---- THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS ----
(11/19/21) Storyland Studios and Ubisoft To Open Ubisoft Entertainment Center in France
(11/18/21) Animax Shows Off ATOM, an Incredible New Humanoid Animatronic Figure (MORE...)
(11/18/21) 28th Annual Thea Award Winners Announced at IAAPA
(11/17/21) CityNeon Group Announces Marvel Avengers Station Evolution (MORE...)
(11/9/21) 2022 Roller Coaster Calenders
(10/30/21) Is It Time For Theme Parks To Create Their Own IP? (MORE...)
(10/29/21) International Visitors Will Soon Be Able To Return To US Theme Parks (MORE...)
Theme 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.
General News - (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.
(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.
(9/22/21) Blooloop is reminding everyone that the 2021 Blooloop V-Expo will take place October 4 - 6, 2021. They’ve posted a long list of interesting speakers for this year’s event including Winston Fisher (CEO, Area 15), PY Gerbeau (CEO, The London Resort), Eugene Naughton (President, Dollywood), Mark Stepanian (President, CAVU), Brent Strong (Exec Creative Director Walt Disney Imagineering), Steve Tatham (Exec. Creative Director Universal Creative) just to name a few. Find out how you can sign up to virtually attend this second Blooloop V-Expo at the official site.
(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.
(6/19/21) BlooLoop has announced that nominations are now open for the Blooloop 50 Theme Park Influencer List 2021 as well as the Blooloop 50 Museum Influencer List 2021. Follow the links to see how you can nominate your favorite influencer for each industry.
(6/15/21) Video game players know all about the phrase, “Pay-to-Play”, and now it seems that the gaming concept has now come to the theme park industry. In this case however, this may be a good thing as we see this as yet another step towards the gamification of the theme park experience. You can read all about it in my latest article for BlooLoop by following the link.
(6/12/21) Are you ready for a world where Amazon could jump into the theme park business? With the $8.45 billion purchase of MGM, Amazon just gained a whole lot of film and television programming, along with some history where the MGM brand was heavily associated with two different theme parks for many years. Along with their unparalleled expertise in the online retail world, Amazon also has experience creating new electronic gadgets as well as the knowledge and experience to buy property and build large scale projects as needed around the globe to support their massive infrastructure. Make the jump over to BlooLoop where I look into the idea of how and why Amazon could use their new MGM purchase to make the jump into the theme park business realm.
(6/6/21) According to this report SEGA may be looking to get back into the attractions business. The company is reportedly scouting out possible locations to build new SEGA Joypolis attractions in the UK as well as all across the US. Over the years the number of SEGA Joypolis locations in Asia has dwindled down from 11 to just 3 remaining centers: 1 in Japan (Tokyo) and 2 in China (Shanghai and Qingdao). With control of the company spun-off from SEGA, they are looking to expand once again. There are reports about a 4th center is said to be on the way to China later this year in Guangzhou and rumors indicate plans are close to being finalized to add the first site outside of Asia somewhere in the UK.
(5/22/21) This summer season may be a bit of a rough one for select theme parks. Worse than 2020? Perhaps so, as most parks are now trying to reopen for the 2021 season only to discover they now have to face entirely different problems than before. While in 2020 most parks had to close for an extended period of time, some even losing their entire season in the process, they are now ready to open the gates to enthusiastic crowds this year. The problem is… many parks just can’t find enough people willing to work this summer.
This has been an ongoing problem in other business sectors for months now, but is now hitting the theme park and attractions business hard through a combination of factors. To learn more about what is going on and how this may definitely affect your summer leisure plans in a major way, check out my latest article posted to BlooLoop this week.
(4/20/21) Nostalgia can be a powerful marketing tool these days, one that has proven to be especially effective with today’s audiences. This seems to not only be true with entertainment properties in Hollywood, but also within your local theme park. We just saw Alton Towers launch the Retrosquad, so follow the link and let's look a little deeper into the trend of theme park nostalgia.
(4/14/21) I had a thought the other day while driving past a local mall near me that has been slowly dying for the past decade, and has now reached the point that there are more closed stores than open ones. It’s only a matter a time before it goes under, but it got me thinking… because I know I’ve seen the same thing happening all over the country in every place I’ve travelled. What will happen to all these giant malls when they die? What can be done to them?
And why the heck can’t you turn some of these sites into new indoor theme parks and themed attraction experiences? Follow the link to read more about some possible ideas to recycle these failed retail locations into new amazing attraction spaces.
(4/8/21) I’m sad to report some sad news from the family of Jungle Jack Hanna today. You may recall Jack Hanna who not only played an important role at the Columbus Zoo, but who you also may have encountered during special live shows at the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks, or caught on TV during one of his many animal education shows, or even during some of his famous talk-show guest appearances. According to an official statement from the Hanna family, Jack Hanna has now been diagnosed by Doctors with dementia, which is believed to be Alzheimer’s disease. His condition has progressed quickly in the past few months and as such Jack is no longer able to “participate in public life as he used to”.
You can read the rest of the official statement in the Tweet embed below, but on a personal note I’m going to say that Jack will be missed. I had the pleasure of actual running camera for some of his live shows that took place at SeaWorld way back in the day, and he was fantastic to see in action. The way he lit up the crowd with his stories about animals, the way he presented animal education to the live audience, he was a master to see in action and truly enjoyed sharing his love of nature with every life he touched, from the audience to the show crew. A class act all the way.
(3/26/21) So after a year has passed where many of us have been locked away at home, why aren't we all plugged in to VR by now? If you think about it, VR might be the ultimate way to combat the blues about being stuck inside at home for days or weeks at a time, and yet you might struggle to find anyone you know who had bought into it. In my latest article at BlooLoop I take a look into the possible reasons why, or what’s on a horizon that could tip things in VR’s favor.
(12/13/20) Flying Theaters are certainly one of the most popular new attraction crazes to strike the industry in awhile. The scalable nature of the concept has also allowed them to appear as stand-alone attractions outside of theme parks, bringing this form of themed entertainment to the masses in locations where you wouldn’t expect to find them.
In my latest piece for BlooLoop I sought out to track down as many Flying Theaters as I could find and determine the best of the best. To my surprise, I quickly discovered there are far more Flying Theaters out there in the world than even I thought I knew about, and even better, a whole batch more are expected to open in the next few years.
Follow the link to find what I think are 13 of the world’s best flying theaters and where to find them.
Internet Finds - (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.
(7/25/21) A Mechanical Engineering graduate from Iowa State University has posted a great video of a functional 3D printed coaster model that he designed and built. It wasn’t the easiest project, and is said to have taken about 900 hours of labor to design, create, test and build to create the nearly 3,000 different pieces needed for the compact creation. The end result is fabulous however, so check it out!
(7/18/21) Less than a month ago I noticed that long-time coaster enthusiast and theme park journalist and author, Paul Ruben, was the subject of an article posted to Reader Digest where he talked about his 13 favorite American theme parks. Earlier this week I was also sent the sad news that Paul Ruben had passed away on July 12th at the age of 84.
It got me thinking back about Paul Ruben from over the years. I didn’t know the man very well, but he was a common site for me, as I saw Paul in attendance at nearly every major roller coaster and thrill ride media event that I was able to attend in the 90s through the early 21st century. I always knew where to find him, always up at the front of the coaster station, waiting to take one more ride in the front row.
It wasn’t until October 2002 that I formally met Paul Ruben face to face at S&S Power’s headquarters in Logan, Utah. A small group of thrill ride “experts” had been summoned by Stan Checketts to come out and give some of their latest prototype creations a test run, and I was very humbled at the time to have been invited out for this. It wasn’t long before Stan had singled out Paul and I to take a seat on a special S&S tower ride behind the building that was loaded up with some special new action programming they wanted our opinion on. Paul Ruben serving as the long-time thrill ride veteran with years of experience, and me as the new young voice of theme park reporting, as I had just officially launched Screamscape just under 4 years prior to this event.
It was safe to say that Paul really didn’t know much about me or Screamscape at the time, but Stan sure did and quickly gave Paul a brief breakdown on who I was before launching us skyward. Returning to the ground, all smiles and laughs, we began chatting about our shared ride experiences, favorite rides and more while another ride profile was loaded for us to try. It was a great, but brief, meeting of the minds, as we talked back and forth for a time with each other and Stan. While this was all going on, someone who was holding my camera for me (and I forget who, sorry!) was able to capture a couple of great pictures of us together.
So I send my condolences out to his friends, family and loved ones.
As for Paul, I can only wave from here, as he climbs that big lift hill into the sky for one last ride.
(7/15/21) Remember back when some people made a mini Matterhorn style roller coaster in their backyard during the pandemic? They’re at it again, this time the goal is to make Little Thunder, a new mini coaster inspired by Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain. It will feature a western town facade, fake mountains and a new bigger roller coaster experience. Check out the video below to see the project under construction last month.
(7/10/21) Guests at the Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Michigan were in for a surprise when things for a little weird at the Magic Carpet ride. While the ride was in the midst of a ride cycle the base under the ride began to shake and actually lift off the ground from the force of the ride moving. If you watch the video below, you’ll see the ride operator jump off the platform to get off the ride platform at first and then motion to the crowd to gather and jump up onto the front edge of the platform to stabilize it while the ride slowly came to a stop.
Great quick thinking and some bravery on the part of the crowd who jumped into help worked and everyone was safely released from the ride without harm. No word on exactly the cause of the malfunction, but I’m not an expert on traveling flat rides and exactly how they are set up normally to prevent this kind of thing. If I had to guess, there must have been a failure in whatever system of stabilizing legs and framework is typically used to hold the ride in place during operations.
(6/20/21) In what may be one of the stranger movie concepts I’ve seen trailers for, I’m now very curious to see how this one plays out. Check out the trailer for the French forign language film “Jumbo” below to see what I mean. The story seems quite unique as it tells the story of a young woman who appears to fall in love with a ride at the theme park where she works at night. The strange thing is that the ride itself seems to respond to her as well with lights and movement. Based on the trailer, the cinematography is also quite well done, creating an almost otherworldly environment to tell the story.
I’m not quite sure of the release schedule for this film but it will probably end up on one streaming service or another before too long.
(6/19/21) Is a new Observation Wheel ready to rise somewhere in the US? Or perhaps a new traveling wheel? While searching through recent Trademark name filings this week I came across a newly appointed Trademark for “Dream Wheel” from Skyviews USA, LLC based in Arizona.
While I don’t have a clear link back to who Skyviews USA, LLC is, this could be a link to Sky Views of America, a company also set up in Arizona from Guy Leavitt, the owner of Ray Cammack Shows, one of the premier traveling carnival attraction’s company in the country. Sky Views of America runs the Skyview Miami giant wheel set up in Florida in 2020 as well as the Bussink Design R80 XL, which they list as being the world’s largest transportable Giant Observation Wheel that stands 250 feet tall. Leavitt has a history of being involved with many of the largest traveling wheels in the West including the Grand Wheel (1985), La Grande Wheel R50 (2001) and then La Grande Wheel XL in 2017 that was 164 feet tall.
Should be interesting to see if a “Dream Wheel” appears somewhere over the next year in either traveling or stationary form.
(6/12/21) The National Roller Coaster Museum has announced that a new line of artwork and merchandise has been created between the museum and Lantern Press. This will include posters, postcards, magnets, t-shirts and more, and will first be made available to those attending ACE’s West Texas Roundup event on July 4, 2021. ALL proceeds will go towards the museum’s non-profit mission of preserving our amusement heritage and to the completion of the construction of the facility in Plainview, Texas. A very cool preview image was sent to Screamscape showing off one of the cool vintage theme park style posters that has been made. I can’t wait to see more!
(6/5/21) Congrats to our buddy Clint Novak for riding the Wild Cat coaster at Adventure Park USA for eight hours (around 150 times) as a fundraiser for the Give Kids the World Village. You can catch a video of him on the local news if you follow the link.
(5/29/21) If you’ve enjoyed the new Army of the Dead movie on Netflix from Zack Snyder, a new VR based add-on experience will be available to experience this fall. Yes, an interactive prequel VR experience called “Ardy of the Dead: Viva Las Vengeance VR Experience” will drop you right into the events that took place just before the city of Las Vegas was sealed off to contain the zombie threat. Netflix has partered with Pure Imagination Studios and Fever to bring this new VR experience to select U.S. cities and will actually start in LA this Summer before moving on to various other locations such as New York City, Washington DC, and yes… Las Vegas this fall. You’ll be outfitted with VR headgear and given an assault weapon that will offer a realistic recoil when fired, and loaded onto a replica of the Taco Truck from the movie (a “motion platform”) for the grand adventure to rescue survivors from Las Vegas before the city is sealed off for good.
Visit the official website to sign up for the experience and find out when it will be coming to your area, as well as the ability to book tickets for your experience.
(5/16/21) Rescue crews were called out to Phoenix’s Castles N’ Coasters mini-park late Saturday afternoon, as the park’s Desert Storm coaster stalled with 22 riders aboard that needed to be evacuated. The train valleyed in a spot about 20 feet in the air on a banked turn, but the cause has not yet been determined.
(4/16/21) BlooLoop has posted a list of the Top 15 amusement parks in Latin America this week. The list is a great resource for those looking to travel once again to attractions that are not as well known to the common tourist looking to try international amusement parks.
(4/3/21) I’ve always been a fan of ride simulators, even though more traditional ride simulator rides like Star Tours may have fallen into the “old school” category of ride hardware these days, replaced by motion platform dark ride concepts like Transformers or the modern Flying Theater style rides like Disney’s Soarin’. The idea of a fully enclosed and immersive simulator experience has always been something that has appealed to me. I’ve always been fascinated that how through visual media combined with “motion simulation” we can fool the body’s own sensors into feeling experiences that are not really taking place in quite the same way in the real world.
As such, while looking into tech for another story, I came across what may be one of the most intense looking pieces of simulation hardware of all time. Created by ETC and built for the US Naval Medical Research division, they call it The KRAKEN. The KRAKEN was designed as a spatial disorientation training device designed not only to train for intense forces, but also train how to recover from “loss of control” aerial mishap situations and more. While there are true centrifuge units able to create much higher G-forces on the human body, there is just something about the KRAKEN that looks like it could give you a really good ride experience if modified to a theme park environment. You can see the KRAKEN in motion in the video below. So who’s ready to go for a little spin with me?
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.
BLOOLOOP V-EXPO 2021 - (8/7/21) BlooLoop has announced the return of the BlooLoop V-Expo concept for 2021. The all online virtual attractions Expo will take place October 4-6, 2021. Last year’s inaugural BlooLoop V-Expo was quite innovative and very timely when the COVID pandemic had caused the industry’s main in-person IAAPA Expo events to be cancelled and provided some great information. I look forward to seeing what they offer this year after seeing what worked well last year.
Visit the official website to learn more about the BlooLoop V-EXPO 2021 and see how you can sign up.
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.
(6/13/21) Carnival Cruise Lines has now confirmed the first official sailing for the new Mardi Gras will begin on July 31st from Port Canaveral, starting things off with a 7 day cruise. The company also confirmed the return of other vessels to the active list starting in August:
Carnival Magic will return from a dry-dock refurbishment to Port Canaveral to pick-up a schedule of 4 and 5 day cruises previously slated for the Carnival Elation, from August 7 through to October 7th, 2021, and then begin a series of 6-day cruises and an 8-day cruise for the rest of October. Guests previously booked on the Elation will be reassigned to the Magic, and since it is a bigger ship, there is also room for new bookings to be made.
Carnival Sunrise will begin service from Miami on August 14, 2021 (4 and 5 day cruises)
Carnival Panorama will begin service from Long Beach on August 21, 2021 with 7-day runs to the Mexican Riviera.
Other ships restarting in July through August include Carnival Vista and Breeze from Galveston, Carnival Horizon from Miami, Carnival Miracle from Seattle to Alaska.
However, the following ships and ports will remain paused through to August 31: Carnival Pride (Baltimore), Carnival Sunshine (Charleston), Carnival Dream (Galveston), Carnival Ecstasy (Jacksonville), Carnival Liberty (Port Canaveral) Carnival Conquest (Miami), Carnival Sensation (Mobile) and Carnival Glory (New Orleans).
(6/5/21) The new Carnival Mardi Gras has arrived at Port Canaveral. You can catch some video of it arriving and preparing to dock below as posted by the local news. Cruise ships are generally quite large, but this one is a beast. See if you can spot the BOLT coaster that travels across the back half of the ship, because as big as the coaster is, it is dwarfed in size by the rest of the massive vessel.
CityNeon / Victory Hill - (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.
(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”.
IAAPA - (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.
(8/5/21) IAAPA has announced that the IAAPA Expo Asia 2021 event that was set to take place this month is now being canceled. The event was slated for Shanghai from August 10-13, 2021. The next big IAAPA event on the schedule is now the IAAPA Expo Europe set to take place in Barcelona, Spain from Sept. 27-30, 2021, followed by IAAPA Expo 2021 in Orlando on Nov. 15-19, 2021. Currently both of those events are still slated to take place at this time.
(4/14/21) IAAPA has announced the return of three of their major Global Expo events in 2021:
IAAPA Expo Asia 2021 will take place Aug. 10 through 13 to Shanghai New International Expo Center.
IAAPA Expo Europe 2021 will take place Sept. 27 - 30th in Spain at Fira Barcelona Grand Via.
IAAPA Expo 2021 will return to Orlando in 2021 from Nov. 15 through 19 at the Orange County Convention Center.
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!
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.
(5/24/20) Ubisoft is launching a new VR Escape Room attraction concept, this one themed to the Prince of Persia game series to be called, “Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time”. This latest offering will join Ubisoft’s other two VR Escape attractions: Assassin’s Creed: Escape the Lost Pyramid and Beyond Medusa’s Gate.