Tuesday 25 August 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 25th August 2015

A much quieter week of Theme Park news this week. Let's get into a little bit of local news to start.

At Sea World, we are starting to see more and more construction in their new Nickelodeon Kid's area. There are more images on the Parkz forums showing water dummies at the station of the new kid's coaster, which should mean that testing is underway for this ride. I'm looking forward to see what it is like when it is all put together.

Dreamworld has run a very short competition to name their new Tiger Cub. The name for the cub is going to announced tomorrow morning, which will be nice. It has been awkward referring to him as just the cub.

Aussie World on the Sunshine Coast has announced the return of the Halloween FestEVIL this year, after it sold out last year. This year they will be running over 3 nights, with the opening night to be an Adults Only Night. It's great that this little park is starting to get into event nights, I'm sure it will have a big following!

In international news, Knott's Berry farm have announced a comprehensive restoration of GhostRider, their 1998 opened Wooden coaster. This park has been making substantial upgrades to their dark rides over the last 5 years, so it is good to see that they are also willing it give some love to their coasters.

Up north in Canada, Canada's Wonderland have announced 2 news rides to be added for 2016. They will be Skyhawk, a 135 foot tall Gerstlauer Sky Fly for thrill seekers, and Flying Eagles, a Larson Flying Scooters for the kids.

Over in the U.K., there has been a report in the Daily Mail that the Alton Tower's Smiler crash earlier this year was caused by human error. The report says that an engineer overrode the automatic safety lock holding the cart with passengers from the block break, which allowed the operator to dispatch the cart into the stalled cart. This has very much been the suspicion of a number of theme park blogs when the accident occurred that it would be more likely to be human error than a system error. This is still a pretty horrible accident regardless of the cause.

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

Tuesday 18 August 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 18th August 2015

The big news this week in theme parks is no question the Disney D23 convention, however I've been a bit slack over the last few weeks with the local Australian Parks, so I'm going to start at home, and then finish with the new s from overseas.

As you saw from us this week the unnamed Dreamworld Tiger Cub has come out on display at the nursery on Tiger Island. There is not a lot to say about him thus far, except that he is really freaking cute. The park is going to be running a competition to name the cub, which they will be announcing details of in the next few weeks.

Also at Dreamworld we have seen a little bit of construction and destruction lately. The fountain has been under construction for some time now, and work is ongoing there. Rumour is that there will be a large Dreamworld globe, like Universal Studios, which would make a nice little place setter for the front of the park. We have also seen some demolition of the Ice Cream Parlor in recent weeks. It is entirely gutted, and I'm not sure why at this stage. I'll just say that I hope I haven't had my last rainbow icecream from there.

There is also been some pretty wild speculation on the refurbishment of Cyclone roller coaster, including reports that it will be running backwards by the end of the year. Personally I would hope that is speculation, I would rather a decent rehab and some new trains to cut down on the roughness of the ride. Time will tell!

Over at Movie world, there has been construction at both Dirty Harry's in the back of the park and the removal of kiosk at the front of the park. There have been rumors about new attraction without detail as of yet. No doubt they will be wanting to do something for 2016, but the moment we really only have guess. In some good news, there is definite movement on the Green Lantern coaster which had a horrible accident back in March.

Let's go over to the U.S.! In Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort has announced a refurbishment of their Incredible Hulk coaster. This enhancement sounds really interesting for an impressive but one-dimensional ride in a rich themed environment. Good on Universal for spending on rides before they need it. In other news, the "Lucy: A Tribute" attraction at Universal Studios Orlando closed to make way for Hello Kitty shop. This is a mixed blessing for me, as I always thought it would be cute to show my daughter (whose name is Lucy) about another famous Lucy, but at the same time she might also enjoy Hello Kitty. Just a little bit.

Staying in Orlando, SeaWorld's new Hyper coaster Mako is on it's way to the troubled park.Will this addition be too little too late to save this troubled theme park franchise, who can say.

And just a slight detour, the Beech Bend Amusement Park in Bowling Green Kansas has had a second accident in as many months, this time with a coaster derailing after the track disconnected. That is a big concern for this little park. Smells like some kind of sabotage to me.

Now, let's talk Disney!!

As you saw from our earlier post: D23 Round Up, there has been quiet a few announcements from the Disney D23 fan conference. The biggest of which was undoubtedly the official announcement of Star Wars Land at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios. These lands are significantly larger than initially rumoured, and with 2 E-Ticket rides, they should be very popular. The immediate speculation about where it would be built cleared up by accident at least for Disneyland, where a Tweet from the @DisneylandToday announced the location while chatting with a fan.

The other big stories from the event were Disney's Hollywood Studio is getting Toy Story Land, Epcot and Disney California Adventure getting Soarin' Around the World. We also heard further details on the Iron Man Experience in Hong Kong, the princessly expansions in Tokyo (New Fantasyland and Frozen) and everything Shanghai.

The big news that we didn't get was any details about the new name for Disney's Hollywood Studios. Any indication of when Star Wars Land or Toy Story Land would open.

Something a little bit cool for the real Disney nerds this week, as we saw two new connections to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Firstly, a new restaurant at Downtown Disney (soon to be Disney Springs) at WDW has tied Indiana Jones to the Society of Explorer's and Adventurers. We also heard in the official announcement this week name of the new Adventureland Veranda restaurant Skipper Canteen, that it's founder is linked to S.E.A. If you aren't familiar with the Society, they connect two of the most richly details Disney properties of recent time, the Tokyo DisneySea version of Tower of Terror, and Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland. Expect to hear more about this Society in coming years.

Finally this week, WDW has announced a new desert party for the Halloween event Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. This is a fascinating trend that Disney have started, to basically have a hard ticket event inside a hard ticked event. Having said that would I consider going, yeah probably I would. Disney sure know how to get the most (money) out of people.

And on that bombshell, I'm done for this week!

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

Sunday 16 August 2015

D23 Parks and Resorts Round up

Today saw the Parks and Resorts presentation at the 2015 D23 conference in Anaheim, California. We got a sneak peak at the future of Disney theme parks both in the U.S. and internationally. We saw some new details about existing projects, as well as some official announcements of some heavily rumored projects at WDW and Disneyland. So here is a quick official Round Up of what has been announced at D23 so far.

Firstly, before the big presentation today, we heard an official name for the restaurant that is being constructed on the Adventureland Veranda, the Skipper Canteen. The restaurant (as suspected) will have a Jungle Cruise theme, with a cute little back story that ties it to the Society of Explorers and Adventures.

The next big announcement was Star Wars Land. This is the biggest announcement of D23 so far, for both WDW and Disneyland Resort. Firstly, both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disneyland are going to get a new 14 acre land. The expansions are the biggest in park expansions that either resort has ever had. It will be anchored by 2 E-ticket rides, one that is connected to the Millennium Falcon, and one that will be connected with the up coming Episode 7. There will also be a Cantina, which will reportedly be serving Blue Milk. The big twist thus far is that the land will be from a "new" planet which has never before been seen. It is unclear whether this planet will be featured in one of the upcoming 5 announced Star Wars movie, or if it will be an entirely novel planet.

The announcements about Star Wars were tempered by the statements that it is going to take some time. In the meantime both Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios will be featuring a temporary attraction called the "Star Wars Launch Bay" (into the former Innoventions pavilion at Disneyland and the former Animation pavilion space at Disney's Hollywood Studios). A similar attraction to this has been mentioned for Shanghai Disneyland also. We are also going to see an expansion to the Star Wars Weekends, to be the "Season of the Force" at both DHS and DL. There will be new fireworks for DHS and an overlay of Space Mountain for Disneyland called "Hyperspace Mountain". We also were told that there will be additional scenes coming to the existing Star Tours rides in the coming years.

Overall, this is a huge announcement, and if they can deliver on the hype they have built up it will be a huge delivery. We knew this was coming for DHS, but while there had been rumors about Disneyland, nothing to the scale of 14 acres had been suggested.

The second big announcement of this event was the official announcement of Toy Story Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This will be an add on to the existing Pixar Place land, which will include an extra track for Toy Story Mania, and at least 3 additional rides. There will be a new ride Slinky Dog roller coaster, which will designed for families. There will be a new spinner ride themed to the Green Aliens, which will include a reference to the dreaded "claw". There will also be a clone of the Army man drop ride from the existing Toy Story Playlands in Hong Kong Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Paris. In all this looks better than the existing Toy Story Playlands, but it wasn't quiet the detailed Pixar expansion we were hoping for.

We saw some further details about the Avatar expansion at Disney Hollywood Studios. The only major news (other than a really impressive looking model) was that the flying ride will be known as the "Flight of Passage". Everything else mentioned had been previously showcased.

Oh, did you know there was going to be a Frozen ride at Epcot? Of course you did, it's been freaking everywhere for the last year. Nothing new here.

Over in Tokyo, we saw some details of the recently announced expansion to Fantasyland in Tokyo Disneyland, with the Alice in Wonderland and Beauty and the Beast mini-lands looking quiet impressive. We also heard a little about the upcoming "port" in Tokyo DisneySea themed to mega-hit Frozen. Like everything else in that park, it looks like it will be annoyingly breathe-taking.

Next we saw details of the Iron Man Experience ride at Hong Kong Disneyland. This ride looks like a more modern version of Star Tours, although a lot of people are comparing the action taking place to Transformers. It will be interesting to see if how Universal has stepped up the simulator ride experience in the last 10 years has had an effect inside WDI.

We saw some enticing details on the Shanghai Disneyland project. Nothing which hadn't previously been discussed as far as I can tell. I think the idea here was to stir up a bit of state-side interest in the Shanghai development. It would be good if this park had some international sales going for it, just in case it doesn't take with the local community in China.

We rounded out the major presentation with a bit of official news, that had been strongly rumored. Soarin' Over California at Disney's California Adventure and Epcot, will be getting a new global film next year and will become Soarin' Over the Horizon. This film will match the previously announced film for Shanghai Disneyland.

So that's a quick round up of what we know so far. The convention continues for another day, so we may yet get a few more details. We'd still love to hear the new name for Disney's Hollywood Studios, but that is looking less and less likely.

If you want to check out my twitter account, you will see about a thousand tweets shared from people who were attending today's D23 session and quiet a few reactions. I'll give more of the reaction when I do this weeks News Update on Tuesday. Until then, Cheers!!

Saturday 15 August 2015

Dreamworld - New Tiger Cub

Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit Dreamworld, and we were able to have a little peak at their brand new, as yet unnamed, Tiger cub. He was 3 weeks old yesterday, and completely adorable!

Here are some brief action shots, before he went off to sleep:

Hey Tiger, wake up!

In Dreamworld construction news, I can confirm that there is work going on in two places at the park. The front of the fountain near the main gate is still under heavy construction. It looks like a heavy duty stage or something like that is under way.

I can also confirm that the Ice cream Parlor has been completely gutted. including the walls on the lower level. All that is left inside is the air conditioning ducting. The roof, including the signage, is still present. So hopefully that means that the we will be seeing a return for this iconic ice cream venue, since it's unlikely to be useful for an attraction as far as I can tell.

Monday 10 August 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 11th August 2015

Another week of world Theme Park news has happened, so let's get down to it!

There have been a couple of coaster stories making news this week. It appears that Cedar Point may have accidentally released the logo and layout of their upcoming coaster for 2016. It appears a new version of their Android App was accidentally pushed live this weekend, before being removed. However, CoasterFeed was able to get a few images of the ride before it was removed.

Over at Dollywood, we have been given more details for Lightning Rod, their new coaster for 2016. It is going to be the world's first Launched Wooden coaster, and just quietly, it sounds pretty amazing. It's going to be built by Rocky Mountain Construction, who have been making some of the most interesting coasters in the last 5 years.

We are definitely getting into the pre-Halloween spirit with announcements this from Knott's Berry Farm  and Universal Studios over there upcoming events.

At Knott's Scary Farm, we are going to see a huge roster of attractions this year with 11 mazes, 3 scare zones and 2 live shows. One of the new mazes for this year is called "The Dead of Winter" which is based on a Snow Queen who has resurrected a team Viking warriors to avenge her family's murder. So it's Frozen. Well it might be a touch scarier than Frozen, but you can see what they are trying to do there. Well played Knott's!

Over at Universal, the big news is that Michael Myers is back. The iconic Halloween film villain will return in a new and horrifying maze based around his family home in Haddonfield, Illinois.

One place that is not giving us any Halloween news is Disney, but as always there is plenty of Disney buzz to go around.

Last week we mentioned the land that Disneyland had bought close to the Disneyland resort. Theme Park Insider followed up the many new reports on this purchase by putting a little bit of cold water on the fire. Rightly so too, as the article points out Disneyland Resort already had control of these properties before the purchase, and that we are a long way away from these properties being used to alleviate the current space stress imposed on the Disneyland Resort.

Disneyland has brought back fastpasses for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster, and interestingly enough for the moment these are "off-the-grid" fastpasses. I don't know what the idea of bring them back is, but when all else fails blame it on the coming of MyMagic+.

Here is not the biggest surprise of the week Disney Keeps Making Money. Not just some Money, but lots of money. $2.5 Billion in profit for the Quarter. At this rate, they could be earning a Billion dollars a month in a few years time. Extraordinary.

The biggest news for next week in the Disney universe is the annual D23 convention in  Anaheim. At this event last year Disney teased us about the possibility of  a Star Wars land at WDW, with their Orange Harvest display. This time, what do fans expect from Disney? The big hope is SOMETHING about the future of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. We know that things are happening there, but it would be good to get a sense of the grand plan from Disney's perspective.

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

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 5th August 2015

I'm a day late with my blog this week! I blame work for keeping me busy last night. Anyway! Time for this week's Theme Park Nut News Update.

The big news this week came from our own Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, who chose July 29th, International Tiger Day, to announce the birth of their new Tiger cub! The cub, a boy, was born a few days earlier on July 25th. He's yet to be named, and expected to make his public debut in the Tiger Island nursery in mid-August. Dreamworld has started up a cub club for those that are interest in the latest updates about the little guy.

For just a taste of the cuteness, here is a video that Dreamworld posted on Twitter:

Speaking of Twitter, I followed a really fun Twitter feed this week called Wonderland90s. As it's bio says it is "Having some fun tweeting about what might be going on at Wonderland if it was the 90's". It's a good one for Aussies who grew up in the 90s, like I did. I am still sad that Wonderland isn't around anymore, I only ever got one visit! Still check out Wonderland90s for a good laugh!

Over in the U.S., Disneyland Resort has launched a new version of it's app. Don't be fooled, this is the first in a series of small steps towards MyMagic+ at DLR. Screamscape had some really good information this week about Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters which is replacing Luigi’s Flying Tires at Disney California Adventure. The ride is going to open in early 2016, and will replicate the dance moves of an Italian family gathering. Should be interesting! Disneyland Resort has also bought some additional property in the area in the last few weeks, which is always an interesting development!

At WDW, we are starting to see a few changes that many suspect are related to the wider plans to use up the unused capacity at the park. This week it was extending the hours of the Garden Grill restaurant at Epcot. As with the changes part of MyMagic+, Disney is moving towards trying to pull as many guests out of circulation as possible. While they don't want you wait in queues, they are also realize that a happy guest, that is spending time (and money) not on an attraction is the most effective way to keep average happiness/spend up.

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