Tuesday 9 June 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - June 9th 2015

This week has been a very mixed bag for theme park fans. We started with bad news in the U.K., and ended with some exciting news for Universal's U.S. parks. Let's get down to the business of this week's Theme Park News Update.

Probably the biggest news this week was the two train collision on The Smiler at Alton Towers in the U.K. This is a huge accident, because it looks as if it's cause was not mechanical failure as much as it was either Human or Control System error, and because of the severity of the injuries. The issue occurred at 2pm last Tuesday when a full train of riders ran into a valleyed empty test train, causing severe injuries to the riders at the front of the of the train. The ride had been closed, and the riders in the accident were the first to run the track that afternoon. It appears they had been held at a block brake before the empty test train, but where somehow released from the brake.

The English press aren't exactly the best at balanced and level reporting, so it is hard to pick out what information is correct. I'm looking at you in particular Sky News (that interview is one of the worst pieces of garbage journalism I have ever seen). One article in The Telegraph had a very interesting interview with one of the riders in the accident, even if the headline of the article has been since dismissed as rumor. Tragically reports in the last few days suggest that the worst injured rider has had to have one leg amputated above the knee because of the accident. One of the other front row riders has been said to have two broken legs. Our thoughts are with those who were injured in this horrible accident.

Alton Towers was closed completely for most of the week, and opened on Monday with 4 coaster remaining shut (Oblivion, Enterprise, Spinball and obviously The Smiler). Owners Merlin Entertainment have also closed Saw: The Ride at Thorpe Park, and Dragon's Fury and Rattlesnake at Chessington World of Adventures.

As bad as the accident on the Green Lantern at Movie World was earlier this year, at least it was clear that there was some kind of mechanical failure. This feels so much worse as clearly this could have been avoided and this poor woman would still have her leg.

In less horrific news, we also saw early this week the TEA/AECOM 2014 Theme Park Attendance Report released. You can read analysis of this data on a number of sites including Theme Park Insider. If all goes well, I'm going to post some of my own analysis in the coming days, so stay tuned.

We also saw confirmation that the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will open in May or early June of 2016. Given the huge surge in guests with the opening of the previous 3 Wizarding Worlds, this is a very exciting time for the original Universal park.

In other excellent news for Universal Hollywood and Orlando, Sanrio (the company that brings you Hello Kitty amongst others) has announced that it has signed a partnership deal to bring "interactive Sanrio retail shops" to these resorts. Although it is not an attraction announcement, there is still potential here to add something great to the Universal parks.

The weirdest news this week for me was the announcement of an NBA themed restaurant at Disney Springs, the revamped version of downtown Disney. Why is that weird? Well Orlando already has an NBA themed restaurant at Universal's City Walk. Not surprisingly one day after the new restaurant was announced at WDW, Universal announced the closure of their NBA themed restaurant.

And I'm not sure this is news, but there was also a bush fire that was close to but off WDW property this week.

In Australian park news this week, we had two Parkz updates of note from Sea World and Dreamworld. Firstly, at Sea World Parkz checked out the recently opened Creatures of the Deep. Secondly at Dreamworld, we saw construction progress of the Wiggles World expansion/conversion into ABC Kids World.

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


  1. Oh my gosh her leg had to be amputated?!? How horrific - all your theme parks news makes me want to never go on a scary ride again! (I only half joke!)

  2. Yeah, and now a second rider has has a leg amputated. Heather wants me to stop telling her about coaster accidents after the two big ones this year. It's like a plane flight though, still a lot less dangerous than people perceive them to be.