---- THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS ----
(3/27/17) Internet Fun - Park In China Using Facial Recognition To Stop Toilet Paper Theft (MORE...)
(3/27/17) The Walt Disney Company Confirms Iger's Contract Extension (MORE...)
(3/27/17) SeaWorld Entertainment Finds Itself With New Major Chinese Shareholder (MORE...)
(3/13/17) Merlin Entertainment Signs Deal To Open First LEGOLAND Park in China (MORE...)
(3/8/17) Premier Rides Starts News Ride Shipments to China (MORE...)
(3/6/17) Six Flags Sending Out New Coaster Theme Survey (MORE...)
(3/6/17) Ride Entertainment Signs Deal With Extreme Engineering for Cloud Coaster (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 - (3/6/17) Was sent an interesting tidbit this morning about a new film on the film festival circuit about traveling carnivals and a story claiming that a large percentage of the workers in the industry now keeping it alive now are from Mexico, legally working in the US through the H-2B guestworker visa program. The film, called Farewell Ferris Wheel, spent six years filming a documentary about the current state of the carnival business, which seems very different from the age-old "carnie" sterotype of the past and held several screenings in the later-half of 2016 with more to come in 2017. Anyone else come across it, or perhaps have seen it? I'd love to hear more about it.
(2/1/17) Would you believe that Johnny Knoxville, star of Jackass and Bad Grandpa, is gearing up to film a new movie about crazy antics inside a theme park? According to the Hollywood Reporter Knoxville will star in "Action Park" for Paramount which is said to imagine what would happen if Knoxville and his cohorts "irresponsibly designed and operated their own theme park". Sounds like this could come off kind of like Bad Grandpa, with some scripted segments tied together by some reality based shock footage. Of course to get away with it all, they are said to be filming it somewhere in South Africa starting this March.
(1/17/17) A major announcement came out the other night, shaking the live entertainment world at the core. After a successful 146-year run the world famous “The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus” will come to an abrupt end in May 2017. The announcement came from the offices of Feld Entertainment late Saturday, Feld being the mammoth company that is also behind other traveling live-performance shows like Disney On Ice, Marvel Universe Live, Disney Live, Monster Jam and more.
According to Kenneth Feld (CEO), the difficult decision to close the circus forever follows a trend of declining ticket sales that has been happening for years, but once Ringling Bros. bowed to pressure and officially pulled all of the elephants off the road in May 2016, they described the fallout as causing a very “dramatic drop” that has not stopped. Mix this in with the ever rising costs to maintain and keep a production of this magnitude on the road, and it was determined that it “made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.”
As it has been for years, there are currently two different traveling Ringling Bros. show tours taking place across the nation. The current “Circus XTREME” tour will hold their last show in Providence, RI on May 7th and the “Out Of This World” tour will conclude in Uniondale, NY on May 21. For those lucky enough to find themselves within range of one of the final shows, you might want to make the time to see it one last time while you can, because the curtain is falling forever for “The Greatest Show On Earth”.
Now while the general concept of the Circus itself certainly was not started in, nor was it exclusive to America, there is still just something very engrained in American culture about the circus to me. Of course it may just be the way it was embedded into our culture over the years with visions of a carnival, games of skill, rides, and in the right era, even a freak-show or two. All a well honed operation designed to lure in the public to spend their money to see things that they believed they would never see anywhere else… often thanks to the expert manipulations and lessons of the world famous P.T. Barnum himself.
The loss of the circus, while it did evolve for modern times, does make me feel like there will forever be a new hole in the fabric of our shared American culture. So what was to blame? The Internet? Mobile Phones? Short-Attention Spans? Modern Expectations? Animal Rights Activists? Yes, No… and perhaps a little of it all, mixed in with countless other factors, many of which would include just the nature of how the circus business evolved over the years, what they changed, and what factors had never changed. For example it was mentioned that some members of the circus (performers and crew) would actually have no home to go to once they shut down, as they have lived on the road for their entire lives, with only their living quarters on one of the traveling train cars serving as the only home they know. In some cases, whole family units still live together on the road within the circus, who also employs teachers for the children to make sure they get an education.
So what will happen next? Feld Entertainment isn’t going anywhere after the performers take their final curtain call in May, as the company still has plenty of other shows traveling the roads of America and could be developing future show concepts to take the place of Ringling Bros. There has been some speculation over the past year or two however that Feld could be purchased by another entertainment giant, with Disney being quite possibly the best fit. According to some rumors Disney had previously looked into buying Feld Entertainment several times, as they already have a working relationship with them through the production of the Disney Live, Disney on ICE and Marvel Universe Live shows. Time and again however, the biggest negative that pushed Disney away from finalizing any such deal was the Ringling Bros. circus shows… which occasionally found themselves on the wrong end of the press and at odds with animal activist groups. Once the circus is no more… the time may be right for Disney to make yet another acquisition. There are also others who may be willing to make a play for Feld… as it wasn’t that long ago that Herschend Family Entertainment (Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, etc) also decided to enter the market when they purchased The Harlem Globetrotters in 2013 from Shamrock Capital Advisors… the private equity firm that was actually started by none other than Roy E. Disney.
So what other fallout could come from this big announcement? You can bet that the leadership at the SeaWorld parks may be taking this news carefully to heart as well. While SeaWorld would find it incredibly difficult to just “retire” all of their killer whales and ship them off to live the rest of their days in seclusion (or release them to the open ocean as some would like), they have already taken the first few steps that could lead them down a similar path as Ringling Bros. As of now, all breeding of killer whales has stopped and the San Diego park has now closed the Shamu Show in favor of a new educational Orca Experience exhibit experience to open later this year.
Some have questioned if the loss of “Shamu” would be enough to topple SeaWorld, and I think there is merit to this line of though, especially in light of what has now happened to Ringling Bros. In my opinion, there is a bit of historical precedence for this and you have only to look at the overgrown plot of land just outside Cleveland, Ohio to see what now remains of the SeaWorld Ohio and Geauga Lake amusement parks. The two companies successfully co-existed for years, existing on opposite ends of the lake, with Geauga Lake agreeing to focus just on their amusement park business and SeaWorld would focus only on their marine life park and exhibits.
Geauga Lake was eventually sold and turned into Six Flags Ohio and seemed to be a hit. From here, I’ve never been entirely sure if SeaWorld was looking to sell the Ohio property or if Six Flag just made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. My thinking leans to the later, as the growth rate and actions of Six Flags at the time, shortly after being purchased by the very aggressive growth-minded Premier Parks management team, would be just the kind of deal that could have gone down. In short, SeaWorld sold the Ohio park, but they would not sell the killer whales, which were then sent off to the other three remaining SeaWorld parks. What was left of SeaWorld Ohio was gobbled up and added to the Six Flags park as a major expansion, and the park renamed Six Flags Worlds of Adventure.
It didn’t last. Soon after the giant park fell on hard times, with attendance plunging and eventually the park itself was put up for sale, only to be purchased and soon after closed down entirely by area rival, Cedar Fair. So how did the local market that had successful keep two very successful theme parks alive and well for decades suddenly sour so badly in such a short period of time? I can only point to the loss of ‘Shamu’ from the playing field as being a likely key ignition factor in starting the demise of the Geauga Lake attractions.
Hopefully SeaWorld Entertainment will be taking careful steps for their own future, lest they follow the same path as Ringling Bros.
(1/12/17) In an interesting study by the LA Times, it seems that while crime rates at Southern California theme parks is extremely low, there are particular crimes that are more prevalent at one park than at another for some reason. For example, the most common crime at Six Flags Magic Mountain is basic theft of guest items, with backpacks and purses being the top targets of theft, usually taken while left in the coaster stations while their owners are out on the ride.
The crime of choice for those targeting Knott’s Berry Farm? Cars theft...both from break-ins, the theft of parts and pieces off of the parked cars, up to grand theft auto itself.
Over at Universal Studios Hollywood, the most common crime comitted is shoplifting, both in the theme park and in the attached CityWalk retail area just outside.
And at the Disneyland Resort? It seems the security is pretty good in the parking lots and anti-theft deterrents, so instead the most popular crime at Disney comes from those trying to pass counterfeit bills or use stolen credit cards.
Please keep in mind that while these are the most common crimes committed at each of the four major theme parks in the LA area, the number of acts committed are so low compared to outside world that it isn’t even funny. For example, according to a stat for the Disneyland Resort, they reported only 10.3 property crimes for every 1 million visitors. By comparison, Anaheim’s crime rate is 2,000 times greater. And violent crime is almost unheard of as well… with a 1 act per 1 million visitors rate given for Universal Studios Hollywood.
(11/4/16) CNL Lifestyle Properties has been looking to sell off some of their parks and attractions for months now and now it seems they have finally found the right deals. Under the new deal, a hedge fund management company, Och-Ziff, will buy 14 ski resort properties from CNL including Sunday River and Sugarloaf (Maine), Sierra-at-Tahoe (California), Crested Butte (Colorado) and Brighton (Utah).
CNL will then sell the Northstar Ski Resort in California as well their 15 waterparks and amusement parks to a Kansas City based group called EPR Properties. (Official Website)
All said and done, CNL will receive about $830 million.
Internet Fun - (3/27/17) Our friends at BlooLoop have a pretty funny, yet interesting, article about what lengths a local park in China was willing to go to stop their guests from stealing toiler paper from the attraction. Apparently the park staff were not sure why they were running through the rolls at a rapid pace until a staff member spotted members of the public stuffing huge wads of toiler paper into their bags. It seems this began to be a problem back in 2007 when the park started to offer "free paper" in the toilets. (Which begs me to wonder... is it a common practice in China for businesses to charge for toilet paper??!)
To combat the problem, the park is testing out a group of machines that will use facial recognition software to scan the guest's face before dispatching a specific length of paper for use. For those in need of a bit more, if having some personal issues that day, additional paper is said to being provided based on a "need to go" basis.
(1/8/17) Who knew the annual Consumer Electronics Show (or CES) in Las Vegas was the place to check out the latest high-tech ride experiences? Apparently it was this year as Samsung brought their A-game to the show with several VR ride experiences, including one that looked quite a bit like a modern take on the old Disney CyberSpace Mountain concept from DisneyQuest, but seating three riders across, all wearing Samsung Gear VR headsets. Other experiences included a VR head-first run down an olympic Skeleton run taken while lying face-down on a virtual skelton sled, a VR run on an air-show stunt plane while strapped into a chair that can spin and flip you around in about any direction, another on bouncing theater seats allowed riders to try a VR version of a high speed jet-boat race, and a final one that was just a VR giant robot wars game allowing to combatants to grab nearby VR objects and buildings and throw them at each other.
(11/28/16) Our friends at BlooLoop take a look at just what technological trends are expected to dominate the theme park marketplace over the next three years such as Robots, Holograms and Virtual Assistants.
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.
AlterFace - (12/7/16) The previous release about AlterFace and Jora Vision joining forces to create spectacular new attraction concepts has been edited at the request of AlterFace, as has the content of the article we were linking to over at BlooLoop.
B&M - (11/4/16) A new photo update from the B&M plant in Ohio has been posted to Midway Mayhem's Facebook page this week. Lots of new raw steel track and sections only covered in a grey primer are currently sitting on site for unknown new coaster projects. Unfortunately I don't see any close-up photos of the ID tags on the end, so it's hard to know just what these are for yet. As of right now however, it doesn't look like B&M have any projects opening in the US in 2017... only a Dive Coaster going to China at Happy Valley Chengdu and a Wing coaster at Happy Valley Chongqing.
CAVU / DreamCraft Attractions Ltd. - (11/14/16) I'm not entirely sure where it is going, as the link doesn't seem to work, but CAVU Designwerks posted to Twitter than they have signed a deal to build a signature turn key Flying Theater attraction to a park in China. Anyone know more?
(10/19/16) CAVU Designwerks has announced the launch of their connected corporation, DreamCraft Attractions Ltd. Through this new company CAVU will develop new theme park experiences and attractions that are described as being revolutionary, blending the concepts of Virtual Reality with Augmented Reality and even Artificial Intelligence.
According to a description by BlooLoop, the first attraction they are bringing to market is called DreamCraft VR, described as the first VR attraction that will use a motion base and place "guests inside the frame". Instead of every rider seeing and feeling the same shared attraction experience, the DreamCraft attraction will provide a unique tailored experience to every rider based on their own actions and reactions. Look for more information about this incredible sounding new attraction concept at their booth at IAAPA in Orlando (Nov. 15-18) in booth #1386.
Cedar Fair - (3/1/17) In an interesting move, Cedar Fair will offer their passholders a new season-long drink option this season. In addition to the offers of the past, which revolved around purchasing a refillable plastic bottle with the option of having unlimited refills for the day of purchase (and cheap refills if you bring it back for future visits) or unlimited season-long refills for a bit more. The pain here has always been the plastic bottle… having to remember to take it with you, having the lug it around all day long, especially in these days where parks are more frequently asking guests to use lockers to store all items when riding the big coasters and not allowing loose items in the station.
Starting in March, Cedar Fair will begin to ofer a new “disposable cup” unlimited drink season pass option for the same price (aprox. $27) as the season-long refillable bottle. You have to pick which plan you want at the start and stick with it, but for those on the move (and always on the rides) who don’t want to lug around a plastic bottle everywhere you go, this new plan will be a perfect alternative option.
(2/15/17) Cedar Fair will hold their 2016 Q4 / Year End Results conference call today, Feb. 15th, starting at 10am Eastern. You can listen in on the webcast version here.
(10/31/16) Cedar Fair has promoted Richard Zimmerman (COO) to also serve as the new President of the company, taking over the spot from Matt Ouimet who will remain on at the CEO of the company. Before becoming to COO of Cedar Fair in 2011, Zimmerman also served as the GM of Kings Dominion from 1998 to 2007, going back to the days of Paramount Parks.
(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 - (3/27/17) The Walt Disney Company has confirmed that Bob Iger's contract as CEO has been extended once again, this time through to July 2, 2019 to give more time to find and groom and successor to the Disney throne.
(2/8/17) According to the Wall Street Journal, Disney CEO, Bob Iger, may be preparing to extend his run as CEO yet again, with the Board of Directors blessing. Previously Iger extended his contract as CEO with the Board to ensure he would be there to launch the new Shanghai park and see it through the first year with the company. With his planned retirement date only 16 months away, there is concern that there is no clear successor in line to take over the top spot for Iger, especially after they somehow chased away Tom Staggs last April, who most saw as the best candidate to take over for Iger.
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 - (11/24/16) Dynamic Attractions shows off their new Dynamic Motion Theater concept at IAAPA 2016 in the latest video from our friends at In The Loop. The concept is actually quite unique, blending a theater style audience setting onto a dynamic motion base, surrounding by projection screens that can move and reveal actual three dimensional sets behind them where live action sequences can also take place. You've got to see it to really get an idea of the near infinite possibilities possible with this system.
Check it out below.
(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.
Extreme Engineering - (10/19/16) BlooLoop reports that Extreme Engineering, the makers of the new Cloud Coaster attraction, have teamed up with S&S Sansei who will act as their new sales distributor for the Cloud Coaster. They also mention that a new addition to the attraction in 2017 will be a new 'tandem cart' system to increase capacity and allow guests to enjoy the ride together.
(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.
Goddard Group - (11/2/16) A new article posted to BlooLoop talks a bit with the Goddard Group about several of their new immersive projects around the world currently in the works. Projects like the Cirque du Soleil attraction in Mexico, new parks in China (Hengdian Shanghai Bund Movie World, Haichang Polar Ocean World and Kingdom of Poseidon) as well as work on "The Encounter" in New York city.
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.
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 - (11/19/16) Our friends at In The Loop had a chance to chat with Mack Rider about their new extreme spinning coaster concept, featuring a look at a scale model they had at the IAAPA show floor, plus more video footage of the concept in action.
(11/16/16) Mack Rides has announced a new coaster design at IAAPA this year called the Extreme Spinnng Coaster. Last year we saw Mack testing a unique new spinning coaster car attached to the back of one of their launched coasters and now we know that it was a test for this. The layout is a unique and compact complete circuit coaster that starts with a launch backwards before rolling forward into a full speed forward launch through the circuit. Upon stopping, the station track is actually attached to a turntable so that a second train of riders was being unloaded and loaded while the first was making the run on the track. The turntable flips everyone around 180º to quickly swap the two trains for increased capacity and more speedy loading which is great. Mack first used the same idea this past summer on their prototype Power Splash flume/coaster concept that opened as Pulsar at Walibi Belgium to fantastic reviews.
Check out the video below from Mack below to see an animated preview of the Extreme Spinning Coaster concept, along with some real world footage of the test spinning car mixed in.
Maurer - (11/14/16) While the "Spike" isn't exactly a true roller coaster, Coaster101 talked with Maurer about their unique new powered coaster style creation and shows off exactly how the new drive system works to power the car around the track.
Merlin Entertainment - (3/13/17) According to our friends at BlooLoop, Merlin Entertainment has signed a deal that will see the first Legoland theme park built in China in the Shanghai area. The timetable to start construction sounds like it is still a bit fluid, but they hope to have it ready to open by 2022. This was first mentioned back in 2015, and at the time they said the plan was to also open other Merlin attractions in Shanghai such as a Shanghai Dungeon and a new concept themed around the Kung-Fu Panda series. Merlin already has a Madame Tussauds in Shanghai and owns the Chang Feng Ocean World aquarium.
(2/28/17) While the horrific accident on The Smiler in 2015 brought the focus of a world upon Alton Towers and their safety procedures, it then brought Merlin's own corporate safety departments into the public eye as well as they sought to not only figure out what went wrong, but how to make everything they do safer than ever. Our friends at BlooLoop has posted a detailed article and interview with Merlin's Group Health, Safety and Security Director, Dominic Wigley that addresses not just The Smiler incident, but goes into detail about what they have learned and changed as an entire company in the aftermath, and how they are sharing everything they've learned with the industry world-wide.
(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.
Parque Reunidos - (1/26/17) According to a report posted to BlooLoop, Spain's Parque Reunidos has been tapped to manage the new Dragon Park in Ha Long City, Vietnam along with the nearby Typhoon Cove waterpark opening later this year. This marks the first time the company will manage a park in the Asian market. Fun note: it appears as if this is the park where the former Led Zeppelin - The Ride coaster from Hard Rock Park ended up.
(11/16/16) Parque Reunidos has announced a new partnership with Lionsgate to build Lionsgate branded "leisure centers in high-traffic shopping areas". For those not in the know, Lionsgate is the studio behind The Hunger Games film series as well as Saw, The Expendables, the Divergent film series, The Twilight Saga and the upcoming Power Rangers film.
So what kind of Lionsgate themed attractions could they be dreaming up? It's hard to say, though the possibilities could be near infinite. We'll have to wait and see what they can bring to life.
Premier Rides - (3/8/17) Premier Rides posted an interesting tease of a picture to Twitter in late February, showing off the first shipment of hardware for a new coaster projects heading to China. Any ideas where this may be going?
An interesting ad from Premier Rides posted in Amusement Today confirms that the company will be opening two more Sky Rocket II coasters (ie: SFDK's Superman or Busch Garden's Tempesto) in 2017: one to an unknown park in Asia and another to an unknown park in Europe. Perhaps bigger news is that the next one after that will open somewhere in the USA in 2018. I've heard rumors about a possible location for this USA project for awhile, but I want to try and firm it up a bit more before I reveal what I've heard, so stay tuned.
(11/14/16) Our friends at BlooLoop report that The Producers Group and Premier Rides have worked together to create what they are calling the world's first "Immersive Dining Experience". They have named the turnkey attraction, "Extraordinary Voyages Adventure Dining" which takes guests aboard for a unique luxury passenger travel experience aboard the "Centurion" while being taken for a tour around the world, or even through space or time for a cinematic adventure dining experience.
The attraction design space would include two such Centurion vehicle sets, which can be set for various departure schedules (45, 60 or 90 minutes) with each able to accommodate 80 guests for the journey.
On a fun side note, I’d love to see a Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy version of this themed as time traveling Milliways, also known as “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”, where diners enjoy the spectacular and explosive “end” to the Universe as we know it and then time travel back to safety afterwards while enjoying dessert.
ProSlide Technology - (2/24/17) ProSlide has posted a new teaser video titled, "Something Big is Coming" that promises something impressive is on the way this summer. Check it out below!
Ride Entertainment - (3/6/17)
Our friends at Ride Entertainment have announced that, "A revolutionary partnership to distribute Extreme Engineering’s award winning Cloud Coaster has been formed with the one of the world’s leading attractions industry products distributors, Ride Entertainment. As the official distributor of the Cloud Coaster, Ride Entertainment will increase visibility and availability of the world’s first cart-less roller coaster."
As the world's largest adventure product supplier for the amusement and resort industries, Extreme Engineering desired a distribution agent for the Cloud Coaster with a stellar reputation, long standing history and world-wide reach. As one of the largest distributors in attractions to the amusement industry with a robust world renowned reputation, Ride Entertainment was an ideal match for distributing their unique and groundbreaking product. Extreme Engineering and Ride Entertainment both share a long standing and active history with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), which further connected the two companies together to form this exciting and dynamic new relationship.
Ride Entertainment is a world leader in providing thrilling products to the attractions industry, having earned international recognition for innovation and commitment to quality entertainment, and will be the exclusive Cloud Coaster distributor in the Middle East including distribution towards large amusement parks and waterparks such as Six Flags, Universal and Disney worldwide.
Adam Sandy, Chief Business Development Officer for Ride Entertainment states, “We are thrilled to unite with one of the world’s largest adventure and amusement pioneers to promote growth in distribution of their innovative Cloud Coaster. We look forward to serving countless satisfied customers and thrill seekers through this respected and rewarding partnership.”
Developed and designed by the entertainment experts at Extreme Engineering, the Cloud Coaster is an innovative part zip line and part flying roller coaster. The world’s first cart-less roller coaster gets its riders adrenaline pumping using a unique custom lift system to raise riders slowly, simulating the traditional anxious feeling at the start of a large roller coaster, then blasting off and giving the triple sensation of flying, zip-lining and rocketing up and down.
The Cloud Coaster also holds the esteemed title of being the only zipline coaster on the market using lifts, which allows tandem riders to be pulled up a track on motors to zip up hills for a truly unique ride. The Cloud Coaster won back-to-back IAAPA awards for best product display in 2015 and 2016 and was recently honored by USA Today as a Top Attraction. The 2017 track design features a new tandem cart system so participants can enjoy ride the together, as well as exciting lifts and upgraded MBS braking technology. The Cloud Coaster is the premier family-friendly thrill ride.
Jeff Wilson, CEO of Extreme Engineering states, "We are honored to see our one of a kind and treasured product distributed by an internationally recognized amusement and adventure powerhouse. Given their stellar reputation as a world renowned industry leader, it is as inventive as it is logical to partner with Ride Entertainment to distribute our groundbreaking and award winning Cloud Coaster. We look forward to seeing our cherished product soar to new heights through this exciting new relationship.”
For more information and to purchase the award winning Cloud Coaster, please visit Extreme Engineering at ExtremeEngineering.com or RideEntertainment.com.
(10/10/16) BlooLoop reports that Lagotronics' first 3D GameChanger ride has premiered at the indoor Max Wonder Park in Shimao's Skyscraper City, Shishi (China) under the name Max Ranger. Riders sit in seats that each have a game cannon and sit on a rotating platform that allows for one segment to be in an load/unload position, then rotate through 6 different game rooms before returning back to unload. On this particular ride they will play through a 3D game experience from Lagotronics called Moon Bunny Rescue.
(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.
S&S-Sansei Technologies - (2/24/17) S&S Worldwide released a list of 17 new rides they will be opening in 2017 this week, many known, but the list also includes some others we didn't know about. Check it out below.
Dutch Wonderland - Family Inverted Coaster
Fuji-Q Highland, Japan - Dodonpa Loop (ride enhancement)
Happy Valley Chongqing, China - Space Shot and Turbo Drop
Hersheypark - Triple Tower Complex
Huayi Brothers Movie World, Suzhou, China - Combo Tower
Nagashima Spa Land, Japan - 4D Free Spin Coaster
Playland's Castaway Cove - Triple-Launch Coaster (delayed opening)
PortAventura, Ferrari Land - Combo Tower
Six Flags Great America - 4D Free Spin Coaster
Six Flags New England - 4D Free Spin Coaster
Six Flags Over Texas - 4D Free Spin Coaster
Sun Tzu Cultural Park, Shandong, China - Air-Launch Coaster
Sun Tzu Cultural Park, Shandong, China - Space Shot and Turbo Drop
Wanda Harbin Amusement Park, Harbin, China - Space Shot and Turbo Drop
Weihai Rio Carnival, Weihai, China - Space Shot and Turbo Drop
TBA Park in Middle East - Combo Tower
TBA Park in Southeast Asia - Combo Tower
(1/7/17) You gotta love it when ride companies announce major new products and S&S-Sansei has announced a whopper of a new ride concept. They are calling it the Immersive Elevator MediaCoaster and our friends at BlooLoop have the scoop on the project. The Immersive Elevator MediaCoaster is actually part of a joint project between S&S-Sansei Technologies and Holovis, designed to extend the ride experience of a roller coaster from being "a short, dynamic ride through to a fully engaging story-driven experience."
The design concept sees guests pass through an extensively themed and interactive pre-show experience before climbing into the ride vehicle that could look more like a dark ride style vehicle than a traditional coaster. The vehicle is then able to travel into a 360º projection dome that will surround them in a themed environment to tell the story, combining the rich media-attraction of Holovis with S&S's coaster experience and Sansei's extensive experience with elevator systems to create "a unique and unforgettable experience" like no other that can merge the experience of a fully themed dark ride with the plunge of a drop-tower and roller coaster thrills.
I've got to admit I really like the sound of this concept, which really seems to offer the ability to combine the various elements in different ways to create a wide variety of ride experiences suitable to whatever storyline or IP a park wants to use.
(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).
Sally Dark Rides - (12/12/16) Sally Corp's founder and CEO, John Wood, spoke at length with BlooLoop about the history of the company, how it started off, their early work with animatronics and traditional dark rides as well as their shift into interactive and "mixed media attractions".
(11/19/16) Sally had some fun displays at IAAPA this year, featuring the return of many of their previous displays (like The Walking Dead) but new this year was a proposed new dark ride attraction concept themed to the Five Nights at Freddy's mobile game experience where guests will fight off the darkness with their flashlights. A video below from In The Loop interviews Sally's Drew Hunter about their new concept.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment - (3/27/17) SeaWorld Entertainment announced that China's Zhonghong Holding Co Ltd has signed an agreement to purchased Blackstone's remaining 21% stake in the company. The news apparently worked in SeaWorld's favor as it was reported that their struggling stock price rose about 5% following the announcement. The new deal also gives SeaWorld Entertainment an easy-in to the blooming Chinese theme park market, with the deal including licensing and consulting deals for future park development opportunities in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
Zhonghong's current theme park developments in China include the Monkey Kingdom park under construction in the Beijing area themed to the famous "Journey to the West" story.
(12/8/16) This was discussed on our Facebook page on Tuesday while it was taking place, but SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment confirmed that they had eliminated roughly 320 positions on Tuesday across their chain of parks, most through layoffs of existing staff, as well as the elimination of a few empty positions.
While the jobs lost were customized to each park there were some overall trends as certain departments were hit harder than others, specifically those involved with the various zoological / animal care and training departments, education departments, and a lot of behind the scenes support departments (costuming, paint, and plant engineering) where the company feels they can outsource the work as needed.
Our deepest sympathy goes out to everyone, as this seems to have become almost an annual event for the company going back as far as 2010 as I can recall as the company struggles to find solid footing under an ever revolving set of leaders still attempting to deal with the fallout from the Blackfish film.
(11/11/16) SeaWorld Entertainment has posted their official Q3 2016 results. From a quick scan I didn't see anything too surprising. Items of note include attendance at the Florida parks is down, which they are blaming mostly on a huge decline in travel to Florida from Latin markets. Meanwhile attendance in Texas and California is rising however over the first 9 months of 2016. Cost cutting measures put into play are working and will continue to benefit the parks with cost savings going forward. There was also a mention of how they are adding attractions with reduced costs that is also helping. I'm wonder if this signals a switch over to new and possibly cheaper attraction manufacturers, or perhaps more package deals (or clones) where they can reap savings as well. Time will tell.
Six Flags - (3/6/17) A reader local to SFOG reports taking a new survey for the park online this week which asked a lot of questions about possible new roller coaster themes. Now before we get into the details, keep in mind that Six Flags sends out a ton of surveys to guests of all the parks, and names and themes of rides sent to one park's guests don't always mean that the project in question is even being considered for your local park, but may be for an idea under consideration elsewhere.
That said, there were several questions asking guests opinions on the ideas of having a new coaster be themed to either Wonder Woman theme or having a Justice League theme with questions asking for your overall preference, which coaster theme "is more likely to go the fastest?", which is more likely to be made of steel (instead of wood), which is more likely to have spins and flips, and which theme would "likely to be more thrilling?". Then a couple of other oddball questions including one asking which character would you rather have a meal with: Wonder Woman or The Justice League... which is kind of a weird question because Wonder Woman is part of the Justice League. But now that I think of it, the entire survey is kind of odd for exactly the same reason. How are you supposed to compare a single super hero against a team of heroes that also includes that same single hero?
(2/22/17) Six Flags reports that they have signed “definitive agreements” with Riverside Investment Group Co. Ltd. to build more Six Flags branded theme parks in China. The latest developments will be two additional Six Flags branded parks (theme park and water park) built in Bishan, a district of Chongqing, with a goal of opening the first phase in 2020.
Meanwhile the first Six Flags park in China is set to open in 2019 in Haiyan, Zhejiang province, outside Shanghai and is now under construction.
(1/26/17) Six Flags will announce their Q4 and 2016 Year End earnings on Feb. 22, 2017. You can listen in on the investor call starting at 8am that morning by clicking here.
(12/22/16) Six Flags has confirmed that they will open a Six Flags Hurricane Harbor waterpark in China next to the new Six Flags Zhejiang park that is currently under construction.
(10/20/16) According to an update posted by BlooLoop, Six Flags is now setting their sights on adding another international park somewhere in Vietnam according to John Odum, who is now serving as the President of Six Flags new international efforts. Unlike some other markets in Asia, they believe Vietnam is still relatively untapped by the major amusement business players.
(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.
(7/22/16) 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 - (11/16/16) Skyline Attractions had a fantastic looking functional model on display at their IAAPA booth this week showing off their new Skywarp ride. Again, this is just a fantastic looking beast, so I can't wait for parks to begin buying this one so we can see the real deal.
(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!
Triotech - (11/24/16) Triotech had a demo of The Flyer, their new flying theater concept on display at IAAPA as well as making announcements about several new attractions. The first version of The Flyer will open on Pier 39 in San Francisco in Summer 2017, a Fear The Walking Dead attraction is coming to Freemont Street in Las Vegas in Spring 2017, and they also talk about the previously mentioned Ghostbusters dark ride opening at Heide Park next summer as well. Check out the video from In The Loop below.
UbiSoft - (12/10/16) According to an interesting article UbiSoft is looking to move their video game IPs into the real world as quickly as possible. In addition to the new feature film hitting theaters in 2017 based on their hit Assassin's Creed game series, the company was announced as an IP partner for the new IMG Worlds of Legend park planned for Dubai. UbiSoft had also previously announced plans to open an indoor park / attraction in Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) by 2020 that would be entirely themed around their game characters and worlds. To date I believe the only UbiSoft franchise to make it into the world so far is the fantastic looking time travel adventure dark ride themed around the Raving Rabbid characters at Futuroscope in France though other dark ride concepts are also said to be in development.
Universal Studios - (2/22/17) Universal Studios reports that they are launching a joint promotional campaign that will serve both the Hollywood and Orlando parks that they are calling, “I’m Ready”, showcasing how a trip to Universal theme parks can take family vacations up to an entirely new level.
(2/15/17) Congratulations to Universal’s Mark Woodbury this week, as he has been appointed to serve in a new position as Vice Chairman of Universal Parks & Resorts. Woodbury will however also be keeping his current position as President of Universal Creative, and reporting directly to Chairman and CEO of Universal Parks & Resort, Tom Williams.
(2/13/17) While not theme park news, file this one under live entertainment news, as Universal Studios is teaming up with Brand Events to produce an official "Fast & Furious Live" themed arena show tour show that will kick off in January 2018. The idea is to reenact some of the famous movie series scenes as well as street racing attitude for a live audience. This should prove to be an interesting show concept, so I'm eager to see how it develops.
(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 - (11/14/16) Premier Rides has announced a new contract has been signed for them to provide a new "World's First" attraction for the Wanda Group in China. According to the press release, Premier Rides, known for their coasters, will "build one of the most cutting-edge attractions ever to be introduced to the theme park industry. The first-of-its-kind attraction will set a new standard for technical innovation and will reinforce Wanda’s stated goal to be the leader in China’s themed entertainment industry. The project will represent the most significant investment to date by Wanda on a single attraction and will introduce stunning new technologies that are sure to impress Wanda’s millions of fans."
While nothing more was said about what kind of ride this will be... this is Premier Rides after all... known for their steel coasters... specifically launched steel coasters, so we'll just leave it at that until we know more.
(10/19/16) According to Reuters the Wanda Group has hired a former Walt Disney exec to help lead their own theme park division: Andrew Kam. Kam was previously the managing director for Hong Kong Disneyland until he departed the company earlier this year.
(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.
WhiteWater - (11/24/16) Our friends at In The Loop talked with the folks at WhiteWater about their new Mat Blaster creation, marketed as the first uphill mat slide in the world. The Mat Blaster also won the Brass Ring award at IAAPA 2016.