---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(2/17/20) California - ModelLand Is Still Coming (MORE...)
(2/17/20) Mississippi - Margaritaville Amusement Park Is Having Issues (MORE...)
(2/15/20) South Carolina - Le Grand Cirque Is Coming To Broadway At the Beach (MORE...)
(2/12/20) Pennsylvania - Scarehouse Presents BOLD ESCAPE ROOMS and The BASEMENT (MORE...)
(2/7/20) Did The Washington State Fairgrounds Remove Their Steel Coasters? (MORE...)
Arizona - (1/27/20) Talk about the flashback to my youth… ATARI, the video game company, has announced a licensing agreement with a Phoenix based developer, True North Studio and another company named GSD Group. The deal will see up to eight ATARI branded hotels to be built in the US. The first one is already planned to break ground in Phoenix sometime later this year, with the others set to rise in Las Vegas, Denver, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Austin. (Sorry East Coast…)
The hotel buildings would be themed with the ATARI logo and have a focus on video game culture in both the decor as well as on-site offers such as an E-Sport gaming studio, an Atari themed “gaming playground”, meeting and event space, restaurants, bars and even an on-site movie theater.
(11/15/19) The once proposed “Dreamport Villages” theme park project in Arizona may be dead. According to the local news a new zoning request for 576 acres of property once earmarked for the theme park resort would make it impossible to build it there if the zoning change is approved to make it a new business park.
To be honest, I never had faith that the project would ever develop into anything much past the original announcement in 2017, and it really hasn’t. So I’m not surprised that this project will quietly fade away into nothingness.
Arkansas - (1/25/20) The former Dogpatch theme park property in Arkansas is set to go up for auction on March 3, 2020 unless the owner can come up with a $1,031,885 payment on what they owe to save it. This is unlikely however, as the current owner has already announced he was giving up on his plans to restore the property as a new eco-tourist attraction, and has been trying to sell it off for a few years now for as low as $1,250,000.
(12/8/19) Readers may recall reading bits and pieces of news about a revival attempt of the former Dogpatch park property in Arkansas over the past five years or so. The last reports were not so promising and then all has been silent for some time. Now the local news reports confirm that Bud Pelsor, the man behind the attempted revival, has given up and is moving on.
According to Pelsor, “I’m just not able to pull it off. The stress of this place is killing me. I’ve had successes in a lot of ways, but everybody that was supposed to come on financially, well, there were just too many talkers.“
California - (2/17/20) Apparently Tyra Banks was dead serious when she said she wanted to open her own themed attraction to be called ModelLand and they’ve got an official Instagram posting all about it. The idea is that it will be a themed experience where every member of the family can experience what it is like to be a model and include some special shopping and dining experiences as well. According to the posts it will be a “story-driven attraction” showcasing a “fantasy version of the modeling world”, but it is not a theme park, or a museum.
The plan is to open ModelLand in California sometime later this year.
(1/18/20) According to the local news a new 150-foot tall Ferris Wheel attraction has been approved for San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park as part of the park’s 150th anniversary celebration.
(12/5/19) The Dreamscape VR attraction at the Westfield Century City mall in Los Angeles will open a new attraction on December 13th themed to DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragons” animated film series, called Dragons Flight Academy. It is described as an 11-minute experience for up to 8 people to experience together, as you learn to fly a dragon and take part in a rescue mission with help from Hiccup, Astrid, Toothless and Stormfly. Much like the popular VR experience found at The Void locations, this will be a free-roam experience that will track your body’s movements and feature a real-world physical environment for you to touch and feel as you become a dragon rider. Visit the official website to make your reservations now.
(11/22/19) I wrote up a piece about a new Hyperdeck multiplayer VR experience coming to Hersheypark in 2020, but for those of you who live in California, there is actually another setup already in place at the Two Bit Circus attraction in LA.
I’ve been thinking it over and something about Hyperdecks seems very familiar… in a non-VR way and I think I’ve figured it out. If anyone was lucky enough to visit DisneyQuest in Orlando before it closed, the concept behind Hyderdeck reminds me a lot of Disney’s Pirates of the Carribean attraction, but with VR headgear to serve the visuals instead of being surrounded by projection screens. But in a similar fashion, players stood on a pirate ship deck that was really a motion platform and manned various canons along the deck to shoot at enemy targets.
(10/20/19) Escape Authority has posted an announcement about an all new “World’s First” attraction concept from “Chris +” that will be opening later this year on both coasts. The attraction is called “Professor Bleehall’s Odditorium Emporium & Pie Shoppe” which will appear at EscapeX Room in Costa Mesa, CA and at Escape Room Live’s Georgetown venue in Washington D.C.
So what’s new about this new escape room concept? Well for starters, you aren’t actually trying to escape anything. Instead you have to try to plan the correct order of moves in a series of “score-based, outside-the-box challenges”. They say that this is also the world’s only “100% Non-Linear Escape Game” which will allow players to choose which puzzles they want to solve. Your ultimate goal is to get the highest score possible within a maximum 45 minute window.
Check out the official link for all the details about this “World’s First Create Your Own Adventure Game”.
(10/30/19) The ongoing story regarding the operations of the Queen Mary continue this week as a “real estate investment trust” connected to Urban Commons called Eagle Hospitality Trust requested to have their trading suspended on the Singapore exchange following the negative reports about Urban Commons status with the Queen Mary in order to calm their investors.
(10/23/19) San Diego’s former Mashall Scotty’s Playland Park that closed down in the late 90’s is now reopen on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights for the rest of the month as The Haunted Amusement Park. You can find details on the Facebook page, but it’s really worth watching a local area newscaster walk the grounds in the middle of the day and get scared to death by a chainsaw wielding clown that chases her round-and-round. You can find the video here, but jump ahead to the 2:20 mark to watch as she enters the maze, or jump ahead to the 3:10 mark to get to the really funny part.
(10/14/19) While the determination on if Urban Commons will default on their lease agreement still has to be determined, it has now been reported that Urban Commons’ plans to update the Queen Mary complex have been pushed back at least another two years, as that will be the earliest they will have the plans finalized and ready for city approval. The project does have additional difficulties however, as they are in the city’s designated “Tidelands” area, which involves a separate funding process, as well as being forced to run every aspect of their plans through the California Coastal Commissions lengthy approval process.
(10/8/19) Urban Commons, the operations company behind the Queen Mary, is apparently in danger of defaulting on their lease agreement, and has not met the obligations to maintain and perform repairs on the ship. Follow the link to read about the various owners and operators who have tried their hand at the Queen Mary over the past several years, as well as to see what needs to be done now.
(8/6/19) Dark Harbor at The Queen Mary revealed a new haunt is coming this year at the Midsummer Scream event that took place over the weekend. The new haunt will be called Rogue and you can see a great teaser video all about it below. This is just one of six haunted mazes to be offered this year in addition to other frightful entertainment.
Look for Dark Harbor at The Queen Mary to run on select nights from Sept. 26 through to Nov. 2, 2019.
(7/29/19) An interesting redevelopment proposal has come forward for San Diego’s Seaport Village area that would see the new 70-acre Seaport site enhanced with new shops, hotels and a large observation tower project made to look like it was built from a series of disc shaped sections, that would actually feature a ‘vertical aquarium’ inside itself as well that would be part of an attraction called OdySea San Diego.
(6/22/19) Who wants to miss a chance to win a free private Tea Party invitation to Miss Jezebel at 60out? Escape Authorty is running an online contest right now for that from now through to 3pm EST on Monday. Follow the link to find out how you can enter to win.
(6/19/19) Every so often we hear stories of a new Escape Room that is just so above and beyond all the rest, we have to point it out. In this case we have Escape Authority to thank for this crazy review for Miss Jezebel's Tea Party, one of three Escape games at the “60out” in Los Angeles, CA.
In addition to great game and scenic elements, the adventure is also heavily enhanced by the interactions of Miss Jezebel herself into the environment. It is her Tea Party after all, and you’ll have to find a way to seek out the clues you need without getting caught by her watchful eyes. Half Escape Game and half Interactive Theater, a visit to Miss Jezebel's Tea Party sounds like an experience you won’t soon forget.
(2/7/19) Tyra Banks has announced the intention to open her own themed attraction called ‘Modelland’ inside the Santa Montica Place mall. The 21,000 sqft attraction hopes to bring the world of modeling to life as a themed attraction of some kind. I’m not sure what all will be involved inside, but look for it to open by late 2019.
Florida - (8/9/19) Florida’s Pasco County, often the butt of quite a few Florida local jokes, even long before the location gained national fame as one of the regular locations used for A&E’s “Live PD” television show, just got approval to go ahead with a unique attraction for the Sunshine State… a snow park.
After a few setbacks and some locals not wanting it, a proposal to build a “snow park” was just given the final approval needed to proceed this week. From the sound of things this will be a seasonal attraction open only during the cooler months of the year, open only a 120-day season, as the snow making process can’t handle things if it gets above 80º, but the plan is to set up some ramp structures and produce enough snow to allow for some snowtubing runs. Look for it to open up just west of the site used for Tree Hoppers Aerial Adventure Park and the Scream-A-Geddon horror park in the fall.
(11/4/18) It has been quite awhile since we’ve heard anything about the SkyRise Miami project since it appears to have stalled out ahead of starting actual construction. According to this article the project is still alive and the 1,000 foot tall tower is actually set to begin construction in Q1 2019 and be completed by 2023. The list of attraction is now said to include:
Skyplunge – Jumpers attached to a wire take a high speed controlled fall at 55mph.
Skydrop – A 600 ft tall freefall ride experience with a 540 foot drop, hitting 95mph.
SkyRise Flying Theater – A 72 seat flying theater experience.
Skyway – “World’s tallest rotating observation attraction”
Skyfly – Virtual skydiving
Skywalk – Fixed to a tether, guests walk an open deck 908 feet up with no handrails
Skyglide – Ride down a transparent slide "outside".
Skyledge – Walk across a transparent skydeck 866 feet up.
Georgia - (1/20/20) Netherworld has confirmed the details about that of that rumored special Valentine’s Weekend event I told you about last month. For one night only, on Feb. 15, 2020, Netherworld will host a Scream in the Dark limited capacity event. Guests will travel into the darkness of The Netherworld equipped with only a small LED candle to light your way. Keep an eye on the official website which says that the tickets will go on sale very soon, and I’d expect them to sell out quickly.
(12/20/19) While this isn’t official yet, Screamscape sources tell me that Netherworld is planning a special Valentines themed event that may take place on Feb. 15th. The tentative name for this is “Scream in the Dark” where you are sent into the Night of the Gordon maze where the lights hav been turned down very low, and you are given only a tiny little LED candle with which to light your way through the nightmare. Keep this in mind as Valentines Day approaches if you want to do a little screaming with someone you love.
(12/15/19) Netherworld, the famous haunt in the Atlanta area apparently put on some holiday fun this month. Unfortunately I didn’t hear about it until today, but they put on a special “Haunted Holiday” takeover of their Night of the Gorgon maze last night, along with a special Mutant Madness laser tag event in their Cold Blooded haunt space. Unfortunately those were a one night event thing, so we’ve all missed out this season, but I will be watching out next year!
But fear not… there is one more special event night planned in December for a different kind of event, one that those of you who really love haunts may enjoy! Netherworld will host a special LIGHTS ON TOUR night through the Night of the Gorgon and Cold Blooded haunts, exposing all the details for you to see. Small groups will be led through with a guide to explain the storylines and production details behind each of the sets, including several opportunities along the way to take pictures inside the haunts. The Netherworld Lights On Tour will only take place on Saturday, December 28th, and is a special reservation-time tour experience, so you need to grab yours online now before they sell out. Currently it looks like the time slots are all between noon and 5:45pm. (It’s also worth mentioning that the new Netherworld home in the Stone Mountain area does feature a highly themed outdoor Laser Tag battle arena (open select days) as well as several themed Escape Rooms that appear to be open daily with advanced reservation purchase recommended to make sure the experience you want is available for your group.
(10/23/19) According to the local area news the president of the Atlanta Motor Speedway showed off concept art of how they could build a casino concept that would cater to the whole family next to the race track. The concept would feature the casino, an indoor / outdoor waterpark complex, a TopGolf style multi-level driving range, multi-screen movie theater, an E-Sports arena and even a theme park with several roller coasters.
I gotta admit, they did their homework and have come up with a fine looking concept, but before anything like this gets built the state would have to pass a new amendment to allow for casino gaming, which would then have to go before a state vote of the citizens.
(6/7/19) I finally found a POV video of the new Georgia Mountain Coaster, now open in Helen, GA. Be warned that this Alpine Coaster is quite a bit shorter than the ones I’ve become more accustomed to riding in the Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg area. The whole video is only 4 minutes long and it takes 2:50 just to get to the top of the lift hill. That minute of downhill bliss however looks extremely fast and wicked however. Give the video a quick watch yourselves.
(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.
Illinois - (10/23/19) Bengtson Pumpkin Farm has opened Tractor Town, a new Metallbau Emmeln Tractor Ride system installed through a landscape of farm landscapes, animatronic scenes and even through a big red barn. You can see the new attraction in action below.
Kentucky - (12/3/19) Malibu Jack’s, an indoor amusement park location in Louisville, Kentucky closed the current location and is moving to a new home where it will take up a former Walmart building and reopen later this month. The new Malibu Jack’s location will be double the size of the former and include several amusement park rides, go-karts, a bowling alley, laser tag and mini-golf.
(8/12/19) Kentucky and Ohio locals may remember a long-lost amusement park located not far from Cincinnati called Ludlow Lagoon. Screamscape was contacted by Then Again Productions who have produced a documentary all about the lost Ludlow Lagoon amusement park (1895 - 1918) which is airing on the local PBS station in Kentucky, but they have also made it available on YouTube for everyone else as well. Check it out below!
Louisiana - (7/7/19) The ruins of Six Flags New Orleans have been sitting idle, slowing being overtaken by the local vegetation ever since Hurricane Katrina laid waste to the area in August 2005. Finally after all these years the site is now close to being officially torn down as the city is now “targeting the site for demolition”.
Maine - (3/22/19) The local news reports that a small local park in York, Maine called Wild Kingdom is now up for sale, with an asking price of $14 million. The park will still open for the season, and the owner says they are not in a hurry to sell the property. According to the park’s website, it seems to be a mix of a small zoo attraction along with a small amusement ride section focused on mostly kiddie sized rides, though it does also offer a haunted house and a few medium sized flat rides as well.
Maryland - (8/21/19) I’m told that the coaster collision at Jolly Roger took place on the park’s Wildcat coaster, a fun compact Schwarzkopf roller coaster that previous ran at Cedar Point at Wildcat and at Valleyfair as Rails.
(8/20/19) I’ve seen several online reports about how an incident involving a roller coaster at the Jolly Roger amusement park in Ocean City, MD sent five passengers in for precautionary medial treatment after a train failed to stop in the brakes and collided with a second car in the station. Of the five sent for treatment, four were children and one was an adult.
I haven’t been able to find a confirmation as to which coaster was involved in the incident however as all the coverage I’ve been able to find thus far is fairly vague on that matter.
(12/24/18) A new Great Wolf Lodge location is being considered just north of Baltimore that would be right off the busy I-95 freeway. Great Wolf is said to be looking over the area and in preliminary talks about the site with the local Perryville and Cecil County officials, but if they opt to move ahead the plan would be to build a 500-room 44-acre resort on a site very close to the Hollywood Casino in Perryville.
Michigan - (1/29/20) Michigan is considering a new bill that would allow 16 year old employees to run an amusement park rides in the state. The current law says you have to be 18, and from my personal experience in the field, that is right where it needs to be. This follows my own background, where I worked as a teenager, and you also had to be 18 to run the rides there for a variety of reasons.
We were told then that you had to be 18 to ride the rides, because you could be legally responsible for your actions, and in the case of an emergency, you had to be calm and make the right call, and always keep safety of guests and your fellow staff in mind at all times. To me, this made sense, and I was fine with it, and it made you respect the position you were in, as opposed to the various 16 year olds who worked elsewhere in the park who often had other things on their mind than the jobs they were given to do.
Unfortunately, as this article points out, Michigan’s Adventure claims that low unemployment rates are making it difficult to run their park when all rides must be staffed by those 18 and up, and it goes on to mention that there are 37 other states in the country who currently set the minimum age of ride operators at 16, which is a shame. Of course, having come up in the field, I also know that currently amusement parks have sort of set themselves up for this kind of problem by failing to pay competitive wages any longer, plus always looking to work their local wage laws to the fullest by demanding long hours and in many cases, no overtime pay whenever possible. In short, they’ve made what was once considered to be a prestigious job to work in your local theme park, into a bitter grind where most feel like they are just another low-paid cog in the machine, and when the meat-grinder spits them out they can be replaced by the next person in line.
I hate to say it, because it makes me sound old, but “back in my day” even the lowest new-hire position at the park made more than what the new-hires made down at McDonalds, and you just can’t say that anymore.
Taking the ride operator job, which should be considered to be a more prestigious and higher-paid paid position, and keeping it at 18 should be the way it should be, not only for safety, but to keep a proper tier of advancement for employees. To give the current 16 and 17 year olds a goal to work towards in their career.
In short, the employee who is in charge of keeping you safe on a ride really should have more experience, more pay, and have their mind on their job more than a 16 year old who has been there a week who can barely run the cash register.
Mississippi - (2/17/20) I’m no longer sure of what kind of timeline they are trying to achieve with the mini amusement park going in for the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi, but there are a few legal matters that have come up it seem. According to this report the resort is now in a $5 million payment dispute with a contractor helping to build the platform and parking garage for the attraction, along with another matter involving over half a million owed to the state of Mississippi for unpaid sales taxes.
(4/19/19) According to this report the new amusement area expansion coming to the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi will feature a rather unique attraction fitting to the brand called the AEROBAR. Riders will strap into seats around a circular shaped bar, complete with bartender standing in the middle, and then slowly rise up 137 feet into the sky for an awesome view while you enjoy your drink. According to the description it takes about 2 minutes to go up and town the tower, and you’ll spend five minutes at the top. A video showing off the first AEROBAR in action in France at Futuroscope can be seen below.
(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 - (7/29/19) A couple of fun new photo updates of local new attractions in the Branson area have been posted by MidWestInfoGuide this week. You can see a few new photos of the Branson Buzzsaw attraction that went up at the Branson Sawmill, as well as a look at a new Skyscraper ride installed at the Track 3 Complex of Branson Tracks.
(7/17/19) The local news reports that construction on the new St. Louis Wheel attraction at Union Station has begin. The new wheel will stand 200 feet tall and be just one of several new attractions which include: an aquarium, mini-golf course, carousel and more.
New Jersey - (12/31/19) For anyone wondering… Bowcraft is now nothing more than a memory as demolition and ground clearing crews have removed just about anything that remains from the once small park in New Jersey. You can find a quick video shot at the site by clicking here.
(10/14/19) A rather unfortunately story is unfolding this weekend after a 10-year old girl passed away at the hospital after falling from a Wisdom Super Sizzler ride at the Deerfield Township Harvest Festival in New Jersey on Saturday evening. The amusement attractions at the medium-sized event run by Skelly’s Amusements and the Wisdom Industries Super Sizzler ride is essentially a clone of the classic Scrambler flat ride.
There is no vertical motion involved here, riders are seated and secured into a bench style seat and simply spun-around, with the speed and g-forces providing the physical thrill with the aid of “near-miss” visuals as you pass the riders in the nearby cars. So far nothing more has been said about the cause of the accident while it is being investigated, so this seems to indicate that this isn’t a case of mechanical failure. Historically, when accidents happen with Scrambler style rides involving children, unfortunately it is often the case of the children not staying properly seated during the ride and climbing up higher on the seat. If they get too high, possibly pulling their legs in from under the restraint to sit on their knees, you can see how a child might be thrown once they have wiggled free of the restraint.
So far I have not seen any mention in the reports on if she was riding alone or with someone who could tell us more about just what took place.
(9/6/19) According to the local news the Fantasy Island Amusement Park in Long Beach Island, NJ opened a new drop tower ride from Zamperla on Thursday called the Lighthouse Sky Tower. The new drop tower stands 80 feet tall and is even taller than the park’s existing ferris wheel.
New Mexico - (8/6/18) New Mexico could soon have the state's first Alpine Coaster is plans in place for the Sandia Peak Ski & Tramway move forward as expected. The company pitched a plan to spend about $2 million to build an alpine coaster to help boost the weaker business levels during the hotter months of the year when skiing isn't possible. The latest plans call for a 3,000 foot long run that would drop about 400 feet in total along the way from the top to the bottom. At this point they just need a final approval from the U.S. Forest Service as the land the Ski Resort is on is actually federal property. They expect a final decision to be made on the land use issue sometime in the next six months, with the hope of starting construction in early 2019 and opening before the end of the year.
New York - (1/15/20) A little piece of the Wizarding World will soon open in New York City. Warner Bros. has announced that they will open the first “official Harry Potter flagship store” in the heart of New York City next to the iconic Flatiron building at 935 Broadway. Look for this massive three-story, 20,000 sqft, themed store to open in Summer 2020 that will feature the largest collection of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts products in world under one roof. Wand collectors will want to take note as well, as the location will also feature a new collection of ‘house wands’ that will be exclusive to the New York location.
(9/11/19) While it wasn’t that long ago that the proposed Lionsgate attraction in New York City was dead, BlooLoop now reports that the studio is set to build a £100 Million production facility in New York that will contain space big enough to add indoor location-based entertainment concepts similar to the ones in the UAE and China. Construction is set to begin this November in order to finish up by Fall 2020.
(7/1/19) According to the local news the Mount Van Hoevenberg Olympic Sports Complex is planning some interesting upgrades that will come over the next year or two. The list includes a new alpine coaster project is on the way. Meanwhile a local area brochure for the area shows artwork for the alpine coaster, along with what appears to be a zip line attraction as well.
North Carolina - (1/11/20) Just a quick update on the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster. It did not open over the fall as earlier anticipated, but according to the latest post from their Facebook page, they are expecting to finally be ready to open sometime in February. Since their website is still under construction, follow along with their Facebook page to keep up on the latest status updates as they prepare to open.
(7/18/19) The first Alpine Coaster in North Carolina is set to open sometime this fall near Sugar Mountain. It will be called Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster and their website is already live so you can sign up to find out the latest project updates. It will feature a 770 foot lift hill and a 2,100 foot long run back down the mountain.
(4/15/19) According to the local news a new alpine coaster is coming to North Carolina on Sugar Mountain that will be called Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster. This will actually be the first alpine coaster in North Carolina when it opens later this year. It will have an approximate downhill length of 2,160 feet. Look for it to open sometime in late Summer if all goes well and the weather cooperates… but that’s been a tough one to predict this year so far.
Ohio - (6/6/19) Readers may remember the horrible accident that took place at the Ohio State Fair in 2017, and now Ohio’s House has passed a new law (88 to 6) named after one of the victim’s called “Tyler’s Law”. Officially it is known as House Bill 189 and will toughen inspection requirements on amusement rides as well as require better ongoing maintenance records, including before & after photos of areas in need of repair.
In detail, it requires the Ohio Department of Agriculture to establish new rules regarding the number of inspectors and inspections to be required for rides, based on their complexity and design. They must also hire inspectors who are certified by an official amusement ride safety organization.
All that is left is for the bill to get approved by the Ohio Senate, after which it will put it into effect immediately.
Oklahoma - (11/18/19) The latest word from Bell’s posted in a new video is that they are said to be in talks with two different locations where they could rebuild the Bell’s theme park.
(9/21/19) In a follow up to last week’s message that Bell’s Amusement Park was looking to make a surprise return, Robbie Bell has posted a new video message as a brief follow-up to the positive response so far to the idea of bringing Bell’s back. No solid details are ready to be made public yet, but they want everyone to watch their page for the latest news and progress updates.
(9/13/19) I’m not too confident about this, but according to the local news Robby Bell, owner of the former Bell’s Amusement Park, is looking to rebuild his lost park once again. According Robby, it isn’t a matter of when, but rather a question of “where” the park will go. Unfortunately there aren’t any more details to share, and this isn’t the first time this kind of statement has been made, so we’ll have to take it with a grain of salt until we see some kind of physical progress.
Pennsylvania - (2/12/20) After dealing with unexpected permitting issues and problems with their new location the Scarehouse is finally ready to open the doors to their new attractions in Pittsburgh’s Strip District. On Friday, Feb. 14th, Scarehouse Presents: BOLD ESCAPE ROOMS will open for year-round operations featuring two new escape room experiences: “Stalked by a Killer” and “data/bass”.
Also, for a very limited time they will re-open The Basement, a high intensity intimate horror experience. Follow this link to learn all about these new attractions.
(10/22/19) Bad news for those looking to check out the new Scream District in the Pittsburgh area this Halloween season. The following is a statement issued by Scott Simmons of ScareHouse / Scream District.
“Very regretfully, The Scream District will not operate as planned this Halloween season. Despite the rapid response and support of city officials, contractors, and so many others, we have discovered additional issues that we are unable to rectify in time to open before Halloween. Both attractions are complete and are incredible, but unforeseen issues will keep building renovation going through November.
This has been a painful decision. We are currently in the process of contacting all remaining ticket holders to fully refund your purchase. We can't begin to thank you for patience during these frustrating weeks of delays and cancellations. We also can't begin to thank all of you who have reached out to our team with support and encouragement to our cast and crew, many of whom have been working on this project since June.
But most of all, we can't wait to thrill and terrify you within THE BASEMENT and our STALKED BY A KILLER escape room, which WILL both be opening for business later this year ... because Halloween is never really over. And we like to think there's always time for one good scare.”
(9/25/19) Another haunt is returning to the Pittsburgh area this season with the return of ZOMBIE DEN this week. There will be a pop-up bar in the Original Oyster House in downtown Pittsburgh open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 4pm to 10pm and Friday and Saturdays until Midnight. ZOMBIE DEN will be open to anyone 21 or over who wish to battle the undead now through Nov. 2. ZOMBIE DEN is located within The Original Oyster House located at 20 Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh and is presented by the creators of ScareHouse. For all the latest info, visit the official website.
(9/20/19) Dark Passage, an immersive Halloween pop-up experience and themed bar will open on Friday, Oct. 4th in Philadelphia. The experience begins in the Strange Spirits Lounge before guests step through a glowing portal into a new realm between life and death. You can learn more from the offiical website: www.ExploreDarkPassage.com and look for it from Oct. 4 through to Nov. 2, 2019.
(9/6/19) Pittsburgh’s famous haunt, SCAREHOUSE, will not be open in 2019. While they promise it will return with all new thrills in 2020, they are moving the Halloween fun to a new area this season called The Scream District.
Yup, the evil of ScareHouse is still alive and well, and on the move apparently, as they bring The Scream District to life in the iconic Strip District at 2420 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. There you will find two haunt experiences… The Basement (with all new scares) and Stalked by a Killer Escape Room, a new thrilling experience. Note, you must be 18+ to experience The Basement. Advanced ticket sales will begin today and The Scream District will operate Thursdays through Sunday from Sept. 27 through Nov. 2.
(8/27/19) CoasterTalk has posted a new update from Lakemont Park showing off the new current state of the park going forward, including a look at the reopen Skyliner coaster.
(7/17/19) Who remembers Bushkill Park in Pennsylvania? The last time I had heard anything at all about Bushkill was back in 2004 and 2005 when the park was ransacked with repeated flooding that pretty much ended the life of this once old style amusement park. Imagine my surprise to hear that there is still life in the old park yet, as a small but dedicated team has been working to restore the park after all these years.
It seems they were able to reopen a skating rink at the park sometime back in 2017 which runs on and off for certain days and for private events and birthday parties. They were hoping to have more of it open in 2018, but it seems another flood to the site had other ideas, so those plans were pushed back to 2019.
I’m not 100% certain of the park’s current status, as their official website looks like it hasn’t been updated since the original floods shut the park down, but they do have a Facebook page with limited information about the park, which seems to mostly talk about the skate rink and ice cream, though I’ve heard there may be a couple of tiny kiddie rides that may be working by now as well. The interesting news is that RCDB also lists that the park has a small powered coaster of an unknown design called Little Stingray under construction to open sometime this year.
I believe the park also has a Fun House they have been working to restore and possibly an old Whip ride, but for now the park lives on as mostly a Roller Skate Rink attraction.
South Carolina - (2/15/20) Le Grand Cirque is coming to Broadway at the Beach for a limited time in 2020. The show will set up shop inside an 850 seat circus tent in the parking lot of Broadway at the Beach offering eight shows a week from June through to October. Le Grand Cirque performed in Myrtle Beach in 2019 as well, but was located in the parking lot of the Waccamaw Center, not far from the former location of Hard Rock Park. You can find out official details and how to book your tickets at the official site.
(1/21/20) Plans to build a go-kart attraction in Hilton Head has been given approval to begin construction by a judge after denying an appeal by a “Indigo Run” group who has been fighting to stop the project from happening for the past year. Look for the new go-kart attraction to be built on a 16-acre section of property joining the Aerial Adventure Park attraction, Up the Creek Pub and Broad Creek Marina.
(1/5/20) Alligator Adventure attraction in North Myrtle Beach at Barefoot Landing announced on their Facebook page that they are closing on Monday to undergo extensive renovations over the next several weeks that will include the addition of “future exhibits”.
(11/22/19) I’m not sure if this will be part of the expanding demolition taking place at Broadway at the Beach, but I’ve been told that the IMAX theater building that sat next to the former MagiQuest building which was being used for a live action magic show is now closed and dark as well. No signs of demolition however, so the building may be repurposed as something else, but everything else beyond it has been laid to waste.
(11/21/19) According to the local news the demolition of the old theater building at Broadway at the Beach came along with some other new demolition victims. Despite signs saying the closure was temporary, the Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf course has now been demolished along with the entire Pavilion Park East area and attractions, as well as the building that was formerly the home to MagicQuest.
So far the only replacement project announced for the area will be a new seafood restaurant/bar called The Hangout, based on an existing business in Alabama, that will inhabit a massive new 45,000 sqft building.
(11/12/19) For anyone still holding out hope that the former Hard Rock Park site in Myrtle Beach could return to life as some kind of new attraction… it isn’t likely to ever happen. The new owners of the site have requested a zoning change for the area away from the current ‘Amusement Park’ use and were given a unanimous recommendation vote from the Commissioners to rezone it all as a new industrial warehouse and manufacturing district. The next official zoning meeting to go over the request will take place on Nov. 19th with the Horry County Council.
(10/30/19) According to this local news report the new Penguin Playhouse inside Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach (at Broadway at the Beach) will be ready to open sometime in early 2020. The 5,500 sqft expansion is said to be the largest in the attraction’s 20-year history with floor-to-ceiling glass viewing panels into the penguin habitat as well as all new Oceans of the World aquarium gallery exhibits.
(10/19/19) According to one of our local readers, the wheel at Broadway at the Beach is up and running once again, and they also sent in some new pictures revealing that the old movie theater is now totally demolished to the ground. I’m told that an announcement regarding whatever may be coming to replace it may come just before the end of the year, around Christmas time.
(10/1/19) A new interesting items of note are taking place in Myrtle Beach at Broadway at the Beach. For starters, the Broadway 360 Observation Wheel that sits near Wonderworks is current down and even missing part of the wheel structure at the moment. According to reports the wheel bearings in the axle at the center were in need of replacement, so they are finishing up that work now and plan to get the wheel up and running again within the next week or so.
Meanwhile demolition has begun at the opposite side of the complex. The AMC Theater we just reported as having closed is now being demolished completely. As such the nearby Dragon’s Lair Fantasy Golf and pathways going over to the Pavilion Park rides is also closed. No word on what might replace the theater building just yet.
(9/2/19) The next time you visit Myrtle Beach and drop into the popular Broadway at the Beach entertainment / retail complex, don’t plan on staying to see a movie. After entertaining guests for 23 years the local 16-screen movie theater (last run by AMC) opted not to renew their lease with property owner, Burroughs & Chapin, and simply shut down the theater in August. The theater structure itself was located next to the long-closed MagiQuest attraction building, with the two now leaving a sizable dead-spot in the venue that could be repurposed for something else in the future.
The closing also puts a spotlight on how certain theater locations may be struggling to attract viewers on a regular basis who may be fed up with high prices and lackluster experiences, who are more willing to watch movies at their home theaters instead. It is also worth noting that AMC has another theater in the Myrtle Beach area to pick-up any lost business from this location.
In other Broadway at the Beach news, a dispute has come up between the Ripley’s Aquarium and the construction company working on the expansion over unpaid work. According to the article Terratec, INC is accusing both Ripley’s Aquarium and the ARCO Murray Construction Company over not being paid for work they did for the new Penguin exhibit. To be fair, it seems Terratec was hired as a sub-contractor by ARCO who is refusing payment based on “damage that occurred during the installation” that exceeds the sum owned to Terratec.
(7/28/19) An very interesting article has come forward from the “Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project” website that details what exactly was going on behind the scenes when the failed Hard Rock Park was reborn for one final season as Freestyle Music Park. They’ve interviewed insiders involved with the park as well as doing some detailed research on the “company” set up to purchase the failed park, as well as some crazy money scam schemes going on for some time well after the park closed down.
In short, it seems like Hard Rock Park was purchased with $25 million funding from a Russian billionaire that sought to keep his identify anonymous the entire time. However a series of companies were set up in relation to the park to funnel the funding for the project through the “Troika Laundromat”, a series of offshore shell companies set up by a Russian investment bank, Troika Dialog. The network was responsible for moving billions of dollars through companies all around the world between 2006 and 2013, with millions still being transferred through one of the companies set up to own Freestyle Music Park for several years even after the park had closed.
The business map is complicated, but saw two separate companies with similar names brought into being with the creation of Freestyle Music Park, a FPI-MBE and a FPI US LLC, with one serving as a money lender to the other, which ran the park. So with Freestyle went under and defaulted on various loans and debts, the park itself was listed as collateral on the loan to the other, so ownership simply shifted over to the lender company, while the other debts went unpaid, including final payments to park employees who stayed with the park through to the end. In short, they foreclosed on themselves, while claiming that the two companies were unrelated and built as separate entities. There was some fight against this, but in the end the park was put up for auction and purchased again for $7 million, meanwhile to fund that purchase the FPI-US company borrowed this sum from yet another company within the Laundromat system and once again put up the park as collateral, setting themselves up once again to be able to foreclose upon themselves again in the future if they needed to.
The sad thing is that no matter how things played out, Freestyle Music Park never had a chance of being a success, as the Russian investors had even tried to shut the park down just before the 4th of July in 2009, just two months after first opening the park in May. The local management talked them into letting the park stay open for the rest of the season to try to break even, but they would get no more money from Russian to keep the park operating.
In the end the mysterious Russians behind all this were able to sell off all the park’s major rides for a very healthy sum of cash, paid off their mortgage and finally sold off the park property to a former Myrtle Beach Mayor, John Rhodes, in January 2019, thus ending the last final wild ride of the park.
Tennessee - (3/3/19) According to the local news the developer of The Pinnacle retail development near Bristol, Tennessee has plans for a massive 350-acre expansion of the project on connecting property that goes over to the Virginia side. In addition to more shops, they also are planning to add a performance amphitheater, a resort hotel with an indoor waterpark, “an amusement park area”, though the later may be more of a collection of pay-as-you-go attractions like an Alpine Coaster, Zip Lines and a ropes course.
I’ve been to The Pinnacle myself and the only big issue here is that traffic in and out of the Pinnacle on crowded days is a mess since there is only one access road into the property, which comes from the Tennessee side. The developer has asked Virginia to fund a $10 million access road project to connect to The Pinnacle from the Virginia side, but unfortunately it was just confirmed that state did not approve funding for this road, even though they would benefit from all the tax revenue to be generated from the properties to be built on their side of the state line.
No word on how this will affect the future growth plans of The Pinnacle’s Virginia property.
Texas - (10/11/19) Morgan’s Wonderland, the Texas mini-park designed for guests with special needs, has announced they will be building a new Sports complex that will be accessible for “athletes with various abilities”. It will be a 3-acre facility that will include competition space as well as 8,000 square-feet is covered space for wheelchair sports. This will include 12 basketball courts, softball, baseball, football, soccer and pickleball fields, as well as six tennis courts.
(10/9/19) A quick note about that claim from Houston’s Mayor about a new park announcement being on the way. A local area reader was quick to point out that the Mayor is also up for election and noted that the election would take place before the announcements would possibly happen, so this could very well be an empty promise as a way to get some media attention to his campaign. I’m not saying it is all smoke and mirrors, but in the world of modern politics, this kind of tactic wouldn't surprise me, though he did make some waves over the summer by suggesting that the city needed a new Astroworld then as well.
(10/8/19) This is news to me, but the Mayor of Houston announced that they are 6-8 weeks from having a major new theme park, like the lost Astroworld, coming back to the city. To be honest, I don’t know quite what he is speaking about, as this would be news to me as well. Granted, I don’t know everything, so this would be exciting news for the city, though the only project I’m aware of would be the proposed Grand Texas park.
(9/6/19) The San Antonio Zoo has announced that Kiddie Park will be ready to open at its new location at the Zoo starting Oct. 18th.
(9/2/19) The local news in San Antonio reports that work crews are packing up the various “Kiddie Park” rides from the downtown area. In a new partnership with the San Antonio Zoo, the rides will be relocated to an area near the Zoo’s front gates, where you will not be required to have a ticket to the Zoo to visit the rides there.
(2/17/19) Who can say if this will ever happen, but the Mayor of Houston has issued a statement to propose building a new “one of a kind permanent amusement park” in the city as a replacement for Six Flags Astroworld, which closed after the 2005 season. The night before he issued the statement he also appeared at the Travis Scott concert that was taking place in Houston to give the performer a “key to the city” and mentioned that Scott’s “Astroworld” tour in memory of the lost park as a component to the movement to build something new gaining momentum.
Virginia - (12/1/19) A reader sent in a couple of images showing off the preview artwork for a new 2020 outdoor waterpark expansion coming to the Massanutten Resort waterpark in Virginia. According to the artwork it looks like this will be a single tower addition with three different slide styles attached to it along with an “Enhanced Kiddie Area”, and observation area and outdoor bar.
Washington - (2/7/20) While we have no photos to back this up yet, a reader reported in after driving past the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, WA the other day that it looked as if they may have taken down both of the steel coasters that were on site: the Wildcat and Rainier Rush. If anyone else is in the area and can verify this, please do let us know.
(12/11/19) As part of a plan to build a $113 million Ocean Pavilion expansion to the Seattle Aquarium that will feature a new 325,000 gallon saltwater tank with sharks, stingrays and other fish, the group was approved for a $34 million contribution to the project from the Seattle City Council. The planned new addition could open as early as 2023 at this point.
Washington D.C. - (1/16/19) Meow Wolf has announced that they will add yet another new location to their growing collection of exhibits, this time in Washington D.C. inside a three-story structure located in Fort Totten. Set to open in 2022, it will feature a new and unique storyline within the attraction.