Tuesday 24 November 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 24th November 2015

This will be the last update for November, I cannot believe how fast this year has gone! Let's get into another theme park news update!

There was lots of Australian news this week, so much so that I did an extra update on the weekend to discuss the 4 big issues that have come up. In short, Movie World is going to announce a new roller coaster, Aussie World is going to announce a new something, Sea World had to close to a grass fire nearby and everyone thinks that the Gold Coast is getting a Disneyland (except for me). We'll keep you in the loop on all of these as developments continue.

But there is a lot of other things happening in the world of Theme Parks. The big news stories this week have been about the IAAPA conference, and construction.

Starting with construction! We have seen construction updates on the Universal parks in Orlando and Hollywood from Theme Park Insider. The Hollywood update also gave us a peak at the west coast version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is going to make a huge difference to this park over the next couple of years. We have also seen construction updates from Dollywood where the Lightning Rod coaster is well under construction, and Six Flags Magic Mountain.

We also saw a couple more details of the Rivers of Light show that is coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom at WDW, as well as some construction from that parks new Avatar land, and their new restaurant called Tiffens.

This week the 2015 IAAPA conference kicked off in Orlando showing the new and exciting developments being made in the Theme Park industry this year. From this we had a number of reports, with interesting displays showing the new Cobra's Curse coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa, as well as the Walking Dead attraction we mentioned last week that Sally Corp. has designed. This attraction is yet to have a client attached to it, so it genuinely could end up in any theme park in the world at this point. Triotech also showed off their hands free interactive dark ride being developed for LEGOLAND, themed around the Ninjago series. This is a serious neat bit of technology, so good on Triotech for being an innovator in a very crowded marketplace.

There was a great legends panel also this year, which was focussed on the impact that Disney has had on the theme park industry. It had a couple of really interesting panellist that were able to give a good perspective from both inside and outside Disney. It is definitely worth the read to get a bit of understand about this giant dominant leader, and the continued effect its values have throughout the entire industry.

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

Saturday 21 November 2015

Quick Australian News Update

I know it's to early for my normal weekly update, but it's such a big news week this week with IAAPA and all, I thought I'd get some big Australian news out of the way.

Firstly, a lot of talk about the Wanda theme park proposal, and the fact that they didn't deny it would be related to Disney. While I'd be the first to be overjoyed for a Disneyland in Australia, looking at the facts it seems unlikely. We know that Disney has knocked back proposals for the Gold Coast in the past. We know that Wanda is creating it's own theme parks with the Wanda brand, and these are not "Disney" style parks. We know that Wanda has had nothing to do with either the Hong Kong or Shanghai Disney Resorts. This hasn't stopped the hype of this taking hoed, with the Huffington Post, NZ Herald, Stuff.co.nz, Buzzfeed and just about all local media writing articles about. Once again, I'm the wet blank. Getting our own Wanda resort would be amazing, but I'd rate it about a 20% chance at this point. It being a Disney resort, I'd put at about 0.5%. That's only fractionally higher than I would put Disney coming hear by itself.

Moving on to real news, something big is coming to Move World. Parks.com.au have reported on the VRTP co-chairman Robert Kirby announcing there will be a major announcement of a "world's best" attraction at the Gold Coast park in the coming months. Clever detectives on the Parkz forums have found a development application for a rollercoaster at the shared Movie World/Wet 'n' Wild site. This is great news, so speculation is well underway at the Parkz forums. Early speculation seems to suggest that the Wild West area at the back of the park is the most logical place for expansion. At least one well connected forum member is very excited, so this could be great news!

We have also had little Sunshine Coast park Aussie World tease us this week with this little note in their FunMail newsletter:
"Oh, and I almost forgot! We're getting ready to announce something big at Aussie World - It's something that most of our fun loving guests have been asking us to introduce for a little while. We're getting ready to announce it to the world, but as our loyal tribe you're amongst to hear out about it. Make sure you read FunMail all the way to the end to find out more"
Now we can't get to excited for Aussie World, as the don't have as bigger budget as Dreamworld or Movie World, but still they have been making great choices in their last few investments. So again, great news!

Finally for this weekend, Sea World was forced to briefly close  due to a vegetation fire on the Southport spit yesterday. The park was only effected by smoke and reopened yesterday afternoon. It is expected to open as normal today, with cooler conditions reducing the risk of grass or vegetation fires.

I'll be back Tuesday with a full news update as normal! Until then, Cheers!

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 17th November 2015

There are a couple of standout issues that have dominated theme park discussions over the last week in Australia. But before we get to that, it is impossible to ignore the terrorist attacks that were committed in Paris last weekend. They have been universally condemned, and I have to add my voice to that chorus. These are shocking events, and they are awful to witness. I can't imagine the hate that would drive any person to act in that manner, it's truly horrifying. I hope that as a world we can unite against lunatics, regardless of ethnicity or religion, because that is what these people were, lunatics, plain and simple.

I'm sure everyone has read plenty on these attacks, but Theme Park Insider did have an interesting article about the attacks which closed the Disneyland Paris Resort for 3 days this week.

Now, on to happier news! We were all a little taken by surprise early last week, when it was announced that the Wanda Group was in discussions with the Queensland Government about building a new Theme Park at Coomera on the Gold Coast. You can read our earlier post about it here, but in short this is a very exciting development! We will be watching it closely, and let you know if we here any news about it.

We also got an exciting sneak peak this week from Disney Parks, who previewed the new Star Wars themed Season of the Force Event at Disneyland Resort, including the Hyperspace Mountain overlay of Space Mountain. Even though this is just a temporary place holder until they can get their Star Wars lands built, I must say this event is pretty cool. However, I may be a little biased, I am a fan. I may or may not be watching Empire Strikes Back as we speak.

Moving from one George Lucas science fiction to another, sad but expected news announced this week with the Michael Jackson short film Captain EO set to close on December 6th. The film, which was brought back to Epcot at Walt Disney World after Michael Jackson's death, will be replace by a collection of Disney and Pixar short films.

Not all bad news for Epcot this week, with the opening of the Colortopia Exhibit in Innovations East. Sponsored by Glidden Paints, the Exhibit includes 3 venues that focus on the "emotional potential of color": "Power of Color", "The Color Lab" and "Color of our World".

Today, Universal Hollywood has announced there new Annual Plans for the coming year, which have not surprisingly included price increase. With the expected opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to occur early next year, some have theorised that the fact that the week of March 21st has been added to the blackout dates for the lower Annual passes might mean this will be the opening time for this particular attraction.

In international news, we have seen construction updates on the DreamWorks Moscow park and Universal Studios Beijing. GCI have just finished construction of China's tallest and longest roller coaster at Wanda's Nanchang Theme Park. And we have seen our fist real glimpse inside the new Pirates of the Carribean ride at Shanghai Disneyland courtesy of the ThemeParX.

It has also been rumoured that one of the world's best little parks Efteling in the Netherlands is almost ready to start work on a new trackless dark ride for 2017. Almost everything Efteling does is amazing, so they have high expectations to live up to with this new ride.

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

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Potential New Gold Coast Theme Park

News broke today that the Chinese company the Wanda Group is working with the Queensland Government on attaining land for a brand new Theme Park at Cookers on the Gold Coast! This is huge news, as this has enough potential to actually happen.

The news was broken by the Gold Coast Bulletin, who spoke to the General Manager Xie Hong, who disclosed that project is still in negotiations with the State Government. Mr Xie met with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk when she was in Beijing in October, and Tourism Minister Kate Jones will fly to Yunnan next week to visit the Wanda Xishuangbanna International Resort.

Never one to underestimate, News.com.au has republished the same article from the Gold Coast Bulletin under the headline, 'Is Australia about to get a Disneyland?'. While this is an exciting development, it is far to early to make such grandiose claims. There was also a write up of the story published in bmag.

What do we know about the Wanda Group? We know that they opened a brand new Theme Park and resort in Yunnan province, China, in September this year. We also know that spent US$2.5 Billion on that complex. We know that they plan on becoming the World's largest travel company. You can read more about the construction of their current projects on the ThemeParx forums. We know the Wanda Group is happy to invest in Australia, having bought the Hoyts cinema chain in June this year. They have also invested directly in the Gold Coast, having a 55% stake in the Jewel Hotel and apartment complex, as well as supporting Jetstar running direct flights to the Gold Coast from Wuhan.  Add this to the visits from senior state government figures, and this is definitely a genuine prospect.

Let's hope that Australia's Wandaland is more successful than Australia's Wonderland. We will follow any developments with this project over he next few months, and keep you informed.

Tuesday 10 November 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 10th November 2015

Welcome to this week's Theme Park Nut News Update!

Starting in the US this week, Knott's Berry Farm has announced plans for their 75th Anniversary, including that wooden coaster specialists GCI will be revamping the Ghostrider coaster, and that Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant will also be having a refurbishment.

The IAAPA Attractions Expo opens next week, and the first little  bits of information about displays are starting to come out. This week we saw a sneak peak of the attraction showcased at the Sally Corps stand, a Walking Dead themed dark ride. Who knows where it will end up, but it sounds cool.

At WDW, we got the announcement of the name for the upcoming boat ride as part of the Avatar expansion at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The Na'vi River Journey will open alongside the Flight of Passage when Pandora - The World of Avatar opens in 2017. Disney has also announced this week that Star Wars Weekends will no longer run in May, with the Season of the Force event replacing it starting this December. This is not really a surprise, but it is a shame to not have the event near Star Wars Day anymore.

There is an interesting pair of articles on Theme Park Insider about Sea World, one questioning what is going wrong with the theme park chain, and a follow announcing the changes coming to the parks over the next couple of years. Who knows what the future holds for this chain but it I clear that new CEO Joel Man by has his work cut out for him.

From the Dubai this week, we got more details on the Motiongate theme park project. There further details on the Hunger Games and How to train your Dragon sections of the park. This project is certainly ambitious, it will be great to see what actually gets built here. Staying in Dubai, there was confirmation this week that the second 20th Century Fox World is being built there for a 2018 opening. Interestingly this park is not being made by the same company behind 20th century FoxWorld in Malaysia, so these two Parks may end up having very little in common.

In Sweden, theme park High Chaparral has offered to take in 400 Syrian Refugees during their off season. They have also offered to teach the refugees how to ride horses. Very impressive work from this little Swedish parks.

At home, Movie World has started an extensive refurbishment of their Carousel. There has also been a ridiculous storm on the Movie World Facebook page where a bunch of nutbags have been complaining about Movie World having a prayer room. Most Theme Parks, Shopping Centres, Hospitals and Universities in Australia have prayer rooms, and just like Movie Worlds they are open to people of all faiths. I am for being inclusive of all cultures and religions, and if something as simple as Prayer Room can help someone feel comfortable, then I support it whole heartedly. If you don't like it, then don't go. Don't go anywhere where people feel tolerance for other people. I'm sure you'll be missed.

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

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 3rd November 2015

The big news in Australian Theme Parks this week is the potential re-opening of the Green Lantern Coaster at Movie World. The coaster was closed in March after 13 passengers were left stranded on ride, some with minor injuries, when their train dislodged from the coaster track. Investigations have shown that a design flaw caused a bolted joint to fail, causing the almost tragic accident. The offending bolt has been redesigned by the ride manufacturer S&S Worldwide, and stress tested over the last couple of months.

The other Australian news this week was the success of the various Halloween events at the Australian parks over the last weekend. It certainly sounds like Fright Nights and the Halloween FestEvil were very popular again this year. Hopefully these events keep running, and we are able to avoid some of the darker aspects that have been seen at the U.S. events in the last year. Just this week a scareactor has pressed charges after being kicked in the face by a guest at one of the Universal Horror Nights events.

In overseas news, Universal has recorded it's highest ever summer attendance this year. It has been reported that their profits for that time were up an astonishing 23%. This has been a big year for Universal, so I guess we'll see what the next 12 months bring, with the addition of the slightly confusing Race Through New York feature Jimmy Fallon.

Over at WDW, we have got the first real details about the Rivers of Light show at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The details from an Audition call for dancers, that is specifically looking for Bollywood style performers. The show promises to have beautiful floating lanterns and laser water effects.

At Disneyland Resort, is has been suggest that Jungle Cruise is going to close for much of 2016, adding to the general closure of most of the west side of Disneyland for the Star Wars land construction.

In Dubai, the multi-studio theme park Motiongate Dubai has announced that Sony will be adding attractions based around Zombieland and Underworld. I think the Zombieland drop tower could actually be well done, if they show a little respect to how it is used in the movie. It would be sad to see this as just another plonked Drop Tower with little theming. Only time will tell!

There was also a court ruling this week that slightly opens the door to the prospect of the Lord of the Rings franchise appearing in theme parks in the future. The case is between heirs of J.R.R. Tolkien and Warner Bros. Studios over what the exact rights that Warner Bros. purchased was. The battle still has a long way to go, however if the Warner Bros. Studios are found to be in control of the rights for theme parks, then you can bet that it will follow it's mega-franchise brothers (Harry Potter and Star Wars) into U.S. theme parks sooner rather than later. The smart money would be on Universal trying to get control of this property. While it certainly doesn't have the same pull as Harry Potter, it is a richly details environment that could easily give a handful of entertaining experiences to fans.

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