Ride Theater and looks to place 80-riders in a circular shaped ring platform that can spin and tilt in the middle of a projection dome, with images above them and to be seen below them through the center of the ring.
The second ride concept is the Ultra Tower, which looks almost like a supersized tower ride, but with platforms of theater seats along each of the four sides of the tower that can rise and fall, while riders watch a projected film along tall cylinder shaped screens that surround each of the four sides. The real kicker is that each section of rider seats is actually on a motion-base, in addition to the tower itself being capable of both high speed ascents and negative-g inducing drops.
(2/27/16) Intamin has announced they are offering a new version of their Zac Spin coaster called the LSM Zac Spin. According to the report on BlooLoop the new version of the ride would start off the experience with an LSM magetic launch out of the station and up a steel incline to the top of the structure. I can't help but think that the new layout looks a bit similar to S&S's FreeFly 4D coaster layout, with the addition of the launch track and incline of course. Intamin is offering trains pairs with dual front, dual reverse, or face to face seating configurations. Check out the concept artwork and see what you think.
Mack Rides - (12/21/15) The BBC has posted a short video report this month where they were allowed to take cameras inside Mack Ride's top secret factory in Germany for the first time ever. Follow the link and take a peek inside the magic factory.
(12/9/15) According to a report posted by AttractionsManagement, Mack Rides and VR Coaster are working on at least nine new VR Coaster projects at the moment, with one of their projects expected to actually open in January 2016. The article also mentions that the group has been working with Cedar Fair as well and could roll out some of these projects to some of their theme parks. We know they were testing out just such a system for a few days near the end of the season at Canada's Wonderland on that park's Thunder Run coaster.
Maurer - (6/6/16) According to a report originally posted by Park World magazine, Maurer was in talks to officially remove itself from the amusement industry in response a lack of new orders for their product line. As a comapny, Maruer wont be going anywhere, as they are involved in a number of other non-amusement projects such as building and bridge construction. Click here to read a bit more about it.
UPDATE 6/27/16 - Park World later updated their story say that Maurer coasters would be remaining in business as a new entity to be named Maurer Rides GmbH as the main company entity (Maurer AG) will re-focus themselves on non-amusement structutral projects, though they will also be used in the production of the rails and vehicles for any future Maurer Rides projects.
(11/19/15) Maurer is showing off a new ride design called the Wing Roller Coaster at IAAPA this week. You can see the car and learn a bit more about the ride system in the video interview below from In The Loop.
An animated video from Maurer is below that, showing off how these new cars can be used as both Wing Coasters and Bike Coaster designs.
Merlin Entertainment - (5/17/16) BlooLoop has posted a new interview with James Burleigh, Merlin's "chief ambassador" of Merlin's network of SEA LIFE aquarium attractions. He's been with the SEA LIFE team going back to the previous ownership by Vardon PLC where he started as the Head of Procurement before taking on a leadership role for one of the SEA LIFE sites. Follow the link to read on about what he and the company have in store for the SEA LIFE brand, and where they want to go with it moving forward.
(10/22/15) According to this article, Merlin is said to have struck a deal with China to build a Legoland theme park somewhere near Shanghai, as well as other Merlin owned attractions such as a Shanghai Dungeon and a new attration themed around the Kung-Fu Panda film series. Note: Merlin already has five attractions in China, including Madame Tussauds wax museums in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and Wung as well as the Chang Feng Ocean World aquarium in Shanghai.
Planet Coaster - (8/26/16) For those eagerly awaiting Planet Coaster, the game has released an all new gameplay trailer that really makes this look like an awesome new theme park simulation game. Check it out below.
Also, if you are curious to know if your PC has what it takes to play Planet Coaster, lists of both the "Minimum System Requirements" as well as the much steeper "Recommended" requirements can be found here.
(8/18/16) For those waiting for Planet Coaster to be released, they have just announced that the game will be available on PC on Nov. 17th, however pre-orders for it can be placed on Steam starting Aug. 25th.
(3/23/16) A fun review from playtime with the Planet Coaster Alpha build has been posted to Arstechnica this week, along with tons of new screen shots. Looks like great fun so far.
(1/27/16) Planet Coaster has released a third developer diary video giving us a fantastic look at the new game in action, as well as how it will allow you to build your dream park piece by piece.
(10/27/15) A new development diary video about the Planet Coaster theme park simulation game takes an interesting approach and goes into detail about programming the individual guests in the parks and how they will react not just as a group, but also on their own as individuals touring your theme park.
Take the time to watch the video and really listen to what they are saying about how the individual guests will respond to what they see and do in the park, including all the little things like getting frustrated while bunched up in crowds, in awe when a new ride opens and more. It really seems like they could be bringing these virtual parks and rides to life through the realistic reactions of the park guests.
(6/19/15) During interviews about Planet Coaster the developers confirmed a few new aspects that are in the works for this new title. One item of note is that they confirmed that players will be able to build connected "villages" of parks and share coaster designs with each other. They also confirmed that they decided to drop the whole "Tycoon" name branding from the title after realizing that the name itself comes with too much baggage, as there have been a number of horrid games released over the years that have also used the "Tycoon" branding to try and sell themselves.
(6/18/15) Frontier is back with the first teaser trailer for their new theme park simulation game that was previously announced as Coaster Park Tycoon... it has now been thankfully renamed as Planet Coaster. Check out the teaser below... and it's a good one. It really has a feel good and fun look to it that will appeal to any fans of the old Roller Coaster Tycoon game series and in the end, could actually out-do Roller Coaster Tycoon World. Just watch the teaser... it really is great looking nod to everything Frontier learned from working on the RCT series before this. I just hope the actual gameplay can keep the warm fuzzy feeling as well as this animated teaser when the game finally comes out sometime in 2016.
Ride Entertainment - (9/14/16) Ride Entertainment partner company, Lagotronics, is behind the interactive elements of an interesting new dark ride at Wanda Mall Nanchang that features ride hardware that looks like a near-clone of that used by Disney's Toy Story Mania rides. Check out a video of the new dark ride in action below. This isn't the first such ride they've made either, having built a Journey To the West themed ride using the same system at Wanda's Movie Park in Wuhan and yet another, the oddly titled Moon Bunny Rescue at EonTime World in Harbin, China. which features bizarre giant carrot shaped blasters.
(6/3/16) Ride Entertainment partnered with TAIT Towers to design and fabricate, AirSurfer, the world’s first automated, standing and turning zipline. After jointly acquiring the IP for AirSurfer, Ride Entertainment and TAIT worked together to refine and perfect this unique attraction. AirSurfer has the ability to automatically climb and descend hills while turning corners at speeds up to 55 km/h (34 mph). With two years in the making, Ride Entertainment and TAIT are excited to reveal AirSurfer to attraction industry professionals at the 2016 IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo.
Built in the USA, AirSurfer is fully adaptable to fit any site or terrain that traditional ziplines cannot handle. Its wireless control system ensures safety by maintaining distance between vehicles and controlling the speed of each vehicle. AirSurfer is available in three different vehicle models and offers custom-designed course layouts that fit any property. All of AirSurfer’s vehicles accelerate up to 55 km/h (34 mph) on straightaways as riders are thrilled with turns, speed and unfolding vistas.
Rocky Mountain Construction - (2/19/16) Just a quick clarification regarding the RMC Raptor vs TRex track. At IAAPA they were showing off two different sizes of the track at the booth, and the TRex track was to use normal two-across style trains, and now we see that the smaller "Raptor" single rail system is for compact, single-seat width trains.
(2/18/16) Rocky Mountain has posted details and teaser art for new attraction concepts this week. In addition to details about a new Compact Wooden Coaster design (featuring Topper Track), they also mention a new all compact steel single-rail system they are calling Raptor Track (formerly known as TRex it seems).
You can see a video of Raptor Track in action here, and while it looks very wicked and fast, the downside to it all are that the trains only hold 1 rider per row (8-per train), with hourly capacity of only 200, 400 or 600 PPH, depending on if you buy a 1, 2 or 3 train coaster. With that in mind, I wouldn't look for one of these to open at one of the big theme parks out there, as it seems to be aimed primarily at small parks who may have previously found the cost of buying a coaster a bit too high, or who lacked the space requirements.
Roller Coaster Tycoon World - (8/29/16) The latest update to the Roller Coaster Tycoon World game project has been posted to their blog this week as they prepare to roll-out the Alpha build of something called the "Piece-by-Piece" building element. This element will allow park builders the ability to build custom "structures" within the game. For example they show off a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge that was pre-made with the new PxP system.
For now access to the program is available only through "Steam Early Access" where you are playing in a pre final release state, with code still being updated and worked on. While I haven't tried it myself, comments sent in from those who have so far have been fairly critical of the software's current state as still being buggy and a bit difficult to use, but hopefully things will improve.
(4/17/16) While I haven’t tried it yet myself, it seems that the early release of Roller Coaster Tycoon World on Steam has been met with plenty of criticism from the fans. ATARI has acknowlded this and has pleged to not only continue to support the title, but they will keep working to fix the various issues people are having.
One such issue is that the title seems to have favored having a higher frame rate at the expense of graphic quality, but they promise that a future update will address this issue and raise the quality of the games graphics. The choice to favor frame-rate over graphics was a concern over how the title was going to perform on the various user hardware once released. Now they have a better idea of where to set the bar in terms of graphic performance.
Note, this is the early access version of the title and not the finished code, and the number of features in the game are still limited, with much more content in the development pipeline to be released in the future as things progress, even after the final release, more features will be added on going forward.
(3/29/16) Roller Coaster Tycoon World will arrive in the Steam Early Access program starting sometime within the next week. Note that this isn't the official final version of the game, but a working preview that will allow those with Early Access to try it while the programmers work to finish up all the bells and whistles as well as fix problems based on Early Access feedback. I believe Steam Early Access will make it available on March 30th.
(11/16/15) According to this update, following the Beta test of Roller Coaster Tycoon World, Atari has opted to delay the launch of the game until early 2016 from the previously announced Dec. 10, 2015 release date. From the Beta build, it sounded as if many features of the game were not yet finished, and Beta players found certain aspects of the build to be frustrating, so numerous improvements will be put into place before it gets released.
(9/30/15) Good news for those eagerly awaiting Roller Coaster Tycoon World. Atari has announced that they are now accepting pre-orders for the title on Steam, which will give you access to exclusive Beta Weekends and Five Unique Peep Skins if you pre-order the Standard or Deluxe Editions. The official final release date is December 10, 2015.
(8/31/15) A reader who attended the PAX 2015 show got to make a quick test of the Roller Coaster Tycoon World build that was being shown off and took a quick video of it in action... with some disastrous results for the Peeps. Meanwhile a pretty good explanation of the latest developments along with a longer sample of the gameplay being offered can be found here.
The breakdown is that so far the game will have 30 different flat rides and 10 different style coasters, with 4 different track styles. It was mentioned that while they visited parks and rides to get design inspirations, the rides in the game are not direct recreations of any one existing ride out there in the real-world marketplace. As an example they show off what appears to be their own custom version of a Gravaton style flat ride, but with a clear roof. Of course since the game will be open to the world's community this time around, I suspect it wont be long before some fan re-creations of some actual real-world rides start to show up as well once they open the floodgates.
(8/13/14) ATARI has announced that the next-gen RCT game, “Roller Coaster Tycoon World”, will come out for PC in early 2015. Based on the very brief animation released, it appears to be a 3D rendered world once again, but with a realistic appearance as opposed to the cartoon look RCT3 had when it was released way WAY back in late 2004! (Can’ you believe it has been 10 years since the last one was released?)
The interesting new features that will come into play in RCT-World is that your massive theme park can be cooperatively built and worked on by up to four players at once. RCT-World will also take your creation online as well, allowing you to visit and tour other player’s parks as well. And to put your fears as rest, this will be a full release title that promises to be “micro-transaction free”, giving you access to the full range of content right out of the box.
S&S WorldWide - (1/7/16) S&S Worldwide has sent out a correction regarding the announced rides going to the Wanda Groiup parks. The 16-Seat Dual Tower ride will go to the Guangzhou Wanda park (Opening Aug. 2018) and a 12-Seat Space Shot Tower will go to the Wuxi Wanda park (opening March 2018).
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment - (5/3/16) SeaWorld's CEO, Joel Manby, has announced another change to how they will be treating the Killer Whales going forward. While we know they have put an end to the breeding program, and OSHA put an end to trainers swimming in the water with them, SeaWorld has now announced that the whale will no longer "pose, dance or kiss each other" during performances in an effort to only focus on behaviors that the whales would do naturally.
Now while Joel is saying "no more" to these behaviors, having spent as much time around the whales as I have in my past (and that's another long story for another time) I think the proper way this should have been announced would be to say that the "trainers" will no longer ask the whales to do these things. I'm pretty sure we'll see some of these behaviors still take place from time to time from the whales themselves, as the whales are always free to do pretty much whatever they really want to do, and they do see to amuse themselves by seeing how human's react to certain behaviors they have learned.
For example, while not banned (yet), you may have seen the whales randomly come up to the glass to watch the humans on the other side and occasionally spit water over the glass. From what I saw, the sound of squealing humans hit by cold water and the little dance they do as they run away really did seem to amuse the whales to no end. So it became a self-generating act of positive reinforcement for them to keep doing it on their own.
Anyway, enough with the memories of the past, going forward the plan is to make the new method of displaying the whales more like something from National Geographic or the Discovery Channel, and less like a music video.
Six Flags - (9/8/16) I had heard some of this before, but now that everything is public we can share some of the latest upper park management shifts at Six Flags that took place over the past couple of weeks. The chain reaction started with the John Fitzgerald, park President of Six Flags Great Adventure, who has resigned "for personal reasons".
Replacing Fitzgerald as the new President of Six Flags Great Adventure and Hurricane Harbor will be Neal Thurman, who was previously the President of Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Thurman has moved around the chain quite a bit over his career, having served previously at Six Flags Magic Mountain (Dir. Operations) and before that Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom and Six Flags over Georgia.
Meanwhile the President office at Six Flags Fiesta Texas will be filled by a good friend of ours... Jeffrey Siebert, who was previously the park's Marketing Director and before coming to Fiesta Texas had also worked for Schlitterbahn and Paramount's Kings Island. Congratulations to all, as the park's now seem to be in very good hands.
(7/28/16) Six Flags posted their Q2 2016 earnings report on Wednesday. While the report focused on the positives and growth trends for the company over the past 6 months, it seems that the actual Q2 numbers themselves fell a little short of expectations, which saw the company’s stock price fall slightly as the Q2 earnings fell from $65.5 million in Q2 2015 to just $60.9 million for Q2 2016.
On the positive side, attendance is said to be up 2%, along with a 2% increase in guest spending PerCap numbers, plus the company has scored some impressive sums for the international licensing of their brand. All together this has brought in a record revenue sum for the first half of 2016, which has also enjoyed a 7% attendance increase overall for the year so far, with the chain bringing in 11.2 million guests through the gates.
You can listen in to the recording of the conference call by clicking here.
(7/23/16) For everyone who has been sending in the information... I am aware of the Justice League themed survey Six Flags has been sending out. It seems to be going out to every market, regardless of if that park has a Justice League ride already, is getting one next year, or not getting one at all.
If you haven't seen the survey, it seems the corporate office is trying to gain insight into how knowledgeable their various local demographic groups are about DC Comics, the Justice League, the current crop of WB made films about the DC Comics universe, as well as what kind of knowledge people have about just what the Justice League ride actually is.
Oh, and someone is trying to figure out if they should try and promote the fact that the interactive technology side runs on the Unreal 4 video game engine. To this I say "No!" It automatically makes the attraction sound like a giant video game instead of a themed dark ride adventure and that alone may turn off some members of family groups who may dislike video games, who would otherwise really enjoy the ride experience! After all, parents are taking their kids out to the park to ride it over the summer as a way of getting them away from their Xbox and Playstations for a day and out into the real world.
Now while the first half of the survey is harmless, the second half bothers me a bit as it seems like the corporate office may be second guessing the name chosen for the attraction (ie: Justice League: Battle for Metropolis) as they are trying to get feedback on a number of other HORRIBLE sounding alternate names for the attraction, many of which just sound incredibly "dumbed down" to the point that the theme of the ride's storyline is lost completely.
For example one proposal is "Justice League: Battle of the Superheroes" which makes it sound like the good guys are all fighting each other (ie: Cival War) instead of villains. Then the rest are just so simplified and horrid sounding like, JL: The Experience, JL: The Ride, JL: The Game or Justice League: Battle Ride. Ugh... and the scary thing is people were obviously being paid to come up with these names. One final standout was "Justice League: Heroes vs. Villains" which again makes no sense to me, as there are no Villains in the Justice League and makes it sound like they are trying to rip off the Cival War theme again.
Six Flags... you've got a hit on your hands, proven and installed into three parks already. Just leave it be... don't monkey with what works and keep building more of these at the parks that don't have it yet. You can't have too many dark rides in my opinion... just make sure you give the parks that have them what they need to keep their up and running.
(7/22/16) According to various news reports Six Flags has signed another deal to look into developing a second theme park in China, this one would be in Dishan, a district of Chongquin. The only thing known about this particular site is that they want to build both a theme park and water park.
(3/23/16) Six Flags has announced a new deal to design and license the Six Flags brand into two new parks in Vietnam over the next four years. The project calls for a Six Flags theme park and for a Six Flags branded Hurricane Harbor waterpark to be built in the vicinity of Ho Chi Minh City by 2020.
(2/5/16) Six Flags chain of parks will grow by one more in 2017 when they open Six Flags Hurricane Harbor Qaxtepec in Mexico. The plan will see Six Flags buy and reopen a 67-acre park located in the State of Morelos, which has been closed to the public for several years. Six Flags will add an assortment of new slides and water attractions to the park, along with all new restaurant and retail locations.
From what I've been able to figure out, I believe the park they are taking over is the former Parque Acuatico Oaxtepec, which the local news in Mexico confirms that Six Flags won a bidding contest to reopen and operate this park from the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS).
Skyline Attractions - (9/21/16) Skyline Attractions has released a video showing off a brand new attraction concept called Skywarp. I'm kind of digging the look of this one, as it kind of looks like a Siamese-Twin version of a Fireball style ride, on steroids, flying through a giant infinity symbol style track layout. I can't wait to see someone build one of these for real.
Soaring Eagle Ziplines - (8/19/16) Our friends at In The Loop have posted a great video interview with "The Man!" himself... Stan Checketts, who talks about his history with S&S and now Soaring Eagle Attractions. Check it out below!
Universal Studios - (8/25/16) Behind the Thrills shares details about a new patent application filed by Universal Parks & Resorts for something they are calling "Video Game Ride". While the interactive ride concept would work for a future Nintendo themed attraction, details also mention interacting with the ride via a magic wand, which would make it work as a future Wizarding World themed ride as well.
The idea seems to indicate that riders will compete by shooting at targets during the ride, but also feature changing environments, alternate ride path systems, making the outcome of the attraction dependant on the actions and skills of the riders.
Vekoma - (9/3/16) Vekoma is working on a mystery new coaster design it seems, as those who watch over their test development site have notices some very odd new coaster pieces assembled on the site. From what I can tell from the photos the coaster's ground level track as well as a wheel-driven lifthill (launch hill?) all feature coaster track mounted completely sideways. As it hits the top of the lift the track rotates over into an Inverted or Flyer coaster style track position.
So what could this be? While this is just a test build for a new design, so it isn't very large, I do have an idea. What if this is for a new style of Flyer design? Vekoma's original "Flying Dutchman" style design was never very popular and only saw three ever built in the USA. The system was plagued by low-capacity issues caused primarily by a complicated two-step restraint system, and slow unload/load procedures.
Looking at the sideways track as if it was a loading area reminded me of a very interesting patent filed by B&M back in 2001/2002 long ago (see photos) for an improvement to their Flying Coaster design that has never been built at any park. The idea involved adding a rotating swivel addition to how the seating section of their cars would attached to the main rolling unit. Just before the train would enter the station the track would rotate sideways and the seats would swivel to the side at the same time, lowering riders into an upright seating position for quick unloading and loading. If you take a look at the official drawings that I archived for myself at the time you can see how this design idea could easily apply to whatever Vekoma is working on as well.
It looks like perhaps they were looking for an alternative to building dual-sided loading stations to speed up the loading process of a single track station as the trains would roll in and out of the station with the riders already in the upright position instead of waiting for the additional step of raising and lowering the train from the flying position. So the question remains... why did B&M never built one of these designs in a park?
If I had to guess, I'd say that while this design may speed up the loading of the train, it complicates the process of the people moving on the platform itself by forcing guests to unload and load on the same side of the train. Of course this could be solved by having a dedicated unload position just behind a dedicated loading position, much like how they designed the Dueling Dragons coasters for Universal.
On a side-note, you can also see this system working for a unique style dark-ride layout as well, combined with a moving walkway to keep the cars moving in the station at all times, much like how Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey works. I suspect we may have to wait until IAAPA in November to find out more about what Vekoma is working on.
Wanda Group - (8/26/16) The Wanda Group isn't' done building theme parks yet it seems, despite complications that have closed one of their latest big projects (Wuhan) for a major overhaul. Now Wanda is reported as having signed a new deal to build a $9.4 billion theme park resort project in the northern Chinese city of Jinan. The project is said to have a heavy "sports" theme and will feature a 10,000-Seat Ice Hockey / Basketball stadium, a retail mall, restaurants, an outdoor theme park, hotels and a venue for a stage show. Look for it to break ground sometime in 2017 and be open as early as 2020.