---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(2/18/18) California - Temporary Alien Zoo VR Attraction Opens (MORE...)
(2/17/18) Missouri - New Amusement Park Coming To Branson This Summer (MORE...)
(2/2/18) Georgia Aquarium Planning Expansion For 2020 (MORE...)
(1/18/18) California - San Diego Zoo To Open New Children's Zoo by 2021 (MORE...)
(1/12/18) Florida - Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo Replacing Old Flume For New One (MORE...)
(1/5/18) California's Splash Kingdom To Get a Make Over and New Name (MORE...)
Arizona - (10/12/17) According to a news article from back in August, the Dreamport Villages project in Arizona was actually given approval to go ahead from the Casa Grande City Council who voted to approve the needed zoning change and development agreements. They were also granted a sales tax rebate deal worth up to $124 million.
While the official timeline is set, the earliest anything could open wouldn't be until October of 2019. The project would consist of an extreme sports complex, an amusement park, a retail area, a resort and even some residential housing areas.
(2/22/17) How does the old saying go? If I had a dollar for every proposed theme park that was supposed to go into Arizona and never went anywhere... then I'd be a millionaire... errr... well, no... but I'd probably have about $50 bucks... but you get the point. (Maybe if I had $50 bucks for every e-mail I ever got from someone about a possible Arizona theme park... yeah... that would be much better...)
Skepticism aside, that isn't stopping our next big desert dreamers... who are proposing to build the "next Disney World" in Casa Grande, AZ. According to a local news article the new proposed project is coming from "The Block Sports Company" of Florida, who is wanting to develop a 1,500 acre site into a new theme park resort project.
For now they are calling it Dreamport Villages, and are eyeballing a site near where I-8 and I-10 meet that would incluide a waterpark, extreme sports park, resort hotels, a wildlife exhibit, restaurants, shopping, an RV park and an amusement park. They aren't stopping there however, as they also have plans to put a residential section in with all this too. Why? I dunno, I guess they are just trying to fill every possible niche for this project budgeted at a cool $4 BILLION that could take a decade to complete.
I do have one suggestion however... after the fiasco that was the two back to back announcements in 2015 for DreamVision parks in Texas and Alabama that were complete vaporware, it might be a good idea for anyone else with an unproven track-record who is thinking of announcing their own park proposals to just avoid using the name "Dream" at all in the name of your park. Just saying...
Arkansas - (12/31/17) The former Dogpatch USA theme park site in Arkansas was leased to a new company named Heritage USA who now have plans to reopen the property in 2018 as Heritage USA Ozark Resort. The new concept will see it open as a peaceful resort property featuring both an on-site hotel and RV park, convention center, on-site restaurant, theater and more... along with guided tours of the former Dogpatch USA park site.
According to the promotional video from Heritage USA (see below) the plan is to reopen the train ride for a special Christmas event promotion in late 2018 and continue with the special tours, train rides and special events through to Fall 2019. Then it will close down for a final transformation to reopen as the Heritage USA Theme Park. The new park will feature all new rides, shows and even a "ride in museum" attraction that will celebrate the legacy of the original Dogpatch USA park.
California - (2/18/18) If you are in the LA area and interested in new unique VR attractions you might want to head over to The Atrium at Westfield Century City Mall to check out Alien Zoo. The temporary pop-up attraction takes guests on a 12-minute Zoo style tour full of alien species through the use of VR headgear, additional gear on your back and sensors added to your hands and feet for the system to keep track of your movements within Alien Zoo to allow for interaction with the environment. Look for Alien Zoo to remain on site until March 14.
(1/18/18) The Children's Zoo at the San Diego Zoo will be getting a $69 million makeover and renamed as The Sanford Children's Zoo when it reopens in 2021. The attraction is said to be the most expensive one ever built at the San Diego Zoo, built with a $30 million donation from businessman T. Denny Sanford. The 2.3 acre children's zoo will be split into four nature zones: Desert, Temperate Forest, Wetland Marsh and Tropical Forest, with each area featuring animal species that inhabit each zone.
Construction will begin sometime in 2019.
(1/5/18) The Splash Kingdom waterpark and FEC in California has new owners who have a new vision for the property. They took over the park last May, but their vision is to inject some new magic into the property and change some things, including the removal of the park's iconic Pharaoh statue near the entrance as well as eventually re-branding the park under a new name. The goal is to turn the park into the main "go-to place" for the Inland Empire area.
(12/20/17) The plans to place an aerial gondola system to transport tourists up to the famous "Hollywood" sign are back in play it seems. According to various news sources the latest plan would install the bottom of the tramway in the LA Zoo parking area and could be built for a cost of $30 million.
(10/11/17) More SoCal haunt goodness comes to you this week from WestCoaster with their coverage of the 2017 version of Queen Mary's Dark Harbor haunt event. Check it out here.
(9/27/17) An interesting new mini-amusement park or sorts is planned to open in the LA area sometime in 2018 from a new start-up company called Two Bit Circus. The company was formed by a pair of mad-scientist types who wanted to blur the lines between traditional amusement style fun, virtual reality, augmented reality and more. Even more interesting is that the CEO, Brent Bushnell, has a long family history with the gaming and fun industry, as his father was Nolan Bushnell, founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese. Follow the link to see more about what they have planned and just how soon we may get to enjoy their new concept.
(8/28/17) Our friends at Escape Authority have launched another new contest so you can win a free private Escape Room game experience for up to six people at Evil Genius Escape Rooms in Los Angeles, CA. Follow this link to see the official instructions on how to enter before the deadline on Sept. 1, 2017.
(7/13/17) According to the local news the San Bernardino County board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the expansion plans submitted by Skypark at Santa’s Village that will add mountain biking and other activities to keep the site active year-round.
(5/4/17) Want to see two of Southern California's smallest and most forgotten amusement parks? Then check out the latest update to CaliforniaCoasterKings as they visit Castle Park and Scandia Ontario this week.
(3/27/17) So what's going on with the Queen Mary? According to our friends at BlooLoop, plans have been submitted for a $250 million enhancement of the historical ship and build-up of an entertainment complex around it in Long Beach. The plans include additional land-based attractions to lure tourists in and keep them in the area longer such as zip-lines, ice climbing, kayaking, skydiving simulations and more. The Queen Mary herself however is also in need of some very costly repairs apparently as sections are not aging as gracefully as they would like.
(1/12/17) While not a theme park, it was announced yesterday that George Lucas has chosen a site in LA to build his $1 billion museum project, The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. With a planned opening date of May 4, 2020 the museum will feature tons of archived Star Wars art as well as many other items Lucas has collected over the years. Look for the project to be built in Exposition Park, with construction hoping to begin before the end of 2017 on the unique looking building that will house it all.
Colorado - (7/3/17) According to this article the Steamboat Springs resort area in Colorado will soon open what they say is the longest alpine coaster in North America. They are calling it the "Outlaw Mountain Coaster" and list the 6,280 long attraction as also featuring a vertical descent of 400 feet. Look for the Outlaw Mountain Coaster to open sometime in August and then attempt a year-round operational schedule, including night runs in the busy ski season, if all goes well.
Connecticut - (9/14/17) According to this report the Foxwoods Casino has opened a pair of new thrill rides next to their hotel tower. The two rides are from Stan Checkett's Soaring Eagle Rides company and combined into a single 120 foot tall tower called the Sky Launch and Sky Drop Thrill Tower. Follow the link to see pictures, details and pricing.
Florida - (1/12/18) Despite the fact that Tampa Bay’s Lowry Park Zoo just opened the Gator Falls log flume about 10 years ago, the Zoo is now replacing it with a new flume ride that they will call Roaring Springs. I’m not sure who built the original flume ride, but word is that they had a lot of technical issues with it that caused it to be closed more than it was open in recent years. A few construction pictures showing off the new large steel framework now going up for the new Roaring Springs splash-down ride can be seen this week at TouringCentralFlorida.com. Once again… I’m not sure who is behind this creation either… anyone know more?
(12/31/17) Are you a good swimmer and have always dreamed of being a mermaid? If you live in Florida or are willing to move there, your dream could come true as the world famous Weeki Wachee park is seeking out new potential mermaids for their underwater show. Check out the details here about how you can apply.
(12/6/17) Just a quick update on that giant Guitar shaped hotel tower I mentioned last week for the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL. Seems it’s well past the planning stage, and full scale construction has already begun, following a “guitar smashing” style ground-breaking ceremony held back in late October.
(12/4/17) According to a report at InsideTheMagic, Hard Rock International is drawing up plans to build a new giant glass Guitar shaped hotel tower as part of an expansion to their Hollywood, Florida resort/casino location. The artwork for it is very cool looking, so follow the link to check it out.
(8/25/17) Long time Screamscape readers may recall hearing about a proposal to build a Schlitterbahn Fort Lauderdale park once upon a time, an effort that went back and forth with the city for much of a decade. Despite it looking like it was going to finally happen in 2015, legal efforts from Premier Parks LLC help shatter the deal that Schlitterbahn had in place with the city to build the waterpark, because Premier Parks said they were not allowed to put in their own bid on the project, an opinion backed by a judge who put the final nail in the Schlitterbahn project earlier this year.
Would you believe that they are back at it again? According to a local news story, Premier Parks LLC was just declared the successful bidder to develop the same city property around an existing Soccer stadium, where they would lease the land and build a "Wet 'n' Wild Fort Lauderdale" waterpark. It should be interesting to see if this project moves forward at last, or if now Premier Parks LLC will suffer a similar fate and decade of red-tape.
(7/7/17) Good news for those seeking some amusement ride fun along the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. According to the local news a collection of new rides, games and attractions opened up late last month, picking up the slack when it looked like the former attractions wouldn't be reopening. While the Sandblaster coaster was not running yet at the time the news article was written, I’ve heard it may have reopened very recently. Can anyone else confirm if the coaster has reopened?
(6/28/17) The local news reports that Florida's Lion Country Safari will soon be sold to a new owner who has plans to expand the park as well as their conservation efforts.
(1/27/17) The local news reports that the American Dream Miami mall project has been given preliminary approval for the $3 billion project from the Miami-Dade commissioners, winning with a 10-1 vote. The approval process will now move on to the state level for another approval before coming back for one final local vote later in the year.
Georgia - (2/2/18) According to our friends at BlooLoop the massive Georgia Aquarium is planning to expand the facility. They call the plan “Expansion 2020” and it would see the majority of the work added to where the current entrance is now, creating an entirely new larger entrance area as well as allow for “new larger exhibit space”.
I’m looking forward to seeing this in 2020. I had the pleasure of visiting the Georgia Aquarium about six years ago and it was just an absolutely stunning attraction that made for a fantastic afternoon with the kids as we visited it and the World of Coke attraction that was within walking distance.
(12/11/17) Over the weekend I took a quiet little adventure trip to Helen, GA, a quiet mountain town known for having a complete Bavarian Village theme to virtually every major building and structure within city limits. In the warmer months of the year the town offers river and tubing adventures, mixed with ziplines, horse riding, mini-golf, a small water park and more that are open year round. In fact, back in January Helen made the headlines at Screamscape when the town approved the building permits for a new Alpine Coaster attraction.
I'm happy to say that I spotted the construction site for what will become the new "Georgia Mountain Coaster" right on the main drag through the center of town, where the sign promises a Summer 2018 opening date.
(1/7/17) A requested zoning change to allow for a new Alpine Coaster project has been approved for the country tourist town of Helen, Georgia, north-east of Atlanta. A few of the locals have disagreed with the location of the coaster, as the hillside run would pass close to a few quiet vacation homes along the way down, but as a growing tourist town, the proposal was given the green light to move forward as a way to gain more attractions that would appeal to guests year-round.
Helen is an interesting little town that I've been thinking of visiting myself over the past few years due to the unique Bavarian look of the town. Helen started out as a quiet logging town a long time ago, but when the industry declined the city looked to tourism to keep itself alive. The town adopted a mandatory building design style in 1969 so that every structure in the town was required to feature classic southern-German style architecture, even on the local fast food restaurants. The town has become a popular weekend mountain getaway location for many Atlanta area residents, as well as a popular stop for motorcyclists traveling the mountain roads. Given the theme, Helen also features a very popular Oktoberfest celebration that runs from September through to November each year along with other popular events throughout the year.
The adoption of a new Alpine Coaster, which I'm sure will also follow through with a fun German theme, sounds like a winner of an idea for this location, locking it in for me as a future stop for the Screamscape once it opens. More of this project as it develops.
Hawaii - (4/1/17) Some interesting screen captures were posted to ThemeparX this week from Hawaii, showing off footage from a drone camera flying around the area where Disney's Aulani Resort is located, but take note of that large piece of empty land next to the Disney resort. That is the site now officially chosen to be home to a new Atlantis branded resort to be called "Atlantis Resort & Residences Ko Olina" which will feature 800 hotel rooms, 524 luxury residences, an aquarium, bars, restaurants, spa, wedding chapel... oh... and don't forget the Atlantis style waterpark features that area expected to similar to what was built at the Dubai resort. The project is still is the design phase at this point, so no official timeline for the resort's opening has been locked down, though I have a feeling that Disney isn't too happy about this.
Idaho - (12/26/17) We don't have attraction news all that often from Idaho a new Alpine Coaster called the Glade Runner opened on Friday at Bogus Basin, featuring a 4,330 track length. The new alpine coaster continues the new trend of ski resorts and mountain communities who rely on tourists seeking a way to bring in more business year round, and in this case, opening the first such attraction in the Pacific Northwest. You can catch full POV footage of the new attraction racing along the snow covered landscape in this local news article if you click on the SECOND VIDEO, while the first contains the news feed coverage with reporters.
Illinois - (8/8/17) The local news reports that the Clock Town Resort has been sold that the new owners have decided to auction off everything left inside, which includes the former Rockford Coco Keys waterpark and resort items. With the slides and equipment all being sold off, it sounds like the waterpark is a total loss.
Iowa - (5/15/17) According to the local news a $12 million plan to upgrade Iowa's historic Arnolds Park has been announced that will see the construction of a new "Roof Garden Ballroom", the restoration of The Majestic Pavilion, expansion of the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum and a lake-front boardwalk. $6 million has already been pledged by donors, along with an addition $2 million already fund-raised. The rest will be raised through fund-raising efforts.
Kentucky - (9/9/17) The latest update on the Ark Encounter attraction in Kentucky reports that under the threat of losing all their tax credits after a quiet change of ownership took place over the summer, ownership of the Ark Encounter was transferred back along with an agreement by the owners to pay the needed safety tax fees. Now that they've fallen back under their original agreement, Ark Encounter will get a $1.8 million tax rebate from the state of Kentucky this year. As per the agreement, Ark Encounter will get $1.8 million each year for 10-years as long as the attraction generates at least $1.8 million in sales tax that year. According to this report, Ark Encounter generated $2.28 million in sales taxes over the first year of operation, though that figure does not include sales tax generated for some of June and all of July while ownership was transferred to a non-profit.
(7/24/17) You may recall stories we've posted in the past about the Ark Encounter attraction built in Kentucky, and how it was built after a lengthy legal process where they were eventually granted huge tax incentives and rebates from the state of Kentucky. According to a report posted here, this article claims that the Ark Encounter may have just lost up to $18 million in incentives after going through with an ill-conceived deed transfer (for $10) than moved ownership of the park from the for-profit Answers in Genesis company over to a non-profit subsidiary called Crosswater Canyon, which would then make the Ark Encounter attraction tax-exempt. This however put Ark Encounter "in breach of its Tourism Development Agreement" and they are no longer eligible for state tax incentives.
Apparently the park has also been balking at a demand from the local township to add a .50 tax fee onto their ticket price in order to cover the cost of additional police, EMS and fire department services to the site. Currently ticket prices for the attraction are said to be $40 per adult to visit, plus a $10 parking fee.
The attraction has already made headlines in the local news earlier this year for not being the economic draw to the local community that it was expected to be after the first year of operation, so it should be interesting to see how this all plays out and if attendance rises or falls.
Minnesota - (9/12/17) After about 20 months with no news at all about the Mall of Entertainment project, I had figured it had either died or was suffering in limbo somewhere, but apparently there is still a pulse. According to notes posted to the Albertville city website, another presentation about the Mall of Entertainment took place at a meeting on August 29, 2017 as they slowly push ahead to get approval for the entertainment project and attached hotel.
(1/21/16) An interesting new project called the Mall of Entertainment has been proposed for Albertville, Minnesota by Sony Pictures and a local development company that is described as an “indoor family theme park”. The project is said to have an indoor waterpark, a Sony Pictures Back-Lot “edutainment” experience, plus an on-site 275 room Marriot hotel and convention center. They hope to begin construction by this Spring or Summer and open by late 2017.
Should be interesting to see if this is a real project or another vaporware style announcement with no financial backing, but for now take a look at the official website and see what you think. Given that the Mall of America is about a 45 minute drive from here however, I’m guessing that they are hoping to tap into that same vein.
Mississippi - (10/10/16)
Based on a piece of concept artwork (see photo) released for the new proposed expansion of the Margaritaville resort in Biloxi, the plan includes other amusement rides, such as a Star Flyer, in addition to a Ferris Wheel and the new hotel tower.
(10/6/16) It seems the new Margaritaville resort in Biloxi has been way more popular than the owners anticipated. According to the local news the resort has already come before the city council to show off a proposed $140 million expansion plan for the rest that would see a second hotel tower added along with a large Ferris Wheel and even more amusement rides. It seems the need for family entertainment in the area was severely underestimated and while the resort sits on property that is zoned to allow for Casinos to operate, the owners of Margaritaville report that gambling is not at all in the plans for their resort attraction.
(8/29/16) Is a new amusement park on the way to the Mississippi Gulf Coast? A reader sent in a link to a website for something called the "Dreamlanding Adventure Park". Right on the front page they claim that the park project has been "Approved & Funded" and they are shooting to open in Spring 2018 if they are able to break ground before the end of this year.
So an 18-20 month construction timetable to build a major new amusement park is ambitious, but not impossible if they are far enough along with their planning I suppose. So assuming this is all legit and real they say the park will feature four lands: Loggers Run Territory, Tumble Weed Gulch, Country Fair and Bayou Country, plus a "Main Street Mississippi" that will serve as the entrance area.
As far as the lineup of rides goes, their plans sound a little more over the top as they claim to have 5 major roller coasters and five minor coasters planned for the park's opening phase, but 10 coasters on opening day sounds a bit too ambitious, especially when it comes to funding all this along with everything else planned.
Moving on they also mention 4 dark rides, two more "target type dark rides", two water rides, three "animatronic theater shows" and 33 "hard rides" for adult/teens and 10 more kiddie rides, plus a train around the park and a steam boat inside the park.
I like the idea, and there is even more about wanting to build a rail or monorail style mass transportation system that will connect the park property to nearby other attraction and casino tourist areas in the nearby Biloxi area. This makes sense, as many old classic parks started off as "trolley parks", where a trolley line that ran through a busy city would feature a small amusement park at the end of the line outside the city.
So is this project legit? It seems real enough on the planning side, looking through past news reports the group (Fun Box Amusement) was looking at sites earlier this year as well as hoping to take advantage up to $20 million of public funding that would come from the BP oil spill relief money that was earmarked specifically for "tourism development" along the coastline. I don't know if they have bought the land yet, but as I've learned over the years nothing is real until the real construction actually begins, so for now we'll wait and see.
Missouri - (2/17/18) According to local reports a new mini amusement park is coming to Branson in a few months. The former 9-acre site of the Branson Heights Shopping Center on West Highway 76 will become "America's Fun Park" in about three months, featuring a lot of your typical carnival midway style rides, games and food stands. So think of it as a carnival... that isn't going to move.
This isn't just coming for the Summer however, as the owners say that they intend to change of the themeing and decor to reflect the various seasons, including adding a craft festival and haunted house theme in the fall, and even Christmas themeing in the winter. Admission into America's Fun Park will be FREE, with armbands to be put on sale for the rides priced $14 for kids and $20 for adults. Sounds like it will feature decent operating hours as well, 10am to 10pm on weekdays and 10am to Midnight on the weekends when they first open. Look for it to soft open sometime in early May ahead of a grand opening on Memorial Day Weekend.
You can find their official website here to keep up with the official updates and hopefully a full list of rides in the near future.
(7/28/17) The owners of the Branson Mountain Coaster have posted a new photo update showing off the ongoing repair work taking place at the base of the lift hill for the Alpine Coaster. According to the message, they just need to place a few more pieces of track and install and tune the lift cable and then they should be ready to reopen by early to mid August if all goes well.
(7/24/17) According to a local news report The Branson Coaster, the newest alphine coaster to the region, opened to take on the first guests on Tuesday. I’m sure it wont be long before someone posts a POV video of the new attraction.
(7/7/17) More details about the new "The Branson Coaster" project have been posted to InParkMagazine this week along with details about what else is coming to the Branson Landing property.
(6/17/17) A reader went by the Branson Mountain Coaster that was closed at the end of May when a bad storm caused the section of the ride at the base of the lift hill to topple over. While the initial report claimed that they hoped to repair the damage and reopen very quickly, it looks like they still have made little progress in terms of repairing and replacing the damaged track sections, but this could be mostly due to wait-time to have new track sections made and shipped out, and repairs made to any track sections that were salvageable. We hope for the best for them to get up and running again as quickly as possible before they lose out on the valuable summer season.
(5/30/17) Wow… bad news from the Branson area Runaway Mountain Coaster. It seems a severe storm hit the area over the weekend and the high winds completely toppled over sections of the coaster. The damage is seem in a drone-cam video posted by the local news, but according to that report the owners said they would repair it and hoped to actually reopen it as early as Tuesday… but looking at the damage, I’d guess it might take a bit longer to fix all that as it appeared as if the wind pushed it so hard that event the concrete footers ripped up out of the ground near the start of the ride experience as cross the water to hit the bottom of the lift hill.
This is unfortunate as the attraction had just installed some new extensive colored lighting package to the attraction that really made it look like something extra special after dark. Take a look at the video below.
(4/18/17) It looks like the plans for the The Branson Coaster (alpine coaster) opening later this year were uncovered by a local news source. The terrain is a little odd here, and it looks like they are planning something a little different from what we've seen done on other alpine coasters.
From the look of the plans, the cars will exit the station right into some kind of helix spiral to begin a twisted path down the hillside where at the bottom, you will hit a lift hill to take you back to the top, not far from that helix turn, where you will begin a second downhill portion of the coaster. Once you hit the bottom of the hill for the second time, the track will take a long lift hill back up the hill and drop you off into the station.
(4/11/17) If you are planning a trip to Silver Dollar City this year, or just planning on visiting the Branson, MO area attractions, we've got a quick update about the latest additions to the area. For starters there is a tower attraction going up on the main strip to be called "Bigfoot". The 200 foot tall tower attraction is just one part of the overall new attraction area to be called "Bigfoot on the Strip". Located across from the "World's Largest Toy Museum", the description of the attraction mentions the tower will offer several different ride experiences... Gravity Drop where riders will fall 130 feet in freefall before hitting the magnetic brake zone, and then "Super Swing" which sounds like some kind of sling-shot style experience that will shoot a pair of riders in the air 215 feet. I've also seen it mentioned that there will also be a slow rise and descent sightseeing aerial scenic ride on the tower as well. From the look of things, I believe this may be a custom combo-tower style creation from Stan Checketts' Soaring Eagle company.
There will also be the Yeti Zone area that will feature "an interactive maze", a themed treehouse structure, a trampoline bungee jump, 7D Theater attraction (Triotech?) and "Monkey Jump" where you can leap from the air onto a stuntman style landing pad. It will also have a unique dining area set up to accommodate five food trucks.
In other area news the former Cool Off Water Chute attraction was closed and sold off to a new owner from Tennessee who are going to build somethingcalled "The Branson Coaster" which I can only assume is another Alpine Coaster. They didn't say much about it other than that it would be "like no other in North America". While I'm told that the site is lacking in any major terrain features (like a big hill/mountain) like you normally have for an Alpine Coaster attraction, rumor has it that this could be the North American premier of a Racing/Dueling Alpine Coaster attraction. The first one that know of was just announced in Belgium as Dawson Duel can you can a view preview of that experience in our article here.
Other new attractions coming to the area will include a new "7D Dark Ride Adventure", an Arcade City and a "Corn-Mirror Maze" and no far away is Fritz's Adventure, a new indoor ropes course / climbing attraction that opened last November.
Nebraska - (12/6/17) For the past decade Fun Plex in Nebraska was home to “Big Ohhhh!” (Pinfari Zyklon),
the only remaining and operating large scale rollercoaster in the state. Unfortunately we have lerned that Fun Plex has decided to close down Big Ohhh! due to increasing maintence costs. Instead of replacing the coaster with a new one, the attraction’s long term plans are to focus on expanding their successful waterpark, so in 2018 the park will open Rockin’ Rapids, a new slide tower offering two unique new tube slides.
Note: I believe the remaining coasters in Nebraska are all kiddie or mini-sized rides.
Nevada - (5/8/17) I believe the city of Reno may soon find a new Giant Wheel attraction gracing the skyline. It's fun to note that the Reno area (technically it's in Sparks) actually has one Ferris Wheel, a 65 foot indoor one at that, that sits inside a giant sporting goods store named Scheels that looks pretty cool.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand... because the name "RENO EYE" was just filed for a trademark on March 21, 2017 by a Jacobs Entertainment, specifically for use for a "Ferris Wheel" attraction. So who is Jacobs Entertainment? They're the owners of a few casino, gaming and entertainment facilities spread out in four different regions of the US: Cleveland, Colorado, Louisiana and in Nevada where they own the Gold Dust West Casinos in Carson City, Elko and one right in the heart of Reno.
So far I haven't seen any leaks hit the media yet about the addition of a Reno Eye attraction to the casino, but I suspect it wont be long until the word gets out and the local news start asking questions, so stay tuned for future news about this new project.
New Jersey - (10/6/17) According to an email being sent out by the park, Bowcraft in New Jersey will reopen in 2018 in April once again. It was thought that 2017 could be the park’s last season due to a proposed housing development being proposed for the property, but looks like the housing project’s delays are Bowcraft’s gain for the moment.
(4/23/17) According to the local news it looks like that proposal to build a PolerCoaster in Atlantic City may be going forward after the project was given a $38.4 million state grant that will pay for nearly 28% of the project. Construction could begin as early as next month and have the attraction open by Summer 2019 on the site of the former Sands Casino. While the casino was imploded way back in 2007, the old parking structure still stands and will be put into service for the Polercoaster attraction area.
This is also interesting because while Orlando was the first location to announce intention to build a Polercoaster attraction, that one isn't expected to open until 2020, which will make the Atlantic City one the first. A third PolerCoaster was also proposed for the north campus expansion of the Lakepoint Sports Complex in Georgia, but there is no telling how far out that project is right now.
(3/21/17) According to photo updates posted to the Fantasy Island Amusement Park (Beach Haven, NJ) page on Facebook, the park has removed the old Dragon Coaster (Zamperla powered Dragon Wagon) but is preparing to add something new and exciting for 2017. Anyone know more?
(3/17/17) According to an article at BlooLoop the vacant Atlantic Club casino in Atlantic City is once again being considered for redevelopment into a new indoor waterpark resort. A similar project was attempted back in 2014 before the deal fell through, but now the property is being purchased by an R&R Development Group, LLC.
New York - (10/20/17) SPYSCAPE, a new “spy” themed interactive museum exhibit will open in New York City this December. It will feature some interesting exhibits as well as some interactive “interrogation booths” you can try out, galleries showing off rare and unseen artifacts and even an area dedicated to cyberwarfare. There will be a bit of a stiff pricetag to get in however, with adult tickets said to cost $39, though it is being run as a non-profit.
(9/30/17) According to news reports a Lionsgate Entertainment City attraction is slated to open in New York's Times Square in 2019 that will feature attractions themed to Hunger Games, Divergent, John Wick and Mad Men. This comes as part of a partnership between Lionsgate and Parques Reunidos who plan on developing a few attractions like this at sites around the world following the opening of this first location.
Attraction will include a Hunger Games themed simulator flight, a Divergent themed obstacle course attraction, a John Wick dark ride, a 4D Theater attraction and a few VR based attractions as well. On the food side of things, some kind of Mad Men themed eatery is also planned as well as a Bakery themed to Hunger Games' Peeta character.
(5/4/17) According to a news article, American Niagara Hospitality has proposed a $20 million "Daredevil” themed water park and $50 million, 200 room hotel" project for downtown Niagara Falls. They go on to say that the project would be "built on top" of the existing Sheraton at the Falls hotel which they already own.
(7/4/16) The Void has something new to share this month... but not in Utah. They are opening their first public experience at Madame Tussauds in New York City and it is called Ghostbusters Dimension, themed to the Ghostbusters films as part of a partnership with Sony Pictures. You'll strap on The Voids VR gear (backpack, feedback vest and blaster), feel the rumble of the proton pack in your hands and go on a Hyper Reality ghost hunt in a New York apartment complex. CNet has posted a great preview video of the new attraction at Madame Tussauds.
If any of our readers as had a chance to try this in person themselves, I'd love to hear about your experience because this does look to be an incredible use of VR technology to bring a themed attraction to life in a way that I've never seen before.
North Carolina - (3/5/17) A local news station posted a story about a possible new small theme park planned for North Carolina, to be called Whirligig Woods. The park would only be 21-acres but is being designed by a former major park attraction desiger (Bob Baranick) and will feature an assortment of really fun looking family amusement attractions, all heavily themed. The land has already been purchased and is in the process of being cleared apparently in Saxapahaw, NC, which looks to be about a 25-30 minute drive into the woods south of Burlington.
Follow the link to see a video on the local news site (or look below) showing off the plans and a bunch of the concept artwork, as well as an interview with Baranick himself about the project, which they hope to open by 2019.
Ohio - (1/5/18) Caddie Shack Ohio a FEC park in Alliance has apparently purchased the former Tilt-A-Whirl ride that once ran at Geauga Lake. To celebrate the family owned park will be holding a hard-ticket preview event picnic party on Saturday, May 12th before they reopen to the public. According to as post on Facebook the $50 event will include Fun Pass Admission from 6-10pm, a picnic meal, ERT on the Tilt, Go Karts and Rock Wall, the opening of the "1999 GLP Time Capsule", a DJ, Geauga Lake Park memorabilia displays and more. You can find out more details on the Geauga Lake's Funtimes Facebook page.
(12/7/17) According to the local news no charges will be pressed against the Ohio state inspectors who signed off on the Fireball ride involved in a tragic accident at the Ohio State Fair. According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the ride was not in violation of any codes at the time of the inspection. "The Fireball and ride operator Amusements of America were in compliance with requirements of Ohio law at the time of inspection" so the Department is not assigning any fines to the operator either.
(11/29/17) A couple of interesting articles and news events involving the former Geauga Lake and SeaWorld Ohio theme parks came to my attention over the past couple days. First a video was posted to YouTube showing off the demolition of the former Thunder Falls waterslide structure leftover from the closure of Geauga Lake. You can see the bulldozer tearing the slides from the tower and eventually they knock over the tower itself towards the end and let it fall to the ground, so looks like nothing from the old attraction will be saved.
Meanwhile, a former animal trainer from SeaWorld Ohio was given permission to visit the former park and shared several before and after pictures to his Facebook page. It's quite a trip through history to see what has become of the former park over the years.
(10/12/17) Some very detailed and new information has come to light over the past weeks regarding the tragic accident at the Ohio State Fair on the Fire Ball ride. Photographs taken by a guest earlier that day show a crack forming right where the arm broke, which either wasn't there or wasn't seen by the official inspectors who cleared it to open. Evidence of rust and decay were also found elsewhere, including a severely rusted electrical panel box located on the same arm, just above where the break occurred. According to an outside amusement ride safety consultant, the discovery of that alone should have been enough to keep the Fire Ball closed. Follow the link and give it a long good read... because it does sound like some changes may need to be made with how traveling rides are inspected.
(8/7/17) The local news in Ohio has released the official statement regarding the cause of the Fire Ball ride accident at the Ohio State Fair. According to a statement from KGM the official cause determined by the investigation says the accident was due to "excessive corrosion on the interior of the gondola support beam". The ride itself was 18 years old and the corrosion was said to have "dangerously reduced the beam's wall thickness over the years. This finally led to the catastrophic failure of the ride during operation."
"KMG has reviewed the results of the inspection and worked with industry safety experts to develop an inspection protocol in the form of a Safety Bulletin to allow properly inspected and maintained rides to safely reopen."
(7/28/17) For those wondering, the ride "Fireball" ride involved in the accident at the Ohio State Fair has been identified as a KMG Afterburner, specifically the FRB24 model. KMG International has issued a statement regarding the accident and sent notice to all of their clients:
"On Wednesday July 26th, an accident happened at the Ohio State Fair on a KMG Fireball amusement ride. The ride is also known under the KMG name Afterburner or FRB24. In the accident a passenger carrying gondola detached from the supporting sweep arm. In the accident one person was killed and several other persons were injured.
Our deepest sympathies go out to all who were involved or affected by this tragic accident.
We are currently gathering information on the accident and investigating the cause and circumstances of the accident. Until further details are known, operators of Fireball/Afterburner (FRB24) and Move-it (MVT24/MVT32) type amusement rides are instructed to cease operation of the ride until further notice.
This instruction does not affect the Freak Out (FRB16, all serials), Sicko (SCK24, all serials), XXL (all serials), Revolution (FRB32, all serials) and newer generation Afterburner rides (FRB24, serials 40 and up)."
In addition to this statement, KMG also released more comments to the local media:
“The Afterburner ride has been through and passed multiple countries’ rigorous inspections. All parts are built with ‘minimum double’ the strength they require.” However, Kroon told NL Times that the maintenance is the operator’s responsibility and quoted him as saying, “On the Afterburner in Ohio we did the maintenance until a few years ago.” NL Times reported that the Fire Ball was built 1998, and Kroon didn’t have details on the maintenance.
I'm told that the current owner of the ride in question is a company by the name of "Amusements of America". A reader also sent in a picture taken of the ride itself showing off the point of failure, where you can see that it was not an issue of sheered bolts, or a failure at any junction where the parts would be need to be assembled or disassembled for transport. Instead this looks to be an outright failure of the metal tearing itself apart.
(7/27/17) A horrible accident took place at the Ohio State Fair late Wednesday afternoon involving a Fireball ride on the midway. From the look of a very brief video I've seen, it looks like one of the seating units somehow broke away from the ride-arm while traveling backwards through the loading area, only to be struck hard by the ride arms on the other side as they followed through on the swinging motion, kicking the broken unit up to the air and out of control. At least two riders are seen flying through the air as it passes by, though I'm not sure which seating unit they were from, as it appears that the OTS must have failed as well to allow this to happen.
According to this news report, 1 rider is dead and at least 6 others have been seriously injured from the Ohio State Fair incident, which apparently just opened today just outside of Columbus.
While many traveling rides are perfectly safe, please always use best judgment before you just jump on a traveling ride. Watch it cycle at least once before you ride, look and listen... and while I'm no ride inspector or mechanic, I feel that I've got a good eye for things and if something looks a bit off, I don't let my friends or family ride something. Sometimes it is as simple as just looking around the rest of the rides at the carnival... are there an alarming number of burnt out bulbs in the lighting packages? If so, it might be best to avoid that entire carnival... because if they are skimping out of the cheap items to fix like light bulbs, imagine what other kind of maintenance they might be skimping out on. Be safe out there!
Pennsylvania - (11/12/17) We know that the Lakemont Park that opens in 2018 will be very different from the park people visited before, but I’m told that a number of the park’s attractions (including the rare Chance Toboggan) have been listed as being on-sale in a photo post from IRM Rides on Facebook. Unfortunately I’ve never visited Lakemont myself, so I’m not sure how many of these are from Lakemont, as pictures of 64 different attractions listed as part of this IAAPA Super Special Sale opportunity collection.
As the park announced back in March, their plans was to remove and replace a number of their older rides and replace them with new features like a mini golf course, batting cages, picnic and play areas and more. Based on a rough look based on an aerial photo of the park, I’d say it looks like they are actually removing just about every hard ride they have other than the Leap the Dips and Skyliner wooden coasters.
(6/22/17) I missed this news earlier this season, but for anyone wondering, Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania announced that they would be closed for the Summer 2017 season for renovations. They do plan on opening the park again on Nov. 17th to post the annual Holiday Lights of the Lake event.
(4/11/17) According to the local news Ripley's is looking into building a new Ripley's Aquarium attraction in Pocono Summit. While Ripley's isn't saying anything yet, a local politician confirmed that the $200 million project was a 'sure thing'. Look for it to rise up very close to the nearby Kalahari Resort.
(3/23/17) According to a statement from Lakemont Park, the park will remain closed for the summer 2017 season to allow it to undergo extensive renovations. The park is planning to reopen again on November 17, 2017, just in time for the 21st Annual Holiday Lights on the Lake event.
“Changes planned for Lakemont Park include replacing some of the older amusement rides with a new miniature golf course, batting cages, playgrounds, basketball and sand volleyball courts, and expanded picnic areas, while keeping and enhancing attractions, such as the waterpark, paddle boats, train, roller coasters, antique cars, and go-karts.
These changes will give Lakemont Park the feel of a traditional community park, as well as a family entertainment center. It will also make the park affordable to all guests, as admission will be free and attractions will be available on a per use basis and in discounted packages. There will be food concessions, as well as picnic pavilions and catering for groups. Special events will be planned, such as basketball and volleyball tournaments, as well as July 4th fireworks and more. The Park will be open daily from late May through early September beginning in 2018.”
South Carolina - (11/3/17) The Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show in Myrtle Beach will kick off a new Christmas adventure show this season starting on Nov. 9th with performances through to New Year's Eve. "Folks will experience the 12 Days of Christmas with a pirate twist – everything from ten crewmen leaping and six Jolly Rogers to a parrot in a palm tree! Kids can enjoy being “transformed” in a pirate or mermaid makeover at the Village’s Join the Crew area. Then, guests will enter the arena for the main holiday show, a swashbuckling spin on “A Christmas Carol” with Captain Scrooge and his faithful first mate Bob Crachit."
Visit the official website for all the details and to make reservations.
Tennessee - (2/8/17) Something really neat is planned to open in Nashville in 2018 called the "August Moon Drive-In" theater, bar and grille. However, this is not a drive-in theater that you will ever take your car inside. Instead they are building a large $10 million indoor themed environment inside a giant 40,000 sqft air supported dome structure that will feature what appears to be a classic drive-in theater, complete with classic cars (hopefully all convertibles) already parked in front of the screen, a simulated starry night sky above, along with fake trees, faux fireflies, grassy areas, tables, along with a full service restaurant and bar, with "artisanal takes" on great genre style burgers and milkshakes. They also promise to offer the "largest non-IMAX movie screen in North America", and may also feature live performers who can interact with the audience before and after the films and possible interactions with live projections on the screen as well.
(1/27/17) The Opryland Resort has announced Soundwaves, a new indoor/outdoor waterpark that will only be open to hotel guests. The $90 million investment will of course include music in the experience in some fashion with an indoor section that will offer a lazy river, rapid river, a play lagoon, rock climbing, pool basketball and waterfalls. Other planned attractions include a sun deck, an adult only level and pool, and a "dramatic family ride'. Outside you can find a wave pool, more thrill slides, cabanas, a giant LED video screen along with special planned summer programming, as well as another private adult-only pool area.
This is serious seriously cool... like someone took the idea behind Disney's own Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant at Walt Disney World and decided to take the concept and run with it as far as they could.
Look for it to open in the second half of 2018.
Texas - (6/22/17) Over the past few years we've reported stories on Morgan's Wonderland numerous times, and if you are a new reader or don't recall, Morgan's Wonderland is a new small park that opened in Texas back in 2010 that is focused entirely on the creation of an amusement park for the handicapped and those with special needs. In short it is a park like no other that has really gained a following for the comfortable and friendly atmosphere that goes above and beyond to create a special day for their guests. Our friends at BlooLoop have posted a fantastic piece all about the creation and history of this unique park this week that is worth reading, so check it out.
(4/11/17) A new deal with Merlin Entertainment has been signed that will bring two new Merlin attractions to San Antonio's Shops at Rivercenter. According to the post from BlooLoop, the deal will see a SeaLife Aquarium and LEGOLAND Discovery Center added to the famous Riverwalk area in 2018.
Utah - (4/11/17) The Void has now opened their official headquarters attraction location in Lindon, Utah to the public and has apparently finished a very busy first week of operations. According to a review posted to Upload, the are running an improved Ghostbusters: Dimensions experience that lasts about 12-15 minutes for $25 per person. They go on to report that some of the technical short-comings of the Madadme Tussauds initial roll-out of the attraction have been solved with new hardware that is now running with headgear running at a higher resolution as well as at 90 frames per second animation, up from the Tussauds location that was running at only 75 fps. The better resolution mixed with higher frame-rates help to make the immersive experience feel more real.
The article is interesting as they also go into detail not only on what the difference between this new Ghostbusters is over the Tussauds version, but also compare the technical specs with the new VR Showdown in Ghost Town attraction that just opened at Knott's Berry Farm. Not just the specs of the headgear units, but also how each system tracks the users and the gear they are holding while in the virtual experience.
A second virtual experience is also in the works called Curse of the Serpent's Eye that will take you into a short of Indiana Jones style adventure experience.
God, why does The Void have to be so far away in Utah and so out of reach? I'm dying to experience this myself someday. For now it looks like they are only pre-selling tickets up through May 24th, and they are listing Ghostbusters: Dimension as a "limited engagement" attraction, with tickets only being sold in advance on their website. So if you are in the area, book it now before they run out.
Virginia - (1/3/18) I'm told that the Jett Star indoor coaster at Central Park Fun-Land in Fredericksburg, Virginia will close forever at the end of January 17th. The park will replace it with a new Clip 'n Climb attraction that will open in late February. Look for the final rides on the Jett Star to take place at 7pm.
Washington - (9/4/17) According to a local news report Seattle's Space Needle is about to begin a $100 million renovation that might add some new minor thrills to the tower experience. Work will begin this month on a number of much needed upgrades and improvements to modernize the experience including new floor-to-ceiling glass panels on the outdoor observation deck (removing the mesh-cage) to create a new and improved viewing area. The restaurant will also receive a world's first... a rotating glass floor that will give diners an amazing view STRAIGHT DOWN. Look for the renovation to be complete by June 2018.