---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(6/12/21) Arizona Development Planning Hot Wheels Coaster, Thomas Train and More (MORE...)
(6/6/21) California - City of Long Beach To Take Over Queen Mary (MORE...)
(5/25/21) California - The SkySlide in LA Is No More
(5/22/21) California Gives Early Look At COVID Restriction Rollback Starting June 15 (MORE...)
(5/16/21) Texas - New Coaster Coming to Traders Village in Grand Prairie (MORE...)
(4/26/21) Harry Potter Store To Open In New York City This June (MORE...)
Arizona - (6/12/21) A new resort project on the way to an area just North-West of Phoenix, Arizona has now teamed with Mattel to add some toy themed attractions to a planned Adventure Park section, including a Hot Wheels themed roller coaster. This is all coming to the Crystal Lagoons Island Resort project in Glendale that will feature a 10-acre lagoon in the center (paddleboards, boogie boards, scuba) mixed with two hotels, restaurants, shops along with a newly announced amusement park section. According to the early reports it will have a Hot Wheels themed roller coaster and go-karts, a flying theater, a 4D theater, a Thomas the Tank Engine attraction area and more. The concept art also shows off a couple of other fun aerial attractions, such as a tethered balloon ride and a unique Aerophile Aerobar tower that will raise guests in a special table over 100 feet into the air in the center of the lagoon for drinks and food items.
The goal is to have it all ready by the end of 2022, in time to take advantage of the crowds that will hit the area when Super Bowl LVII plays at State Farm Stadium on Feb. 12, 2023.
(9/18/20) I’m never been here, nor have I seen much about this place, but according to a local news report the Old Tucson western themed attraction in Arizona has been forced to close down indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They say Old Tucson was formly used as the background set for dozens of classic movies over the years. Prima County has announced that with the closure, they will be assuming responsibility for the attraction now that it has gone out of business, and they hope they may be able to find someone else to operate it again in the future.
(8/17/20) Strange news surfaced a few hours ago from the Eldorado Aquatic Park in Arizona. Emergency crews were called out to the park early Monday morning to rescue a 32-year old man who somehow became trapped in a ‘support pipe’. It isn’t quite clear how the man became stuck in the pipe, which quite literally a support structure for one of the waterslides. According to reports he was trapped about four feet down the pipe and was discovered by a police officer making rounds nearby who heard muffled cries for help. They believe he was a “transient” who had climbed the fence into the waterpark sometime in the night and somehow got stuck in the pipe. Unfortunately, around 2am, they say they lost communication with him and he passed away. Rescue crews continued their efforts to remove the support structure from the slide in order to retrieve the body.
Arkansas - (8/5/20) It was announced that the site of the former Dogpatch USA theme park in Arkansas was actually purchased by the founder of Bass Pro Shop, Johnny Morris. His plans for the property are to preserve the property as “a nature experience” for future guests to enjoy.
California - (6/6/21) A few alarming stories have been published in the local news regarding the status of the Queen Mary. Due to an alarming amount of negligence and the deferment of funds meant for maintenance, it was reported that the historic ship was in danger of actually sinking sometime in the next few years if about $23 million in needed repairs were not begun immediately. The Queen Mary apparently suffered from non working bilge pumps, leaks from hull breaches and an amazing amount of decay to the ship’s structure.
Over the years a few different companies have oversaw the day to day operations of the vessel as a tourist attraction and a functioning hotel who apparently not only were failing in the operations department, but who also turned a blind eye towards the needed maintenance concerns of the vessel.
The good news is that it has been confirmed that the City of Long Beach has now taken back control of the Queen Mary from the latest operating company. According to Mayor Robert Garcia, “For the first time in decades, Long Beach has full control of the Queen Mary. We will be fully engaged in the preservation of this historic landmark and are incredibly grateful for the opportunity.”
The last leaseholder, Eagle Hospitality Trust (part of Urban Commons), who is in the midst of bankruptcy protection legalities, agreed to surrender the lease to the ship to the city. Eagle on the other hand had hired out a third party (Evolution Hospitality) to run the day to day operations for the past 11 years, and to keep things operating Long Beach has signed a $2 million contract with Evolution to keep things running for the next 6-months while they work up their own plans to take over and get the right people lined up to begin the necessary repairs.
This all seems to be much needed good news for the Queen Mary, which is an amazing attraction to see in person if you ever get the chance. It’s probably the closest thing you’ll ever get to stepping on board the Titanic. Though the Queen Mary is about two decades younger than the Titanic, I believe both were built and operated by the White Star Line company. The Queen Mary also has a proud war history, as the ship was outfitted to serve as a troopship to transport allied soldiers during World War II for several years before returning to transatlantic passenger ship duty she was built for until 1967, when she was retired from service and sent to Long Beach.
(5/25/21) You may remember seeing some footage of a clear plexiglass side attached to the top of a Los Angeles skyscraper that opened a few years ago? Sliders would go down a short slide, looking about 1000 feet down at the ground through the clear slide material. If you never got a chance to ride it… you now never will. According to the new owners of the U.S. Bank Tower building, the Skyslide and Skyspace attraction area and observation deck are being removed, wit the space to be reclaimed as office space once again going forward.
(5/22/21) The state of California has released some new details about their plans to relax many COVID safety protocols starting on June 15th.
According to the report, Capacity Restrictions are being entirely removed along with Social Distancing requirements. The state also says that they will follow along with the newly announced CDC guidance regarding mask wearing, which says that fully vaccinated Americans can go without masks in outdoor settings.
While the report does not specifically mention rules for theme parks at this point, they do mention that to attend “large events” or “mega outdoor events” with attendance of more than 10,000 they are recommending “vaccine verification or negative test verification” within 72 hours if you want to be mask-free. For large indoor events (concerts, sporting events) they will be requiring “vaccine verification or negative test verification”. These are the rules for California citizens however, as it sounds like all out of state visitors may still be required to show proof of full vaccination (aka: that you are 2 weeks out from the date of your final vaccination shot) when attending large events. While there may be specific rules put into effect for theme parks by the time June 15th rolls around, for now it sounds like visiting a theme park would be the same as attending a large outdoor event with 10,000+ people, so any new rules may be similar, if not the same. If so, it sounds like theme parks may be free to return to full capacity in California very very soon.
(4/23/21) While California rules regarding visits to theme parks were modified last Friday to include a new line item that permits fully vaccinated out of state visitors, most of California’s theme parks are holding off allowing that at this point in time. According to what I’m seeing, the only major theme parks currently allowing out of state visitors to make reservations on their website is SeaWorld San Diego and Legoland California. For the rest, you’ll need to wait until they feel they are ready and have clarification on the issue from the state.
(4/21/21) According to the latest updates from California, theme parks in the state had previously only allowed California residents to visit the reopening theme parks, but now there are finally some changes to this rule. According to the revised guidelines, theme parks can now allow visitors from other US states to visit the parks, provided they can provide proof that they have full fully vaccinated.
I repeat… theme parks in California are now allowed to admit “fully vaccinated out-of-state visitors” to the parks. Keep in mind that the parks can still opt to only accept California Residents if they wish for the moment, so be sure to check in with any park you are planning to visit to get an update on what their rules are. And if you were wondering, California Residents do not have to proof they have been vaccinated, that particular requirement only falls on those visiting from outside the state.
(4/2/21) San Diego peeps, the local news says that Belmont Park was set to reopen some of their rides starting yesterday, including the famous Giant Dipper roller coaster, the Zero Gravity Tower and more.
(3/27/21) With the first theme parks in California set to open in a matter of days, the state of California has FINALLY released their more detailed updated operational guidelines for the parks. For those getting ready to visit, here are the more interesting things you can expect beyond the obvious things like social distancing and mask wearing.
For starters, you’ll be waiting for everything out in the sun. According to the new guidelines, only outdoor queues can be used right now. While this wont be a big deal for parks like Six Flags or Knott’s, the ban on indoor queues is going to cause some difficulties for big themed attractions with expansive indoors queues at parks like Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland. In particular, I can see this causing some headaches for attractions where virtually the entire queue was built indoor such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and Indiana Jones Adventure as they have virtually no outdoor queue spaces.
Speaking of indoor rides… only indoor attractions where the experience lasts 15 minutes or less will be allowed to be open. While I don’t have exact ride-times, off the top of my head I believe your average ride on Pirates of the Caribbean is about 15-16 minutes and It’s A Small World may clock in closer to 18 minutes, but it starts and ends with an outdoor portion as well that could bring it back under the 15 minute limit.
While passengers from the same household/group can be seated together, members of different groups must be separated by six feet, so this means rows will be left empty in each vehicles to accommodate this.
If the forces of an attraction present a possible safety issue caused by the loss of rider face coverings in mid-ride, or if the forces involved cause rider’s face coverings to be lost in mid-ride, then the use of those attractions must be discontinued. This one is important for all my coaster riding readers out there… don’t pull off your mask on the ride and come back into the station claiming that you lost it on the ride. Doing that will eventually cause the ride to be shut down for everyone, so do not do it!
Guests can only eat and drink while in a “designated dining area”. While there will still be drink and snack concession stands in the park, they must also be located near a designated space for guests to eat and drink these items within. In other works, no more grabbing a coke and strolling around the park sipping it with your mask pulled down. If you buy a drink or popcorn, you are going to be asked to go somewhere specific where you can remove your mask and eat/drink the item before you can go back out into the park. This includes no food or beverages being allowed in line for any attraction.
(3/21/21) I hate it when the mainstream media jumps on a story just because it sounds like something that will get clicks. You may have seen countless media reports claiming that when the theme parks in California reopen, they may be asking riders not to “scream” on the rides. While a similar request was made when parks open in Japan in 2020, the California Attractions and Parks Association has in no way recommended a ban on screaming on theme park rides.
You can read their official “reopening plan” here.
(3/16/21) Good news for many California theme parks. All of the counties in Southern California and the Bay Area that are home to state’s biggest theme parks have now reached RED tier status and will be allowed to reopen at 15% capacity starting April 1st. Each park will decide when they are ready to reopen, so keep an eye on the official websites for the actual date for reopening, and remember that as of right now only California Residents are allowed to visit the parks in California. Keep in mind that the California Resident restriction will continue as the counties also progress into less restrictive ORANGE and YELLOW Tiers as well, and at this time there is no end date for the CA Resident restriction requirement.
(3/6/21) California theme park fans… hope is on the way! According to the LA Times, the state can open theme parks and sports stadiums once again as early as April 1, 2021 under new guidelines released. There will be some changes however and new limitations in effect however that will affect how, where and just who can visit.
California’s colored TIERs will still be in effect, and parks in counties within the PURPLE tier (the worst) will still have to remain closed. According to the new rules theme parks in the RED Tier will be able to open, but only at 15% capacity. As they move to the ORANGE tier the attendance cap will rise to 25% and then to 35% once the county reaches the YELLOW tier.
The new rules also state that no indoor dining will be allowed at the parks when they reopen at this time, and quite possibly indoor attractions and rides may also not be allowed to run. While this won't be much of an issue for parks under the Six Flags or Cedar Fair banner, a ban on indoor attractions will definitely be an issue for Universal and Disney theme parks in the state. According to the article however, details about what exactly is allowed and what won't be allowed regarding indoor attractions is still being worked out between the state and the parks, and may end up being a rule that becomes more relaxed as the counties move through the tiers.
Speaking of the tiers… currently all of the theme parks in Southern California counties are within counties still in the PURPLE tier. A lot can change between now and April 1st, but don’t be surprised if the parks there have to wait a few weeks longer. This would include Disneyland, Universal Hollywood, Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, Legoland and for SeaWorld San Diego to reopen as a “theme park” instead of a “zoo”. Up in the Bay Area, Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk is also still in the PURPLE tier, but California’s Great America is sitting in Santa Clara which is already in the RED tier. I believe Six Flags Discovery Kingdom is in Solano County, which is currently in the PURPLE tier however.
Oh… and for theme park fans who don’t live in California, don’t buy your plane tickets just yet! According to the new rules only California residents will be allowed to visit the parks in the state at this time. More on this as it develops, but the real good news should be for the employees of the theme parks, as the time has come to start bringing them back to work to get things ready to reopen.
(2/6/21) Could California's theme parks be able to reopen sooner than expected? A new piece of legislation has been introduced by the Chairperson of the states Assembly Committee of Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media, Sharon Quirk-Silva and Vice Chair Assemblywoman Martinez Valladares. Assembly Bill 420 would modify the existing state requirements introduced in December that allows for small parks and attractions to open when their county reaches the Orange (Moderate) COVID-19 tier, but restricts all major theme parks and attractions to wait until their county reaches the Yellow (Minimal) tier. If passed AB 420 would change the state restrictions to allow amusement parks and attractions of all sizes to be able to open when their county enters the Orange tier instead of waiting for the Yellow tier.
According to Erin Guerrero, Executive Director of the California Attractions and Parks Association, “Worldwide, theme parks have proven they can reopen responsibly while protecting the health of guests and staff. Science and data show it can be done. California should allow theme parks to reopen responsibly in the Orange - Moderate - Tier 3.“
“As a veteran of the theme park industry, I intimately understand their operations, their procedures, and their ability to move people and keep them safe,” said Committee Vice Chair, Assemblywoman Suzette Martinez-Valladares. “The industry, and Six Flags Magic Mountain in my district, has been closed for nearly a year, while parks in other states have been open to the public and serving them safely. By opening our theme parks, we will trigger a ripple effect to our local economy, and in turn, create more jobs. It’s time to offer clear guidelines that will balance public health and the need to safely get people back to work, and this bill is the first step.”
(1/20/21) This has been a long time coming, but according to this report Urban Commons who owns several resorts including a hotel in Orlando formerly known as the Nickelodeon Hotel as well as running the Queen Mary attraction & hotel in California, has now filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
(12/6/20) For anyone planning a visit to an attraction in Southern California over the coming weeks, please check with the attraction to make sure they will still be open. A new Stay At Home ordinance will be going into effect at midnight tonight and last for at least the next three weeks that will see many attractions possibly shut down in Southern California and some of the Central areas.
According to the order they are asking for a variety of business to shut down during this time due to rising COVID-19 levels, with the list including zoos, aquariums, playgrounds, museums, wineries and other possible attractions. So if you were planning a visit somewhere, please reach out before you go to make sure if they will be open.
It is worth noting that retail locations are being closed, so theme park retail areas that are open like Universal Studios CityWalk in Hollywood and Downtown Disney at Disneyland should be able to remain open, with only the restaurants being forced to stop on-site dining and allow take-out or delivery options only. It is still being determined if Food based events like Taste of Merry Farm at Knott’s will be forced to close or not. The Drive-Through Chrismas lights events, such as Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru at Six Flags Magic Mountain is expected to stay open as guests stay in their cars, but again… be sure to check before you venture out just to make sure.
Further shut-downs across the state are also expected to go into effect in other areas as the month continues, based on a new state restrictions that will be triggered as the number of available ICU Hospital Beds within the regions drops below 15%.
(11/18/20) All of California’s theme parks are now as far as they can possibly be from the possibility of reopening this week. In the latest updates to the state’s COVID-19 Tier system made on Monday, the majority of the state’s counties have all been rolled back into Tier 1 (Purple) which lists that COVID-19 levels are widespread. The list of Tier 1 counties now includes the locations for every major theme park in the state. Even Santa Cruz County which had previously dropped to Tier 3 and was able to open the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for a total of two days before rising up a tier last week, has now risen yet another tier and is now classified as suffering from Widespread infection rates.
(11/4/20) Halloween may be over, but if you missed the Stranger Things “The Drive-Into Experience” in Los Angeles, you are still in luck. According to the official website, they are now offering tickets to experience the attraction now through to March 7, 2021.
(11/1/20) Would you believe an observation wheel might arrive at San Diego’s Balboa Park? According to this news article, the Cohn Restaurant Group who operates the Prado Restaurant and Tea Pavilion in Balboa Park has proposed installing a temporary 148-foot tall wheel to operate in the park under the name, The Balboa Park Star for a 3 to 6 month term in 2021. Follow the link to see some great concept art showing off just where the wheel would be located and having grown up in San Diego myself, the views certainly would be quite scenic there for sure.
This may be an uphill battle however, as many San Diego natives are quick to protest loudly against these kind of projects that would cause great change to the area. Two things that could greatly be in the wheel’s favor however is that:
A - It is only a temporary addition and not something that will change the skyline forever.
B - The wheel will be run as a partnership with Sky Views of America, who run a similar Grand Wheel at the San Diego County Fair (formerly the Del Mar Fair… see I told you I was a local) who is a sister company to Ray Cammack Shows, who has handled the operations of all the Fair rides at the fairground there for decades with great success and is well known as one of the best traveling carnival ride operators in the nation.
(10/28/20) A few days ago a man climbed to the top of the Giant Dipper in San Diego’s Belmont Park by the beach and made threats that he was going to jump. Police were called to try and get him to come down, which he finally did about 8 hours later. According to the local news he was taken into custody and transferred to a mental health facility for further evaluation.
(10/23/20) It is safe to say that at this point virtually all of California’s theme parks are as frustrated as they could possibly be with California’s Gov. Newsom. According to this article the parks have united together to denounce the newly announced Theme Park Guidelines released for the state. They are making the case that they should be allowed to open in Tier 3 (Orange) rather than wait until Tier 4 (Yellow). One reason is that the Director of Orange County’s Health Care Agency doesn’t believe that they would be able to even reach Tier 4 until at least sometime in Summer 2021 at the earliest. Meanwhile the President of Universal Studios Hollywood commented that it isn’t believed that Los Angeles County would be able to reach Yellow status, “anytime in the near future” since they have thus far been unable to even move out of Tier 1 status. The Executive Director of the California Attractions and Parks Association group during questioning did confirm that the possibility of a lawsuit against the state from the united parks group was indeed an an option they were currently considering as well.
(10/21/20) California has finally issued their guidelines as to how theme parks can reopen once again, and unfortunately it sounds as if very little has changed at all from the preview guidance that was leaked a few weeks back. According to the new documents, there are some separate guidelines for what they refer to as large vs small theme parks… and while at first you might think that SeaWorld would qualify as a small park compared to Disneyland, this is not the case.
Small Parks can open while their county is still in the Orange COVID Tier 3 (Moderate) but can only allow visitors who live in that county, can only operate outdoor attractions, and attendance must be limited to 25% or 500 visitors… whichever is the smaller number. So by these definitions, pretty much every attraction you would think of as being a “theme park” would fall into the rules larger category.
According to the new guidelines, large amusement and theme parks can open while requiring mandatory mask use, social distancing, increased sanitization and with attendance reduced to 25% with the use of reservations. HOWEVER, they can only open if the county they are in has dropped to the lowest COVID tier… Yellow 4 (Minimal).
Disney and the rest of the big theme parks had been hoping to be able to reopen at least in the Orange / Moderate tier, but clearly they were unable to sway the California government in their favor, despite most of them successfully operating parks in the rest of the country over the summer in times of much higher infection rates without any issues.
Breaking this down for the various regions, starting in the South.
San Diego County, home to SeaWorld and Legoland California is currently in Red Tier 2 (Substantial) tier and appears to be stuck there for the time being. Time in Red: 8 Weeks so far.
Orange County, home to Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm is also currently in Red Tier 2, and appears to be stuck there for the time being. Time in Red: 7 weeks so far.
Los Angeles County is in the highest tier, Purple (1) and is home to Universal Studios and Six Flags Magic Mountain. Thus far the case rates in the county have yet to even begin to qualify for the three week count-down towards moving to a lower tier, so they’ve got a long time to wait.
Unfortunately for Southern California, it looks like it could be a very long wait until the various counties can meet the requirements for the Yellow tier, which some officials believe may be nearly impossible for larger counties to make happen until there is a vaccine available. The requirements to reach the Yellow tier would be to have less than 1 daily new case of COVID-19 per 100,000 people for at least three weeks in a row, and a less than 2% positive testing rate as well. So while you can still hope for a theme park Christmas, we aren't likely to see the gates open until sometime in 2021.
Up in Central California, Santa Clara County, home to California’s Great America, is fortunate enough to have already dropped to the Orange Tier. Santa Cruz County, home to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, is in the Red Tier along with Solano County, home to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.
If you want to follow along with the ongoing California county COVID updates for each county, click here. You can also read Disney’s latest Twitter statement regarding their ongoing frustration with the issues below.
(10/10/20) Bad news for California theme parks came out this week, as obviously Gov. Newsom did not take well to the park’s united objections to the pre-release draft of guidelines last week. Despite Newsom claiming over and over that the guidelines for parks to reopen were coming “soon”, “very soon”... his latest comments backtrack everything to square one again when he stated this week, “We don’t anticipate in the immediate term any of these larger parks opening until we see more stability in terms of the data.” “We feel there’s no hurry to put out guidelines, and we continue to work with the industry.”
The disagreements between Disney and the state were obvious the week before when Disney’s Bob Iger resigned from Gov. Newsom’s COVID-19 economic task force over growing frustration over the state’s reluctance to move forward. Following Newsom’s backtracking comments this week Disney was quick to release an official statement from their Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Pamela Hymel:
“We absolutely reject the suggestion that reopening the Disneyland Resort is incompatible with a “health-first” approach. The fact is, that since March we have taken a robust science-based approach to responsibly reopening our parks and resorts across the globe. Our health and safety protocols were developed in consultation with epidemiologists and data scientists, and after considering guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and experts in local government and health agencies. All of our other theme parks both in the United States and around the world have been allowed to open on the strength of our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols.”
This was followed by a statement from the California Attractions and Parks Association (CAPA) who represents the interests of all the parks (big and small) throughout the state, including Disney, Universal, Knott’s Berry Farm and more. “California theme parks are a signature industry in California. Parks have spent months developing comprehensive draft guidelines with input from international health and safety experts. Parks are ready to reopen with best practice protocols to provide a healthy and responsible environment for both guests and employees. We find it disconcerting that Governor Newsom has no planned timeline for issuing guidance for theme parks, and of great concern that he does not anticipate theme parks opening soon. Each day that parks are closed further decimates the amusement park industry. The Governor’s “no big rush” approach is ruining businesses and livelihoods for thousands who could responsibly be back at work.”
Six Flags Magic Mountain issued their own comments as well, calling upon Gov. Newsom to at least issue some kind of “achievable” COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. “We are asking the state to provide us with achievable next steps in order for California’s theme park industry to successfully come back to life. We are more than ready and eager to reopen our park.”
(10/4/20) The pressure to open up theme parks in California is on, with the leaders of Disney, Knott’s and other theme parks in the state sending a clear message that not only are they more than ready, that it is also long past time and they are tired of waiting. A couple weeks ago the state implied that they would be addressing the issue “very soon” but so far no announcement has been made.
According to AP news, an announcement that was planned for Friday to unveil the new operating rules was canceled “following industry criticism of the proposed rules”. While we don’t know what the proposed rules would have included, similar situations have happened elsewhere over the year where proposed operations guidelines designed by state officials clearly do not gel with the realities and needs of theme park operations, causing attractions to remain closed. In this case, a California top public health official states that, “Given the size and operational complexities of these unique sectors, we are seeking additional input from health, workforce and business stakeholders to finalize this important framework”.
One aspect of the proposed guidelines that did leak out in the AP report claimed that the parks would be allowed to open at 25% capacity (similar to how other parks, including Florida, started when they first reopened) but only once the county where the park is located in could reach the lower tier level for virus transmission. There was also a planned restriction on limiting visitors to the park to only those living within 120 miles of the park itself, which would be difficult to enforce and likely easy to get around.
You can see the current map of California’s four-tier color system by clicking here, and if the requirement about only being able to open once in the lowest tier (yellow) remains, it doesn’t appear if any of California’s parks will be able to reopen anytime soon. San Diego (SeaWorld) and Orange Counties (Disney / Knott’s) are in the Red tier still, one down from being the worst, which is where Los Angeles county (home to Universal and Six Flags Magic Mountain) currently remains. Meanwhile the Bay Area attractions (California’s Great America and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom) also reside in Red tier counties.
The good news is that most of these locations are tracking to be able to move down to a move positive tier (Orange) soon as long as current trends remain in place, and it is believed that the parks really want to be able to open once in the Orange tier rather than wait for the final Yellow tier. Meanwhile the current rules have allowed for Movie Theaters, Museums, Aquariums and other indoor attractions to reopen in the Red tier, and even allowed for Zoos to have opened their outdoor sections in the Purple tier. So to make theme parks which are mostly an outdoor experience wait until they are in a Yellow tier makes little sense.
Theme parks leaders were given a preview of the new rules on Thursday and apparently shook their head at certain requirements, claiming that there needed to be some modifications made “if they are to lead to a responsible and reasonable amusement park reopening plan”.
(8/25/20) A unique new themed attraction will soon open in the LA market called “Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience”. Themed to the popular Netflix series, the innovative drive-through experience is needed now more than ever due to the ongoing shut-down of just about every theme park or major attraction in the state, not to mention the cancellation of all of the big theme park spooky Halloween events.
The attraction is being brought to life by the Secret Cinema group, and will allow guests to travel through the attraction from inside their own vehicles to visit the town of Hawkins in the 1980s. According to the official website tickets will be priced per car and start at $59, with an expected runtime of an hour needed to complete the experience. Tickets will go on sale on August 26 at noon, Pacific Time for your chance to visit the ‘upside down’ in person.
(4/5/20) Over the past several decades if you have driven I-15 between Southern California and Las Vegas may recall seeing a mirage in the desert that looked like a closed waterpark over the years. As many locals know, this was no mirage, but was an actual waterpark that started out as a campground attraction called Lake Dolores in the 50s. In the 80’s the lake area started to add some unique waterslides and attractions, and in the 90’s I believe it closed and was repainted in bright colors and reopened as Rock-A-Hoola for a few years before being shut down again.
Now would you believe that the former waterpark may return to service once again? According to the local news new plans to restore the waterpark along with other new developments to the 267-acre site around it have been approved to move forward by the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors. The plans include reopening the waterpark, restoring the 22-acre Dolores Lake and a 2-acre pond for boating, swimming and camping use along with adding other retail and commercial space.
Colorado - (4/14/21) Meow Wolf has posted a sneak peek at what they’ve got in store for the new Meow Wolf Denver location. According to the post the new Meow Wolf attraction is on track to still open later this year. In the meantime, don’t forget about Meow Wolf’s Kaleidoscape dark ride that opened at nearby Elitch Gardens in 2019 will return when that park opens for the season in a few weeks.
Florida - (12/19/20) Good news from Florida, as we’ve been told that Snowcat Ridge was able to reopen around the time we posted the story about the closure. Tickets that include your reservation to visit are for sale on the official website for dates from December through to March 2021.
According to news reports Snowcat Ridge was allowed to reopen the day after the initial closure after making some quick changes and being granted a temporary certificate of occupancy by the county. However another full inspection of the park was scheduled to take place on Friday (yesterday) that would determine if they needed to close again or would be allowed to remain open, pending any further issues.
(11/8/20) Snowcat Ridge, Florida’s first and only Snow Park, is now set to open for their first season on November 20. This is a seasonal attraction, but they expect to be able to stay open through to March 28, 2021, but you really should consider buying your tickets in advance on their website to make sure they aren’t full ahead of time, and to get the best price. Snowcat Ridge offers two kinds of tickets, a General Admission ticket that allows you access for snow tubing for 2 hours (you pick a time-slot) with all-day access to the Arctic Igloo and Alpine Village, or you can get an Unlimited Snow Tubing pass that gives you access to everything for the entire day.
Look for Snowcat Ridge in Dade City, FL, in the same general property area as the Scream-A-Geddon Horror Park in the Fall and the TreeHoopers Aerial Adventure Park located just west of I-75, about a half-hour’s drive or so North of Tampa.
(10/31/20) Miami has joined the ranks of the cities that now offer an observation wheel as an attraction. They are calling it the “Skyviews Miami” and it just opened this week at the Bayside Marketplace. The wheel is from Ronald Bussink and stands 200 feet tall, with 42 climate controlled cabins that offer music and video displays inside. Each cabin can hold up to 8 people at a time, and due to current COVID-19 restrictions, everyone must wear a face mask while they ride. According to the local news they also have one “VIP” gondola that has a glass floor, custom leather bucket seats and LED lighting. A trip around the wheel takes about 15 minutes with adult tickets set currently at $16.82, Juniors (4-12) $12.95 and kids under 4 are free with an adult. There is also a Florida Resident ticket special, which you can find through the official website.
Georgia - (10/20/20) BlooLoop reports that the Georgia Aquarium will open their brand new shark exhibit on October 23, 2020. The full name of the new exhibit is “Sharks! Predators of the Deep” which promises to be one of the largest and most dynamic shark exhibits in North America featuring floor to ceiling viewing panels.
Louisiana - (3/16/21) According to the local news various groups are now pitching a variety of land use proposals for the former Six Flags New Orleans theme park site. The highest scored proposal comes from a partnership that includes three well known NFL players: Drew Brees (Saints), Demario Davis (Saints) and Josh Norman (Buffalo Bills). Their proposal planned to turn the amusement site into a series of “educational centers” that would focus on urban farming and aquaponics, as well as a transportation and logistics hub.
Other proposals include those who want to make an RV park, a waterpark, travel centers, a new amusement park, an amphitheater, and various retail and big-box store developments. The city is in no rush to pick one plan or another and is asking for more detailed proposals from the finalists that they will go over this summer.
Based on some old conversations I once had with a few individuals who had some good first hand knowledge of the site, they were always surprised it was allowed to be turned into an amusement park in the first place due to the unstable nature of the property. After seeing the property get wiped out by Katrina years ago, I would also think that any new developments are going to have their plans put under a microscope by insurance companies long before anything gets built there again.
Mississippi - (1/9/21) The Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi says they are set to reopen March 10th after being closed since October following the resort taking damage from Hurricane Zeta. Now we’ve previously posted coverage about this Margaritaville resort as the initial build out included an indoor amusement center with games, bowling, a climbing wall and the Cloud Coaster. The second phase of outdoor amusement rides has long been in planning, set to begin construction and then delayed due to some legal issues over state taxes and a contractor dispute. So this $140 million expansion is still in the works, despite having been announced back in 2017.
Margaritaville says that once they open in March their focus will be back on getting the expansion plans under way, though they have no set date for completion at this time, so I’m guessing it could be 2022 or maybe even 2023 before they get it done at this rate. No word on if the plans have changed, but at the time plans includes a new hotel tower, a small collection of outdoor amusement rides, including a large Ferris wheel, a 137 foot tall AEROBAR and more.
(2/17/20) I’m no longer sure of what kind of timeline they are trying to achieve with the mini amusement park going in for the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi, but there are a few legal matters that have come up it seem. According to this report the resort is now in a $5 million payment dispute with a contractor helping to build the platform and parking garage for the attraction, along with another matter involving over half a million owed to the state of Mississippi for unpaid sales taxes.
(4/19/19) According to this report the new amusement area expansion coming to the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi will feature a rather unique attraction fitting to the brand called the AEROBAR. Riders will strap into seats around a circular shaped bar, complete with bartender standing in the middle, and then slowly rise up 137 feet into the sky for an awesome view while you enjoy your drink. According to the description it takes about 2 minutes to go up and town the tower, and you’ll spend five minutes at the top. A video showing off the first AEROBAR in action in France at Futuroscope can be seen below.
(7/4/18) Since it was announced last year, I had figured this project must have been completed by now, but it seems the expansion of the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi was delayed after getting caught up in some issues with the state over land use. As of last week the project was finally cleared by the state to go ahead and the resort will begin working on their $140 million expansion that will include a new hotel tower as well as an expansion to the amusements being offered that will include a giant ferris wheel and other outdoor rides on site.
Missouri - (3/2/21) A new mountain coaster is opening this year in Branson, MO. The Copperheard Mountain Coaster is now set to open in May 2021 at Shepherd’s Adventure Park. You can see the official listing on the attraction’s website.
New York - (4/26/21) According to reports “Harry Potter New York”, the world’s first flagship store for all things Harry Potter, is now set to open in New York City on June 3, 2021. The new retail attraction will feature a number of interactive elements as well as an assortment of exclusive products for sale that you won't find anywhere else. The 21,000 sqft location is said to be next to the “Flatiron Building” and spread across three floors.
According to the report at BlooLoop, the location will feature two VR based Harry Potter themed attractions opening this summer: “Chaos at Hogwarts” and “Wizards Take Flight”. The later of which is described as sending guests “flying over London as they battle Death Eaters.”
You’ll find the official website at www.harrypotterstore.com .
(2/20/21) It has been a long time coming but New York has finally issued the guidelines and dates that attractions in the state can reopen in 2021. Outdoor amusement parks will be allowed to open at 33% capacity starting on April 9, with the typical mandatory temperature checks, face masks and social distancing rules in place that most other theme parks were able to operate with in 2020 successfully. The state has also asked them to use staggered admission times as well to avoid everyone crowding at the gate all at once, so would seem to indicate that some kind of pre-told ticket / reservation system may be in place as well.
The state also announced that indoor attractions (Arcades, Trampoline Parks, Laser Tag, etc) will be able to open starting on March 26, but only at 25% capacity. This also includes indoor waterparks like the one at Six Flags Great Escape Lodge which has already announced they will reopen the waterpark on March 26, 2021, while the Lodge itself is already open.
(2/12/21) The future of New York’s theme parks and attractions is still in the dark it seems. According to this article, many attraction owners are more than frustrated at this point as the state has now announced plans and guidance to reopen restaurants and some other businesses, nothing has been said at all regarding outdoor theme parks and attractions.
While many are trying to make plans to hopefully open for the season in 2021, they still do not even know if they will be allowed to do so. This is on top of the fact that most submitted their own safe plans to reopen back in June 2020 and still have met nothing but silence.
According to another article the owners of dozens of different style attractions have now banded together and have filed a lawsuit against the state of New York over the continued shutdown of their amusement businesses, while allowing other indoor facilities such as casinos, spas, movie theaters and bowling alleys to reopen. In addition to this group effort industry giant Dave & Busters has also filed their own lawsuit against the state and Govenor Cuomo over the issue.
(10/14/20) A brand new mountain coaster has opened at Lake Placid called the Cliffside Mountain Coaster. From the pictures I’ve seen, I believe the manufacturer behind this model is ADG. The new attraction is said to be 7,650 feet in length, with a 495-foot elevation change, with cars themed like Olympic Bobsleds which is only appropriate given the Lake Placid location.
One thing is probably going to deter a lot of riders however. According to the official website they are charging $55 to ride this thing by yourself, or $65 for a Driver and Passenger ticket. I’m not sure of what the average price for a Mountain Coaster ride is around the world, but I believe most of the ones I’ve been on in the Pigeon Forge area we’ve only paid $10 to $15 per ride. $55 per ride would definitely be a no-no for me, as most of us can buy a ticket into your local amusement parks for an entire day of riding for about the same price.
I’m not sure I’ve been on this kind of Mountain Coaster myself either, as the cars look a little smaller than the Wiegand versions I’ve been on, which might make it harder to fit two adult riders into one car. Plus there is a 300 pound total weight limit per car as well, which is less than other versions I’ve been on too.
(1/15/20) A little piece of the Wizarding World will soon open in New York City. Warner Bros. has announced that they will open the first “official Harry Potter flagship store” in the heart of New York City next to the iconic Flatiron building at 935 Broadway. Look for this massive three-story, 20,000 sqft, themed store to open in Summer 2020 that will feature the largest collection of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts products in world under one roof. Wand collectors will want to take note as well, as the location will also feature a new collection of ‘house wands’ that will be exclusive to the New York location.
North Carolina - (4/2/21) The local news reports that North Carolina’s Tweetsie theme park will be able to reopen to guests starting today with rides, in park dining, and the famous famous Tweetsie train ride (with occupancy limits).
Ohio - (4/18/21) For the past couple years Screamscape readers have read all about Meow Wolf and their fascinating new brand of twisted reality, exploratory, interactive-art attraction experiences in New Mexico, Las Vegas and soon in Devener. Now it seems there is another group out there who have come up with their own take on the concept in Columbus, Ohio with the creation of “Otherworld”.
According to the description, Otherworld is a 32,000 sqft immersive art collection that takes up about 47 different rooms, each filled with “interactive art and secret passageways.” that opened in mid-2019. Also, much like Meow Wolf, the group behind Otherworld created the new attraction by recycling the building of a large former business that had gone under, in this case it was a closed Sports Authority attached to a dying and mostly vacant strip mall.
Even better, Otherworld has announced that they are growing. According to news reports Otherworld is breaking ground to build a 26,000 SqFt addition next door that will add countless new rooms onto the attraction as well as a 2,000 person music performance venue.
The best way to get an idea of what you may find in Otherworld is to visit the official website and they’ve got a great Instagram page as well, full of wonderful pictures taken inside the attraction’s twisted scenery that just makes me want to make the long drive up there to see it as soon as possible.
(4/17/21) Funtimes Park in Ohio is adding a small coaster for the 2021 season called the Serial Serpent. This ultra compact coaster is actually a former Python Pit coaster design from Miler that were cloned for most of the Jeepers indoor family fun center locations in the late 90’s to early 2000’s. This particular coaster came from the former Norridge, IL location.
(12/31/20) I missed this news update earlier this year, but I’m told that the Funtimes Fun Park in Alliance, Ohio made several additions for the 2020 season. Working with IRM Rides the park added several midway-style skill games from Cincinnati’s Coney Island, including Duck Pond and Goblet Pitch. Funtimes also bought a Hampton Tubs of Fun ride from IRM, originally from Santa’s Village Azoosment Park, and leased a kiddie carousel to help fill in the newly added midway space.
(12/10/20) It seems the expansion plans submitted by the owner of Land of Illusion in Ohio were denied by the Butler County commissioners. According to the commission, they felt the 206 acre tourist attraction expansion plans was not a “match with the township’s land use plan” and would have a negative impact on the local neighbors.
(11/15/20) Land of Illusion, an attraction just north of Cincinnati, Ohio will come before their local county commissioners to go over a proposed rezoning request by the attraction to allow for an $190 million expansion project. Land of Illusion was originally going to submit their request in July but withdrew it at the time to rework their plans after getting some significant negative feedback from the locals.
The plan is to rezone 206 acres of the property to make additions that would allow for the attraction to become a truly year-round facility. Already removed from the plans was a planned 20+ acre section that would have included outdoor amusement park rides. Instead they will focus on building up the site with a campground, indoor water park, a 500-room hotel, and outdoor adventure activities.
You can see the current offerings of Land of Illusion at their official website which includes some Christmas holiday drive-thur attraction fun for the holiday season.
(9/17/20) According to various local news reports the I-X Center has announced that the facility will be closing down for good at the end of the year due to the ongoing pandemic conditions. The I-X Center, also known as Cleveland’s International Exposition Center, was hope to most of the large scale convention/shows for the area, putting on Auto, Boat and RV shows as well as the annual I-X Indoor Amusement Park every Spring, which is now sadly retired as well. The I-X Center was also host to the annual Christmas Connection event as well as the I-X Trick or Treat Street Halloween event.
Oklahoma - (10/8/20) According to this local news article Robby Bell is still working away at bringing back the beloved Bell’s Amusement Park in a new location. According to reports Bell is rumored to have locked in a new location to build a new version of the theme park, but he isn't ready to spill the beans just yet. He's working on all the details needed to make it happen and we wish him the best, especially with plans to build a new $5 million version of Zingo to thrill guests once again.
(11/18/19) The latest word from Bell’s posted in a new video is that they are said to be in talks with two different locations where they could rebuild the Bell’s theme park.
(9/21/19) In a follow up to last week’s message that Bell’s Amusement Park was looking to make a surprise return, Robbie Bell has posted a new video message as a brief follow-up to the positive response so far to the idea of bringing Bell’s back. No solid details are ready to be made public yet, but they want everyone to watch their page for the latest news and progress updates.
(9/13/19) I’m not too confident about this, but according to the local news Robby Bell, owner of the former Bell’s Amusement Park, is looking to rebuild his lost park once again. According Robby, it isn’t a matter of when, but rather a question of “where” the park will go. Unfortunately there aren’t any more details to share, and this isn’t the first time this kind of statement has been made, so we’ll have to take it with a grain of salt until we see some kind of physical progress.
Pennsylvania - (8/30/20) Lakemont Park has announced on their website that the Skyliner wooden coaster is now closed for the rest of the season.
(8/15/20) Poor Bushkill Park… after finally reopening the small Pennsylvania park once again after repairing and rebuilding it from extensive, then the park had to deal with the threat of COVID-19 in 2020. Bushkill was able to reopen to guests on July 3, and was even making plans to open a vintage Roll-o-Plane ride and a few other items by the end of 2020.
Unfortunately I’m not sure what the status of any of that currently is as the park was hit by yet another flood earlier this month. As Tropical Storm Isaias passed by flood waters as high as 9 feet swept through the park and washed away many items, such as a missing purple Whip ride car. Currently the park is still closed as the owners attempt to repair the flood damage, with no estimated timetable in which it might reopen.
South Carolina - (1/9/21) Le Grand Cirque will return to Myrtle Beach at Broadway at the Beach again in 2021 with an updated “2.0” version of their show. Look for it to arrive in Summer 2021 with performances between June 1 and Oct. 3, 2021.
(11/28/20) Broadway at the Beach will see the return of the Carolina Comedy Club this week. The club closed in March as part of the COVID-19 restrictions, and was set to reopen this week on Friday with some improvements and plans for future growth and is located very close to Dave & Busters.
In other news for the area, North Myrtle Beach’s Barefoot Landing will open the “Crooked Hammock Brewery” in February 2021. The restaurant and craft brewery will include indoor and outdoor seating areas with outdoor fun that includes fire pits, hammocks, bocce ball courts, cornhole and a kids playground.
(11/20/20) According to one of our local area sources, The Hangout addition which was announced to be coming to Broadway at the Beach has been delayed due to COVID-19. At the moment it sounds like they have not set an exact timeline as to when it might be coming, but at this point they are saying it wont be ready to open until at least sometime in 2022.
While looking around they also noticed that it looks like Johnny Rockets has closed down and the big neon logo signs removed from the building entirely.
South Dakota - (6/2/20) According to a local news report the Wild Water West waterpark is pushing back their plans to build that steel RMC single-rail roller coaster. Construction is now not expected to start until sometime this fall, which should see it ready to open in time for the 2021 season.
(3/24/20) The planning commission voted to approve the plans for Wild Water West to build their new steel roller coaster. While the world has turned upside-down since the vote, the original plan was to try to begin work on the footers sometime in April to meet an August opening date, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see if the opening of this new RMC Raptor coaster gets pushed back to 2021 right now. Now we just have to wait and see.
(2/27/20) Would you believe someone wants to bring an RMC Raptor style coaster to South Dakota? Apparently Wild Water West in Sioux Falls, which is a mix of a waterpark that also has more traditional FEC style attractions like mini-golf, go-karts, paintball, bumper-boats and a batting cage, has begun to file plans to add an RMC Raptor style steel coaster to the site. The initial permits say it will stand 113 feet tall, and based on the height and artwork shown, it looks like it would be a clone of the Wonder Woman Golden Lasso coaster built at Six Flags Fiesta Texas in 2018. Of course the local news article says it will be the largest coaster in South Dakota when it opens… but that’s not much of a stretch because I think the only other roller coaster in the entire state right now is Humpty Dumpty’s Great Fall at Storylandbook Land which opened in 2015.
Texas - (5/16/21) The former Scandia Screamer coaster (Miler) from California has been sold to Traders Village in Grand Prairie, Texas (between Dallas and Arlington) and is now slated to open in Fall 2021 under a new name, the Prairie Screamer. Traders Village isn’t a theme park or even a FEC like Scandia was, but rather a popular flea market site (over 120 acres!) that has amassed a small collection of rides for guests to enjoy on site. The list of rides includes the Village Vortex (Fireball / Superloop) and the Fleafall drop tower (128ft), but Prairie Screamer will be the site’s first roller coaster. According to the press release they’ve spent the past 10 months fully refurbishing the coaster and are now ready to start putting it up. Follow the link to see some recent construction pictures as they clear the area and the coaster pieces arrive on site.
(4/20/21) Screamscape readers have occasionally read articles about the impressive Cityneon exhibits set up around the world, but outside of Las Vegas, most of North America hasn’t had a chance to experience one yet. That all changes this summer as Jurassic World: The Exhibition starts a tour of North America, starting in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas from June 18 through September 5th, 2021.
(3/6/21) While the state of Texas has announced that they are rolling back all COVID restrictions starting on March 10, this does not mean that you can visit theme parks mask free. While the state isn’t requiring it, each business is able to set their own restrictions and safety policies to follow and for theme parks that are part of a larger chain, you can expect a lot of the same rules we saw in 2020 to remain in effect in 2021, at least for the first part of the year.
SeaWorld San Antonio, Six Flags over Texas and Six Flags Fiesta Texas have already confirmed that they are still going to follow CDC face mask guidelines and keep the mandatory mask rules still in effect for all guests and staff at this time. These same parks are also still requiring advanced reservations to visit as well, so if you are planning to visit any park or attraction in Texas please visit their official website to see what their current rules and requirements are to visit before you go.
(1/19/21) After being closed for the 2020 season, Morgan’s Wonderland in Texas, a beautiful experience park designed with “ultra-accessible” attractions for guests of all ability levels, will reopen for the 2021 season officially on March 5. Visit the official website for all the details on how to visit and how capacity restrictions will be handled.
Washington - (2/24/20) A quick update about the coasters at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup. A reader got in touch with the PR manager there and was told that while the Rainier Rush coaster is being torn out for good, the Wildcat is just getting repainted and moved to a nearby location where it will be put up again.
(2/7/20) While we have no photos to back this up yet, a reader reported in after driving past the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup, WA the other day that it looked as if they may have taken down both of the steel coasters that were on site: the Wildcat and Rainier Rush. If anyone else is in the area and can verify this, please do let us know.
Washington D.C. - (1/16/19) Meow Wolf has announced that they will add yet another new location to their growing collection of exhibits, this time in Washington D.C. inside a three-story structure located in Fort Totten. Set to open in 2022, it will feature a new and unique storyline within the attraction.
Wisconsin - (3/14/21) The local commission has approved the initial plans for a major new attraction to come to the Wisconsin Dells area. There are still many other hoops to jump through, but Lower Dells Adventures, LLC was given approval for a conditional use permit with a number of conditions that need to be met. The plan is to turn a currently vacant 70 acre site on Grand Cambrian Drive into an amusement park to be called “The Land of Natura”. This doesn’t sound like your typical “amusement park” however, as they are planning to preserve a lot of the nature on the site and lay out 14,000 feet of hiking trails and 2,000 feet of biking trails, zip lines as well as fishing and swimming areas.
Previously the site was earmarked for a resort that never happened from a previous developer due to complications with a railroad track that runs through the property that creates some challenges.