---- THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS ----
(1/17/17) Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Putting the Brakes On The Greatest Show On Earth (MORE...)
(1/12/17) Would You Believe Each Major SoCal Theme Park Has a Popular But Specific Crime? (MORE...)
(1/9/17) Samsung Brings New VR Rides To CES 2017 (MORE...)
(1/7/17) S&S-Sansei Announce Immersive Elevator MediaCoaster (MORE...)
(12/22/16) Six Flags Confirms Hurricane Harbor Park For China (MORE...)
(12/12/16) A Look at the History and Evolution of Sally Corp (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 - (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.
(11/11/16) Screamscape is saddened to report that Al Weber, the CEO of Apex Parks Group, has passed away unexpectedly. As a major name in the amusement industry, he had the fortune to have touched so many parks and companies over his long career including all of the Paramount Parks (where he rose through the ranks to eventually become CEO), as well as serving as CEO of Palace Entertainment, Interim CEO and later COO of Six Flags before moving on to the Preident & CEO spot of Apex Parks Group.
(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.
(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 - (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.
(11/24/16) For all your armchair theme park designers out there, there is a new podcast you may enjoy. Started by Drew from In the Loop Podcast and Ryan from Theme Park Guides, the new podcast is called Theme Park Blueprints. The concept is they pick a park and discuss what they think the park should do over the next 4 to 5 years, in a realistic fashion, to see the most successful growth and success.
It's kind of funny, as I've always thought about adding this same kind of concept to Screamscape over the years, but just trying to keep up with all the news has kept me too busy to do it. On a side note, I'm a little disappointed they didn't call the podcast, "Making Theme Parks Great Again". LOL...Just kidding.
(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.
(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.
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.
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 - (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.
(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.
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 - (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 - (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 - (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.
(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 - (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.
(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 - (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.
(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 - (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.
(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.
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.
Parque Reunidos - (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.
Planet Coaster - (11/19/16) Planet Coaster has now been released and a detailed review of the strengths and shortcomings (if any) of Planet Coaster has been posted to PCGamesN who gave it 5 stars. In short, it looks like Planet Coaster may very well be your dream program if you wanted to tinker for hours to create not only your own rides, but a completely themed environment for your park guests to experience. The part they seemed to feel was lacking (which could kick in during extended game-play) was the more financial / business challenge aspect of the park simulation experience. But honestly, if you are like me, I would tinker for hours on my coasters and flume rides back in my Roller Coaster Tycoon days, wishing I could make a much more themed experience, so it looks like Planet Coaster may be your ultimate go-to program for the budding theme-park designers out there.
(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.
Premier Rides - (11/24/16)
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.
Ride Entertainment - (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.
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-Sansei Technologies - (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 - (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.
(12/1/16) Due to the sheer number of emailing coming my way from concerned insiders, it seems that the SeaWorld parks are preparing for yet another wave of layoffs to start sometime between Dec. 2 and 8th. As before, it seems that SeaWorld is making a nasty habit of doing this kind of thing just before Christmas each time they do it for some reason, which just makes it so much sadder, in addition to the fact that much of the short-comings are really due to the actions (or inactions) of those in the corporate office and not those on the frontlines in the parks being sacked.
I know Screamscape has many friends and faithful readers who work at the former Busch parks across the nation, so I'm wishing you all the best of luck and hope that these rumors are unfounded, though we have heard confirmation that park-wide staff meetings will also be taking place at all the parks during this same time-period.
(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.
(10/13/16) More troubles for the SeaWorld parks this week as a Federal judge has ruled that a group of investors can proceed with a lawsuit against the theme park chain, claiming that they were “misled” about the ill-effects the film “Blackfish” was causing on the park’s performance. Follow the link to read up on all the details.
(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 - (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.
(10/1/16) Thanks to Cedar Fair caving in to the options of a small handful of complainers, it looks like there is even more backlash starting to spread across the nation as a few other asylum themed haunts have begun to implement changes as well. Now instead of just Cedar Fair, the list of parks affected now includes Six Flags. The list of changes we've heard about so far includes:
Six Flags New England which has now changed the name of the "Psycho-Path" haunt to "The Forgotten Laboratory".
Six Flags Great America has a haunt called Massacre Medical Center and I'm told management has passed down the new order this week that the cast is no longer allowed to "play insane" characters due to the Knott's fiasco.
If you've heard or seen more reports like this, please let us know here and on our Facebook page.
(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.
(7/22/16) 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 - (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.