---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(8/8/17) Illinois - CoCo Keys Waterpark Items Being Auctioned Off (MORE...)
(8/7/17) Ohio State Fair - Official Accident Investigation Results Released (MORE...)
(7/28/17) Update on the Fireball / Ohio State Fair Accident (MORE...)
(7/28/17) Missouri - Branson Mountain Coaster Repair Update (MORE...)
(7/27/17) Deadly Ride Accident At Ohio State Fair (MORE...)
(7/24/17) Kentucky - Ark Encounter May Lose State Tax Incentives Over Ownship Change (MORE...)
Arizona - (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 residental 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...
California - (7/13/17) According to the local news the San Bernardino County board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the expansion plans submitted by Skypark at Santa’s Village that will add mountain biking and other activities to keep the site active year-round.
(7/10/17) Just a reminder for those in or near the SoCal market, the second annual Midsummer Scream haunt themed convention is taking place at the Long Beach Convention Center on July 29 and 30, 2017. Already announced is a huge presentation from Knott’s Berry Farm looking back at over 4 decades of Knott’s Scary Farm history, as well as the creative teams for Knott’s Scary Farm, Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and even Six Flags Magic Mountain will be on hand to make presentations about their park’s annual Halloween events coming this fall. Various celebrities will also be on hand to make appearances such as Cassandra Peterson (Elvira: Mistress of the Dark) and Sid Haig. It is always best to buy tickets to these kind of things in advance, just in case of a sell out as well as to avoid the on-site crowds, so visit the official site for the latest info and pre-purchase your ticket now.
(5/30/17) A new waterpark called The Wave opened in Dublin, California this week and already was the site of a freak incident caught on video. According to the local news reports a 10-year-old boy went down one of the park’s slides and was somehow thrown out of the splashdown trough at the bottom to land on the concrete about 90 minutes after the park had just opened. Fortunately he only suffered a few minor scratches and walked away unharmed. The slide in question is now said to be closed indefinitely.
According to the reports the slide is only 3-stories tall, but drops riders at an 80º angle straight down to the bottom. If you watch the video and see just how fast the boy comes right out of the slide as soon as he hits the bottom, I’d be willing to bet that we’ll see some kind of modification made to the slide chute at the bottom to prevent this from happening before they reopen it… probably through the addition of some taller sidewall panels in this area to keep riders in the chute until they slow down more.
(5/29/17) The Nest is the same of a new "next-gen" style escape room experience attraction that was designed by a pair of former Disney Imagineers. The project has been built in a suburb of Los Angeles and has proven to be quite interesting thus far by offering a unique and different experience from most others. Follow the link to read more details on what it involved and how you can visit.
(5/4/17) Want to see two of Southern California's smallest and most forgotten amusement parks? Then check out the latest update to CaliforniaCoasterKings as they visit Castle Park and Scandia Ontario this week.
(3/27/17) So what's going on with the Queen Mary? According to our friends at BlooLoop, plans have been submitted for a $250 million enhancement of the historical ship and build-up of an entertainment complex around it in Long Beach. The plans include additional land-based attractions to lure tourists in and keep them in the area longer such as zip-lines, ice climbing, kayaking, skydiving simulations and more. The Queen Mary herself however is also in need of some very costly repairs apparently as sections are not aging as gracefully as they would like.
(1/12/17) While not a theme park, it was announced yesterday that George Lucas has chosen a site in LA to build his $1 billion museum project, The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. With a planned opening date of May 4, 2020 the museum will feature tons of archived Star Wars art as well as many other items Lucas has collected over the years. Look for the project to be built in Exposition Park, with construction hoping to begin before the end of 2017 on the unique looking building that will house it all.
(1/2/17) While it isn't an attraction itself, the San Diego Zoo has construction walls up promoting the opening of the new Mesa Bridge in Summer 2017 that will see a new bridge build over Panda Canyon, connecting the backside of Albert's treehouse building over towards the Elephant Odyssey area on the backside of the park.
(12/10/16) The local news reports that the City of West Covina (a suburb of Los Angeles for those not local) located in the middle between downtown LA and Ontario, is eyeballing a former landfill site as a possible location to build a new amusement park complex that would include VR attractions, zip lines, hotels, restaurants and space for retail. A development group (Singpoli Group) is working on a development plan and if the feasibility and impact studies are good, they could opt to move forward with it.
(10/19/16) Awhile back you may remember reading stories about how California's old Santa's Village attraction at Lake Arrowhead had been purchased and was to be revived as more of an extreme experience style attraction called Skypark at Santa's Village. While this is still the plan, with a hope to open that in Summer 2017, the owners are working to get permission to reopen the old Santa's Village section of the property once again as Santa's Village in time for the winter holiday season. Click here for the rest of the details.
Ahhh San Diego… my birthplace and old stomping grounds. It really is a unique city of it’s own, and deserving of some unique projects… if only everyone would agree on what those projects should be. The city is also famous for fighting back and forth over the future of several large development projects… from the building of the convention center that houses the world famous San Diego Comicon to arguing about if SeaWorld should be allowed to have rides or not, to possible expansions of the San Diego Zoo, or if they will ever give in and build a new stadium for the San Diego Chargers or not.
In a move I found surprising… and I’m sure there will be some squabbling over it sooner or later, it seems that everyone so far has agreed to a new plan to help redevelop the city’s old Seaport Village area downtown into a new project called Seaport San Diego. The anchor attraction of Seaport San Diego, in addition to some new hotel projects, would be the SkySpire, a new concept from ThrillCorp, as an alternate to the PolerCoaster concept. SkySpire is an observation tower style structure that features a spiraling track around the outside where gondolas would slowly rotate and rise to the top and come back down again, offering a stunning view of not only Downtown San Diego, but of the city’s scenic bay view as well. You can learn more about the Seaport San Diego project and see concept artwork here.
(4/22/16) The LA Times reports that a developer wants to spend $250 million to build a new entertainment and retail complex near the Queen Mary in Long Beach that may even feature a giant Ferris Wheel. Currently the 45 acres surrounding the Queen Mary is made up of mostly empty parking lots. Other developments being looked at include building a 200-room hotel on the land near the historic vessel, and possibly an amphitheater.
The developer, Urban Commons, who was chosen by the city as the new leaseholder of the complex is ironically one who made headlines for a rather odd new business plan at an Orlando hotel they now own. The group purchased Orlando's popular Nickelodeon Resort, but in a move that most found to be quite baffling, opted to drop their valuable Nickelodeon themeing agreement rather than renew it, and instead re-brand the Orlando resort as a regular old Holiday Inn instead. With that event fresh in my mind, I'm not quite sure what kind of vision they have for the Queen Mary property.
Colorado - (7/3/17) According to this article the Steamboat Springs resort area in Colorado will soon open what they say is the longest alpine coaster in North America. They are calling it the "Outlaw Mountain Coaster" and list the 6,280 long attraction as also featuring a vertical descent of 400 feet. Look for the Outlaw Mountain Coaster to open sometime in August and then attempt a year-round operational schedule, including night runs in the busy ski season, if all goes well.
Florida - (7/7/17) Good news for those seeking some amusement ride fun along the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. According to the local news a collection of new rides, games and attractions opened up late last month, picking up the slack when it looked like the former attractions wouldn't be reopening. While the Sandblaster coaster was not running yet at the time the news article was written, I’ve heard it may have reopened very recently. Can anyone else confirm if the coaster has reopened?
(6/28/17) The local news reports that Florida's Lion Country Safari will soon be sold to a new owner who has plans to expand the park as well as their conservation efforts.
(1/27/17) A new iFLY indoor skydiving center is opening for all you South Florida peeps in the Fort Lauderdale area. I'm not sure if they are currently soft-open or not, but their official website is taking bookings as early as Jan 30th.
In other area news, the local news reports that the American Dream Miami mall project has been given preliminary approval for the $3 billion project from the Miami-Dade commissioners, winning with a 10-1 vote. The approval process will now move on to the state level for another approval before coming back for one final local vote later in the year.
(6/30/16) The proposed plans from Triple Five to build the American Dream Miami mall, that could be the largest mall in America when it opens, have been pushed back over concerns about the traffic the mall would generate to the site. They had hoped to break ground on the mall before the end of the year, but that wont be happening, instead they will have to address the concerns of the traffic impact study and make changes to the master plan and submit their new plans to the county commission sometime next year.
(5/6/16) BlooLoop has posted a great piece about Zoo Miami's new Florida: Mission Everglades expansion project that not only features new animal habitats, but also an Air Boat themed flume adventure ride that will get guests up close and personal with some of the animals.
(3/31/16) It has been months since I've heard even a peep about the proposed Miami Wilds, but according to the local news the US Fish & Wildlife Service may throw a monkeywrench into the plans as they are proposing to add the "Miami Tiger Beetle" to the endangered species list. The critter was already thought to be extinct 30 years ago until scientists discovered some living in 2007 in a "pine rocklands" site close to where the park is planned. This will affect the site greatly, controlling where they can and can't build, but for now they are still waiting to find out what the new boundaries will be.
Georgia - (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.
(12/4/15) A few years ago it leaked out that an out of the way sports complex north of Atlanta was planning to be one of the first locations to open a Polercoaster. Shortly after the project hit the news, it vanished just as quickly and nothing was said again. Just ahead to 2015 and the Lakepoint Sports Complex is back at it again and planning to add a Polercoaster to their entertainment complex as early as 2017. Check out the official website, especially the pages on the Boomtown project as well as one for the Polercoaster itself.
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 - (6/10/17) Idaho locals may remember there was once a waterpark called Wild Waters in Coeur D'Alane. According to the local news it closed in 2010 and has simply sat falling apart ever since. They take a look at what's left inside, and note that while the property is currently for sale, it would take a significant investment to even reopen it as a waterpark again.
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.
(3/6/17) ThemeParkUniversity shows off a visit to a new themed eatery in the Chicago area that just opened called SafeHouse Chicago. The themed bar and restaurant is hidden in plain site and and themed as a hangout for spies and secret agents in training. It's also an offshoot of the original concept that started in Milwaukee called, what else, SafeHouse Milwaukee.
It's up to you to find the entrance (in the vicinity of 60 E. Ontario Street) labeled only as "International Exports Ltd", and then decipher the code on the door to learn the secret password needed to gain entry, or perform some kind of "top-secret clearance test". For more information, you can also visit the official website to learn a few more secrets, as well as some GPS coordinates you can plug into Google Maps to narrow down the location of the entrance.
(3/4/16) Fantastic news for The Walt Disney Birthplace project, as the restoration project for the small home where Walt Disney was born in Chicago was just granted a $250,000 donation from the Walt Disney Company. According to Bob Iger, “Chicago holds a special place in the history of The Walt Disney Company. The Disney story actually started here…in a house on Tripp Avenue, where Walt Disney was born. The house is still standing at the corner of Tripp and Palmer in Hermosa, and it means a lot to us to see the effort to restore it back to its original condition ….and to hear that it will one day be a children’s creativity center, inspiring future generations of young dreamers and innovators.”
And the following is a statement from The Walt Disney Birthplace: “The Center for Early Childhood Creativity and Innovation at The Walt Disney Birthplace would like to thank The Walt Disney Company for their incredible support of our restoration efforts. Walt Disney is one of the most enduring portraits of The American Dream. The “worker’s cottage,” built by his father and designed by his mother, where Walt and Roy were born, symbolizes the story of their humble beginnings to the formation of one of the most creative, innovative and beloved companies in the world. Bob Iger’s acknowledgment of The Walt Disney Birthplace fuels our mission of enabling young children and their families to see that the world is full of possibilities and wonder. With their own creativity and innovation, any child can achieve The American Dream.”
So great news for a great restoration project. If you follow along with Screamscape on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook you may have seen pictures of the house itself back in late December as I was in the area and decided to drive by to check it out while the restoration was still ongoing.
Indiana - (6/21/17) Would you believe that five passengers (3 adults, 2 children) had to be rescued from the Skyline aerial gondola ride at the Indianapolis Zoo once again? The prototype attraction that gives guests an aerial view of the zoo’s orangutan exhibit has suffered similar problems in 2014 and 2015, which then led to it being closed for about a year before reopening again in 2016.
Iowa - (5/15/17) According to the local news a $12 million plan to upgrade Iowa's historic Arnolds Park has been announced that will see the construction of a new "Roof Garden Ballroom", the restoration of The Majestic Pavilion, expansion of the Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum and a lake-front boardwalk. $6 million has already been pledged by donors, along with an addition $2 million already fund-raised. The rest will be raised through fund-raising efforts.
Kansas - (6/10/17) The latest vote by Kansas lawmakers has approved the bill that would toughen regulations and oversight over amusement park rides that will go into effect on July 1st, but sections of the law involving criminal penalties wont go into effect until January 1st. Follow the link for details.
(4/10/17) Kansas state legislature has now agreed upon a plan to strengthen the state's level of oversight into how amusement attractions and parks are run as part of the fallout of the unfortunate death of a 10-year old on Schlitterbahn's now closed Verruckt waterslide last summer. According to the local news the bill received overwhelming approval from both the local House and Senate committees.
After determining that the old Kansas regulations were some of the weakest in the country the new rules will require that the inspectors to be certified by national boards and either be an engineer with two years of experience in the amusement industry field (including one year of inspections experience) or if not an engineer, that they have at least five years of practical experience in the amusement industry with at least 2 years of prior inspection work. This all sounds completely reasonable to me so far and should serve to make all attractions in the state safer going forward.
Kentucky - (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 - (2/16/17) According to the local news the city opened itself to offers from developers to purchase the former Six Flags New Orleans theme park site on Tueday and received three offers to consider. The previously mentioned plan from Paidia to buy the site and rebuild a new small budget Jazzland theme park and waterpark for $50 million on the site was pitched with a $3.26 million offer for the 227 acre site that would also see a new retail center built there as well as part of their partership with Kimble Development.
However another developer (Frank Scurlock) made a cash offer of $4.55 million for the property and is teamed with DreamLanding LTD for another theme park vision for the site that also involves reviving the old theme park as “Festival Theme Park”, using the theme of Louisiana’s festivals at a cost of $120 million. Sounds interesting, but then they kind of go off the rails and also mention wanting their own very large international themed retail mall that would lease out spaces to “nations rather than retailers”. They also envision a “seven-star” resort hotel and a life-sized replica of Noah’s Ark on site as well. Yes… those are two different projects, which makes me wonder about their focus by throwing all these ideas around.
And finally another developer has made an offer of $5.55 million to buy the site, though they have not yet finalized all the financing in order to fulfill this offer just yet, and nor have they made it clear about what they intend to do with the site if they got it.
Since the city intends to pick the project that will benefit the city the most and not just the highest offer, it seems doubtful they would go with the biggest offer at this point unless their intentions became more transparent.
(12/15/16) According to the local news a developer has made a $3.26 million bid offer to purchase the former Six Flags New Orleans park property as part of a plan to reopen a new Jazzland park on the site. The developer was describe as being called TPC-NOLA, and the verbal offer to purchase the site was made by a Tonya Pope. Pope and her team were also the ones to propose the mixed use plan for the site back in 2014 that would see a waterpark added to the reopening of the theme park along with a movie studio and retail area on the site and looks like they still have essentially the same plan in mind.
(11/14/16) Many of you may remember the name "Jazzland", which was the original park built that eventually became the short lived Six Flags New Orleans theme park. Over the years there have been many efforts to try and rebuild, reopen or renovate the site into something else, but none have ever seemed to gain traction. I was surprised to see that one of those efforts is still attempting to push forward with a plan to reopen the site as "Jazzland" once again, along with a new waterpark section it seems as well as a concept to build some studio soundstages nearby as well.
The group's official website mentions new plans to move wax figures in storage from the closed New Orleans Musee Conti Historial Museum to a new display at the park in the future, the group's Facebook page is also somewhat active with periodic updates on their efforts as recent as one month ago. While many have simply written off the site after all these years, I do have to wonder if there is still hope to see some kind of new attraction resurface here after all these years.
Minnesota - (1/21/16) An interesting new project called the Mall of Entertainment has been proposed for Albertville, Minnesota by Sony Pictures and a local development company that is described as an “indoor family theme park”. The project is said to have an indoor waterpark, a Sony Pictures Back-Lot “edutainment” experience, plus an on-site 275 room Marriot hotel and convention center. They hope to begin construction by this Spring or Summer and open by late 2017.
Should be interesting to see if this is a real project or another vaporware style announcement with no financial backing, but for now take a look at the official website and see what you think. Given that the Mall of America is about a 45 minute drive from here however, I’m guessing that they are hoping to tap into that same vein.
Mississippi - (10/10/16)
Based on a piece of concept artwork (see photo) released for the new proposed expansion of the Margaritaville resort in Biloxi, the plan includes other amusement rides, such as a Star Flyer, in addition to a Ferris Wheel and the new hotel tower.
(10/6/16) It seems the new Margaritaville resort in Biloxi has been way more popular than the owners anticipated. According to the local news the resort has already come before the city council to show off a proposed $140 million expansion plan for the rest that would see a second hotel tower added along with a large Ferris Wheel and even more amusement rides. It seems the need for family entertainment in the area was severely underestimated and while the resort sits on property that is zoned to allow for Casinos to operate, the owners of Margaritaville report that gambling is not at all in the plans for their resort attraction.
(8/29/16) Is a new amusement park on the way to the Mississippi Gulf Coast? A reader sent in a link to a website for something called the "Dreamlanding Adventure Park". Right on the front page they claim that the park project has been "Approved & Funded" and they are shooting to open in Spring 2018 if they are able to break ground before the end of this year.
So an 18-20 month construction timetable to build a major new amusement park is ambitious, but not impossible if they are far enough along with their planning I suppose. So assuming this is all legit and real they say the park will feature four lands: Loggers Run Territory, Tumble Weed Gulch, Country Fair and Bayou Country, plus a "Main Street Mississippi" that will serve as the entrance area.
As far as the lineup of rides goes, their plans sound a little more over the top as they claim to have 5 major roller coasters and five minor coasters planned for the park's opening phase, but 10 coasters on opening day sounds a bit too ambitious, especially when it comes to funding all this along with everything else planned.
Moving on they also mention 4 dark rides, two more "target type dark rides", two water rides, three "animatronic theater shows" and 33 "hard rides" for adult/teens and 10 more kiddie rides, plus a train around the park and a steam boat inside the park.
I like the idea, and there is even more about wanting to build a rail or monorail style mass transportation system that will connect the park property to nearby other attraction and casino tourist areas in the nearby Biloxi area. This makes sense, as many old classic parks started off as "trolley parks", where a trolley line that ran through a busy city would feature a small amusement park at the end of the line outside the city.
So is this project legit? It seems real enough on the planning side, looking through past news reports the group (Fun Box Amusement) was looking at sites earlier this year as well as hoping to take advantage up to $20 million of public funding that would come from the BP oil spill relief money that was earmarked specifically for "tourism development" along the coastline. I don't know if they have bought the land yet, but as I've learned over the years nothing is real until the real construction actually begins, so for now we'll wait and see.
Missouri - (7/28/17) The owners of the Branson Mountain Coaster have posted a new photo update showing off the ongoing repair work taking place at the base of the lift hill for the Alpine Coaster. According to the message, they just need to place a few more pieces of track and install and tune the lift cable and then they should be ready to reopen by early to mid August if all goes well.
(7/24/17) According to a local news report The Branson Coaster, the newest alphine coaster to the region, opened to take on the first guests on Tuesday. I’m sure it wont be long before someone posts a POV video of the new attraction.
(7/7/17) More details about the new "The Branson Coaster" project have been posted to InParkMagazine this week along with details about what else is coming to the Branson Landing property.
(6/17/17) A reader went by the Branson Mountain Coaster that was closed at the end of May when a bad storm caused the section of the ride at the base of the lift hill to topple over. While the initial report claimed that they hoped to repair the damage and reopen very quickly, it looks like they still have made little progress in terms of repairing and replacing the damaged track sections, but this could be mostly due to wait-time to have new track sections made and shipped out, and repairs made to any track sections that were salvageable. We hope for the best for them to get up and running again as quickly as possible before they lose out on the valuable summer season.
(5/30/17) Wow… bad news from the Branson area Runaway Mountain Coaster. It seems a severe storm hit the area over the weekend and the high winds completely toppled over sections of the coaster. The damage is seem in a drone-cam video posted by the local news, but according to that report the owners said they would repair it and hoped to actually reopen it as early as Tuesday… but looking at the damage, I’d guess it might take a bit longer to fix all that as it appeared as if the wind pushed it so hard that event the concrete footers ripped up out of the ground near the start of the ride experience as cross the water to hit the bottom of the lift hill.
This is unfortunate as the attraction had just installed some new extensive colored lighting package to the attraction that really made it look like something extra special after dark. Take a look at the video below.
It looks like the plans for the The Branson Coaster (alpine coaster) opening later this year were uncovered by a local news source. The terrain is a little odd here, and it looks like they are planning something a little different from what we've seen done on other alpine coasters.
From the look of the plans, the cars will exit the station right into some kind of helix spiral to begin a twisted path down the hillside where at the bottom, you will hit a lift hill to take you back to the top, not far from that helix turn, where you will begin a second downhill portion of the coaster. Once you hit the bottom of the hill for the second time, the track will take a long lift hill back up the hill and drop you off into the station.
If you are planning a trip to Silver Dollar City this year, or just planning on visiting the Branson, MO area attractions, we've got a quick update about the latest additions to the area. For starters there is a tower attraction going up on the main strip to be called "Bigfoot". The 200 foot tall tower attraction is just one part of the overall new attraction area to be called "Bigfoot on the Strip". Located across from the "World's Largest Toy Museum", the description of the attraction mentions the tower will offer several different ride experiences... Gravity Drop where riders will fall 130 feet in freefall before hitting the magnetic brake zone, and then "Super Swing" which sounds like some kind of sling-shot style experience that will shoot a pair of riders in the air 215 feet. I've also seen it mentioned that there will also be a slow rise and descent sightseeing aerial scenic ride on the tower as well. From the look of things, I believe this may be a custom combo-tower style creation from Stan Checketts' Soaring Eagle company.
There will also be the Yeti Zone area that will feature "an interactive maze", a themed treehouse structure, a trampoline bungee jump, 7D Theater attraction (Triotech?) and "Monkey Jump" where you can leap from the air onto a stuntman style landing pad. It will also have a unique dining area set up to accommodate five food trucks.
In other area news the former Cool Off Water Chute attraction was closed and sold off to a new owner from Tennessee who are going to build somethingcalled "The Branson Coaster" which I can only assume is another Alpine Coaster. They didn't say much about it other than that it would be "like no other in North America". While I'm told that the site is lacking in any major terrain features (like a big hill/mountain) like you normally have for an Alpine Coaster attraction, rumor has it that this could be the North American premier of a Racing/Dueling Alpine Coaster attraction. The first one that know of was just announced in Belgium as Dawson Duel can you can a view preview of that experience in our article here.
Other new attractions coming to the area will include a new "7D Dark Ride Adventure", an Arcade City and a "Corn-Mirror Maze" and no far away is Fritz's Adventure, a new indoor ropes course / climbing attraction that opened last November.
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 - (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 Mexico - (5/29/17) You may recall reading about the ultra-strange Meow Wolf attraction that opened in Santa Fe, New Mexico. According to an article posted by BlooLoop the group is now looking into plans to expand their concept of creative art based experience attractions to other cities and are apparently looking over a number of possible new location sites such as Austin, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis and even Las Vegas.
New York - (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 - (5/11/17) Long time readers may recall an article or two we've posted in the past about the remains of "The Land of OZ" walk-through attraction that still sits on top of Beech Mountain in North Carolina. It's been closed for many years now, but the owners usually found a way to open it for one special day or weekend a year to allow the Oz fanatics a chance to walk down their re-created Yellow Brick Road.
I'm a bit surprised, but it seems that there will be more activity on the site this summer with a special "Journey With Dorothy" event now set to take place every Friday in June. (June 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30) that will cost you $25 but include the chairlift ride up the mountain and back as well as a special interactive tour where some guests may be chosen to play the role of the Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion or even the Wicked Witch of the West. For all the details, visit the official website where you can also pre-purchased your ticket. Oh, and Cosplay is encouraged so you too can live out your Oz fantasy.
(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 - (8/7/17) The local news in Ohio has released the official statement regarding the cause of the Fire Ball ride accident at the Ohio State Fair. According to a statement from KGM the official cause determined by the investigation says the accident was due to "excessive corrosion on the interior of the gondola support beam". The ride itself was 18 years old and the corrosion was said to have "dangerously reduced the beam's wall thickness over the years. This finally led to the catastrophic failure of the ride during operation."
For anyone interested in what may become of the old Geauga Lake site, a reader tells us that the zoning for the site has been changed to allow for new developments, plans for a mixed use development plan from Cedar Fair have been submitted for review that could include a boardwalk area, a resort, shopping areas, a Mejir store, a college/hospital building, public park space, boating, residential and even some small rides could be placed at the site, like a small carousel. Our source took some pictures of the plans on display and sent them in, including some concept art showing off a boardwalk section of the development with an interesting coaster-styled bridge in the background.
"KMG has reviewed the results of the inspection and worked with industry safety experts to develop an inspection protocol in the form of a Safety Bulletin to allow properly inspected and maintained rides to safely reopen."
(7/28/17) For those wondering, the ride "Fireball" ride involved in the accident at the Ohio State Fair has been identified as a KMG Afterburner, specifically the FRB24 model. KMG International has issued a statement regarding the accident and sent notice to all of their clients:
"On Wednesday July 26th, an accident happened at the Ohio State Fair on a KMG Fireball amusement ride. The ride is also known under the KMG name Afterburner or FRB24. In the accident a passenger carrying gondola detached from the supporting sweep arm. In the accident one person was killed and several other persons were injured.
Our deepest sympathies go out to all who were involved or affected by this tragic accident.
We are currently gathering information on the accident and investigating the cause and circumstances of the accident. Until further details are known, operators of Fireball/Afterburner (FRB24) and Move-it (MVT24/MVT32) type amusement rides are instructed to cease operation of the ride until further notice.
This instruction does not affect the Freak Out (FRB16, all serials), Sicko (SCK24, all serials), XXL (all serials), Revolution (FRB32, all serials) and newer generation Afterburner rides (FRB24, serials 40 and up)."
In addition to this statement, KMG also released more comments to the local media:
“The Afterburner ride has been through and passed multiple countries’ rigorous inspections. All parts are built with ‘minimum double’ the strength they require.” However, Kroon told NL Times that the maintenance is the operator’s responsibility and quoted him as saying, “On the Afterburner in Ohio we did the maintenance until a few years ago.” NL Times reported that the Fire Ball was built 1998, and Kroon didn’t have details on the maintenance.
I'm told that the current owner of the ride in question is a company by the name of "Amusements of America". A reader also sent in a picture taken of the ride itself showing off the point of failure, where you can see that it was not an issue of sheered bolts, or a failure at any junction where the parts would be need to be assembled or disassembled for transport. Instead this looks to be an outright failure of the metal tearing itself apart.
(7/27/17) A horrible accident took place at the Ohio State Fair late Wednesday afternoon involving a Fireball ride on the midway. From the look of a very brief video I've seen, it looks like one of the seating units somehow broke away from the ride-arm while traveling backwards through the loading area, only to be struck hard by the ride arms on the other side as they followed through on the swinging motion, kicking the broken unit up to the air and out of control. At least two riders are seen flying through the air as it passes by, though I'm not sure which seating unit they were from, as it appears that the OTS must have failed as well to allow this to happen.
According to this news report, 1 rider is dead and at least 6 others have been seriously injured from the Ohio State Fair incident, which apparently just opened today just outside of Columbus.
While many traveling rides are perfectly safe, please always use best judgment before you just jump on a traveling ride. Watch it cycle at least once before you ride, look and listen... and while I'm no ride inspector or mechanic, I feel that I've got a good eye for things and if something looks a bit off, I don't let my friends or family ride something. Sometimes it is as simple as just looking around the rest of the rides at the carnival... are there an alarming number of burnt out bulbs in the lighting packages? If so, it might be best to avoid that entire carnival... because if they are skimping out of the cheap items to fix like light bulbs, imagine what other kind of maintenance they might be skimping out on. Be safe out there!
Pennsylvania - (6/22/17) I missed this news earlier this season, but for anyone wondering, Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania announced that they would be closed for the Summer 2017 season for renovations. They do plan on opening the park again on Nov. 17th to post the annual Holiday Lights of the Lake event.
(4/11/17) According to the local news Ripley's is looking into building a new Ripley's Aquarium attraction in Pocono Summit. While Ripley's isn't saying anything yet, a local politician confirmed that the $200 million project was a 'sure thing'. Look for it to rise up very close to the nearby Kalahari Resort.
(3/23/17) According to a statement from Lakemont Park, the park will remain closed for the summer 2017 season to allow it to undergo extensive renovations. The park is planning to reopen again on November 17, 2017, just in time for the 21st Annual Holiday Lights on the Lake event.
“Changes planned for Lakemont Park include replacing some of the older amusement rides with a new miniature golf course, batting cages, playgrounds, basketball and sand volleyball courts, and expanded picnic areas, while keeping and enhancing attractions, such as the waterpark, paddle boats, train, roller coasters, antique cars, and go-karts.
These changes will give Lakemont Park the feel of a traditional community park, as well as a family entertainment center. It will also make the park affordable to all guests, as admission will be free and attractions will be available on a per use basis and in discounted packages. There will be food concessions, as well as picnic pavilions and catering for groups. Special events will be planned, such as basketball and volleyball tournaments, as well as July 4th fireworks and more. The Park will be open daily from late May through early September beginning in 2018.”
South Carolina - (3/30/17) A great honor was bestowed on one of South Carolina's only remaining roller coasters this week, as the Swamp Fox wooden coaster at Family Kingdom in Myrtle Beach has officially been declared an official "historic structure" in a ceremony on Tuesday. The Swamp Fox turns 51 this year, and it was also honored by ACE with an official plaque when it turned 50 last year.
(12/27/16) Backstage Escape Games in Myrtle Beach, SC (located at Broadway at the Beach) home to the standard-setting interactive attraction, "The Legend of Atlantis", has sent out a great press release to announce "the next evolution of Immersive Escape Game Adventures: "Christmas is Canceled", a festive year-round adventure will open Spring 2017, proving the Holiday spirit doesn’t need to end on December 25th!"
Authorities have issued a state of emergency urging the good people of Peachstone Lane to stay in their homes, lock their doors and tuck their kids in tight. The sleigh has crashed, Santa Claus is missing and screams of terror shatter the otherwise peaceful spirit of the season. Eye witness reports indicate the legendary Krampus Beast IS real, and he has a taste for children.
Yet despite all warnings, a mysterious new neighbor has invited the entire town to a Christmas party at his home - you know, the one at the end of the street which everyone assumed was abandoned? Is this innocent holiday cheer, or a treacherous trap?
Though your curiosity is peaked, common sense kicks in. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for your friend. All at once, your phones buzz with the same chilling text message: "The Krampus Beast is REAL! He caught me! HELP!!" Now you have no choice. Against all better judgment, you have to enter that old house on Peachstone lane.
This is no longer a Christmas Party; it's a rescue mission, and to survive, you'll need to work together as a team to solve puzzles and overcome traps along the way in one of the most unique, most immersive Escape Games ever built.
Enter the lair of the Krampus Beast.
Save your friend.
Backstage Escape Games also features The Legend of Atlantis escape game experience, a Backstage Mirror Maze and The Vault laser maze. If you are in the area I'd love to hear more about the current Atlantis game, and they are offering a special discount promo code "WINTER" to save $5 per person for advanced online bookings of the Atlantis game now through March 1, 2017 at BackstageEscapeGames.com
South Dakota - (7/22/16) A new theme park has been proposed for South Dakota near the city of Deadwood to be called Gold Nugget. As far as I’m aware, this would be the only theme park in the local region, but don’t look for this to be a Six Flags size property as the proposed investment is said to only be between $40-80 million. For comparisons sake, the old Jazzland park near New Orleans (which eventually became Six Flags New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina wiped it out) was built for about $100-120 million back in 2001 dollars, so adjust your expectations for this park’s size and offerings.
Tennessee - (2/8/17) Something really neat is planned to open in Nashville in 2018 called the "August Moon Drive-In" theater, bar and grille. However, this is not a drive-in theater that you will ever take your car inside. Instead they are building a large $10 million indoor themed environment inside a giant 40,000 sqft air supported dome structure that will feature what appears to be a classic drive-in theater, complete with classic cars (hopefully all convertibles) already parked in front of the screen, a simulated starry night sky above, along with fake trees, faux fireflies, grassy areas, tables, along with a full service restaurant and bar, with "artisanal takes" on great genre style burgers and milkshakes. They also promise to offer the "largest non-IMAX movie screen in North America", and may also feature live performers who can interact with the audience before and after the films and possible interactions with live projections on the screen as well.
(1/27/17) The Opryland Resort has announced Soundwaves, a new indoor/outdoor waterpark that will only be open to hotel guests. The $90 million investment will of course include music in the experience in some fashion with an indoor section that will offer a lazy river, rapid river, a play lagoon, rock climbing, pool basketball and waterfalls. Other planned attractions include a sun deck, an adult only level and pool, and a "dramatic family ride'. Outside you can find a wave pool, more thrill slides, cabanas, a giant LED video screen along with special planned summer programming, as well as another private adult-only pool area.
This is serious seriously cool... like someone took the idea behind Disney's own Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater restaurant at Walt Disney World and decided to take the concept and run with it as far as they could.
Look for it to open in the second half of 2018.
Texas - (6/22/17) Over the past few years we've reported stories on Morgan's Wonderland numerous times, and if you are a new reader or don't recall, Morgan's Wonderland is a new small park that opened in Texas back in 2010 that is focused entirely on the creation of an amusement park for the handicapped and those with special needs. In short it is a park like no other that has really gained a following for the comfortable and friendly atmosphere that goes above and beyond to create a special day for their guests. Our friends at BlooLoop have posted a fantastic piece all about the creation and history of this unique park this week that is worth reading, so check it out.
(4/11/17) A new deal with Merlin Entertainment has been signed that will bring two new Merlin attractions to San Antonio's Shops at Rivercenter. According to the post from BlooLoop, the deal will see a SeaLife Aquarium and LEGOLAND Discovery Center added to the famous Riverwalk area in 2018.
(12/19/16) Texas waterpark fans... the local news has confirmed that the former Hawaiian Falls Pflugerville has been taken over by the owners of Typhoon Texas (Katy, TX) who will rebrand the Pflugerville waterpark into another Typhoon Texas for the 2017 season as well as honoring all season passes previously bought for the old park.
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 - (10/1/16) While many feel that there is very little chance of this project happening given the cost as well as the likely to come push-back from the locals who dislike large projects of this nature in the area, there is an interesting new push for a 700-acre development project in Williamsburg to be called Kingsland USA. The project is large and includes a huge number of features ranging from skyscrapers for forward looking company space, assisted living space, hotels, virtual reality projects, retail areas and even an indoor theme park and indoor waterpark. You can visit the official website for more information, or hit up one of the local news stations to see how the locals are already trying to shut down the Kingsland USA project.
Washington - (5/29/17) Now this is an interesting move... the owner of the Ferris wheel involved in the accident a few weeks ago has made the first legal move. According to the local news the owners, anticipating that they will be sued by the riders that fell out, have asked a judge to "force the deposition" of their own employees involved in the incident because three of them are from Mexico and they expect to return to Mexico in the very near future. Once out of the country, obtaining any kind of testimony from them will be difficult, if not impossible.
(5/22/17) In a weird update to the ferris wheel accident in Washington, the company that owns the ride has reported that they asked the riders who fell out to remain seated as they passed the bottom just before the accident took place, as they think some kind of extra movement in the car may have somehow caused the problem. Meanwhile a witness who was riding in the car next to them reported that they did not witness any extra movement from the car until after it started to make noise and appear to be shaking itself apart, and then they were moving because they were trying not to fall out.
(5/20/17) A pair of women and a 7-year old boy fell from a Ferris wheel running at a carnival in Port Townsend, WA on Thursday when the bucket they were sitting in somehow got to the top of the wheel, and then things got weird as one of the buckets started to groan and shake, and eventually tipped over as the wheel rotated back down, spilling the three riders out, where they fell 15-feet to land on a metal platform below. All suffered injuries, though one rider was more severe than the others and was initially listed in critical condiction, but has since improved to serious condition according to the report. According to a witness, the young-boy was spared from most injury has one of the woman grabbed him and held him on top of her as they fell, absorbing the brunt of the impact herself and likely saving his life.
Washington DC - (1/12/17) Did you know there was an officially licensed Ghostbusters themed escape game? Apparently there is... and according to the review it is fantastic too. Like for the "Ghostbusters! Escape Room" at Escape Room Live in Washington DC at the Georgetown location. A fun teaser video was posted to YouTube this week (see below), and you can read a detailed review of the experience at Escape Authority which described the experience as featuring a highly themed environment, fantastic use of Augmented Reality devices (a Ghost Scanner!) to help aid your use of an actual Ghost Trap to capture some of the wicked spirits for delivery to the Containment Unit.