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Welcome To Screamscape!

If you’re a theme park lover or enjoy the best thrill rides the world has to offer, you’ve found the right place.

From new ride announcements, construction reports and the latest rumors: Screamscape always has something new to report.

 

 

 

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----    THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS    ----
    (8/3/22) Those Who Are Missing - Who Hasn't Lost A Favorite Attraction? (MORE...)
    (7/26/22) Theme Park Stock Prices In Decline Ahead Of Next Quarterly Announcements (MORE...)
    (7/25/22) World Of Barbie Attraction Will Travel North America Following Canadian Premier (MORE...)
    (7/14/22) The Golden Ticket Awards Live Event Returns This Fall
    (7/4/22) The UK Theme Park Award Nominations Have Been Posted (MORE...)
    (6/25/22) Even Steph Curry Is Stumped By Carny 3-Point Challenge Game (MORE...)

 

icon_STOPTheme Park Attendance Reports - (9/25/21) Ready for a report like no other? The 2020 TEA/ AECOM attendance report has been released, showing off the shocking result that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the global theme park industry. The effect of pandemic was particularly hard on parks in California that were shut down in March and were unable to open until mid 2021 with extensive attendance restrictions.
    Attendance at Disneyland was down 80.3%, Disney California Adventure was down 80.5%, Universal Studios Hollywood was down 81.4%, Knott’s Berry Farm was down 80.9% and Six Flags Magic Mountain was down 81%.
    The decline in Florida was only slightly more forgiving, with the decline at the four Walt Disney World theme parks between 65 to 70%  and the two Universal Orlando parks reporting a 64.2% decline at Universal Studios Florida and 64.9% at Islands of Adventure. SeaWorld Orlando also reported similar results, with a 65.6% decline, and 69.2% at sister park, Busch Gardens Tampa. 
    Globally the attendance decline was bad for everyone, with the Top 25 theme parks in the world collectively down 67.2 in 2020, seeing their combined attendasnce drop from 253.6 million in 2019 to just 83.1 million in 2020. Breaking down the global regions, North America saw a  72.3% decline in attendance in 2020, Latin American was down 71.4%, Asia-Pacific parks were down 57.9%, and the combined  Europe/Middle East/Africa region was down 65.6% compared to 2019.
    Click here to download your own PDF copy of the 2020 report. You can also view past editions of the report going back to 2006 by visiting here.
 
    (7/17/20) The official TEA/AECOM 2019 Theme Park Attraction Attendance Report has been released. Without surprise, the most attended theme park in the world last year was the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, bringing in 20,963,000 guests, up .5% from the previous year. Just behind is Disneyland with 18,666,000 guests, who also experiences no growth from the previous year. I have to admit that park does shock me, as Disneyland kicked off the 2019 summer by opening Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. The usual assortment of Disney and Universal theme parks make up the rest of the top 10, with one exception, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom ranking in at #8 with 11,736,000 guests last year, up 8.4% from 2018. The only park in the Top 10 to see a drop in attendance was actually Shanghai Disneyland at the #10 spot, going down 5% to 11,210,000 guests.
    You can download your PDF copy here.

    (5/13/19) BlooLoop has added a great new resource, a report showing off the various annual attendance numbers in 2018 for Europe’s Top 20 theme parks. According to the report Disneyland Paris broke the 10 million barrier, despite the fire Europa Park had another amazing year, along with good season increases for Gardaland, Parque Warner and Heide Park and much more.

 

icon_STOPGeneral News - (8/3/22) A while back I questioned Screamscape readers on Social Media to name their most missed attraction. The results were interesting to say the least. While I expected a godo showing from a few specific lost Disney rides, the answers sent in went above and beyond that. Check out the lists of the most missed roller coasters and other theme park attractions in my latest article on BlooLoop.
    After all, who doesn’t have a favorite lost attraction they would do anything to have back?
 
    (7/26/22) Theme park stock prices have been in decline so far this summer and analysts believe that attendance and performance figures may be lacking once we get the next set of reports. In my latest article for Blooloop I look into what may be causing the biggest problems for the biggest theme park chains in North America.
 
    (7/25/22) Following the successful opening of the immersive “World of Barbie” attraction in Canada this month, they will be moving forward on their plans to take the attraction experience on the road throughout North America. According to a previous update, stops are planned so far for New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
 
    (7/14/22) Amusement Today has confirmed that after a two-year absence a live Golden Ticket Awards event is set to return this year on Sept. 9th and 10th in San Antonio, Texas. The first night’s reception will take place at Morgan’s Wonderland and Six Flags Fiesta Texas will host the Saturday Night event, including the awards ceremony itself.
 
    (6/22/22) BlooLoop is now accepting nominations for the Blooloop 50 Museum Influencer List, the all new Blooloop 50 Zoo & Aquarium Influencer List as well as the Blooloop 50 Theme Park Influencer List. This will actually be the 5th year for the Theme Park Influencer list.
 
    (5/30/22) While attractions so far seem to be performing better in terms of hiring this season than last year, staffing is still a primary issue of concern for many attractions who simply have been unable to get their operations fully staffed like they used to do. A great article at Blooloop goes over the reasons why this is still happening in our post-COVID world and what attractions can do about it to make working there more attractive to today’s potential workforce.
 
    (5/29/22) Stranger Things fans, not only has the first half of Season 4 dropped on Netflix, but a new interactive, walk-through attraction, ”Stranger Things: The Experience” has opened locations in New York City, San Francisco and London, with many more cities expected to open their own pop-up portals inside The Upside-Down in the future.
    Guests start the experience by getting checked out in Hawkins National Laboratory to see if  you have any powers of your own that they can ‘unlock’ and use along the 1-hour long adventure experience. 
 
    (5/25/22) Screamscape is extremely sad to pass on the news that we just found out that a good industry friend of ours over the years, Kevin Rohwer, sadly passed away on May 19th. I first met Kevin many years ago when he worked as a salesman for S&S Power and kept up with him throughout the years ever since, no matter where he went or who he worked for. I know not long ago he made the choice to move from his last job in Orlando to be home with his beloved family once again in Utah.
    Kevin always made such a strong impression on me, always friendly and quick to come over in chat when I’d see him at IAAPA over the years. Not just about rides and biz, but always interested in how my home life was, how my family was doing, and one of the most honest and good down to earth guy’s I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. Didn't matter if he was working for S&S, Setpoint, Dynamic Attractions or representing any other company over the years.
    I don’t know how he passed, as I haven’t seen any details posted, so I’m guessing the family is keeping that private, but if someone knows more, please feel free to contact me privately.
 
    (5/21/22) Is the North American theme park industry in the midst of a full recovery? Quite possibly based on the overall impressions given by the various big chains in their latest quarterly reports. The demand seems to be there right now for every park and attraction, most of which seemed to have worked out a number of their labor issues that became big problems last year. The one thing everyone also has an eye on are the ever rising gas prices and the threat of inflation on the horizon that could threaten to derail everyone’s best efforts to make a full recovery this year. Follow the link to see a summary of how things are going thus far for the various chains.
 
    (5/7/22) Mattel is working with Kilburn Live to launch a new immersive attraction that will tour North America this summer called “World of Barbie”. As you guessed, this will be a human-sized version featuring some of Barbie’s most iconic playsets, including the Barbie Dreamhouse. The tour will actually kick off in Toronto this summer before moving on to stops in New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.
 
    (4/30/22) So is Space Tourism just a plaything for the wealthy, or is this the next adventure frontier for us all?  I know when I was a kid, being an astronaut was the first thing I decided I wanted to do when I “grew up”, but sadly it was never meant to be. But the way things are starting to unfold, the opportunity to visit the stars may slowly become a reality for more and more of us.
 
    (4/23/22) According to this report RWS Entertainment has now officially acquired “ted”, also known as The Experience Department. According to RWS founder, ”The synergy between ted and RWS Entertainment Group opens opportunities for our team and our clients to achieve the ultimate immersive experiences on land and at sea.” RWS has been in a period of growth lately, as the company also acquired design group JRA just last year, with their efforts now setting them up as a “full-service provider of guest experiences and attractions.”
    Themed Attraction and Technology group mergers have been a hot topic over the past year as we’ve witnessed TAIT Group acquiring both Thinkwell and ITEC, and just the other day the merger of The Hettema Group and Themespace was just announced as well to form a new company now known as “THG”.
 
    (4/17/22) The era of space tourism has arrived it seems. It was just in September 2021 that Space X sent a crew of four passengers, none with formal training for space flight for a 3-day trip around the Earth. This week SpaceX sent up the Ax-1 Mission featuring three paying passengers to visit the International Space Station. The race to space is on again, at least for many Billionaires, looking to book trips beyond the Earth’s atmosphere on SpaceX, Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin and some other early adopters out there.
    Another interesting option comers without the fire and blasting sound of rockets, called Space Perspective. This variation of the space tourism concept has unveiled what they are calling the world’s first “Space Lounge” built within the Spaceship Neptune capsule. Passengers will be lifted to the upper edge of space through the use of a giant balloon, where they can relax in the Space Lounge featuring reclining seats, mood lighting and a 360 panoramic window view. The first passengers for Space Perspective are slated to take off in late 2024, rising to the edge of space where they will “safely glide” for two-hours, enjoy a unique dining experience and take all the pictures they want, before descending back down to land in the ocean where they were be retrieved by a ship. According to reports, Space Perspective has already pre-sold the first 600 tickets, effectively booking up their first year of operations, at a price of $125,000 per person. (And you thought the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser was expensive…)
    This is all just the beginning it seems, as other new concepts for Space Tourism are being released, including Voyager Station, the first proposed “space hotel” that could be ready for the first guests in 2027. 
 
    (3/19/22) ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) made a surprise announcement this week that the organization is “going international!” Currently ACE was divided into regions to cover the United States and Canada, but now the group will also “consolidate all countries in the European Commission and the United Kingdom into an ACE Europe region.”
    ACE focuses on the preservation, promotion and appreciation of roller coasters and wants to spread that focus overseas. We hope this expansion will allow the parks and manufacturers of Europe to better utilize the resources ACE offers. “We are very excited about this expansion as it helps give the club more visibility worldwide,” said ACE President Robert Ulrich. “Not only does this help us improve our relationship with overseas parks and manufacturers but gives all our members more trip opportunities and connections.”
    With the development of the ACE Europe region, ACE will immediately begin planning regional events, with the first hosted on April 2nd at Toverland in the Netherlands. The events will welcome all ACE members, no matter where they live.
    ACE Europe will also launch social media platforms to promote parks and manufacturers, cover industry news stories and offer members the opportunity to engage and connect. This is an exciting addition to allow enthusiasts from across the world to stay up to date on the coaster news in Europe.
 
    (2/20/22) Video Games as works of art as well as important pieces of pop culture will now soon combine in a new Resident Evil “virtual museum” exhibit featuring some never before seen pieces of artwork from the hit game franchise, thought to combine the various expansions to the IP over the past 25 years in both video game form and main-stream media.
    The Resident Evil / Biohazard series isn’t the only video game franchise evolving into an attraction as the world of Tomb Raider is also being turned into an immersive walk-through attraction called the Tomb Raider: The Live Experience, set to open in London this April. The new attraction is brought to live by the developers of The Crystal Maze Live Experience attraction and will take guests through a variety of locations along the journey, from jungles to a sinking ship, and of course, an ancient tomb.
    Video Game worlds are suddenly being brought to life all around us, expanding into new media formats at a record pace. While Super Nintendo World opened last year at Universal Studios Japan, sometimes it takes the evolution of a game from the console to another kind of screen to happen first before it can become an attraction. With this in mind, three more heavy hitting games will be in your face on the screen very soon with PlayStation’s “Uncharted” finally hitting the silver screen this week, the XBOX iconic HALO franchise has been turned into a new streaming series launching on Paramount+ in a couple of weeks, joined by the news that Netflix has grabbed the rights to the popular “Bioshock” game in order to create their own feature film around the game’s stunning world.
    That last bit of news has me especially excited, as Netflix has been working with the Universal theme parks frequently as of late to turn some of their shows into exciting haunted maze attractions for the Halloween Horror Nights events. So far this has resulted in a couple of different Stranger Things maza, one for The Haunting of Hill House and rumors say that more may be in the works, possibly themed to the Bly Manor and Black Mass shows. But if there is one video game franchise that would translate effortlessly into walk-through haunt experience, the creepy, claustrophobic, damp, decaying underwater city world of Bioshock would be my top choice.
 
    (2/13/22) Wizarding World fans, a new touring exhibition called Happy Potter: The Exhibition will soon open at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Developed by Imagine Exhibition with Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment and EMC Presents, the new experience will celebrate the iconic moment and characters from the various Wizarding World films into a 20,000 sqft display area featuring authentic props and costumes from the films along with some new  innovative and magical environments. The display will feature 21 distinct areas including the Great Hall, Forbidden Forest, areas representing all four of the Hogwarts houses and more.
    Harry Potter: The Exhibition opens on February 18, 2022 in Philadelphia for a limited run before going on a global tour with future locations still to be announced. Tickets are now on sale for the Philadelphia location which currently looks to only have dates open through to June 17th.  
 
    (2/10/22) I’m sad to report that film maker, special effects master and technology guru Douglas Trumbull passed away at the age of 79 this week. In addition to creating many of your favorite cinematic special effects scenes over the years, Trumbull is known to the theme park world as the creator behind Universal’s popular Back To The Future: The Ride attraction.
 
    (1/8/22) 2022 is here and roller coaster fans have a lot to look forward to over the next 12 months. Follow on over to Blooloop as we count down the 22 Best Extreme Roller Coasters expected to open in 2022 from locations all around the world.

    (1/6/22) I’m very sad to report the passing of an industry legend, Stan Checketts, founder of S&S Power and Soaring Eagle Ziplines. According to the online obituary sent to me, Stan passed away at his home in Utah at the age of 80, surrounded by his loved ones.
    The news left me stunned, as I had first “officially” met Stan back in 2002 when he was building S&S Power into a global ride industry leader, and had just purchased what was left of Arrow Dynamics and I was brought out to their Utah HQ to witness their latest prototypes in action. I say “officially”, because I think the first time I ever saw Stan in person was at the opening of Supreme Scream at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1998, when he repelled rapidly down from the top of the 325 foot tower to the ground to speak at a podium about his latest creation.
    If you ever had the chance to meet Stan, he simply lit up like a Christmas tree when talking to you, and somehow just inspired you to get out there and try to do great things with your life. I remember visiting his home in 2002 and he had built an Axe Throwing range in his back yard. Stan called me over and becan teaching me how to throw like a pro. Curiously, I remember Stan telling me that he thought the concept could take off someday in the amusement industry.
    I last ran into Stan again at IAAPA 2019 in Orlando where he was selling of course selling Axe Throwing ranges and watched him teach my wife how to throw as he taught me so many years before. With great irony, I never would have thought that on the same day as his passing, I’d find myself in a Dave & Busters watching kids playing arcade version of the same axe throwing game, but with plastic axes. After watching the kids having a tough time throwing getting the axes to stick, I stepped up to show them the proper throwing technique. I remember telling them how a great guy named Stan had taught me how to do it nearly 20 years ago.
    Thanks Stan for all the thrills, the stories, the memories, the inspiration and the axe throwing lessons...
 
    (1/1/22) Fans of video game arcades may fondly remember Gameworks, a chain of giant cutting edge arcade game centers that was first created as a partnership between SEGA and Dreamworks in the mid-90s. After starting with an initial roll out of larger and more expansive centers, they quickly downsized the concept for quicker expansion with many of the later Gameworks sites being about on par with your average video game arcade experience. Over the years most of the smaller sites closed down, but Gameworks lived on through a small collection of their bigger centers in highlight locations like the Las Vegas Strip, the Mall of America, Chicago, Seattle, Denver and Cincinnati.
    The COVID-19 Pandemic was the last straw for Gameworks however, as the company company confirmed on social media on Christmas eve that all remaining locations were closing down immediately.

 
    (12/15/21) Today we take a good look around the world and read the list of the Top 11 new Themed Attractions opening in 2022. Tron Lightcycle Run you know about, but what about the Lost Island Theme Park or Jumanji: The Adventure? Follow the link and check out the list before you make your travel plans for next summer.
 
    (12/12/21) BlooLoop has set April 19 & 20, 2022 as the dates for their next GreenLoop conference, “the only sustainability conference dedicated to the visitor attractions sector.” Keeping that goal in mind, this will also be an online event that will highlight the latest trends and developments to “share best practices, foster meaningful connections and inspire us all to become more sustainable in our businesses and protect the planet.”
    Last year’s event featured speakers from across the attractions sector, including those from Walt Disney Imagineering, Europa Park, PortAventura, Eden Project, Puy du Fou, and many others. The full details are still to be released, but you can read more about the event and how you can join it over at BlooLoop.
 
    (11/18/21) Animax is showing off Atom, their new humanoid shaped robot on the IAAPA trade floor this week. At least in the video the movements look very smooth and human-like, so check it out in person to see what you think.
    Animax has been making some awesome figures as of late across the industry, especially for some high end Universal projects. I’m told Animax is the creative force behind those awesome animated breathing/snarling/growling Velociraptor heads in the harnesses in the VelociCoaster queue, as well as creating many of the impressive figures seen at Universal Studios Japan’s Super Nintendo World, including the animated Piranha Plants.
 
    (10/30/21) Over the Summer of 2020 I looked into possible ideas of where the next big theme park IPs would come from. Would the next big themed property come from a new movie franchise? How about a new series from a streaming service? What about a Comic Book or Video Game? At the end of it all however, I also started to wonder why more parks don’t try to create their own IP? With good local creative talent, why not create something entirely new for guests to enjoy? Follow the link over to my latest article for Blooloop where we dig down into examples where some parks have done just that as an example for more to follow.
 
    (10/29/21) It’s worth mentioning that the United States will open the borders to international travelers who can show proof of being fully vaccinated or having a negative COVID-19 test result starting on Nov. 8, 2021. The majority of theme parks are making preparations to close for the season soon, or enter into a limited operation mode through the Christmas holiday season. For the major theme parks in California, Florida and a few other markets however this will be the first time to welcome a large number of international guests since the COVID threat arrived in early 2020.
    There has been a pent up demand for international guests to visit America’s big theme parks for quite some time, and according to reports interest in traveling to the US to visit the parks is extremely high in various international parks ranging from all across Europe to Mexico, Canada, and Brazil. Look for this trend to continue to rise throughout 2022 If things continue as planned and more bans on international travel come to an end.
 
    (10/20/21) Now more than ever it seems Food and Beverage options at theme parks are so incredibly important to the overall theme park experience. And I’m not just talking about good quality food, but more about themed food, themed dining experiences, and most of all, the ability to offer unique custom creations that guests are unlikely find anywhere else outside that park’s gates. Let’s take a look at how modern theme parks are making memories with guests through the use of their taste buds.
 
    (10/17/21) Respected themed entertainment industry designer, Storyland Studios, has been selected by Fine Ink Studios, an Orlando based tattoo company, to create America’s first franchised luxury tattoo experience ahead of their expansion plans. Fine Ink Studios currently has four studios in the Orlando area and a 5th on the way which will be the first one to premier the new look from Storyland Studios.
    The concept is to elevate the experience to a new level, taking inspiration from luxury spa experiences as well as fine art galleries to create a truly high-end luxury experience from the moment you walk in the door.
 
blooloop-50-200    (10/8/21) Blooloop has announced the new 2021 Blooloop 50 lists for Theme Park and Museum Influencers this week, making the announcement as part of this years V-Expo. You can read through the Blooloop 50 Theme Park Influencer and Blooloop 50 Museum Influencer lists by following each link! Congratulations to everyone!
 
    (9/24/21) It wasn’t long ago that I pondered the idea of Amazon getting involved in theme park and themed entertainment industry after their purchase of the MGM Studios library. This week, as part of a new deal, Netflix has now acquired the Roald Dahl Story Company (RDSC), giving it the rights to the Roald Dahl novels such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches and more.
    In a statement released from Netflix and RDSC regarding the deal, the plan is to bring these stories to life for “current and future fans in creative new ways”. While previous deals had a few projects already in the works for Netflix, the new plan hopes to bring “a unique universe across animated and live action films and TV, publishing, games, immersive experiences, live theater, consumer products and more.” 
    That last part about “immersive experiences” really caught my eye. While Netflix has yet to build any attractions, theme parks, or “immersive experiences” themselves, they have been getting a quick taste for it through deals with Universal Studios that have seen Netflix’s series “Stranger Things” and “The Haunting of Hill House” brought to life for Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights events over the past few years. The addition of Stranger Things to Universal’s Halloween event was a smash hit and gained immediate media and social media attention around the globe upon being first announced for the 2018 event.
 
    (9/16/21) Nothing lasts forever, and this is especially true in regards to theme park attractions. Theme parks are always subject to change, renewal and re-invention over the years, and as new attractions arrive, old attractions have to leave. So for our readers at BlooLoop, I decided to go over the long list of attractions that have already been confirmed to be on the way out, some of which closed down temporarily at the start of the pandemic and simply have never reopened.
 
    (9/11/21) Fall is here and while this would normally mean Halloween fun, fall food festivals, Ocktoberfests, the season also normally presents a challenge to the amusement and attraction industry. Employees, which are normally in abundance over the summer, depart their jobs and return to school, just as attractions are hoping to ramp up their fall plans. But how will this affect the industry on the heels of a summer where it was so hard to many to find enough employees to operate at all?  Jump on over to BlooLoop to read my thoughts on the subject of how current COVID conditions will have an affect on fall operations.
 
    (7/27/21) While Disneyland has relaunched their famous Jungle Cruise ride over the past week after a remodel to make it more culturally sensitive and remove anything that was potentially offensive, I decided to take a look look at what is going on.
    This isn’t the first change, it certainly wont be the last, and changes like this are certainly not exclusive to Disney theme parks. Make the jump over to read all about it in my latest article for BlooLoop.
 
    (7/17/21) So how are things in Orlando right now? As you may recall I took a trip down to theme park city in early June to see how things really are this summer, a year after COVID restrictions went into effect and are now being lifted. You can catch up on my detailed report about what a theme park vacation to Orlando is really like this Summer in my latest article posted to BlooLoop.

 

icon_STOPInternet Finds - (7/4/22) The organisers of the UK Theme Park Awards have announced this year's full list of nominees, with the public able to vote from 22 July at ukthemeparkawards.com. This is the third year that the British public will be able to vote for their favorite parks and attractions.
 
    (6/25/22) Just about every theme park fan has probably come across one of those 3-point shot basketball game challenges at your local theme park. The challenge is to shoot a series of balls from three different positions from around the court, shooting from behind the three-point line. Prizes are given out based on your performance, with bonus points typically for making the 4th shot at each of the stations, marked by shooting the darker colored basketball.
    Keep in mind this is a carnival game… and the key sound to remember is “carny”, because most Carny games are inherently rigged in some fashion to favor the house. This is usually done by making what looks to be an average challenge far more difficult than it would seem. In this case it could include subtle changes to the size or weight of the balls, slight changes to the size, shape and bounce of the basketball rim, and possibly even the height the rim is hung in the air.
    Here to prove this point perfectly is current basketball legend Steph Curry who attempted to win the 3-point challenge game at California’s Great America the other day. Keep in mind that not only was Curry just awarded the the NBA Finals MVP award last week, but the man broke the in-game 3-Point Record for the NBA in 2016 (which was then broken again by 2018 by Klay Thompson, but that’s a story for another website).
    Based on the video posted to Twitter, Steph Curry made just 5 of the 12 shot attempts (but at least he made all three of the “money balls”). Given his professional shot record and how tuned-in his muscle-memory has to be to make shots on an official NBA court setup, this is perfect proof of the “Carny” design effort that has been going into these style games for decades.

 
    (6/4/22) One of the more fascinating new attraction categories we’ve been documenting over the past few years has been the rise of incredible immersive art exhibits that serve as either a stand-alone attraction or a collection of mini attractions together. Blooloop has just posted a great list of “the world’s top 12 immersive art experiences” that includes some you may have heard of before such as Area 15 or Meow Wolf, but so many more you may have never heard of before. Check it out, there may be one closer to you than you think.
 
    (5/29/22) In an interesting announcement video, it seems the “Star Wars Sphere” is coming. Some kind of deal from the simulator arcade game developer Motion Sphere has been signed to allow them to create an official Star Wars branded themed flight simulation game experience that they’re just calling, Star Wars Sphere.
    I’ve seen a ton of video games in my life, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything from Motion Sphere before, but based on the videos they’ve posted to their YouTube channel, they have created some pretty incredible looking motion simulator games with impressive visuals using their unique “Motion Sphere” simulation platform.
    With the cabinet concept art showing off a TIE Fighter theme, it would seem to imply this could be a space flight combat simulator, but I’m also intrigued by a video showing off their Yamaha Racing motorcycle simulator system. This could be a fun way to create a Speeder Bike or Pod Racing simulator concept as well.


 
    (5/28/22) Something interesting happened the other day when ACE posted a “teaser” for something coming on June 21, 2022 on their Facebook page, which you can see below. It has been pointed out that ACE doesn’t typically share “teasers” from parks about upcoming rides. The image itself is very curious, as it definitely looks to be showing off the nose of a Schwarzkopf coaster, in particular the unique look of an original Revolution train from Six Flags Magic Mountain, but painted in the same color scheme used by the current new 2016 fleet of trains running on the attraction since it was rebranded as “New Revolution”.
    Of course there is the text, “You never forget your first”, which also sounds like another link to the Revolution, which made history as “the world’s first modern vertical looping roller coaster with tubular steel track”. ACE itself awarded Revolution with their “ACE Roller Coaster Landmark” status award back in June 2002, so it is interesting that the new 2022 date in the teaser is 20 years later.
    One other thing to keep in mind, as far as any ACE connection would go, June 21 is also smack in the middle of this year’s ACE Coaster Con 44 event taking place June 19 to June 24 at Cedar Point and Kennywood. So whatever the big reveal is, it could possibly happen at the meeting slated on the schedule for that day.

 
    (5/2/22) Over the years, we’ve had many friendly talks with our good buddy Arthur Levine who formerly wrote theme park articles for About.com. Arthur is trying something new with his passion for the industry and is starting a substack newsletter called “Arthur’s About Theme Parks”. You can check out his first post and subscribe to the new newsletter there.
 
    (4/4/22) Blooloop is putting on their second annual Greenloop event, a conference about sustainability in various visitor attractions, on April 19th and 20th, 2022. Speakers at Greeloop this year include those from Walt Disney Imagineering, Merlin Entertainment, Miral, PortAventura, Liseberg, the United Nations and many others. Follow the link to read up on all the official details for this online event and how you can participate.
 
    (3/5/22) Today is the day that the Twitter parody account, @FakeThemePark is ending. I’m not quite sure what is planned for tweet out on this last day, but for over a decade now the humorous parody account has entertained us all with the mis-adventures (or should I say mis-behavior?) of their cast of characters, along with plenty of jabs at theme park industry staples and practices. Well played, and I’ve got a feeling a little bit of Fake Theme Park will live on within everyone who has had the opportunity to work in the industry first-hand.
 
    (2/18/22) One thing we’ve seen taking place at a lot of theme parks this off-season has been the repainting of numerous roller coasters… even more than normal I’d say. While sometimes this can be done by in-house crews, Baynum Painting has a well earned reputation for being experts in the act of repainting various amusement park rides and water slides. A reader send us a fun report about what it takes to get a job traveling the world and repainting your favorite roller coasters with Baynum.
 
    (2/10/22) Remember the story the other day about how four men shook the Skyfari tram car at the San Diego Zoo so hard that they caused damage and stopped the ride, stranding guests for several hours? Turns out the four men were all active duty Marines, and all appeared in court on Tuesday just long enough to enter “Not-guilty” pleas. According to the local news, they can each face up to three years in prison if convicted for the “felony vandalism” charges they are facing. Look for more updated when they return to court on March 22.
 
    (2/6/22) The Winter Olympics are here and the one thing that always catches the attention of theme park fans is the Bobsled / Skeleton course. This year’s course for the 2022 Beijing Olympics has been given the name “Flying Snow Dragon”, and it apparently offers a unique thrill of its own, sending the riders down an intense spiral helix spin that exits 65 feet lower then where it starts. Sounds like a roller coaster lover’s dream! Check out the POV of the Sleeping Dragon below.

 
    (1/31/22) About 100+ riders on the San Diego Zoo’ Skyfari ride (a VonRoll Skyride) were trapped for between 1 to 2 hours on Saturday after four men in one of the cars began shaking and rocking their car to the point that it knocked their “gondola out of alignment with the support cable”. Staff were able to reset the ride and get it running again to remove all the cars and riders from the line and the four men who caused the incident have been arrested and charged with “suspicion of vandalism”.
    Now before anyone tries to say that they were just screwing around and having fun, from a professional background of having worked on this same model ride myself, I know quite a bit about how they work, as well as some historical events where accidents have occured. One of the more well known accidents on the same style ride took place at Six Flags Magic Mountain where a rider was shaking his car so violently on purpose, that he actually managed to cause the gondola he was in to detach from the line and fell, killing himself and severely injuring his wife that was riding with him. Thankfully it didn’t come to that kind of end this time.
 
    (1/20/22) Theme Park Tourist has posted details about what is being referred to as the world’s first “Eco Theme Park and Resort”, planned to open in the MidWest United States. According to the update the plans appear to call for a 1000+ acre resort property that will feature an indoor waterpark, a convention center facility, an indoor Entertainment District, and more. The plan is a bit complex, but does seem to feature a number of attractions and rides, but also a heavy educational aspect as well. For now they are planning to open a early preview sections in late 2024 and the main park in Summer 2025, but you know how timelines go, especially for something that is still just a proposal right now. Quite a bit about the project is still a mystery, including the actual location of the park, which alone can make or break a project, so stay tuned until we hear more.
 
    (12/23/21) Our friends at CoasterRadio were able to get a cool interview with Neil Patrick Harris as a fun close-out to their 2021 season. Harris spoke with CoasterRadio for nearly an hour about theme parks, new rides, Galaxy’s Edge, VelociCoaster and thoughts about the new Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser. CoasterRadio has posted this interview as a video interview on YouTube which you can check out below! ENJOY!
    PS - Apparently Neil is looking to buy an old defunct ferris wheel… does anyone know a good broken wheel just sitting around that needs to be hauled off? Neil may be your solution! Off the top of my head, isn’t there still an old broken wheel standing at the former site of Marshal Scotty’s Playland Park, east of San Diego in the El Cajon area? 

 
    (11/18/21) Congratulations to the winners of the 28th Annual Thea Awards - You can see the list in the tweet below or follow the link to the full press release.

 
    (11/9/21) It’s that time of year again! Coaster101 is back with a brand new Coaster Calendar for 2022, where 100% of the net proceeds go to benefit Give Kids The World. These don’t last long before they sell out, so you’ll want to get your order in quickly. This year’s list of highlighted coasters includes Viper (Six Flags Magic Mountain), Mako and Kraken (SeaWorld Orlando), Raging Bull (Six Flags Great America), Dominator (Kings Dominion), SkyRush (Hersheypark), Xcelerator (Knott’s Berry Farm), VelociCoaster (Universal’s Islands of Adventure) and several others!
 
    (10/27/21) Would you consider visiting and eating at a Six Flags theme park every day for six years as the ultimate life hack?  For one person (and I suspect some others have tried as well) the combination of a Six Flags Season Pass and Meal Plan actually allowed them to save a ton of money over the years.
    According to a crazy article posted as The Takeout, a guy named “Dylan’ bought a pass to Six Flags Magic Mountain with a meal plan that included two meals per day plus some snacks, and free parking of course, from Six Flags Magic Mountain for $150 back in 2014 and then proceeded to visit the park daily for his meals. It didn’t end there either, he claims to have done it for six years, eating an estimated 2,000 meals at the park over that time period, and used all the money he saved to pay down his student loan, get married and buy a house.
    While it may not be year round, the writer of the article updated it with comments from another person claiming to do pretty much the same thing right now, all while living in a van with solar panels to save even more money. This one has posted a video about how this all works for them.
    I don’t know how well all that theme park food will affect your stomach on a daily basis, but who knew one’s life could revolve around Six Flags all day, every day.

 
    (10/24/21) I haven’t had a chance to see one of these yet, due to time conflicts with my own schedule, but the next episode of “The Spirit of Time” Zoomcast will feature famous attraction developer and former SVP of Disney Imagineering, Rick Rothschild. Rothschild will be on hand to share stories about the creation of a number of famous multimedia attractions he has been involved with which include: FlyOver, Soarin’ Over California, Star Tours, Captain EO and the infamous ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter.
    The online event takes place on Friday, Oct. 29, 2021 from Noon to 1pm Pacific Time (3 to 4pm Eastern) and you need to follow the link to register for it through Eventbrite. It is listed as a free event, but also says space is limited, so register ASAP if you want to join in.
 
    (10/3/21) Remember, the Blooloop V-Expo 2021 kicks off tomorrow and will run from Oct. 4 - 6, 2021. For details on how to register to attend this unique virtual expo, visit the official registration site.
 
    (9/29/21) Is THE VOID planning a comeback?  After getting crushed and seeing all locations close due to the pandemic, it was reported that The Void “transferred its IP to a creditor late last year”. According to a new report at The Verge, those assets have been now purchased by a new company named Hyper Reality Partners, led by a former investor in The VOID. The new company is now hiring and appears to be planning a relaunch of the company once again. In addition to former investor Adrian Steckel as CEO, the new company has also brought on The VOID’s former Chief Creative Officer and VP of Content into the new company as well.
 
    (9/11/21) Amusement Today announced the 2021 Golden Ticket Award winners this week. While there are too many awards to list them all, I will go over a few standouts, while you can read the complete list here.
    At the top of the list were the awards for the best parks. Europa-Park (Germany) took the 2021 Golden Ticket Award for being the Best Amusement Park while fan-favorite Schlitterbahn in Texas took home the award for Best Water Park. The best new Roller Coaster of the year went to the awesome VelociCoaster at Universal’s Islands of Adventure park which is well deserved.
    I did scratch my head at a few awards, such as awarding Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach as being the “Best Water Ride” of the year, despite the fact that Valhalla did not even run in 2021. Valhalla closed in late 2019 and has sat closed for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons, while the park renovated the ride to return and reopen in 2022.
    Then somehow Star Wars: Ride of the Resistance in Walt Disney World won “Best Dark Ride”, Best New Attraction Installation of 2020/2021 and Best New Family Attraction of 2020/2021 despite opening in December 2019. I guess with the chaos of 2020 and the re-working of the award categories to include 2020 and 2021, it does work. Plus I’ve nothing bad to say about the attraction itself, while I have yet to ride it personally, everything I’ve seen does reflect that it is worthy of being an award winning project in every aspect.

 

ALPINE-X - (5/31/21) Alpine-X has set their sights on the American market, with plans to bring as many as twenty new indoor snow sports centers across the nation going forwards. Plans are already in motion for the first site to open near Washington DC at Fairfax Peak. The first attraction site will feature an on-site hotel, a mountain coaster, zip lines as well as the expected Terrain Park for skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing.
    The company is led by a few former Execs from Great Wolf Lodge resorts, which is actually a great pedigree for what they are wanting to accomplish here. John Emery (former CEO of Great Wolf Resorts) serves as the CEO and Jim Calder (a former CFO of Great Wolf Resorts) will serve as the CFO of Alpine-X.
    Currently they are working on finalizing the funding for the first location, to be followed by needed rezoning of the site they have picked out along I-95. If all goes as planned, the plan is to open the first site by late 2024 to early 2025.
2021_0531_Alpine-X_FairfaxPeak

 

CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE
- (8/1/21) I’ll start this off by saying that I’m not a big cruise line person. Not that I’m opposed to them, I just haven’t had the opportunity to do them myself very often. In fact, I’ve been just one time, a little over a decade ago, when we took a Carnival Cruise for my wife’s birthday. My wife on the other hand has at least taken a couple more since then and tried a different cruise line.
    I say this, because I’m probably a bit out of touch about what happens on the ships and the cost of certain things, because other than alcohol and gambling, every other thing I did on the ship was included. Now consider me surprised when I just learned that on the new Carnival Mardi Gras, if you want to ride the highly promoted new “Bolt” coaster, they are going to charge you $15 for the opportunity to ride this micro-coaster that probably takes less than 30 seconds to make a lap.
    That’s a pretty steep cost in my opinion for such a small ride. Under normal circumstances, in a location where not everything is included, I can see why you would add a charge just for capacity’s sake. Doing the math, I’m sure there is no way every guest on a ship that large is going to be able to take a ride over a 3 or 4 day cruise when each of the two cars can only hold 2 riders at a time.
    Still… $15 bucks to ride Bolt? As I said, my one and only cruise was on a small ship that did not have any of the newer ‘amusement’ style amenities that I’ve been seeing pictures of like rock climbing, mini-golf, go-karts, observation platforms, surf waves and now roller coasters. So maybe an extra charge for these activities is a normal part of cruising these days. I guess I need to get out and experience a modern cruise line again one of these days.
    Regardless, congrats to Carnival for launching the maiden voyage of their new Mardi Gras yesterday afternoon.
 
    (7/30/21) Carnival Cruise Lines invited select guests to come aboard their new Mardi Gras vessel for the first time while in port at Port Canaveral ahead of the maiden voyage which departs on July 31st, 2021. This will also be the first cruise to set sail from Port Canaveral with guests aboard since the entire cruise line industry was put on pause 16 months ago.
    The guests were also allowed to take test rides on Bolt, the first coaster at sea built into the top of the Mardi Gras. You can catch some of the action in the video below.

 
    (6/27/21) Big news from Carnival Cruises this week, as the company has confirmed that the fleet will add two additional vessels in 2023. One of the ships will be another Excel-class ship like the new Mardi Gras that is already under construction for late 2023 that was previously intended for Carnvial’s sister cruise line, AIDA Cruises. The other new addition will be the current COSTA MAGICA vessel that will be undergoing a dry-dock refurbishment and complete rebranding to join Carnival’s fleet by mid-2022.

 

CityNeon / Victory Hill - (12/18/21) CityNeon has announced a new partnership that will allow them to create new branded experiences based on Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment properties at locations around the world. The first attractions based on this new deal are already in development with the first being ready to launch in late 2023. From the sound of things, the deal will most likely involve new attractions based on DC Comic characters as well as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter universe.
    CityNeon and through the use of their Victory Hill Exhibitions group and Animax have already created world renown attractions themed to Marvel’s AVENGERS, Transformers, Jurassic World, The Hunger Games and Avatar. The ability to now tap into Warner Bros. impressive vault of IPs should yield some fantastic new creative projects for sure.
 
    (11/17/21) CityNeon Group has announced “Marvel Avengers Station Evolution”. While the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. experience first launched in New York in July 2014 and has since made appearances in 23 cities across the world (including Paris, London and Las Vegas), it is now time for a big change.
    Opening in April 2022, the experience will be updated to include “key moments from all 4 phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe”, including WandaVision, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, Black Widow and more. The first opportunity to see this updated experience will be in Japan at the Mori Arts Center Gallery in Tokyo in April 2022, followed by Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art in July 2022.
    “The exhibition consists of 7 sections where guests will experience the Marvel Cinematic Universe in a journey through this high-energy facility. Here, they can explore their favorite characters, discover the weapons, vehicles and technologies of the Avengers, learn inspiring real-world science, and experience interactive challenges and simulations. In addition, guests will get an up-close look at original costumes, props and film footage straight from the big screen while surrounded by the landscapes and worlds where these stories take place.”
 
    (10/29/21) CityNeon and Victory Hill Exhibitions have announced a new attraction called Transformers: The Experience will have a world debut in North America in Summer 2022, ahead of a tour of China locations that will soon follow. According to the announcement  guests will pick a side in the battle between Autobots and Decepticons and experience various hands-on interactive and immersive exhibits that will bring the world of Transformers to life like never before.
    The exact location of the premier in North America has not been announced yet, but when it opens in China in Q4 2022 it will actually be a ‘second unit’ and not a moving of the exhibit in North America.
    City Neon / Victory Hill is known for their various attractions around the world, especially a good collection of them that reside in Las Vegas. The group has major deals in place with high profile IPs such as Jurassic World, Marvel’s Avengers, Transformers, Hunger Games, Avatar and more. In the US, they have also opened a Jurassic World: The Exhibition attraction in Dallas, Texas that has extended their run through to Jan. 2, 2022.
 
    (2/10/21) CityNeon / Victory Hill Exhibitions have announced the opening of two new projects in China over the past few days. A new Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N. attraction opened on January 29th at Chengdu’s IFS Square that will remain open through to April 23, 2021.
    They also held a media preview for the new Jurassic World: The Movie Exhibition in Guangzhou, China on Feb. 7th (see pics below) with the grand opening set to take place on Feb. 12.

 
AVATAR    (7/1/20) Cityneon Group / Victory Hill Exhibitions who has numerous walk-through attractions around the globe themed to popular film IPs (such as The Avengers, Jurassic World, Transformers and Hunger Games) have announced that they have signed the licensing rights to create new attractions themed to James Cameron’s AVATAR films. Cityneon will be working with Disney Location-Based Experiences, James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment in order to bring these new experiences to life for audiences worldwide.
    This move comes just as the first of several planned sequels to the original film is set to be released by the end of 2021. The first planned AVATAR exhibit is planned to open somewhere in Las Vegas sometime in 2021, ahead of the next film’s release. They are also planning to create a state-of-the-art touring exhibition that will “feature numerous interactive, multi-sensory segments where guests can explore the fascinating wonders of Pandora”.

 

icon_STOPIAAPA - (1/15/22) IAAPA is back in 2022 and has announced a full slate of events for the year in locations all around the world. This includes all the big IAAPA EXPO events:
    IAAPA Expo Asia 2022 - Hong Kong - June 7 to 10
    IAAPA Expo Europe 2022 - London - Sept. 12 to 15
    IAAPA Expo 2022 - Orlando - Nov. 14 to 18
 
    (8/18/21) When The IAAPA EXPO 2020 was canceled last year, it was decided to also delay the awarding of the 2020 Applause Award until the 2021 Expo. It has now been announced that the award will be delayed yet another year due to the impact COVID has had on the operations of parks all around the world. The next Applause Award is now set to be announced at the IAAPA EXPO in Orlando in November 2022.

 

Legacy Entertainment - (1/20/21) According to a new report Legacy Entertainment has been chosen by Enlight Media to become the designer of their new “Enlight Movie World” attraction project planned for China’s Yangzhou area. At an estimated cost of $2.5 billion the project will cover a 651 acre site and feature attractions and experiences themed around the company’s series of animated films in addition to a themed retail and dining area. Follow the link to learn more and see some of the concept artwork released so far.

 

Park Beyond - (8/30/21) A brand new theme park simulator game is on the way, this time from Bandai Namco. The group posted the announcement trailer for the new project called “Park Beyond” the other day, which will add the concept of creating new theme park attractions with the concept of “impossification”, adding impossible feats to ordinary rides that will shatter your concept of what is possible. Another important component of the game is also the ability to add fantastic theming throughout the park experience, to transform old and plain amusement parks of the past into all new theme park concepts “beyond” your wildest imagination. Add in a deep set of park management operations controls and it looks like there could be something for everyone to enjoy here, as long as you don’t mind having rides able to break the occasional laws of physics.
    Park Beyond will release sometime in 2022 to Playstation 5, Xbox Series X/S and on Steam. Check out the trailer below!

 

icon_STOPRoyal Caribbean Cruise Line - (3/5/22) Royal Caribbean has launched the new ‘World’s Biggest Cruise Ship” this week, named the Wonder of the Seas. She set off on her maiden voyage yesterday, departing from Florida, and taking over the title for being the largest cruise ship from a sister Royal Caribbean vessel, Symphony of the Seas.
    While Carnival made headlines last year with the launch of the Mardi Gras featuring the first roller coaster at sea, Wonder of the Seas has a very full array of attractions of its own to offer passengers. Featuring eight ‘neighborhoods’ on board, the Wonder of the Seas also features a small waterpark along with the Ultimate Abyss slide, which is now the tallest dry-slide at sea. Other features include a FlowRider stationary surf wave machine, rock climbing walls, the Wonder Playscape playground, a 10-deck tall zip line, a cantilevered bar, an outdoor movie screen, mini golf, an aqua-theater show, plenty of pools, spas, bars and more.

 

UBISOFT - (11/19/21) Storyland Studios and Ubisoft have announced the development of the first ever Ubisoft Entertainment Center will take place at Studios Occitanie Mediterranee on France’s Mediterranean coast, in 2025. This is supposed to be the first of many venues where guests can immerse themselves in the various worlds from Ubisoft games.
    The first location will also be home to a film studio and feature many other entertainment and retail opportunities, and happens to also be “in the region of Montpellier, home of the Ubisoft studio that created our iconic characters Rayman and the Rabbids.” The attraction will feature some all new entertainment concepts as they push forward with all new gamification technology.
    Also still in the works between Ubisoft and Storyland Studios are plans to eventually create a full scape Ubisoft theme park project. I think the development of this smaller attraction does represents a big step forwards to the goal of eventually opening a full scale park, but testing the waters of the various Ubisoft IPs, as well as being a creative sandbox to test out ways to interact with new innovative attraction concepts.
 
    (8/29/21) Back in 2015, mega video game maker Ubisoft announced their intention to open a theme park with attractions themed around the various game worlds from the company like Assassin’s Creed, the Rabbids, and more. The park was originally intended for Kuala Lumpur, but it never happened, but that hasn’t stopped Ubisoft from wanting to make one. According to an article in Kotaku, Ubisoft has teamed up with Storyland Studios to continue to explore the possibilities for seeing their vision come to life.
    After all, it wasn’t until a few months ago that industry giant, Nintendo, finally saw their first video game land open at Universal Studios Japan, with more to come in the future at other Universal parks around the globe. With an impressive collection of well known video game IPs to explore, Ubisoft isn’t wrong to think that somewhere, somehow, their own creations could come to life in the same way.

 

 

 
 
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