---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(3/6/14) 18 Animals Found Dead Inside Small Vermont Park (MORE...)
(3/6/14) Texas - EarthQuest Theme Park Looking For New Site (MORE...)
(3/5/14) California - Lake Dolores Waterpark May Return (MORE...)
(3/5/14) Washington - Seattle's Great Wheel Envisions New Skyride (MORE...)
(3/5/14) Kentucky - Ark Encounter To Break Ground in May (MORE...)
(3/4/14) New Orleans and The Return of Jazzland Park?! (MORE...)
(2/19/14) SEA LIFE Aquarium Charlotte - Concord Sneak Peek
Alabama - (5/30/13) According to this article the Blue Collar Country attraction area going in along the Foley Expressway in Alabama currently has an office building and preview center under construction. That said... the developers have also stressed that this will NOT be a theme park, “It’s an entertainment destination and resort”. So once again... NOT a theme park. “Here’s your sign...”
(5/3/13) I’m not sure I’d put money on this project actually happeneing, but the Hollywood Reporter claims that the Blue Collar Comedy trio (Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy) are preparing to open their own $200 million theme park in Foley, Alabama. The overall 500 acre project is said to include hotels, an RV resort, a retail area and events center in addition to the Blue Collar Country theme park project. I’d be skeptical of the project anyway… but the Alabama location makes me really not have a lot of faith in it as the region does not have the best record when it comes to theme parks. (The downfall of Visionland / Alabama Adventures into a waterpark comes to mind, plus the whole region as a whole wasn’t exactly friendly to Jazzland either back in the pre Six Flags days…) So far the area has mostly been friendly to small waterparks, but not full scale theme parks. We’ll keep an eye on this as it develops for sure.
California - (3/5/14) Lake Dolores, the fascinating water attraction built next to I-15 between Barstow and Baker, many SoCal residents will remember driving past it on their way to and from Las Vegas. A popular local water fun spot that became popular in the 70’s when the owner created an array of unique waterslides out of sheet-metal (including one you stood up on), it was later transformed in 1998 to become a more modern waterpark known as Rock-A-Hoola. Bankruptcy troubles saw it close in 2000 and reopen in 2002 as Discovery Waterpark, which then closed again in 2004. The park has sat dead and empty for the past decade, but according to this article, a new owner seeks to bring it all back to life, renaming it as the Lake Dolores Waterpark with a goal of reopening the park in 2015. The new official website, OasisThemePark.com, has some great vintage shots of the old Lake Dolores slides, old video clips and more.
Nevermind the countdown clock however, that’s for a X-2 Rocket Launch taking place on site on May 26th, which may be fun to watch as well.
(1/14/14) I’m a bit sad today as Disney and More reports that The Encounter at the LAX airport has closed down. The Encounter was the name of the unique building located just outside the terminals that housed a SciFi themed restraunt and lounge for the past couple of decades. While the building didn’t start out this way, it was reborn in the mid 90’s as The Encounter with the help of Walt Disney Imagineering. I remember fondly taking a hopper flight from San Diego to LAX to catch a red-eye to Orlando for several vacation trips with friends and we would hop over to The Encounter for a quick beverage while waiting for our red-eye to board. The SciFi atmosphere was heavy, with even special themed music in the elevator and drink-guns at the bar that shot lasers and emitted sound effects when they poured you a drink.
Unfortunately the Post 9/11 world of modern airport security measures, mixed in with LAX’s legendary painfully slow security checkpoints simply made the quick visits to The Encounter a bit too risky or annoying for most air travelers to be bothered with. Such a shame to see The Encounter strangled to death this way. Follow the link over to the official report to see some great pictures of it from the inside and outside.
(11/26/13) Merlin has announced that they have signed a deal with the San Francisco Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf that will see the building transformed into an official Madame Tussauds San Francisco was attraction, as well as open The San Francisco Dungeon at Fisherman’s Wharf. This will be the first of Merlin’s infamous ‘Dungeon’ attractions to open in the United States. Both of the new attractions are slated to open by Summer 2014 as part of a $35 million investment.
While the Madame Tussauds was museums are well known throughout the world, the Dungeon attractions are a bit different, as they always strived to bring to live local legends and stories whenever possible, making each of the Dungeon’s a bit unique from the rest. According to the description, The San Francisco Dungeon “will be the ultimate thrill-filled journey through the dark parts of San Francisco’s past. The black comedy of attractions, The Dungeons use a combination of theatrical storytelling by skilled actors, comedy, special effects, rides, jumps and edge of your seat surprises to really involve visitors, and bring history alive in a way that makes you laugh and shiver in equal parts.”
(10/3/13) I thought that they had given up the dream, but the Long Beach City Council has voted 7 – 1 in favor of starting a 30-day feasibility investigation into the possibility of rebuilding the area’s once famous Cyclone Racer dual-track racing wooden coaster. To do so, they would use the Cyclone Racer plans by Larry Osterhoudt, who claims to have spent $17,000 of his own money to reverse-engineer blueprints for the coaster, as well as use them to build a 1/15th scale model of the front section of the Cyclone Racer.
If Larry’s name sounds familiar, he made the Screamscape news pages quite a bit about 15 years ago when Disney was building California Adventure by starting a proposal (or demand) that Disney rebuild the Cyclone Racer in the (then) planned Paradise Pier section of the park.
I’m all for rebuilding the Cyclone Racer, but I do question some of the facts being thrown about in this report. For example, Larry told the council it would take about $30 million to rebuild the Cyclone Racer, which I find incredibly hard to believe as $30 million will buy you a giant steel monster coaster like Gatekeeper, Leviathan or Intimidator 305. By contrast a top of the line new style wooden coaster like Outlaw Run only cost $10 million, so I think someone needs to double check these figures.
(9/30/13) The latest word from Manteca is that in order to do the proper research to decide if adding a Great Wolf Lodge makes financial sense, it will take an additional year to decide, which will require an extension to the existing exclusive negotiating agreement for the city’s 30 acre site. You can read the rest of the report here.
(6/17/13) - The San Diego Zoo has announced plans to create an 8-acre new exhibit themed around ‘Africa Rocks’. According to the local news The Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks exhibit will replace the existing Dog & Cat Canyon area and open in 2017. The exhibit will feature a 65 foot tall man-made waterfall to be called Rady Falls as well as the Madagascar Habitat with more lemurs than you can shake a stick at along with more than 50 other African animal species.
(12/14/12) The local news reports that ground has been broken at the former Wild Animal Park (now: San Diego Zoo Safari Park…) on a new 5-acre Sumatran tiger exhibit. The new exhbit will be named the “Tull Family Tiger Trail” in honor of Thomas Tull, CEO of Legendary Entertainment and his family who have donated a significant amount to the project it seems. The exhibit will be a forested habitat with close-up viewing areas of the tigers with rocks for climbing and swimming pods and more. Look for this to be complete by Spring 2014.
Florida - (1/29/14) According to the local news the Miami-Dade Finance Committee rejected the bids for both Dinosaur Park and the 20th Century Fox themed Miami Wilds park projects that were proposed for the land next to Zoo Miami. Moving forward however, the county apparently now wants to consider both bids together as part of one large project if the two groups are willing to work together.
(11/22/13) A monstrous tower attraction has been proposed for Miami… and it isn’t the Polercoaster. They call it SkyRise Miami, which will have a very modern and unique shape to the proposed 1,000 ft tall structure. If built the tower would be the tallest building in Florida, the tallest “tower” on the Eastern Seaboard and second tallest tower in the US, just behind the 1,148 ft Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas.
(12/11/13) According to this article the owners of the Miami Seaquarium have been in talks with Palace Entertainment, the US arm of the Parque Reunidos attraction company headquartered in Spain about a possible purchase of the Miami attraction.
While the owner of the Seaquarium says it was just talks and that nothing has been decided, an anonymous insider is quoted in the article as saying that a $30 million purchase deal has been negotiated and is under secrecy while the parties perform their due-dilligence ahead of finalizing the sale.
Much like the Stratosphere Tower, the plan for SkyRise Miami also includes some thrill rides. In addition to an obverservation level and the obligatory restaurant with a view, the tower will include a “flying theater” attraction similar to Disney’s Soarin’, an 800 ft tall freefall ride called the SkyPlunge and a 600 ft controlled descent bungee jump called SkyRise Drop. The structure will also have room for several clubs and lounges as well as a 500-seat ballroom.
I’m sure there will be a lot of red tape and financial paperwork to deal with for months before this thing gets off the ground, but it would really give the city a globally recognized landmark if SkyRise Miami were built.
(8/23/13) According to the local news there are talks to bring two possible theme park style projects to the Zoo Miami complex. One would be called Dinosaur Park International, an open air museum with hundreds of life-sized dinosaur replicas. The company behind this is a subsidiary of a company that owns a similar Dinosaur park in Germany.
The other is said to be called Miami Wilds, which would be a theme park with ties to 20th Century Fox film properties that would also include a waterpark themed to the Ice Age animated films, performance venues and a 400-room hotel. If approved the Dinosaur Park could be open within 2 years and Miami Wilds is looking at a time-table that would see the first phase of the park open in 2018, and the second phase two years later. Concept art showing off more of the Miami Wilds project can be seen in this video.
(8/8/13) World Choice Investments, a group associated with Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and Pirate Voyage dinner theaters has purchased four parcels of property in Destin, FL, creating a 14+ acre site. While no plans have been submitted for the future intended use of the property, demolition of the existing structures has already begun. The popular line of thought, via connecting the dots, is that a new dinner theater attraction is likely to open up here in the future... which more than likely will be a second Pirates Voyage show given the location near the ocean. The first Pirates Voyage opened in Myrtle Beach in 2011, though it first opened as a Dixie Stampede location in 1992 before they choose to give it a Pirate makeover.
Georgia - (9/18/13) An incident took place involving the Crazy Mouse at the Gwinnett County Fair in Georgia on Saturday. From the sound of things the vibration of a car passing over a section of track caused a security fence to partially fall over a portion of the coaster’s tracks. A short time later a loaded car ran into the fence section, “shearing off one side of the passenger car”, loaded with four riders.
While the ride was immediately closed for re-inspection, it apparently was up and running again by Monday, which isn’t that surprising since the incident was not ride related, but rather caused by a foreign object (the fence) falling into the path of the car. There was no mention in the article about any injuries involved, so I can only assume that the section of the car that was struck was a decorative section. Had to be a scary ride though…
(7/18/13) I’ve been sent a link to pictures on Facebook today showing off the opening of the new SkyView Atlanta giant wheel. Check it out!
Illinois - (12/29/13) According to this second article on the Grizzly Jack ride accident, the ride involved was called Demolition Derby, thought I can’t seem to find any pictures of the actual ride in the park.
(12/27/13) According to a small article in the local news, seven people were treated for minor injuries when a “malfunction” occurred on a “tea cup ride” at the indoor amusement park at Grizzly Jack’s Grand Bear Resort in Utica, IL. I believe the indoor amusement ride section also goes by the separate name of Enchanted Forest. The guests, a mix a adults and children, were all treated and released on Christmas Eve. The park is currently open, while the ride itself remains closed for state inspection.
Indiana - (10/31/13) Screamscape sources tell us that the Allen Hershel Little Dipper coaster at Fun Spot in Indiana (Safari Kiddie Coaster) has been sold and will soon be sent to a new owner.
No word yet on what might replace it. UPDATE - I forgot to mention that Fun Spot Indiana has been closed since 2008... since the website was still active after all these years I was wondering if it had reopened... it hasn’t.
(9/20/13) Remember the SkyQuest attraction that was promised for the Indianapolis Zoo several years ago? Looks like they are getting closer to getting it finished, but according to this animation posted by Chance Rides earlier this year, the concept has changed a little bit. Instead of the very open looking cars which looked very much like a hot air balloon basket when seen in the previous artwork, have been replaced with a VonRoll style enclosed skyride gondola car that will navigate a circular path around the animal exhibit hanging suspended from some kind of powered track rather than run on just a suspended cable.
If I had to guess, I wonder if they borrowed the new car and drive system from US ThrillRide’s SkySpire concept. I am unsure if this is still on track for a 2014 opening at this time, or if it has been delayed once again.
(9/11/12) I’m told that the SkyQuest project is indeed still alive at the Indianapolis Zoo, it was just delayed a bit longer than expected for budget / funding reasons with the rest of the International Orangutan Center project. I’m happy to report that the project just broke ground last week with a timeline to be open by May 2014. SkyQuest has since been renamed as “The Skyline” and new concept art can be seen here.
(9/10/12) Anyone know what ever happened to the SkyQuest attraction that should have opened at the Indianapolis Zoo this year? I haven’t heard even a single peep about this project since it was announced at IAAPA in 2010. Did it die or was it delayed?
(11/17/10) US Thrillrides has announced the sale of a SkyQuest attraction to the Indianapolis Zoo for the 2012 season at the IAAPA show. SkyQuest is the new concept from Bill Kitchen, which will be the “crown” of the zoo’s new Orangutan habitat, giving each rider a very up close experience and birds eye view of the animals. The 15-20 minute long adventure will load four passengers into gondolas, similar to a hot-air balloon basket, and move a mild 1mph through the attraction. The artwork sent out was a little raw, but it reminds me of a mini Skyride style system. You can see some other odd artwork for the ride system at the official US Thrillrides website, where they show off a more thrilling version that has riders strapped into a Skycoaster style harness, as well as options to hook up promotional “banners” to make their way around the track as well.
Kentucky - (3/5/14) I’m a bit surprised this project is going forward, but according to the official Facebook page for the Ark Encounter park proposed for Kentucky, they have the funding now in place and are ready to begin construction and break ground in May.
Technically however, I don’t think they have the funding for the entire park… only to build the massive icon for the park, the Ark itself. The rest of the proposed theme park, and funding for it, will have to come later.
Louisiana - (3/4/14) Consider me surprised, but it seems a new group has come forward to file a proposal with the city of New Orleans to redevelop the former Six Flags New Orleans theme park site as… an all new theme park called Jazzland once again. They’ve already created an official Facebook page for the proposed Jazzland Park, put up a JazzlandPark.com website, and you can also download their proposal to the city in PDF form to take a closer look at what is planned.
The new proposal is from a group called TPC-NOLA, which is a subsidiary of The Paidia Company, a local Louisiana company involved with themed entertainment projects. To be honest, the only time I’ve heard of The Paidia Company to date was that they were selected as one of the final four proposals to redevelop Rye Playland, where their plan involved working with Merlin to bring a Legoland park to the site.
So what do they have planned to bring Jazzland back to life? The proposal says they have 90% of the financing in place, and plan to spend $50 million in Phase 1 to open the theme park and the “back backlot” for a proposed film studio backlot project. Their plan for the park is to try and keep it open year-round to take advantage of the mild winters and year-round tourism and convention crowds in the area. Of the $50 million needed to reopen the park, nearly half would go towards the attractions budget: $4 million to repair rides that can be saved, $15 million towards brand new attractions and another $3.4 million to install new performance theaters.
The park will also have four themed lands: The Beach, The Bayou, The Quarter and Sportsman’s Paradise. The Quarter will serve as the entrance area to the park and feature a heavy music theme, including a 4D theater attraction called the Voodoo Queen’s Battle of the Bands and a dark ride themed to the Imagination Movers and a Showboat themed theater.
Sportsman’s Paradise, themed to the great outdoors, will feature an interactive Hunting themed dark ride, Mudhoggin’ (a 4x4 version of the classic car ride), Red River Run (new River Rapids ride), a Fire Engine themed suspended roller coaster that will have water elements to interact with the nearby rapids ride below it. The existing “Jester” coaster will be restored and re-themed as Driskill Mountains, complete with black bear encounters.
The Beach section of the park will feature the MegaZeph coaster once again, with a plan to restore and reopen the coaster from The Gravity Group, who will install new Timberliner trains with an on-board audio soundtrack system. They envision having Better Than Ezra to perform the coaster’s new musical soundtrack. Other attractions in The Beach will include a drop tower enclosed inside a light house themed structure and Sea of Love: a boat ride through the former games building that will feature scenes of sunsets, moonlight and cupids as a modern take on the old Tunnel of Love rides from long ago. The former Jocco’s building will be expanded and turned into a modern day Laff-in-the-Dark ride, a former games building will become a Haunted House and the old Spillway Splashout will be replaced with a new Wild Maus coaster. Other new rides to be added include a Ferris wheel, carousel, wave swinger, bumper cars and more.
The Bayou will feature a brand new Simulator film attraction, the refurbished and expanded log flume will become the Sugar Flume with a ride into a sugar mill, refurbished pirate ships and airboat rides and more.
Beyond that, they also plan to open the Baritone Beach Waterpark as future expansion along with the Backlot Shoppes, a mixed use retail site that will be located next to the Backlot production area.
So what do you think? I like the idea and I like the vision and theme for the park… but I guess the real questions I have fall more along the lines of:
Should this site be used for a theme park again?
Has the New Orleans area recovered enough to support having its own theme park?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they get support from the city to move ahead or not, because if time has proven anything, it seems like no one else has come up with anything better to do with the site since Katrina.
(8/27/13) I received a special message from a reader and former Six Flags New Orleans crew member today, who wished to share this with everyone.
On this day, August 27th 2005 on a Saturday morning, Six Flags New Orleans was preparing to open for the day. I had done my time in ride ops and now moved on to running Park Services. I was at the front gate when Sheri approached me and informed me we will not open the park.
I questioned why.
She said because of Hurricane Katrina.
I said [I had] been busy and not watching the news, where is it heading?
Sheri said, Direct hit.
At that moment it was as if someone punched me in the stomach.
I was born and raised in New Orleans being there through every storm since Betsy.
I stood in shock speechless for a moment and then she said she would call me with further instruction.
We received a storm info packet and commenced readying the park for a Hurricane.
Megazeph had already been inspected and tested to run for the day.
That would be the last [ever] runs on Megazeph.
August 29th Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and Six Flags New Orleans would be devastated never to open again. In July 2005, on a day off, I shot video for a documentary and a detailed shoot of Megazeph. Never finished the docu shoot due to heat and working 6 days a week. On this 8 year anniversary, here is the old Megazeph Video. Likely the last film of this operating coaster missed by many local New Oleanians.
(8/19/13) While most of us have seen the images of the former Six Flags New Orleans theme park left to decay and rot following the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina in late August 2005. Most of those images you’ve previously seen were taken by select adventurous souls in the years that followed, after the park had suffered from various acts of vandalism.
A new video has surfaced showing images shot within the park just days after the flood waters receded. These images were shot by someone who was allowed on site who acted as a “security” member in the days that followed, allowing access into the property for the various inspection crews who needed to assess the overall damage done not only to the park itself, but to the various rides to determine what might be salvageable. So take a moment to revisit Six Flags New Orleans, when the paint was still bright, the floodwater mark on the walls was still fresh and before the vandals had their way with it.
Massachusetts - (12/27/13) A new Alpine Coaster set to be the longest such ride in North America, has been given unanimous approval for the Berkshire East Ski Resort in Charlemont, Massachusetts. The ride will feature approximately a mile of track for the round-trip ride up and down the mountain, with 3,775 feet track to be used for the winding descent, with a total of thirty 2-seater cars able to reach speeds up to 27 mph. The attraction will be open year-round once finished and installed into an out of the way section of terrain that was unsuitable for anything else.
Mississippi - (10/23/13) A Mississippi man has a dream to develop 1200 acres of property into a new attraction for Biloxi that would include an concert amphitheater, a retail mall area (Trader Village) and the musical themed Mississippi Sound theme park. You can see more about this in the video below.
New Hampshire - (8/29/13) According to the official website, Six Gun City reopened for business on August 4th. While there are only a few more days left in the summer season, the park will post fall hours for a Haunted Six Gun event very soon.
(6/3/13) One of our readers decided to try and visit Six Gun City this week, only to discover than the Jefferson, New Hampshire park is now closed. A message on the park’s website says that after 56 years the Brady Family has decided to sell the park and is currently in negotiations with interested parties.
New Jersey - (2/24/14) Gillian’s Funland of Sea Isle City has confirmed to everyone that the park has been shut down and will not reopen. The park was built for about $2.5 million in 2009, but after sustaining damage by Hurricane Sandy it was only able to partially reopen on July 4th, 2013. Given the work load, debt level and how much it will cost to fully reopen they park, they equate the effort and cost to building a new park from scratch all over again. For now Gillian will focus their efforts on their larger park, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City.
(1/17/14) Casino Pier will add a Zamperla Air Race ride for 2014, according to a report at BlooLoop. Look for the new ride to open on the lower deck of the pier this summer.
(12/23/13) The latest article from ThemeParkUniversity talks about some incredible projection mapping shows that have been produced over the past couple of years in Atlantic City on the fašade of the Boardwalk Hall building. Amazing stuff… check it out!
(11/1/13) Remember that “crazy” guy who climbed the half-submerged StarJet coaster that was sticking out of the Atlantic after Hurricane Sandy? During the anniversary event of the storm, he climbed another Seaside ride and placed another American flag… this time on the Slingshot. He was promptly arrested again upon coming down. It should be noted that he was full equipped with proper climbing safety gear, so like the coaster, this was intentional and not an aborted suicide jump.
(9/18/13) According to this news article, the owner of FunTown Pier in Seaside Park has vowed to rebuild it again… making it bigger than it ever was before Hurricane Sandy and the fire decimated it, with hopes to extend the pier an additional 300 feet. There is no set timeline to rebuild and reopen, but at this point they will likely have to demolish all that is left and rebuild everything from scratch.
(9/16/13) Quick update on the boardwalk fire… I had several facts wrong it seems. It was Seaside Park that sustained most of the damage from the storm, Funtown Pier had never reopened after Sandy and Casino Pier had the coaster that fell into the ocean. That said… it was Funtown Pier that was on fire, but I’m told that most of what burned was already damaged from Sandy. All together some reports claim as many as 40 businesses burnt to the ground along with a fairly old carousel.
(6/10/13) According to this article the Keansburg Spook House in New Jersey that was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy will reopen in 2014 after a complete renovation. Great news for sure!
New York - (8/16/13) A 5-year old boy suffered serious injury to his leg at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park when he decided he was going to jump out of the Sea Serpent kiddie coaster in mid-ride. He was riding with his older sister at the time but somehow crawled out from under the lap bar to make his ill-fated escape and upon jumping from the train got his leg caught beween the car and the track. For those wondering, he did meet the height requirement for the Sea Serpent, he just got so scared he was willing to escape by any means necessary.
(8/2/13) Our friends at Laff In The Dark take a look at the restoration and return of the Coney Island Spook-A-Rama following near total destruction from Superstorm Sandy last year.
(6/26/13) Theme Park University takes a look at the Jekyll and Hyde Club’s new location in Times Square and points the finger at a few problems in addition to what makes it so unique. It looks like they will be linked to the new Times Scare haunt on the way this fall, so you may want to know what you are in for.
(6/19/13) A reader pointed out that New York City also has another year-round haunt called Times Scare NYC, which also has a restaurant, two bars and a “haunted burlesque show“. You can find the official website for it here.
(6/18/13) According to this report a new year-round haunt is planned to open this fall in New York City called Jekyll and Hyde’s Chamber of Horrors.
(3/4/13) The local news reports that ground breaking has begun for the new Staten Island Ferris Wheel project, which hopes to be the biggest giant wheel in the world (625 feet) when it opens in 2015. Full scale construction wont start for awhile as the crews are currently starting with soil tests to determine the placement and style of foundation needed for the huge wheel.
(9/28/12) New York Mayor Bloomberg appeared at an announcement with the heads of New York Wheel LLC to announce the plans for the New York Wheel, a new giant wheel which promises to be the world’s biggest when it opens. The New York Wheel will be built on the north-eastern side of Staten Island and stand 625 feet tall. It will have 36 capsules, each able to hold 40 passengers, and take 38-minutes to make a complete trip. You can find the official website for the project at NewYorkWheel.com.
I have two thoughts about this project. For starters, it seems odd that they would try to build this, when I thought there was still a plan in place to build a giant wheel at the American Dream Meadowlands project (aka: Xanadu). Second… why call it the New York Wheel? Why not just paint it red and call it The Big Apple?
North Carolina - (2/19/14) Kerry, my Wife, is joining us today as a guest writer after taking in a special Media Preview of the new SEA LIFE Aquarium in Charlotte - Concord. Enjoy the article, pictures and video below!
Living in North Carolina the past 7 years has been awesome! We have experienced every season and I would not trade them for anything. With that being said, last week we experienced our first “winter storm” with about a foot of snow, so when Lance asked me to head to Concord, NC for the media preview of SEA LIFE yesterday I was more than willing. What better way to get your mind moving in the direction of warmer weather than getting up close with all kinds of sea creatures. I admit that when I first heard that Concord Mills was getting an aquarium I was a little skeptical, especially since it was moving into the space previously occupied by NASCAR Speedpark. When I arrived at the mall it felt like an ordinary day, however when I stepped inside the aquarium I felt like I was transported someplace else and forgot I was even at a mall.
After watching a short video you will begin your interactive journey which will take approximately 90 minutes (if visiting with smaller children I’m sure your visit will last longer because they will be mesmerized. You will travel from the rivers in the Blue Ridge Mountains like the Catawba River to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. You will have the opportunity to get your hands wet in the touchpool, stand in the center of a school of fish and even go “under the sea” for an incredible view of life in the water. Bring your cameras or smart phones for sure! They also have a soft play area for kids.
SEA LIFE is definitely going to be an asset to the Charlotte region. Bigger is not always better and this unique, intimate attraction is going to be an awesome and fun learning experience for both young and old. Conservation is the heart of SEA LIFE and you will see how they incorporate their Breed, Rescue and Protect program right here.
They will be open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can visit Monday-Saturday 10am-9pm and Sunday 12pm-7pm, however the last admission is 2 hours before closing each day. The cost of admission will be $21 for adults, $17 for children 3-13, a special military rate is available for $18 and children 2 and under are free. For those of you who are local and frequently visit Concord Mills, you may want to purchase the annual pass that is being offered: individual passes will cost $55 or you can purchase a family 4 pack for $212 with additional passes for $50.
SEA LIFE will also be able to accommodate groups, corporate events, school field trips, as well as birthday parties beginning sometime in May. Birthday parties will cost $30.00 per child with a minimum of 10 kids and will include everything you need for a pretty awesome party including your choice of ice cream cake from Cold Stone Creamery.
The Grand Opening is Thursday, February 20th at 10am. I encourage you to go experience SEA LIFE for yourself. You won’t be disappointed! I can’t wait to go back with my kids!
(2/7/14) A semi truck full of new fish species arrived at the new SeaLife Aquarium in Charlotte-Concord early Thursday morning, which were quickly unloaded and released into the exhibit space at a special invitation event. The new SeaLife Aquarium is now set to have a grand opening on February 20th. A few preview images of the new attraction were sent to Screamscape as well. Click here to visit the official website.
(1/17/14) According to the local news the new SeaLife Aquarium at Concord Mills will open to the public on February 20th. You can find out more details about how you can visit as well as ticket prices at the official website.
(11/24/13) The local news was invited in to tour the construction progress of the new SeaLife Aquarium opening in the Charlotte area at the Concord Mills mall in Spring 2014. You can watch the video report below.
(10/28/13) Bad news from the North Carolina State Fair as a ride named Vortex suffered a malfunction and injured 5 riders on Thursday. According to the early reports, the ride had ended and passengers were getting off to leave when the ride suddenly started to move again, spinning and flipping upside down, causing passengers still on-board to fall out. The ride in question is a Technical Park Vortex ride and you can find a clip of a similar ride in operation below.
The latest word as of Sunday evening is that the ride operator who was running Vortex at the time has been officially arrested and changed with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon after investigators had determined that the ride had been tampered with and the safety systems compromised. From the gist of what is being reported, they seem to think that the operator had overridden the automatic safety systems on the ride to allow it to continue to operate for riders.
(10/2/13) OZ fans within traveling distance of North Carolina will be interested to know that the long closed Land of OZ park site built near the top of Beech Mountain will open for two days this year, October 5-6, for the annual Autumn at Oz event where past guests and former staff will gather to tour the site and reminisce. Land of OZ was open for about a decade from 1970 to 1980 allowing guests to walk the yellow brick road, see characters and walk-through themed buildings. Space is limited, so if you are interested in walking the yellow brick road yourself, read all the official details at AutumnAtOz.com.
(8/27/13) I visited Concord Mills over the weekend and spotted this billboard covering the entrance to the former NASCAR Speedpark. The new SeaLife Aquarium from Merlin Entertainment is now slated to open in Spring 2014, but appears that it will only take over the two level interior of the old NASCAR Speedpark building. The exterior with the 3 go-kart tracks and mini-golf course has reopened as ‘The Speedpark’, with an outside only entrance from the parking lot.
(3/15/13) Construction on the new 30,000 sqft. Sea Life Aquarium opening at the Concord Mills mall just outside Charlotte, NC will begin in July with the goal of opening up by Spring 2014. Click here to read more.
(2/9/13) Just as predicted when the mall announced plans to build a SeaLife Aquarium on their site, NASCAR SpeedPark at Concord Mills in North Carolina announced on their website that they were now closed for good. The switch from a pay as you go FEC style system to adding gates and turnstyles and a Pay-One-Price system seems to have failed PARC Management’s run. I don’t expect that the three others sites (Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach or St. Louis) will fair much better unless changes are made.
(1/25/13) According to this news article, Concord Mills (just outside Charlotte, NC near the Great Wolf Lodge and Charlotte Motor Speedway) is signing a deal with Merlin to build what seems to be a $10 million SeaLife Aquarium attraction that will be attached to the mega mall. This was part of a deal that would provide Simon, the mall owner, with a 85% property tax discount for the expansion project that Simon will build and Merlin will operate. The article also mentions that the new aqurarium will take over the current site of the existing NASCAR SpeedPark attraction and open as early as Spring 2014.
What is really interesting however is that when I tweeted about this development earlier today (follow @SCREAMSCAPE on Twitter for the latest!) NASCAR Speedpark’s Twitter account responded with the following message, “We have not rvd a formal notice & are seeking adt'l info related to this. We'll continue our normal hours of operation. Thanks!” Curious to see where this goes, though I bet the phone call that must have transpired today between NASCAR Speedpark and Simon was an interesting one for sure.
On a side note… if Merlin is coming to Concord Mills… I do have to wonder how much longer it will be until they decide to install a Lego Discovery Center attraction at the mall as well. We know Merlin loves to group their smaller attractions close together when possible.
Ohio - (12/27/13) According to this article the city of Aurora is planning to rezone the former 548 acre Geauga Lake property as a mixed use district that would combine residential, office, commercial and entertainment use options together. If it passes through the council, it will then have to be voted on by the locals in the May 2014 election.
(11/22/13) The latest reports from the remains of Geauga Lake say that the Raging Wolf Bobs are now almost completely demolished as crews are on site taking it down. You can see a picture here.
(10/16/13) A pair of brother developers have teamed up and are now seeking investors to try and redevelop the closed Chippewa Lake Park in Ohio as a new outdoor entertainment venue. They are planning an 8000-seat outdoor pavilion with plans to host 30 musical acts a year, 300 campsites, an open-air market and want to try and feature a couple of classic amusement park rides as well.
(9/5/13) Geauga Lake fans will want to see the video below… featuring an aerial video fly-over of the park as shot by a RC quadcopter. The ruins of various structures are scattered all about the former amusement park site, with the remains of the Big Dipper as the only really large attraction left behind, somewhat still intact though the trees and plants are starting to grow up into the structure. I believe the footage was just shot in August a couple of weeks ago.
(11/1/12) The Columbus Zoo has broken ground on a new $30.4 million attraction called Safari Africa that will open in May 2014. The huge new project will cover 43 acres and simulate the sights, smells and sounds of the African savannah as well as including a new marketplace, restaurant and more. New animal encounters are planned, as well as a Zip Line across the savannah, as part of a new master plan project for the zoo from PGAV Destinations, well known for their work designing beautiful environmental attraction for the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens parks over the years.
Oklahoma - (10/10/13) According to the local news Bell’s held a fundraising event to help renovate and reopen a few of the park’s bigger rides. While the fundraiser fell $40,000 short of their goal, the $19,000 they did get will go towards getting the Tilt-A-Whirl, Scrambler and Spider rides back up and running at their current location in West Tulsa at Swick’s Flea Market.
Pennsylvania - (10/2/13) Another new preview video for Scarehouse has been released this week… and it is very creepy.
(9/25/13) ScareHouse is back with a a bit of holiday cheer from Creepo.
(9/19/13) Scarehouse is back with another new preview video, promoting this year’s latest terrors.
(9/18/13) The rules have changed this year at Terror Behind the Walls, a haunt inside the Eastern State Penitentiary. Visit the official website to find out how it will be more frightening than ever before in 2013… Darker… Bloodier and much more!
(9/10/13) ScareHouse is going underground and maybe a little over the line in 2013 with the addition of “The Basement”, an extreme adults only and much more personal haunt experience. If you are 18 and over you can either enter The Basement alone, or with one other victim, where you will experience an environment of adult content, explicit language, crawing, handcuffs, physical contact with “disturbing characters in disgusting situations.” And you must sign a waiver before you may enter.
Entrance into The Basement is an additional charge and not included with regular ScareHouse admission. Purchasing admission in advance from the official website is only highly recommended as they expect The Basement to sell out frequently.
(8/29/13) ScareHouse is back with another video paying homage to their location, inside a creepy 100 year old building with a history of both paranormal activity and all kinds of secret social and club events.
(7/30/13) Our friends at The Scarehouse in Pittsburgh wrote in to tell the Screamscape readers what’s new. They tell us that their new haunt in the Scarehouse is called THE BASEMENT, which is a separately ticketed, reservation only, extreme experience that will be placed, appropriately enough, in the massive basement of the nearly 100 year old building that is home to The Scarehouse. You can either choose to enter alone or choose just one friend to experience THE BASEMENT with you. However... “unlike other haunts of this nature, you must also sign a waiver allowing touching, restraining, and other extreme fear techniques.”
Keep your eyes on the official SCAREHOUSE website for more updates on this new haunt as well as all the official information about the 2013 season. Sounds incredible... I can’t wait to hear more.
South Carolina - (12/23/13) I’m not sure how legit this rumor is, but I’ve been told that PARC Management’s contract to run The Pavilion Nostalgia Park & Carousel Park at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, SC will come to an end on January 1st. No word yet on who might be tapped to replace them, or if the daily operations will be handled by Broadway at the Beach staff instead.
(12/4/12) The local news reports that Ripley’s Aquarium in Myrtle Beach’s Broadway at the Beach center will be expanded in the near future. Not a lot can be said just yet, but construction will begin after Labor Day in September 2013 in time to be finished by Summer 2014. They mention that Ripley’s will spent a bit more money in the Myrtle Beach area as they plan to refresh and overhaul their other attractions along Ocean Blvd, with a focus on the Believe It or Not Museum. Ripley’s Moving Theater attraction received an update earlier in 2012 however.
Tennessee - (9/27/13) Could a new park or attraction be on the way to Tennessee? According to this article a town hall meeting has been set up in Lake City, TN (about 21miles North of Knoxville) with local businessman Buddy Warren. Warren owns several companies including Rocky Top Beer, Rocky Top Moonshine and even the legal rights to the name “Rocky Top Tennessee”, and would like to propose relocating his bottling company, brewery and distillary companies to Lake City, along with plans to build a theme park, sports museum, live music theater, restaurants, a lodge with an indoor waterpark and more. Could be a very interesting proposal...
Texas - (3/6/14) The EarthQuest theme park project is still alive it seems, and is now seeking out a new 500-acre site to build the project on…. twice the size of the original site. According to this article, they are looking at a Houston area site in East Montgomery County.
(2/20/14) Summer Adventures, an attempt to create a small amusement park at the Dallas Fair Park, wont reopen for the 2014 season and may never return at all. After spending $30 million to build up the area and add attractions, it seems odd to give it all up after just one season, as the goal of the project was to try and keep the site alive and active during the rest of the year when the Fair wasn’t going on. To just give up and close it seems short sighted to me… hopefully we haven’t heard the end of this story.
(12/18/13) More details about the proposed Adventure Pointe theme park coming to the Houston area can be found in a new BlooLoop article about the park. Don’t forget to keep up with things at the park’s official Facebook page as well.
(12/9/13) A second park project is in the works for the Houston, Texas area called Adventure Pointe. The 25-acre project comes from the family of the man who created Playland Park decades ago and will be located next to the Tanger Outlet Mall on I-45 South. Groundbreaking is slated to happen in Spring 2014 in order for the park to open in 2015.
(7/1/13) According to this news article the developers behind the EarthQuest attraction project outside Houston are not ready to give up and believe that it is only a matter of “when” and not “if’ the park will get built. They claim that they are currently in talks with nine different investment groups to fund the project with commitments of over $100 million at this time. I’ll give them this… they are persistent.
(3/27/13) EarthQuest is still hitting the occasional headline, where this week they confirmed they still don’t have the funding they need, but they are still out there seeking a lead investor to back them and willing to drop half a billion on the project.
(3/18/13) While the Houston, Texas area still lacks a large theme park, the greater area around Houston seems to be flourishing with new ideas for smaller park projects. Back in December we first heard the early rumors of a possible 25-acre mini-park planned to be near the Tanger Outlet Mall near Texas City that would have a tie to the old Playland Park.
Today a little more information has come out as the city “has confirmed an area physician’s interest in building the park on 25 acres near the Tanger outlet mall, but no plans have been submitted.” However, a new Facebook page for “Playland Park” has gone live and does outline the details a little more, calling it “Playland Park – Texas City”. They have named the new park project in honor of Houston’s first real amusement park, Playland Park, and hope to open it by Summer 2015.
The park will have a retro-Americana theme to it, and will feature locomotive rides on the refurbished trains that formerly served at the Houston Zoo, but will now make runs around this new 25 acre attraction. The park will also have a Grand Carousel, an Eyerly Monster, Antique Car ride, Tea Cups and a Tilt-a-Whirl to celebrate the classic rides of the past. They will also offer new style attractions such as a “unique roller coaster zip line, an Xtra-ice 'ice' skating rink, and fast though eco-friendly Indy-type electric go-karts.” There will also be green spaces, a large picnic area, an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and an indoor pavilion to be rented out for corporate events or private functions.
Good luck to them, I hope this one happens… but it wouldn’t be Playland Park without also offering a wooden coaster as well. Lets hope they include this in the final plans too.
(12/18/12) While they don’t say exactly what they will do with it, the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo board will buy 48-acres of the former 92-acre Astroworld theme park site which will include the bridge across the freeway to the parking lot. The deal will allow the HLSR more room for growth as well as flexibility as they move forward for years to come. The total purchase price is said to be just shy of $43 million.
For those not local to the area, the innocent sounding event is actually said to be a major force in Houston. They occupy space at the Reliant Stadium and surrounding area for about a month, and the event itself is an odd mixture of a major event show, a rodeo, a convention and Houston’s version of a State Fair all in one, featuring headline concerts almost every night, a large assortment of quality carnival rides (via Ray Cammick Shows), fair style livestock events and much more. From what I’m told they’ve been eyeballing the property for quite some time.
(12/7/12) A small update about the new small amusement park project in the Houston area by the Tanger Outlets has been posted by the local news. They say that 25 acres have been purchased by a man with “ties” to Houston’s old Playland Park which was open from the mid 1940’s to 1960’s. Could we see the return of a new Playland Park in Houston?
(12/3/12) According to this article, land has been purchased near the newly opened Texas Tanger Outlet center in the Galveston/Houston area, with the intention of building “an amusement park”. As we have heard nothing about this before hand, I do have to wonder if they are confusion an Amusement Park with something smaller, like a Family Entertainment Center style attraction instead. Anyone else have any insight into what may be planned for the area?
Vermont - (3/6/14) In a sad story to report, 18 animals were found dead at Santa’s Land, a small attraction in Vermont. Both the park’s owner and the animal caretaker have been cited for animal cruelty. The animal bodies were found grouped in one area of the park and include 16 deer, a pot bellied pig and a pheasant. Four other deer that live in the park are currently unaccounted for.
Virginia - (10/24/13) Is Merlin considering opening another full scale Legoland theme park in the US? According to this article the local government officials may be in early talks with them regarding a possible incentive package to build a third US park near Fredericksburg, VA.
For those who may have forgotten, a Virginia location was in a head to head race against California to be the location chosen for the first Legoland park in the USA back in the 1990s before LEGO opted to go with the West coast. VA was also intended as the site for Disney’s America theme park concept as well, before local opposition turned Disney away from the state. For one reason for another, VA just hasn’t worked out in the end of a number of proposed park projects over the years, but with a Legoland in Florida as well as California, I’m still thinking VA may not be the best location for a third Legoland, as opposed to something more in the middle of the country. If it were me calling the shots at Merlin, I’d be looking into a Texas location myself... either in San Antonio or in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
Washington State - (3/5/14) The family behind Seattle’s Great Wheel on the waterfront has now proposed a new downtown aerial gondola line that would be able to carry both tourist and commuters on elevated ski lift style enclosed cars. They are proposing a run down Union Street from the waterfront area by the wheel to the Convention Center, with a midpoint station at the Pike Place Market.
While there are always issues with those who don’t want to see things like this built near their property, this will be a privately funded project (so no tax dollars, which is good) which already has the support of the Convention Center, Port of Seattle and the Waterfront Association.
Washington DC Area - (2/21/14) The Capital Wheel, a new 175 foot tall giant wheel, will now be built out in the Potomac River (yes, in the river!) just outside of Washington DC. Steel for the new ride was delivered this week by barge and construction has already started on the site. Click here to see the concept artwork that shows off the unique location. NOTE: The Capital Wheel is actually in Maryland, in the National Harbor development area. So it’s just a hair outside of the official boundaries to be officially considered Washington DC.