Tuesday 26 May 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 26th May 2015

This has been an absolutely enormous week in theme parks, particularly in the U.S. The big news this week is the Disneyland 60th Anniversary shenanigans, so let's start else where in the theme park world and wind our way back to Disneyland.

Six Flags over Texas this week opened a Sally Corp dark ride shooter Justice League: Battle for Metropolis. Australian theme park fans will feel a certain familiarity to this ride, as it is the big sister of Movie World's own Justice League Sally Corp dark ride shooter the awkwardly name Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D The Ride. The most impressive thing about this new ride is the little improvements between these rides. Alien Invasion is good, but Battlefor Metropolis is just that bit better. Those tweaks have really made a world class dark ride. Kudos to Six Flags and Sally Corp for a great addition to their lineup.

Sister park Six Flags Magic Mountain this week opened Twisted Colossus, the old-is-new Iron Horse re-track of the classic Colossus ride. This new ride looks like a barrel of fun! Meanwhile Six Flags New England has opened Wicked Cyclone, an RMC re-track of cyclone.

Hersheypark has opened a new Maurer Sohne indoor spinning coaster called Laff Trakk, that is themed to old school amusement park Fun houses. This looks like a fascinating ride, even if I'm not so big on the spinning coasters.

Universal Studios Singapore have announced that the Battlestar Galactica twin coasters are going to re-open tomorrow after another extended closure. This time the ride is re-opening with new 2 across trains.

And just for random news, Idelwild in Pennsylvania has re-theme there Trolley ride as a Daniel Tiger's Neighbourhood Trolley Ride. If you know what this is, then you understand. If you don't, then do not google it. You don't want to know until you have too.

 Let's talk about Japan for a second. Tokyo DisneySea this week announced that a Finding Nemo/Finding Dory ride will take the place of the StormRider simulator in the Port Discovery land. Construction is due to start in May of next year. That's right, we are on Disney time everyone.

Moving ever so slightly faster, Universal Studios Osaka has re-opened their version of Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride in 3D. This has been met with a mixed response from Stateside fans of that ride, who don't appear to want their ride to get a 3D upgrade. That isn't stopping speculation that the Hollywood version of this ride, that is set to open in 2016, will open as 3D from the beginning.

Universal Orlando this week opened a Raptor Encounter in Islands of Adventure. By the looks it is like a much more interactive and aggressive version of the Triceratops encounter. It looks really really cool in the promo video. Just in time for Jurassic World!

Finally, let's talk about Disneyland! This week Disneyland Resort started the real celebrations for the diamond anniversary with the 24 hour party at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. However it is safe to say it didn't go off without a hitch. Theme Park Insider posted a bit of Post-Mortem of the event, with a few tips for future events of this nature. This is a tough event to plan for, but there is definitely room for improvement.

The biggest things to happen at Disneyland resort this week were:
- A new World of Color
- Disneyland Forever Fireworks
- Paint the Night Electrical Parade
- and a New Yeti in Disneyland's Matterhorn

Like I said, a lot happened in Theme Parks this week! Few weeks have this much action since I started blogging. This next week should be a little quieter, thank goodness!

For more Theme Park coverage, follow me on Twitter @themeparknut. Until next week, Cheers!

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Ride Review: Tail Spin @ Dreamworld

For the first time in a couple of years, I have an annual pass to Dreamworld. This means that I have had a little bit of catching up to do in the last couple of visits, since they have had a fair amount of change in that time. In short, all of it is great (the Dreamworks Experience and Ocean Parade enhancements particularly), and I'm looking forward to the ABC Kids World adding another dimension to that. I thought it was fitting to do a quick review of their most recent ride: Tail Spin.

The ride itself is a Gerslauer Sky Fly which opened late last year. On this ride, the rider controls the experience, by moving paddles on the "planes" to attempt to flip the ride vehicles over. The ride peaks at 72 feet high and reaches a top speed of 33 km/hr. Personally, I was not that thrilled when the ride was announced as I believe Dreamworld has enough flat spinning rides. I thought adding another one was mostly white noise. To a certain extent it is, but when riding it I was pleasantly surprised how different it was to Dreamworld's other spinning rides. I choose not to attempt flipping my plane, and I had a very relaxing and fun "flight". The ride is smooth and fun, and the ability to control your own thrill level (although some what of a binary choice) meant that everyone got a slightly different ride.

When I say it is a binary choice, I did see first hand some evidence of the major criticism of the Sky Fly models, which is that it is hard to make them flip, and when you really get it flipping it can be hard to make it stop. To be honest, watching a few dare devils on there, I have no idea how they didn't spew when coming off that ride.

Overall, I would give the ride a 6.5 out of 10. That is pretty good for an off the shelf flat ride.

Here is a POV of the Ride that should give you a sense of it, thanks to our friends at OurWorlds:

Monday 18 May 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 19th May 2015

After a huge week last week, things have returned to normal in the world of Theme Parks. Well, as normal as things can be in the world of Theme Parks.

The big news for the coming week, is the 60th Anniversary of the opening of Disneyland. Changes for the celebration have been slowly coming online over the last couple of months (including the Hatbox Ghost mentioned last week). This week we saw a couple of great articles on Theme Park Insider outlining the new Fireworks show and the new Parade.

Theme Park Insider also posted an interesting quote which sheds a little bit more light on last week's news that Nintendo would be teaming up with Universal. There are two big takeaways from this article, which is that Nintendo wouldn't have worked with Universal without the success that Universal has had dealing with Harry Potter as an external I.P. (which in turn wouldn't have happened if J.K. Rowling hadn't heard about how well they had handled the Dr Seuss I.P. in Orlando), and also that Universal pitched to Nintendo with a very detailed proposal. This hints that pretty thorough plans had been developed for this I.P., which doesn't necessarily mean a short wait to see Nintendoland, but it does mean that Universal is happy to throw money and creative talents to get the right I.P. That's good news for everyone.

Staying with Uni, but switching coasts, this week saw the dedication of the Springfield land and Universal Studios Hollywood. This land had soft open a couple of weeks ago, but it's good to get the official opening. I have friends who happened to be touring California this week, who are Simpsons fans, and they said that they could happily spend a few days enjoying the Springfield. It looks really wonderful.

Opening this week at Knott's Berry Farm in California was Voyage to the Iron Reef. Long story short, Sea Monsters are attacking Knott's and it's up to us to save the day. You can see a full ride through from ThemeParkHD here, or an official exclusive look here.

Port Aventura also posted a video this week about their upcoming Ferrari Land. Screamscape have had some good analysis of the changes that have been made recently in the concept art, which is interesting. It looks like it's going to be much like it's sister park, in that it will be based around a couple of very major thrill attractions.

Now, if you want to see some cool future Theme Park technology, check out this Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality coaster experience that is under development by MACK Media (part of the MACK group, which owns Europa Park). In the video, you'll see coaster riders enjoying a rich Virtual Reality experience, while feeling the physical motion of a roller coaster. This is such a different approach to how a lot of people are going, but this could have potentially very interesting outcomes. Check it out:

20th Century Fox have possibly selected a location for their second resort (after the one currently under construction in Malaysia), with this article suggesting that they are looking to build a theme park on Yeongjong Island, Incheon in South Korea. It was known that they were looking at sites in Korea, as well as in China and Brazil for future developments. I don't mean to sound like a skeptic, but let's count the chickens before they are hatched.

Legoland Florida this week opened their new Legoland Hotel! This has been underconstruction for a little while, so it's great to see the final product. I think it looks very impressive, and I'm certainly considering it for a future vacation to Florida, if nothing else but for total convenience.

ThemeParX has shown photos of initial construction getting underway at the rumoured Warner Brother's theme park in Abu Dhabi. Not much to see so far, however. But if you want to see some real construction on ThemeParX, you should check out the Shanghai Disneyland page. Posted to that board this week is a look inside the Soarin' Over the Horizon theatre.

Star Wars Weekends has kicked off in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. The event is a showcase for the now Disney owned Star Wars franchise, which will no doubt get bigger in the coming year with the release of Episode 7. Mousesteps has some really good coverage of the event.

Dreamworld on the Gold Coast is also getting in the spirit this weekend with their annual Stormtroopers Weekend coming up this Saturday and Sunday. The event is in aid of a very important charity the Make A Wish Foundation, and Dreamworld will be donating a percentage of their profits to the Foundation, as well as collecting donations from theme park patrons. This is a great cause, and I support it fully!

The weirdest Australian theme park news this week is that Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast have announced a new event for this July called InvaSCIon. Little is known about it, but it is said to be designed to connect to the cosplay/science fiction/pop culture crowd. While we have conventions along this line in Australia, we haven't ever had a theme park trying anything similar to this. So this will be interesting to hear more about in the next couple of months.

For more Theme Park coverage, follow me on Twitter @themeparknut. Until next week, Cheers!

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 12th May 2015

I miss one week of blogging and the whole Theme Park world goes nuts!! I can't believe how much has happened in the last two weeks. Buckle up, because this going to a huge Theme Park Nut News update.

Let's start with what I think is the biggest theme park news of the year so far. This week it was announced that Universal had struck an international rights deal to bring the characters of Nintendo to their theme parks. This is a huge deal for both Nintendo and Universal. While Nintendo have proven time and again that their franchises have staying power, it comes at a time when their profits have been incredibly flat, and the world is waiting to see what is coming in their next console. For Universal it comes at a time when profits are on the up, and they finally have the money and talent to do something decent with this kind of IP. This is exactly what Universal have always needed. While they have some great IP, they have always been behind for the younger kids. I'm just saying that Popeye and Woody Woodpecker mean nothing to any kids under 45. However, Mario is the closest thing in the world to a Mickey like globally iconic character.

I have to stop myself from thinking about this, because I genuinely think that it will be tough to live up to the hype that has already been generated by this announcement. Geeks (like me) are salivating at the prospect. I must also confess that in the past I have planned out an entire Nintendo theme park, so I'm sure there is plenty of fertile ground for Universal Creative. Now, we just have to wait and see what they will do and which parks will get the updates first.

Strongest rumour I've heard is that "KidZone" at Universal Studios Orlando is on the chopping block. Time will tell.

Staying at Universal Orlando, some news that was somewhat over shadowed this week, the return of King Kong was official announced! Wait, hasn't that been announced like a million year ago? Nope, it had been leaked, re-leaked, partial confirmed, accidentally confirmed and construction is over half complete, but it had not been officially announced. So good news, that you already knew, King Kong is coming to Islands of Adventure. Long live Kong.

In Disneyland, another long rumoured return has occurred. The Hatbox Ghost has returned to Haunted Mansion. From all reports it's impressive in person, but I can't say that it is totally effective on video. Still it's nice to see a classic part of Disney folklore come back to life (so to speak).

Two big expansions were officially announced for Tokyo Disney in the last two weeks. Tokyo DisneySea is going to add an entire Frozen land, and Tokyo Disneyland is expanding it's fantasy mini-lands. Although I'm sure people are meant to be excited about Frozen, I'm much more excited about the mini-lands. They are to be themed to Beauty and the Beast and Alice in Wonderland. While Beauty and the Beast have good representation at Disney parks world wide, I feel Alice is really under used, so it's good to see it come to a Disney park. If anywhere that it is going to be done properly, it will be in Tokyo where money is (seemingly) no object.

In news that I don't care about, Universal have given a preview of the Fast & Furious attraction. I'm sure someone cares, but I don't.

Six Flags Magic Mountain have announced the opening date of Twisted Colossus, the world's longest Hybrid Coaster, to be May 23rd. I do like the trend of re-tracking old wooden coasters so they can have a second life, and I'm hopeful that Twisted Colossus could be the best yet.

In Australian park news, I was checking out Dreamworld last Tuesday (on my birthday, which is why I didn't get to posting), and I notice a fair amount of work going on around Wiggles World. I was going to mention it as a curious foot note in today's post, when low and behold Dreamworld announced that they are expanding Wiggles World and re-theming it to ABC Kids. The ABC Kids World section is expected to open in June. While the announcement is a surprise, there were swirling rumours about 2 years ago about ABC wanting to get into the theme park business. I think it a great idea. For our overseas readers, the ABC is a government owned entertainment network, that runs a special channel (sort of) entirely for children. They have been responsible for a large amount of Australian kids entertainment production, and are a very recognisable brand within the country. They will continue to be home to the Wiggles, which will still add international appeal to this area. It should be a great move by Dreamworld. Let's see what gets added to the existing area in the next few months.

The good folks at Parkz took a tour of Sea World last week, and had some great pictures of the progress of the Creatures of the Deep and the destruction of the Sea World's kid's area Beach Break Bay. Progress continues on both at break-neck speed.

For more Theme Park coverage, follow me on Twitter @themeparknut. Until next week, Cheers!