---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(7/16/18) Louisiana - World's Greatest Escape Game Found (MORE...)
(7/16/18) California - WB Studio Tour To Announce New Halloween Event Details Soon (MORE...)
(7/12/18) California - Warner Bros Studio Planning Tramway To Hollywood Sign (MORE...)
(7/12/18) Florida - Daytona Sandblaster Accident Reports Place Blame (MORE...)
(7/12/18) Branson's Runaway Mountain Coaster Planning Expansion (MORE...)
(7/7/18) Michigan - Old Boblo Island Ferry Burns Down
(7/5/18) Planet Oasis Attraction Development Proposed for Ohio (MORE...)
Alabama - (6/28/18) Waterville USA in Alabama has confirmed that at the end of the 2018 they will be removing their Cannonball Run wooden coaster, built by CCI. Cannonball Run was added back in 1995 to the attraction and while no exact reason was given for the removal of the 23 year old coaster, they do say that the removal will make room for exciting new attractions in the future.
Unfortunately this is the second such announcement made this year, with Timber Falls closing their Avalanche coaster (S&S - Opened 2004). In both cases these wooden coasters were built onto smaller attractions and I think the long-term maintenance costs were just likely becoming too much for either. Timber Falls was mainly a mini-golf course that added a log flume and coaster to lure in more guests, and the 20-acre Waterville USA attraction is mostly a small waterpark, with a go-kart track and mini golf on the side, so having Cannonball Run really increased the park's visibility as a roadside attraction.
(3/23/18) Remember a couple years ago when someone announced the intention to build a "DreamVision" theme park in Muscle Shoals, Alabama? The same group also announced a very similar project, by the same name, for a site in Texas as well, but as we reported back then... this all seemed very bogus, and unsurprisingly, it went nowhere. While I wasn't surprised that it went nowhere, but apparently the businessman behind it all, Bryan Kevin Robinson, pocketed more than $7 million from investors who bought into the idea of DreamVision. This week however, justice is being served to Mr. Robinson who pleaded guilty to securities fraud, was just sentenced to 10 years in prison and is still required to pay back the over $7 million in restitution to over 40 investors.
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 - (7/16/18) The WB Studio Tour in Hollywood is planning a haunt event this October called Horror Made Here: A Festival of Frights. They will make the exclusive announcement with all the details on July 29th at the Midsummer Scream convention in LA, but based on the teaser graphic we can expect some interesting horror fun with The Joker and Pennywise at the very least. So be on your best behavior... and no more clowning around.
(7/12/18) While I'm not familiar with what kind of studio tour Warner Bros. currently offers at their studios location in California, AT&T, the new owners of Warner Bros., announced to Los Angeles officials their plans to build a $100 million aerial tram ride that would run from the studios up to the famous "Hollywood" sign.
The idea for just such a project has been tossed around for a couple of years now as the local residential neighborhoods near the sign suffer from heavy traffic and unwanted parking from tourists trying to get a closer look at the famous landmark. While there are other solutions being talked about as well, AT&T pointed out that their plan would be the best for tax-payers, as it would be built at no cost whatsoever to the taxpayers, while providing great benefit to the public residents in the area.
The proposed aerial tram route would be a little over a mile long and take about 6-minutes to travel from the studio "up the back of Mt. Lee to a planned visitors center by the sign." If approved, and I don't really see any overwhelming negative reason why it wouldn't at the moment, the project would take about three years to complete.
(5/5/18) According to our friends at BlooLoop, the Madame Tussauds attraction in San Francisco will be home to a world's first attraction for the chain with the creation of the first Madame Tussauds Escape Room. Even better... this escape room will be themed around the concept of escaping from the infamous Alcatraz island prison. Look for Alcatraz - The Breakout to open to the public on May 23rd.
(4/19/18) Themed VR experience lovers out there... you might want to get yourself to California soon. Not only are there two sites in the greater LA area to experience The Void's Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire but starting on April 26 you can get a group of four friends to experience ALIEN: DESCENT. You get the play Colonial Marines on a mission to investigate a destress signal coming from a Weyland-Yutani mining outpost.
It goes without saying that things are going to so sidewise pretty darn quickly once you get there. Alien: Descent will use new VR gear from Pure Imagination Studios that will allow you to walk around your environment without wires or having to wear a heavy backpack unit. You'll be armed with a weapon and your movements tracked through sensors on your arms and legs.
Look for Alien: Descent to open at The Outlets at Orange on April 26. You can already reserve your spot at the official website now, with ticket prices starting at $22.
(4/10/18) Two riders became trapped on the Sky Screamer ride at the Scandia Family Fun Center in Victorville, CA on Sunday night. The Sky Screamer is a Skyscraper style high-speed propeller style ride that has a couple of seats on either end that are free to flip over while the entire giant arm spins around very fast. The two riders, age 20 and 14, trapped 160 feet in the air, were rescued when local firefighters arrived on the scene and helped get them slowly lowered again to the bottom where they could be unloaded from the ride.
(3/30/18) Big news for the Belmont Park Giant Dipper in San Diego, on Monday the ride re-launched with a stunning new paint job on the tracks, as well as a complete redesign of the paint used on the trains themselves. While the coaster is still using the same Morgan built California Style trains, the new red, black and gold paint job is out of this world and falls in line with the colors used by the Giant Dipper when it first opened in the 20's. Plus the classy wood panel look on the sides is a nice touch as well.
You can also watch the local news piece on the Giant Dipper (now turning 92) as well if you follow this link.
(3/17/18) BlooLoop reports that work has officially begun in California on the new $1 Billion "Lucas Museum of Narrative Art", kicking off with the official groundbreaking ceremony in Los Angeles where it will be part of Exposition Park, near the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.
(3/6/18) Amusement Today posted an interesting story this month about how the world's "first and only 3D flying theater attraction" will be coming to San Francisco's Pier 39 this summer. It will be called "The Flyer - San Francisco" and take riders on a soaring trip over the major landmarks of the Bay Area as part of a partnership between W.A. Alter, Inc. and Triotech.
(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.
(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.
Colorado - (6/26/18) Despite the fact that Heritage Amusement Park in Colorado's website was promoting that they were adding a large roller coaster for the 2019 season, it looks like those plans have changed in a big way. According to an announcement from the park, they confirmed that it will be closing for good at the end of June 30th (Saturday) at 7pm.
(4/14/18) Heritage Amusement Park in the Denver, CO area is adding "electric bumper boats" for the 2018 season. According to the Heritage Amusement Park website 2019 will be a huge year, as they have already confirmed that a "Larger Roller Coaster" is coming. Please note, that particular boast wont take much to accomplish, as the park only has a Miner Mike and Python Pit kiddie/family coasters, but still... something new is always exciting. Anyone know more about what is on the way?
While this is just a guess on my part, the park was known for having an old concrete trough style Alpine Slide attraction that ran at the park for 36 years before it was removed in late 2015. I wouldn't be surprised to see a modern Alpine Coaster installed to replace it on the same hillside.
(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 - (7/12/18) According to the preliminary results of the accident investigation, the derailing of the Sandblaster coaster in Daytona Beach is being blamed on a combination of "excessive speed and damage to the track and axle systems" of the coaster. It goes on to say that the coaster trains appeared to have been traveling too fast quite often, causing stress and damage to the safety wheel system below the rail, pointing to other minor derailment issues suffered by the coaster over the previous five years. If these previous issues had “been properly addressed by reducing car speed, the subject accident could have been avoided”. Inspectors found evidence of several previous derailments that took place in the years prior, even though no reports of derailment were ever submitted to the records. They also found signs of very recent damage from what appears to be a similar incident elsewhere on the ride, where the damaged sections were simply painted over to visually blend in.
While the final report has still to be issued, the preliminary report is not painting a good picture for the ride's owner and engineers who worked on it, claiming that they, “either knew or should have known that the ride was operating in a manner that presented a serious risk of injury to patrons.”. Ouch!
While the future of the Sandblaster is not known, given the age of the ride and now a known history of bad wear and tear, I'd guess that it will likely never reopen in Daytona and could end up scrapped in general.
(6/16/18) I've got a quick update on the Sandblaster coaster derailment accident at Daytona Beach this morning. According to this report the accident sent six riders to the hospital, including two who actually fell out of the coaster car about 34 feet to the ground. According to the article, while the investigation is ongoing into the accident, they have noted that Sandblaster was closed for awhile last year after a state inspector discovered over a dozen safety violations, though it isn't clear if any of these played a role into the derailment.
(6/15/18) A coaster on the boardwalk in Daytona Beach derailed on Thursday evening and local rescue crews were brought on scene to help get the trapped riders down.
(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.
Georgia - (7/4/18) For anyone wondering about the status of the Georgia Mountain Coaster under construction in Helen, GA... I've got good news and bad news. Bad news... it wont open this Summer as they had hoped. The good news is that they are working on it and according to an update on Facebook, the extra rain we've experienced this year has caused them extra construction delays that will push the project back to at least this fall, if not even later. (The pictures posted were taken back in mid-December when I visited Helen.)
(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 - (4/14/18) Arnolds Park in Iowa will add a new 36 foot Carousel for the 2018 season, aided by two donors who provided the ride. The new carousel is 8-feet larger than the old one and will be housed inside a gazebo that can be closed in the winter to protect it from the elements.
(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.
Louisiana - (7/16/18) Escape Games, once a new early fad, are now virtually everywhere. Seriously... they have popped up in the most odd-ball locations, filling in just about any space available. As such the quality of the experience can vary quite a bit. which is where our friends over at Escape Authority excel at reviewing Escape Room games from locations all over, pointing out the ones to avoid and ones that are worth of your time and money.
While their team started out with a rating system of 1 to 5 Keys, it wasn't long before they were forced to create a special 6 Keys award level for locations that truly stand above all others. Today came an epic new development with the discovery of the first Escape Room to be worthy of a scale-breaking 7 Keys rating.
The honor goes to Cutthroat Cavern at 13th Gate Escape in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and simply put... it blew the team at Escape Authority away in every way possible. They put it best at the top of the review:
"Imagine if Disney built an official escape game. We’ve all wondered what that could be like. And then we went to Baton Rouge and realized it could probably never be this good. Welcome to the World's Greatest Game"
Still skeptical? Follow the link and read the rest of the review for yourself, along with some great pictures highlighting the ultra-themed experience. I don't think I've ever had the urge to visit Louisiana myself before, but I do now.
One other fun note... if you are an escape room fan, be sure to check out the site's Free Play Escape Game Giveaway page, where they hold a drawing to win a free play experience at a new location each week.
Michigan - (7/7/18) A small bit of amusement park history was destroyed on Friday when one of the old ferries (the St. Clair) that used to travel between Detroit over to Canada's Boblo Island amusement park burned down in a fire at the dock. The old steamships ferried riders for decades to the old park until it closed down in 1993. The fire is thought to have been sparked while was welding work was being done on the old vessel.
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 - (7/4/18) Since it was announced last year, I had figured this project must have been completed by now, but it seems the expansion of the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi was delayed after getting caught up in some issues with the state over land use. As of last week the project was finally cleared by the state to go ahead and the resort will begin working on their $140 million expansion that will include a new hotel tower as well as an expansion to the amusements being offered that will include a giant ferris wheel and other outdoor rides on site.
Missouri - (7/12/18) The local news reports that Branson's Runaway Mountain Coaster attraction has filed building permits to expand their parking lot as well as add a new zip line attraction to the property. No official announcement was ready to be made by the attraction at this time.
(6/17/18) I'm told that the grand opening of the new 'America's Fun Park' attraction in Branson was held on Friday. Follow the links to see pics from the opening event, as well as more pics shot inside. According to the report at MidWestInfoGuide, while the park features many portable attractions, the plan going forward will be to be able to cycle new rides and attractions into the park and remove the under performing ones in an effort to keep the park experience fresh every season, which is good to hear.
(6/4/18) MidWestInfoGuide takes a look at the new America's Fun Park project in Branson. Unfortunately they missed their goal of opening on June 2nd when they were there to take pictures, but the sign claimed they would try again on June 3rd. No word on if they actually opened or not on Sunday.
(4/14/18) The local news has posted a video showing off the construction progress of the new America's Fun Park as various rides are now going up on site, including the Windstorm coaster. If the coaster looks a bit familiar, you may be thinking of the old Windstorm coaster from Orlando's Old Town which had the same green supports and purple track color scheme, but according to RCDB the Orlando coaster went to Adventure Park USA in Maryland in 2015 where it is now called Wild West Express.
The Windstorm coming to Branson is actually the one that used to run at the base of the Space Needle in Seattle from 1993 to 2009, where it was then picked up by an independent operator who leased out the coaster to various major carnival / fair locations throughout the country over the past several years. The park will also offer a Wacky Worm kiddie coaster in the ride line up along with Bumper Cars, a small Dark Ride, Tilt-A-Whirl, Slide, a classic Octopus/Spider ride, Scrambler, Sky Fighter and more.
(3/26/18) A brief construction video from the future site of America's Fun Park in Branson was posted to their Facebook page the other day, as concrete is being poured and the needed electrical and pluming work being done. They promise that, weather permitting, vertical construction on the attractions should begin soon.
(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.
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 - (4/21/18) For major Wizard of Oz fans, your time to follow the yellow brick road is nearly here. The closed “Land of Oz” theme park in Beech Mountain, NC will reopen for six days in June and offer an hour long interactive “Journey with Dorothy” tour of the site. The tour dates are: June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 and 30.
(3/28/18) Last year we wrote about how a former Disney Imagineer, Bob Baranick, who had moved to North Carolina was working on a plan to build his own little theme park to be called Whirligig Woods. Unfortunately, the latest update to the story confirms that Bob's dream has come to a halt. Due to the lack of investors, his plan to build Whirligig Woods will no longer happen. Bob reports that he will still hang on to the 21 acres of property he purchased for the project and allow the trees to continue to grow there.
Meanwhile he hopes to revisit the concept sometime in the future once again, perhaps somewhere else in North Carolina, in order to bring his vision of a family experience to life. We wish him luck... and selfishly hope that maybe next time he'll look a bit more to the west, closer to Charlotte... just because it would be closer to me.
(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 - (7/5/18) A developer is proposing a large new attraction development in the Columbus, Ohio area called Planet Oasis. If you see the local news headlines... just ignore them however, as they are trying to overplay it with claims that this will be a $2 billion theme park project 'bigger than Disneyland" and such... but this is seriously stretching the truth. The new project appears to look more like a modern retail mall, but packed full of entertainment options instead of retail stores. While I'm sure some retail will be part of the overall experience, along with some restaurants, the plan here is to fill the site with a variety of attraction experiences ranging from a small coaster to a skate park, BMX bike park, indoor skydiving, a "Medieval Times-esque" dinner theater experience, E-Sports arena, giant wheel, go karts, bowling, laser-tag, movie theater, ice skating rink and more.
The vision is interesting and looks attractive from a guest standpoint purely from the huge variety of activities they are trying to include, but the problem is that each of these attractions are being asked to build their sites in close-quarters to their competition. Unlike a theme park where guests arrive and pay one admission price to do everything, this is more like a retail mall, but in this case guests will arrive and likely pick one experience, maybe two, and call it a day.
The concept itself isn't entirely bad... because if they modeled this kind of site more like Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, it could be successful... if they can get the bodies in to visit. There-in lies my other question-mark with this project... because to my knowledge, Columbus isn't exactly a major tourist destination, and being in Ohio will limit the use of any of the outdoor attractions to the warmer months of the year. We will know if Planet Oasis is serious about this project before too long, as they stated that construction would begin by December.
Pennsylvania - (3/8/18) According to the local news Lakemont Park will remain closed for a second season in a row to allow for further renovations to take place. The plan is now to reopen Lakemont in 2019, but they claim it will be transformed from being an “amusement park” into what they now describe as a “family entertainment center” that will include a new mini-golf course, electric go-karts, batting cages and some “enhancements” to the waterpark.
(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.”
Tennessee - (6/17/18) Special thanks to one of our readers who lives in the area who went down to take a few current pictures of the Soundwaves waterpark project under construction. There is also a live webcam on site showing off the view of things from the inside. Just follow the link and look down for the "Live Webcam" link.
(6/16/18) According to the Opryland Resort the Soundwaves indoor/outdoor waterpark project is under construction and set to open the first phase in Late 2018. A video showing off the construction progress of Soundwaves was posted by a company building it back in late February (See below), but I’ve seen nothing since. If you happen to stay at the resort this summer, I’d love to see some new photos from the site.
(2/8/17) Something really neat is planned to open in Nashville as early as 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.
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.
(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.
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.
Wisconsin - (5/28/18) A quick update on the situation at Timber Falls in Wisconsin Dells. A reader reached out to try and find out why they were closing the majority of their major attractions, including the log flume and the Avalanche wooden coaster, and below was the official response from Timber Falls:
"Thanks for being such a fan of our rides; we're happy to hear you've had some great experiences on the coaster and log ride! Unfortunately our rides (coaster, log ride, and bumper boats) require an unfeasible amount of maintenance. With Timber Falls being a smaller park, it can be difficult to keep up with regular maintenance for all the attractions, and we would never want to jeopardize a visitor's safety because of this. The Skyscraper Thrill Ride will remain open, and we are planning to build some really great attractions in place of the one's currently at our park. We hope you'll visit us again down the road and make some new memories on our upcoming attractions! At this point we have not yet sold any of the rides. Any future plans for the park are confidential, if and when we decide to add attractions we will be sure to advertise!"
So there you have it, going forward Timber Falls will only offer Mini-Golf and the Skyscraper ride for the time being.
(4/27/18) An interesting news bit crossed my way this afternoon, which was also confirmed by RCDB. Avalanche, located at Timber Falls Adventure Park in Wisconsin Dells, is apparently closed for good. This is sad, as the ride was said to be fun and was one of only four wooden coasters out there from S&S Worldwide.
While the park hasn't made a comment about this on social media yet, their website, while clearing showing Avalanche on the front page photo, already appears to have removed any reference to the coaster at all on the page from the pricing and attractions pages.