Tuesday 29 September 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 29th September 2015

It's only been a short week since our last update, but here is another short theme park nut news update!

As we mentioned last week, Halloween festivities are well and truly underway in the US. Last week, we focused on the Universal events in both California and Florida. This week Disneyland in California has had more focus, with articles on Theme Park Insider for Mickey's Halloween Party and Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay. I am particularly fond of the Holiday overlay of Haunted Mansion, because it uses one of my favourite movies as it's source: Tim Burton's Nightmare Before Christmas.

Speaking of overlays with movies that I love, the Star Wars overlay of Space Mountain, Hyperspace Mountain has been given a November opening. This means we get to enjoy some Star Wars fun just in time for the new movie, which is coming out this December. It also means that the parks will be able to celebrate Star Wars on one side of the park before they even start building Star Wars land on the other side of the park. That Star Wars build sounds as if it is going to take a few attractions in the Big Thunder Ranch area, with predictions that they will be down for at least a year!

Over at WDW, there has been a movement to shut down the third party reservation sites, that have been clogging up the Advanced Dining Reservation system at the site. This is good, since any opportunity that Disney can give to make it fair for the everyday visitor is a good thing.

Last week we reported that Comcast was looking to buy a controlling share in the Universal Studios Japan resort. This week, we find out that it has paid $1.5 Billion for a 51% share. I think that is good news all round.

Honestly this has nothing to do with Theme Parks, but the Florida Mall in Orlando has just opened a ThinkGeek shop. That's just cool!

In the UK, it has been said that Alton Towers is considering re-opening the Smiler roller coaster after it's June accident, that resulted in a number of very serious injuries. It has been reported that they have been discussing the re-opening of the ride with the victims of the accident, who (not suprisingly) haven't been that excited to hear it may re-open. It was always a question of when not if the Smiler would re-open given the cause of the accident, but it is still something that has to handled sensitively.

In Australia, at Sea World on the Gold Coast, the Nickelodeon Land has opened! Just in time for the school holidays! It looks really neat and I'm impressed that Sea World has spent so much getting this area ready.

Elsewhere in Australia, not a lot has been happening. There was a minor incident on the Tailspin ride at Dreamworld, where one of the plains was reportedly stuck upside down this weekend.

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

Thursday 24 September 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 24th September 2015

It's been more than two weeks since my last update. Slack, I know! Anyway, here is another big Theme Park Nut News Update.

The biggest news over the last few weeks has been the starting of the big Halloween events at the US theme parks, with the Disney Not-So-Scary Halloween Parties and Universal's  Halloween Horror Nights kicking off this week. The benchmark in terms of Horror at Halloween is clearly Universal and the web is full of coverage of these events at the moment. Check out the trip reports for Universal Studios Hollywood by Theme Park Insider and Screamscape and for Universal Orlando by Theme Park Insider and Screamscape  as well.

In Australia, Dreamworld will be joining in on the Halloween fun this year with a special Halloween Screamworld. Movie World is of course holding the ever popular Fright Nights every Friday and Saturday in October, which is as close as we get to a HHN event down here.

In other news, over in Japan Comcast, the owners of NBCUniversal, are in talks to purchase a controllîng stake in Universal Studios Japan. The park, which is the most visited non-Disney theme park in the world, is currently owned by a holding company, which is not unusual for international theme parks. Adding this into the Comcast stable directly would be a big win for Universal. Equally a big win, we saw last week the Universal Studios Beijing has been officially announced. The park is set to open in 2019 at the resort, which has space allocated for a future second gate. This will become Universal's second multi-park resort after Universal Orlando.

Staying in China, Hong Kong Disneyland has celebrated its 10th Birthday however it's not all good news. Financial analysts are worried about how the economic sandwiching going on in Hong Kong might impact general tourism in the area of the next few years. Put simply, HK is a special economic district in China with it's own  currency which is tied to the US Dollar. When China is booming and US is flats, things are great in Hong Kong, but for the first time in 20 years the US is improving while China is sliding which is double bad news for Hong Kong. In some good news from the Disneyland park there, we saw a glimpse of he upcoming  Ironman Experience last week, which looks rather cool.

Over at Disneyland Resort, the super popular Aladdin the musical at Disney California Adventure is closing to be replaced by yet another Frozen attraction. This has led a few people to questioning the longevity of the Frozen franchise, and whether Disney îs right to be putting all it's eggs in that basket.

At WDW, we have found out another victim of the breaking of ground for Star Wars Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights which will run for a final time this year. The event has been a Christmas tradition at the resort since 1995, and it will be sorely missed. We can only hope that it will return somewhere else at WDW in future years. The best idea I've heard is bringing the lights to the upcoming refresh of Downtown Disney, Disney Springs. That would be cool.

There have also been a couple of interesting innovations announced in the last few weeks. At Legoland California and Billing, Ninjago The Ride will be a world first interactive dark ride controlled by motion. The ride has been designed by Triotech and will be open in 2016. Europa Park has opened a world first coaster experience this week with the opening a Virtual Realty Coaster experience. This is essentially riding a coaster but watching an entirely different scene. The possibilities for this kind of technology is quite amazing, so I can't wait to see where it goes next.

Rocky Mountain Coasters has also shown the first glimpse of an interesting development, a single rail coaster. This an interesting piece of R&D, but at the moment it seems unclear what the advantage to the would be, but always interesting to see what is happening behind closed doors.

Finally, Cedar Point have announced they will be opening the world's longest, tallest and fastest dive coaster in 2016, Valravn. Dive Coasters are fairly extreme casters, so this will be a solid addition to this Ohio parks roster.

At home we've heard more rumblings about Australia's Wonderland in Sydney being reborn however it has been met with a lot of scepticism on fan forums. We also seen the Eureka Mountain Mine Ride rumour pop up its head for he 4th game this year. The only real news that we have had are more photos and names of attractions in the Nickelodeon Kids land at Sea World on the Gold Coast.

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

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 8th September 2015

You might have noticed that I missed last week's blog. It's been a busy couple of weeks, so I better catch up!

For local theme park fans, the biggest story of the last fortnight was  the article in the Gold Coast Bulletin about how close we came to having a Disneyland on the Gold Coast. Reportedly it was shot down at the very top by Eisner himself who wanted to go after Hong Kong rather than Australia. While I can totally understand this call it is a shame to come so close and yet miss out. It would have been amazing. Although you can never say never, it seems the golden financial time for Queensland and Australia to invest in such an attraction has long past. We might be waiting a long time for another chance to have a Disney park.

Over at Disneyland resort we have got our first view of Luigi's Rollicking' Roadsters at California Adventure. As rumoured this appears to be a close relative of the Aquatopia ride from Tokyo DisneySea, without the water of course.

Disneyland has also raised the bar for upcharging guests, with the introduction of the $300 Jungle Cruise Breakfast. This isn't a surprise with Disney, as they know that they own the very top end of the theme park market, and they know that some fans will pay almost anything for a unique experience. Still, it sounds pretty cool.

At WDW, they have open yet another park restaurant for breakfast operation, this time the Sci Fi Dine-In Theatre. Although the strategy here is clear from Disney, this restaurant in particular will be a wacky choice for breakfast since it is set at night at a Drive-In movie. It could be fun though, and will likely be popular.

In Tokyo, the Tokyo Disney Resort have announced a fourth hotel, the Palm & Fountain Terrace Hotel. Strangely it is not an on-site hotel, as it is about 5 kilometres from the parks.

Six Flags have announced that they are bringing their popular Sally Corp dark ride Justice League: Battle for Metropolis to two more Six Flags in 2016. They are also adding, not surprisingly, a couple of new coasters, but I am much more interested in their new interest in dark rides.

At Universal Orlando, Disaster! the attraction has closed to make way for their upcoming Fast and the Furious ride. Sadly, I don't think it will be missed, but I am more interested in it than the new attraction. You can't stand in the way of progress at Universal though. Universal have also announced they will be expanding their moderate resort Cabana Bay by 400 rooms in the next 2 years.

And finally, Dreamworld has named their new Tiger Cub Kai.  This little guy is growing rapidly but still is so very cute!

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