---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(6/3/2023) Washington - Tumwater Twister Now Open at Leavenworth Adventure Park (MORE...)
(5/28/2023) Conneaut Lake Park Owner Hit With New Lawsuit (MORE...)
(5/26/2023) Oklahoma - Tulsa Sky Ride Demolition Photos
(5/25/2023) Oklahoma - Tulsa Fairgrounds Skyride Removal Update (MORE...)
(5/17/2023) Plans Move Forward For Proposed Alpine Coaster in Montana (MORE...)
(5/14/2023) Small New Hampshire Amusement Park Closes For Good (MORE...)
(5/7/2023) Florida Passes New Bill Tightening Rules For Theme Park Ride Safety (MORE...)
Arizona - (4/30/2023) According to a press release the Buckeye Opportunity Zone Fund “launches a private equity fund seeking accredited investors for investment into Ghost Town theme-park development projects across Arizona. ” The fund is seeking to raise $25 million initially, with the group seeking to convert rural land into new income-producing properties.
California - (3/26/23) It seems there are issues with the Medieval Times location in Buena Park. Last month it was reported that many of the workers at the location unionized and then went on Strike, citing low wages, high risk workplace conditions, unfair labor conditions, and apparently what has been taken as a hostile response from management. The Knights, character actors, squires and more have unionized under the same union (AGVA) that represents the workers at the New Jersey Medieval Times location, who unionized last July. According to the article the workers at Disneyland under AGVA are paid $33/hr for performances that are only 15-20 minutes in length, meanwhile the Medieval Times staff are working full 8-hour days for much less.
Things just took a turn for the worse for Medieval Times, as ‘Sir Jake The Knight” went public on Twitter on Friday with claims of “animal abuse” from the horse trainer at the Buena Park location, along with a video and photos showing a whip being used during a training session in an improper fashion.
Now, as bad as the video looks and sounds, I have zero knowledge when it comes to how horses are trained, and even Sir Jake says that the use of a whip is a common practice as a training tool, but only as a tool and not as “a weapon”. So without further comment, I’m going to embed Sir Jake’s Twitter post below, and encourage you to click on the link to “Read the full conversation” on Twitter, where the video clip and some pictures are posted at the end of the multi-Tweet post to see what you think for yourself.
(2/6/2023) While technically not a theme park, a new Lucas Museum of Narrative Art rising in L.A. near the Coliseum is fascinating to see in a new update by the L.A.Times. The five-story massive structure looks like a giant space ship has landed in California and will contain the museum, two theaters, retail space and more. Follow the link to check it out and see the great aerial footage of the construction site.
(1/3/2023) According to the local news reports the Queen Mary reopened in late December for the first time since it closed in March 2020 for the pandemic. The Queen Mary is only open for tours at first, with the hotel, restaurants and other features remaining closed until various repair projects are completed sometime in 2023. The city of Long Beach has taken control of the Queen Mary after the last owners failed in their operations and it was determined that the Queen Mary needed about $23 million in “immediate repairs” or it was at risk of capsizing.
Much of the needed repairs (about 75%) however apparently involved plumbing, metalwork and various mechanical issues, which should be complete by the end of 2023. Looking into the various options of what to do with the Queen Mary, apparently the city even looked into the possibility of scrapping or even sinking the ship, but it was determined that those courses of action would cost upwards of $190 million, so it has been far cheaper to just fix the Queen Mary and try to return it to life as a tourist attraction, as well as a part of the local landscape.
(10/27/22) Consider this a long shot, but some Fresno natives would like to convince Cedar Fair to develop a new property near them and simply move any of the rides they can save from California’s Great America to create a new park they’ve nicknamed, “Heart of California”. Follow the link to read more about it.
(10/6/22) Halloween fun has returned to Long Beach this year it seems, with the arrival of “Shaqtoberfest 2022”. Yes… Shaqtoberfest… and you know what that means. “Shaq is taking over Long Beach, California for his own twist on Halloween at Shaqtoberfest. With the historic Queen Mary as the backdrop, Shaqtoberfest will be the ultimate Halloween destination this October!”
(9/23/22) Museum of Illusions had announced plans to open a new attraction in San Diego’s “Gaslamp Quarter”. The new 10,000 sqft museum attraction is expected to be ready to open sometime in Q3 2023.
(3/5/22) For decades now the extremely popular San Diego Comic-Con has thrills many a guest with the crazy displays, themed temporary attraction, new project announcements and the chance to view hollywood celebrities. At long last the official Comic-Con Museum experience has soft opened in nearby Balboa Park. With the full exhibit said to be ready for launch this fall, it willf feature six exhibits and special programming to celebrate the magic of the Comic-Con experience all year-round.
(11/18/21) Would you believe a new pirate themed dark ride is coming to Monterey’s Cannery Row in 2022? According to the press release Sally Dark Rides will open Treasure Hunt - The Ride, a new interactive dark ride to be built in the basement level of 700 Cannery Row. The dark ride will take up about 8,145 sqft of space, taking visitors into the just discovered Cannery Caverns in four passenger vehicles before things “go wrong” and they have to battle their way back to safety. Theme Park Insider has posted a great interview with Sally’s Rich Hill who talks about the new ride in the video below.
Colorado - (4/24/2023) A beloved Colorado attraction will soon reopen… Casa Bonita. Colorado locals are well aware of the place, but if you are a fan of the show South Park, then you may be shocked to know that the Casa Bonita restaurant shown in the cartoon series that features Mexican food and an indoor cliff diving show is actually an entirely real attraction on the west side of Denver, near Lakewood.
COVID did not treat Casa Bonita well and the restaurant announced that they were going to have to close down for good, only to be saved when the restaurant was purchased by none other than South Park’s creators: Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They’ve spent the last year or so fixing up and updating Casa Bonita, hiring new staff and are getting ready to reopen Casa Bonita sometime next month to the joy of many.
If I ever find my way out that way, I know I’ll be dropping by for sure!
(5/21/22) Star Harbor has announced plans to open a 53-acre private spaceflight training facility in Lone Tree, Colorado by 2026. As part of the anticipated increase in the number of people planing to train for future space flight missions Star Harbor’s goals are to offer four different training programs focused on: Operators, Users, Mission Specialists and Passengers. The inclusion of the later group may raise from eyebrows, but if the past few months are anything to go on, the concept of Space Tourism definitely seems to be a industry on the rise.
This becomes even more clear as the offerings of the Star Harbor complex are described as not only featuring microgravity flights, a neutral buoyancy facility, a high gravity centrifuge as well as simulation labs along with water and land based habitats, but the complex will also include a “space-themed hotel’ along with other assorted entertainment venues, including an esports arena. Star Harbor’s founder, Maraia Tanner described the present day as having an “unprecedented renaissance occurring within the space industry”, with aligning with Star Harbor’s goal to ‘foster a new generation of explorers, innovators, entrepreneurs, educators and technologies to leave a powerful, positive legacy for generations to come.”
Florida - (5/7/2023) Florida’s state legislature just passes a new bill, nicknamed the “Tyre Sampson Act”, that will enact more strict safety regulations for theme park rides operating in the state. Officially named, SB 902, the new bill will require that permanent amusement park rides submit a commissioning and certification report with the state, in addition to changing some of the circumstances that trigger a required incident report to be filed, which also allows the state to shut down a ride. Another new addition will be a requirement that attractions include a “prominently displayed” sign that would state if there are anything height or weight restrictions. In cases where a ride’s official documentation from the manufacturer does not clearly include any such restrictions, then the bill requires an official inspector to investigate and confirm if no such restrictions need to exist.
Part of this last part seems to involve the lack of a posted weight restriction on the signs outside the Orlando Freefall, where Tyre Sampson died last year. The signs did mention minimum and maximum heights, but did not include any mention of a weight limit of 286 pounds that was listed in the ride’s operating manual.
Height restrictions make sense, as they are a fairly standard practice in the amusement industry, but a weight limit is a bit more subjective. Typically you only see maximum weight restrictions posted on solo attractions like waterslides, or a max limit for a small group riding a raft together. For large rides, a maximum weight posting is n’t as cut as dry as you would think, because people of different heights and various builds carry their weight very differently. The ability of a ride’s restraint to safely hold in a rider has very little to do with weight, and more to do with a body’s shape and size where it comes into contact with the actual restraint system. This is exactly why most major thrill rides offer some kind of “test seat” for riders to try before getting in line, so they can test the actual physical fit of the seat and restraint system with each ride’s unique body dimensions.
Now in the case of Tyre Sampson, who was reported as weighing around 360 pounds, if he saw a posted weight limit of 286 pounds, then it’s a pretty good bet he wouldn’t have even tried to ride the Orlando Freefall. However, in other cases, another ride who normally weighs about 290 is probably going to try and give the ride a restraint a try anyway, unless they expect every attraction to break out a scale and weight test every rider before they board. Before you say that isn’t possible, Universal actually does this for certain waterslides at their Volcano Bay waterpark, so it can happen.
(3/18/2023) A new indoor mini-theme park experience is coming to Tampa this summer called “Elev8 Fun”. Creative Loafing got a speak peek inside the new attraction where admission will be free, and guests will pay-per-attraction they want to experience. Elev8 Fun takes up 125,000 sqft of space inside a two-story space that will offer a huge arcade, bowling (full size and duck-pin), glow-in-the-dark mini-golf, laser tag, axe throwing, go-karts, a ropes course, a Triotech XD Dark Ride, a VR experience and more. It isn’t all just for the kids either, both floors will feature a bar for the adults, and an assortment of food offerings. According to the article, this is just Phase 1 of what they have planned for the Tampa location, with future plans to expand their offerings even further.
(12/20/2022) The leaders ZooTampa at Lowry Park are sharing their vision for a 20-year / $125 million expansion plan. The goal is to expand the park’s Africa and Asian animal habitats, add a new habitat focused on South American wildlife, and a link to the Hillsborough River where they hope guests will one day be able to visit the Zoo via river taxi. Also included are plans are new exhibits featuring lions, gorillas, jaguars, sea lions, river otters, manatees and more.
The first pieces of the plan are already in development, which include a new interactive Stingray exhibit set to open in 2023 and an expanded Manatee rehab and care center that they hope will open in 2026.
(12/17/2022) Are you ready to visit an attraction where the focus is all about “sex”? Often regarded as taboo subject matter in some circles, especially in America, but this isn’t going to stop the Museum of Sex from opening a new location in Miami in Spring 2023. To be located in a 32,200 sqft building, the Museum of Sex will feature numerous “humorously explicit games and amusements and erotic exhibits” as well as a bar and a retail space. One highlight area featuring games and amusements will be called “Super Funland: Journey into the Erotic Carnival”. Follow the link to learn more about the exhibits that will be in place upon opening, and you can also see a look at the first version of Super Funland that opened at the original New York City location back in 2019.
(8/17/22) The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, FL has announced a $40 million expansion plan that will begin construction at the start of 2023. The expansion will see a new special exhibit gallery added, a multi-species galley with Puffins, an African penguin habitat, and a large outdoor exhibit for California Sea Lions. The project will be completed in a series of three phases, with the final phase to be finished sometime in 2025. Follow the link to learn more.
Hawaii - (4/2/23) The Hawaiian island of Oahu is now home to the “world’s largest deep-water standing surf wave”. The LineUp at Wai Kai, located just a few hundred feet from the actual ocean is a massive 100 foot wide adjustable wave pool able to accommodate 10-12 surfers at a time. The pool also features two retractable dividers so it can be cut back into three smaller 30 foot lanes, or a 30 and a 60 foot option at times when the entire pool isn’t needed, such as lower-surf level training sessions for inexperienced guests.
The filling of The LineUp with fresh water from a local aquifer last month amid a fresh water crisis on the island did not go unnoticed by the local population. CBS News reports that access to fresh water on the island has become a severely strained resource, especially following issues of contamination following the discovery of leaking jet fuel from the Navy in 2021 and the discovery that small amounts of PFAS (Forever Chemicals) are now in the island’s freshwater system.
An interesting government article from 2022 suggests that a new entirely solar-powered desalination plant constructed on the island of Kona may prove to be the way forward. Previous desalination plant designs considered and abandoned in Hawaii were both costly to build and had high energy requirements to operate, as well as producing an excessive amount of “brine” as a byproduct that would contaminate the ocean.
Illinois - (4/29/2023) The latest “FlyOver” flying theater ride is coming to Chicago’s Navy Pier. While the attraction isn't’ set to open until Spring of 2024, construction is already in full swing as you can see in a video posted by a local news station. The new attraction will replace Navy Pier’s IMAX theater near the Centennial Wheel.
Flyover from Pursuit currently has attractions already open in Las Vegas, Iceland and Vancouver (Canda), with a second site to open in Toronto in 2024 as well. To learn more about the FlyOver attraction concept, be sure to check out Screamscape’s official review of the Las Vegas location that opened in 2021.
(5/30/22) According to Theme Park Tourist the Chicago area may soon become home to what they are calling the “World’s First Eco Theme Park and Resort”. The exact location will not be announced until plans and zoning details are finalized, but the plan is to build it up over “several phases over a period of consecutive years.” The attractions overall theme seems to be one that will be about animals, both real and fictional, with the various lands to be themed to fit the environment of the species to be on display. This will include themed food, music and merchandise to tie into each area. Follow the link to see more, including some early concept art and details about some possible attractions for the project that is seen as becoming an entire resort experience with hotels and even an on-site indoor waterpark experience.
Iowa - (11/6/2022) According to a local news report a proposal has been made to build a $600 million project in West Des Moines, Iowa, that would include a massive 100,000sqft indoor waterpark, a 400-room resort hotel, a family entertainment center and several on-site dining options along with various retail and office space options, along with 1,200 housing units. They’re calling the project ‘The Grand Experience’ along with saying that this will be like having a “Great Wolf Lodge on steroids.”
The question is, will it ever get built? If things go as planned, they hope to break ground on the project in Fall 2023. They don’t give a timeline to open the first phases, but as a good comparison, it typically takes 18-24 months to build and open a Great Wolf Lodge resort, so at best you would be looking at a mid to late 2025 opening if things stay on schedule.
Kansas - (1/30/22) The failed Schlitterbahn water park in Kanas City may now have a new purpose as a developer proposed an $85 million project that would transform the site into a new Margaritaville Resort. This is an addition to a plan from the developer who has already submitted plans to turn nearby property into a youth sports complex featuring 10 tournament-style baseball fields, a performance center and more. Having nearby lodging options to these kinds of sports complex projects is always a good idea, as families often travel long distances with their youth-players and being able to stay nearby would keep the resort busy.
Louisiana - (3/10/2023) After about two decades of waiting, endless talks, bids and negotiations that went nowhere, it looks like the former Six Flags New Orleans theme park site will finally be developed into something new. According to the news reports the city has selected Bayou Phoenix to re-develop the site and they’ve got the next 18-24 months to finalize their plans.
Previous proposals suggested by Bayout Phoenix would see the site divided up for several different projects, including a sports complex, an E-sports arena, a distribution center style warehouse building, and some kind of indoor waterpark resort.
Michigan - (11/25/22) According to Blooloop, the largest indoor waterpark in Michigan will soon be under construction as part of an expansion to the Bavarian Inn Lodge in Frankenmuth. This $80 million expansion will add over 100,000 sqft to the resort's existing indoor waterpark and is set to break ground on Dec. 13th. The newly expanded waterpark will feature over 20 new attractions, including new waterslides and a wave pool. Look for the first phase of the waterpark to open in Fall 2023 with the rest expected to be finished by Spring 2024.
(8/20/22) Hold onto your butts… because this video clip is going to probably make you laugh. Apparently the Belle Isle Park near Detroit finally reopened their “Giant Slide” attraction, which was seldom open before COVID and then shut down entirely once the pandemic started. The slide reopened at long last and lasted about 4 hours before the park shut it down because guests were sliding down just way way WAY TOO FAST!!! Watch the video clip below (with sound on for the best effect!) to see exactly what took place yesterday.
After shutting it down out of fear of someone eventually getting hurt after, it was apparently determined that the slide was suffering from a fresh waxing and was simply too slick. Adjustments will be made and the Giant Slide should eventually reopen, but we will never forget the epic rides and extreme airtime that took place this day!
Now is it bad that I kind of really want to try it myself?
Mississippi - (3/1/2023) The Paradise Pier Biloxi website has been updated, confirming that the park will open this Friday at 3pm. It also now includes the official list of rides and attractions: including the Biloxi Tide-Turner, Aerobar, Sea Swinger, Rolling Thunder, S.O.S., Storm Surge, Buoy Blaster, Wave Rider and more. Based on the current pricing on the website, there will only be a All-Day Unlimited Ride option (for $70), and no pay-per-ride option for individual rides. They also promise that Season Passes will be sold soon for $239 for 12-months.
(2/24/2023) A reader sent in a picture of the new Rolling Thunder roller coaster now in place at the Paradise Pier Fun Park that will open for the first time next month at the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi, Mississippi. After many delays, I’m told that the new mini-park is now expected to open on March 3rd.
Rolling Thunder will be a spinning coaster from SBF/Visa Group, but it is also supposed to feature some of those crazy looking Hamster Wheel cars that will flip riders upside-down over and over while they ride.
(3/17/22) The long-planned little amusement park at the Margaritaville Resort in Biloxi, MS has now been named Paradise Pier Biloxi along with the launch of a teaser page on their new website URL along with a Summer 2022 opening date.
Missouri - (3/13/2023) If you didn’t read our last article, know that the City Museum in St. Louis will soon feature a new attraction on the roof of the building. Joining the assortment of odd looking structures and attractions at this most unique attraction will be the former Sea Dragon ride from California’s Pacific Pier. The old ride has been removed from the Santa Monica Pier location and is being prepared to be shipped to St. Louis.
(9/5/22) Blooloop has announced that a new “inclusive and accessible” theme park for visitors with “mental, physical or intellectual disabilities” is being developed in Missouri. The 60 acre park, to be called Spirit of Discovery Park, will follow in the footsteps of Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas as a park designed and built from the ground up to be fully accessible for people with special needs, “regardless of age, ability or mental acumen.”
Currently Spirit of Discovery Park has submitted an offer on the land they wish to purchase, and have already performed the needed environmental and economic impact studies. The next steps will be to finish the planning for the park with 3D and architectural drawings to be submitted to the city for approval, along with the continuation of a fundraising campaign to ensure that the dream becomes a reality. Once the land is obtained and plans approved, they believe the park would could be constructed within three years.
Montana - (5/17/2023) A proposed “Flathead Lake Alpine Coaster” project in Lakeside, Montana just got final approval of their plans from Montana’s DOT. Numerous local residents have been opposed to the project for some time now. While the DOT has signed off on the project, there are still other permits still under review that must be approved before construction can begin.
New Jersey - (4/20/2023) Construction on the new Island Waterpark at Showboat in Atlantic City is moving along quickly, with hopes to open in some form around Memorial Day Weekend if possible, though the whole park may not be ready until sometime during the summer. The 100,000 sqft waterpark has been built inside a massive building with a transparent curved dome-like roof structure. Our friends at 42freeway.com were invited to take a tour of the construction site and have posted some great footage of the new indoor waterpark as they strive the put in all the finishing touches. They even got a peek at one of the updated rooms at the connected Showboat Hotel, so check it out!
(1/9/22) According to the local news ground has broken on a project to build the “largest indoor beachfront indoor waterpark in the world” in Atlantic City. They are calling it the “ISLAND Waterpark”, which will offer 103,000 sqft of indoor waterpark fun all year long. The waterpark will include a lazy river, an assortment of water slides, pools, lounge space and more.
The project is from the owner of the Showboat Atlantic City and will be located right next door. It was noted that last year Showboat also opened Lucky Snake, a family-friendly arcade experience located on the former casino floor that also includes a sports bar, boxing ring and e-sports gaming area.
New Hampshire - (5/14/2023) According to a reader the small Runway Fun Park in Swanzey, New Hampshire is closed for good. The park originally ran until 2015, sat closed uintil the fall of 2021 when it was able to briefly reopen. According to the message sent, the park just wasn’t able to attract an audience this time. It looks like the majority of the rides have been packed up or shipped out and for sale sign is now up on the property.
New York - (4/20/2023) Harry Potter: The Exhibition has now ended its run in Atlanta and as previously noted, it will be appearing soon in New York City. According to the official website you’ll be able to find the traveling attraction in “Herald Square” at the corner of 34th and Broadway when it opens on May 19, 2023. (They say it’s about a 5 minute walk from Penn Station).
(2/25/2023) It has been announced that the “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” attraction is now slated to come to New York City later in 2023. The traveling attraction started out in Philadelphia and is currently running in Atlanta through to April 16th before heading off to New York City.
Internationally, there is also a version in Vienna, Austria through March 19th, and then it will move and reopen in Paris, France on April 21st.
(8/14/22) Jack in July we reported that a new temporary “Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forrest Experience” would be arriving in the Washington DC area this October after the concept had a successful run in the UK. According to the official website, a second US location has been selected to open this October in Westchester County, New York. A count-down has been posted to the website ahead of the start of advanced ticket sales starting on August 18th at 11am.
So what is this exactly? According to the website description this is, “A nighttime woodland trail experience filled with magical creatures and wizarding wonders from the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films. Explore after dark the sounds, lights, and special effects that bring the magic of the Wizarding World to life. Guests will also be able to enjoy a wide range of delicious food and drinks at the village!”
(5/30/22) Blooloop reports that iFLY has announced their first New York City location, to be located at a site near the entrance to the Midtown Tunnel at 10-04 Borden Ave. in Long Island City. The new iFLY skydiving simulator will serve as an anchor attraction to a larger commercial project coming to the site that will transform an old commuter parking lot into a new three-story mixed-use space in a highly visible area to those passing by. According to the article the new iFLY attraction is expected to be complete by Q2 2023, with the rest of the surrounding project to be complete by Q4 2023.
(4/10/22) BATMAN x SPYSCAPE, a new interactive attraction, is slated to open in New York City sometime this Summer. Guests will be sent on a top-secret mission to infiltrate an underworld organization and become the on-site eyes and ears for Batman and Oracle.
SPYSCAPE currently has a 60,000 sqft museum attraction in Manhattan that opened in 2018 featuring a number of spy craft related attractions, including a James Bond exhibit.
North Carolina - (4/23/2023) The Wilderness Run alpine coaster in North Carolina has now opened a second attraction at the facility, the Wilderness Run Adventure Course. This is a new multi-level ropes course attraction.
(4/16/2023) It has been awhile, but it seems that Tweetsie has finally added some new rides to the park. A recient tweet from the park shows that they’ve added a new spinning family coaster called Barrels of Fun, a mini spinning drop tower called Buckaroo Drop, and a Mini Swing ride. All of which are now open.
(2/18/2023) Charlotte’s Concord Mills will open a new attraction later this spring when The Escape Game opens at the mall between the AMC Theater and Dave & Busters. According to a local report The Escape Game will feature five themed escape game experiences: Prison Break, The Depths, Playground, Special Ops: Mysterious Market and Gold Rush.
(9/6/22) According to the latest updates, the proposed alpine coaster for the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone campground in North Carolina has been delayed until 2023, and will come from Wiegand.
(6/27/22) Apparently the Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster in Banner Elk, NC has been adding some new attractions. Already open is a new Adventure Course and apparently a new mystery attraction is under construction inside the building, but they aren’t saying what it is just yet. My gut instinct would be to say it might be an Escape Room, but there is no telling at this point unless someone else knows more.
(6/26/22) North Carolina will soon add yet another alpine coaster, this one slated to be added to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone campground park in Golden Valley, north about 11 miles from Bostic, NC. We don’t know much about the layout of this new alpine coaster, but it will come from Wiegand and is supposed to feature “almost a mile of loops and curves at speeds of up to 25 mph!” According to the latest info from Jellystone, construction delays have pushed the project back a bit away from the intended summer opening timeline. Currently they are hoping to have it ready to open this fall if possible.
Oklahoma - (5/26/2023) A Screamscape reader stopped by the Tulsa fairgrounds to grab some great pictures of the Von Roll Skyride being taken apart for good. The intention is that the ride is benign sold to an international ride vendor who wants to refurbish and install the ride somewhere in the UAE. We don’t know if that will really pan out or not, so this may very well be last time these ride parts are seen.
(5/25/2023) A few photos from the Tulsa fairgrounds showing off the removal of the former Von Roll Skyride can be found on Twitter.
(4/22/2023) The local news has confirmed that the former Tulsa Skyride is now being taken out, and the cars are being removed from the stations to be prepared for shipping. As previously reported the attraction was auctioned off to GT Amusement Services, who apparently was the only company to bid on the attraction, with plans to refurbish it and move it to a new location somewhere in the UAE, likely at a theme park there.
No location has been mentioned, so it is possible that the deal to sell and re-install the ride has not been finalized yet, but I could see it going somewhere at the Dubai Parks & Resort complex as a possibility, or a way to move guests from one park paropert to another in Abu Dhabi where Ferrari World, Warn Bros World and the soon to open SeaWorld Abu Dhabi parks all operate along with other attractions like Yas Waterworld, an F1 Racetrack and more.
(2/26/2023) According to the Von Roll VR 101 page on facebook (which I recommend for fan’s of the old theme park aerial gondola rides) it has been reported that the closed Skyride at the Tulsa Oklahoma fair appears to be sold, with plans being worked out to move the attraction and reinstall it somewhere in the UAE.
It has been mentioned previously that some kind of regulation is in place in the US that prevents these style rides from being moved and rebuilt in any new location in the US. So usually when a Von Roll system is retired, it is gone for good, with the more valuable parts and some cars being sold or sent to other still existing attractions.
So the idea that the ride may be sold and rebuilt in the UAE somewhere is kind of a refreshing change of pace, though an exact location has not been mentioned yet. According to media reports, the ride is actually planned to be sold to an Iraq-based used-ride dealer (GT Amusement Service) with the board in Tulsa having unanimously voted to begin sale negotiations on Thursday. A statement obtained from GT confirms that their plan is to refurbish the ride and relocate it to the UAE.
So where might it go? My best guess from Google maps shows an approximate length between the two stations of about 1650ft. When it comes to attractions in the UAE two locations come to mind… Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Parks and Resorts development in Dubai.
The Dubai location is currently home to three small theme parks, with a 4th park just announced themed to the Real Madrid football/soccer team. I could see the Skyride being installed here, either in the new park or as a fun transportation method to move guests from one side of the overall development to the other where a 1650ft long span would actually work.
While business has been slow at the Dubai project, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island has been growing by leaps and bounds, and currently includes some world reknown attractions such as Ferrari World, Warner Bros. World, the F1 Race Track, Yas Waterworld, numerous hotels and will open the world’s first new SeaWorld branded marine life park later this year. While a 1650 foot span wouldn’t get you from one end to the other of this massive development, it could be used to link guests between numerous outlying points within the resort development over busy roads to a more central location near the F1 track or Ferrari World, or as a link to a possible new future development. On a side note, I do seem to recall reading an article several years ago about how Yas Island was looking to purchase some new aerial car track based transportation system with individual cars able to move to various destinations. Since then, I’ve heard zero updates about this concept, so perhaps they’re now thinking of going old school with the Skyride, which gives the added benefit of offering some great views of their property to the riders.
(12/26/2022) It looks like things are still moving forward with the plans to build the OKANA Resort and Indoor Waterpark near Oklahoma City. An official ground-breaking ceremony took place on Oct. 31st for the project which is now hoping to open in Early 2025 if all goes well. We first mentioned the OKANA project back in October 2021, which you can see here.
(5/14/22) According to a local news report the Tulsa State Fair will no longer operate the Sky Ride, and plans are already in place to demolish the classic Von Roll Sky Ride attraction. According to officials from the fair, the ride is in need of extensive maintenance and repair, which they have deemed to require a “specialized-service is difficult to solidify, costly, and a limited number of providers are available in the United States.” The fairgrounds also notes that the attraction has not run since 2019.
Funny though, similar Von Roll Type 101 systems just like the Tulsa attraction are kept running and maintained on an annual basis at Cedar Point, SeaWorld San Diego, the San Diego Zoo, Busch Gardens Tampa, Six Flags Great Adventure, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, California’s Great America along with several others scattered across various fairgrounds.
So while the Sky Rides manufacturer is no longer in existence, there are still plenty of them running in North America, so parts and maintenance are not a problem. A few of these existing attractions even took time during the pandemic to replace their entire cableway and perform extensive maintenance on their attractions, with the one at Busch Gardens Tampa set to reopen from a lengthy closure and restoration this Summer after being closed since 2020.
With all that in mind, the decision to close and try to quickly rush in someone to demolish the ride sounds more like they are just trying to quickly get rid of it, rather than maintaining and fixing something that obviously can be fixed. Rather than run it themselves, apparently the fairgrounds hired out someone else to run and maintain the attraction, with the last group running it from 2015 to 2019 until they broke out of their contract claiming that they were unable to make a profit from running the attraction. Part of that problem apparently stems from the fact that the Sky Ride really only runs about 11 days out of the year during the Fair, but that also means that compared to the counterparts that run daily in theme parks, the Tulsa ride should have very low operating hours on it by comparison.
One other fun note, the Sky Ride is actually a leftover from Bell’s Amusement Park, and we know how people at the fairgrounds treated Bell’s over the years, eventually ousting the theme park from the leased fairgrounds property. While the rest of Bell’s was removed, Tulsa County itself purchased the Sky Ride from Bell’s, which makes the attraction a “publicly owned asset” for the people of the County. But now the fairgrounds was quickly and quietly trying to demolish it without having any kind of formal presentation or hearing to even discuss saving it.
Unfortunately once they start the demolition process, there is no coming back. You can read more about this at TulsaSkyride.org who also lists a number of county officials who you can contact about the issue to save the Sky Ride.
(11/26/21) Fans of the Tulsa State Fair take note! The Tulsa State Fair Skyride did not operate for the 2021 fair, and from what I’m told the attraction is now at risk of possibly being removed. Take a visit to the www.TulsaSkyride.Org website to read more on the issues facing the ride and how you can show support to possibly save the ride for the future.
For those wondering, the Tulsa State Fair Skyride is one of the famous Von Roll made attractions, just like the Skyrides that used to cross Disneyland and Walt Disney World for years before they were sadly removed. Over the years many of the Von Roll Skyrides that graced America’s fairs and theme parks have been removed, with only ten now remaining in the United States.
(10/23/21) Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby announced plans to create a major resort destination near the newly-opened First Americans Museum along the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City. The plans feature the “OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark”, a $300 million project, with a first phase said to develop 40 acres of the 140 acre site with an 11-story 404-room resort hotel, a 5-acre adventure lagoon with sandy beaches good for play and relaxation, a 33,000 sqft family entertainment center, an 100,000 sqft indoor waterpark, along with a conference center, spa, golf simulator and a shopping district that will feature numerous shops and restaurants.
Future phases will expand the project and new amenities and attractions, like an amphitheater and large lawn space able to host various performances, festivals and other events. The OKANA Resort will also connect to the nearby Boathouse District through a new Oklahoma River Cruises Ferry Landing and have access pathways to the north and south side of the property. If all goes as planned, the project could be complete by late spring 2024.
Pennsylvania - (5/28/2023) Long time readers will recall that the epic saga of the Conneaut Lake amusement park did not have a happy ending, as the new owner who initially promised to revive the park instead systematically began to tear it apart. The last time Screamscape reported on Conneaut Lake, the new owner had been given permission to turn it into an RV Park.
In what may consider a bit of karma’s retribution, there is one other party out there who not only isn’t happy that the park is gone, but they’ve now filed a lawsuit against the park’s owner, Keldon Holdings LLC. This lawsuit is coming from the operator of “Hotel Conneaut” who is claiming lost hotel profits and irreparable harm done to the properties reputation because the former amusement park site now looks like “a demilitarized zone”.
The operator of the hotel, “On the Lake Enterprises” signed a lease to operate the hotel from Keldon Holdings LLC, and is now holding Keldon in breach of contract. They claim that in 2021 Keldon presented them with a list of planned improvements, new rides and other upgrades they were going to put in place at the Conneaut Lake Amusement Park. Obviously the amusement park is a key attractor for guests to stay at the Hotel Conneaut and based on this presentation from Keldon, On the Lake Enterprises negotiated a new lease agreement to continue to operate the hotel, in exchange Keldon ‘agreed to ensure that the park would be maintained in such a way as to draw customers who, when they arrived, would spend money at the Hotel Conneaut for food, events, and lodging.”
Keldon’s ownership of the amusement park resulted in anything but what was promised. According to the lawsuit, “the Defendant (Keldon) never intended to maintain the park in such a way. Instead, the Defendant (Keldon) intended, in bad faith, to systematically dismantle the park. That nefarious plan was carried out over the years following the execution of the hotel lease.”
“During that time period, the Defendant (Keldon) removed from the park its water park and rides”.
“Moreover, during that same time the Defendant (Keldon) caused the park to look like a demilitarized zone, such that few people would ever want to hold an event, eat, or lodge at the Hotel Conneaut. These events are direct and material breaches of the hotel lease.”
(4/2/23) I think I missed this announcement previously, but the famous Otherworld attraction in Ohio will soon be opening a second location in Philadelphia. According to the official website Otherworld Philadelphia will be opening sometime in May 2023. Much like how each Meow Wolf locations offers up a unique experience, you can expect to find all new sights and sounds in Otherworld Philadelphia if you have already seen the original Otherworld in Ohio.
(12/26/2022) For anyone wondering, and this is more than likely the last thing we’ll have to say on the subject, but the owner of Conneaut Lake Park was approved for an exemption from the 70ft variance rule for his intended plan to convert much of the site into a new RV park. However, this was replaced by a request for a new 35 foot setback in most areas.
(12/10/2022) As mentioned previously, the developer that took over the demolished most of the former Conneaut Lake Amusement Park will be back in front of the Zoning Board at a Dec 21st hearing to ask for a variance from the 70-foot land setback requirement for their planned RV Park project. While the RV Project itself was approved at a hearing in October, they were denied their request for the 70 foot setback at that time, so they are applying for it yet again, as the requirement would mean the removal of 127 of the originally planned 393 RV sites to allow for the setback requirement.
(10/23/22) According to a local news update, the owner of the Conneaut Lake Park property has been granted a special exception (by unanimous vote) to convert the property into a family RV park, however he was also not given the requested variance (also by unanimous vote) to avoid the required 70-foot setback requirement in place for RV parks in the area. This requires 70 feet of space between the RV park and any nearby perimeter property lines and public roadways, thus shrinking the amount of space available to the developer to build the proposed new RV park by an estimated 11 acres, or the loss of about 25% of the RV sites previously proposed.
South Carolina - (11/5/22) Many many months ago I was told to expect a lot of shake ups, chaos, sales and even some closures amongst the smaller parks across North America as part of the fallout from COVID-19 from 2020, 2021 and how well they recovered (or didn’t in some cases) during 2022. This prediction has held very true with the ownership of several smaller parks changing hands over this time period, such as the sale of Family Kingdom and Joyland last month, the saving of Indiana Beach, Clementon Park and Fantasy Island by Gene Staples, mixed in with rumors of other parks up for sale (Beech Bend) and a few others quietly said to be facing eventually closure like California’s Great America.
Today’s update is about one that falls into that last category as Myrtle Beach’s “Wild Water & Wheels” park has announced on Facebook that after 30 years the attraction would not be opening again. The rumors started swirling about the fate of the park in October when an application was filed to rezone the park property for future mixed use for multifamily housing and commercial use.
So while it is sad to see another park come to a close, I fear there will be more such announcements to come over the upcoming months, especially for properties who find themselves in locations where they can easily sell their property to developers for other uses if their debt levels climb too high.
South Dakota - (5/25/22) The first installation in the US of the ParadropVR experience is coming to Sprockets Fun Factory in South Dakota, not far from Mount Rushmore. The ParadropVR system offers a unique multi-player virtual reality flying experience unlike anything else offered elsewhere. You can see the system in action in the video below.
Tennessee - (6/30/21) A new theme park has been proposed for the Nashville, Tennessee area that would be called Storyville Gardens. According to a report at Coaster101, the park would feature four lands, each one themed to a different corner of the world: Africa, America, Asia and Europe. The entrance to the park would lie in the Africa section of the 100-acre theme park that would then branch off into the other lands, complete with rides, shows and other attractions.
The design of the park comes from Storyland Studios and Guerrier Development who hope to not only fill the family entertainment void left in Nashville after Opryland USA closed in 1997, but they also plan to build the park as a way to encourage literary. The developers state that currently almost 70% of young children are not up to their proper grade level in reading ability, so they hope to fill the park with wonderful stories to encourage the desire to read more at home about what they learn at the park.
More information will be available soon at the park’s official website, which currently lists a planned opening of Spring 2025.
Texas - (5/7/2023) According to Amusement Today, the former Hawaiian Falls waterparks in The Colony and Garland, Texas will open for the 2023 season under a slight new name: Hawaiian Waters. The two parks have been under the management of Premier Parks for the past three seasons who have been quietly upgrading the guest experience with new entertainment, food and beverages and various beautification projects, leading up to this new brand identity for the parks.
(3/1/2023) Morgan’s Wonderland in Texas has brought on a new park president, Richard Pretlow, who comes with plenty of industry experience after working for the SeaWorld and Six Flags theme park chains. If the name sounds familiar, you may recall reading more than a few great reports here on Screamscape about how he had managed to turn-around so many good things over at Six Flags America during the one year (2021) he served as Park President there before moving on to the SeaWorld chain.
So congratulations and it should be interesting to see how his experience working at the big parks can help mold and improve the all-inclusive experience for guests at such a special park like Morgan’s Wonderland.
(11/19/22) Two Bit Circus, described as a micro-amusement park attraction known in Southern California has now opened the doors to a new location in Dallas, Texas. Two Bit Circus offers immersive entertainment, multi-player VR experiences, casual dining, drinks and more! You can check out the website for the new Dallas location here.
Virginia - (3/29/23) While there is a long way to go, a local news article reports that Massanutten Village in Northern Virginia was approved for a zoning request that will allow more outdoor recreation opportunities in the area, rather than the other proposal to use the site for multi-family homes. It goes on to say that Great Eastern Resort Corporation “plans to add a roller coaster ride to this area”, though I believe this may be in reference to building a Mountain or Alpine Coaster attraction and not a traditional amusement park style roller coaster. At this point the rezoning request still has to get final approval from the local Board of Supervisors in April.
(12/29/2022) Congrats to our friends at Funland of Fredericksburg for the addition of two new rides added over the past few weeks. First they installed a SBF-Visa Mini-Dance Party ride called “The Flip Side”, and following IAAPA they just installed a new SBF-Visa 10-passenger 40-ft drop tower called “Patriot Plunge”. While the ‘grand opening’ of the attractions isn’t supposed to happen until March 10th though we’ve heard if the warner weather arrives early some preview days are likely to happen.
Washington - (6/3/2023) The amazing looking alpine coaster at the Leavenworth Adventure Park in Washington is now open. Check out the video below that has some amazing footage of the Tumwater Twister in action. Visit the official website for all the details on how to get there and ride it yourself.
(4/16/2023) A brand new alpine coaster is expected to open next month in Leavenworth, Washington. I believe it will be called the Tumwater Twister and will be the first alpine coaster in the state, located at the entrance to the Tumwater Canyon.
This new Wiegand Alpine Coaster is just one piece of the new Leavenworth Adventure Park complex under construction that will also feature a Bungee Trampoline, Climbing Wall, and a Mining Sluice for the kids. Take a look at the official website and they’ve got some images and video footage that show off the amazing scenery. In the meantime, you can enjoy a picture of it taken about a year-ago while it was under construction, showing the view from the top. (photo credit: Will Rocket)
I’m not familiar with the area, but it seems Leavenworth is one of those cute little mountain towns that has an entirely Bavarian themed, features a ton of charm, German style food, festivals, awesome Christmas decor in the winter and more. The town is located in the middle of the state, about a 2 hour drive from Seattle, and 3 hours from Spokane.
Washington D.C. - (7/23/22) Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment in partership with Thinkwell, Unify and Fever have announced that a Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience will make a US debut later this year in the Warshington DC metro area. “The breathtaking light trail will be open from October 2022 for Harry Potter fans of all ages to enjoy on the estate of Morven Park in Leesburg, VA. Tickets will be available for purchase starting Thursday, July 28, but fans who sign up for the waitlist will unlock exclusive access to secure tickets.”