Tuesday 22 December 2015

Movie World White Christmas - Quick Review

This is my 100th post for this blog!! How exciting, and what a good way to celebrate by doing a review of White Christmas!

Last Friday night, my family and I went to the White Christmas event at WB Movie World on the Gold Coast. This event has been running now for a number of years, and has become a wonderful family addition to this park's event roster to balance out Australia's most popular Halloween Event (Fright Nights).

We have been to previous years White Christmas, and this years even lived up to the previous ones that we have experienced. It was a great experience, however there are a couple of things that could still be improved for the event as a whole.

Firstly, I was glad to see that the stands had disappeared from the main square, which made for a much more open event. The addition of the Fairy Garden in the main square was nice, but I must admit that I expected more from this from the advertising/website.

As usual Santa's area and the Parade were fantastically themed, and the lights were very beautiful. The light show itself was pretty much the same as the previous one, if I remember correctly, but that isn't a big deal.

The biggest problem that I had for the night was the noise. The main street sound was just booming from when the event started until when it ended. It was genuinely to loud for my 3 year old to cope with, and we had to watch the parade and lights away from the main street. I totally expect it to be loud, but it doesn't need to be deafening like Fright Nights. This is a very different target market, and I think they would do better by just turning it down a little bit.

The only other major complaint that we had was that the Carousel was closed for maintenance. I understand that this might have been out of Movie World's control, but if there is ever a time that you want that ride running, this is the time. Still it helped having the Junior Driving School open, with some Christmas lights inside it, as my daughter really enjoyed that!

We didn't partake in the Christmas Buffet, but I did hear that the food there was excellent. We went for the burgers from Gotham, which had very long queues (again can't really be helped) but the food quality was really high! My advice would be not to plan to eat in the park during the event if you can avoid it (which is hard with kids, I know). It is such a short event, it is a shame to queue for 45 minutes for food in a 3 hour event.

Apart from eating before or after the event, the other major tips I would give, is to park at the back of the car park, as close to the exit as possible. We did, and got out in a few minutes, while I'm sure some people would have taken an hour to get out. The other big tip, is to get there early. They were letting people with White Christmas tickets into the park (with wristbands) from about 4-4:30, and you can fit a couple of rides in before they actually close the park, and confine you to the roped off area for White Christmas.

Overall the event itself worked great, and was very enjoyable!! Kudos to Movie World for doing a great job with this event!

Monday 21 December 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 22nd December 2015

It's been a quiet week this week, for the second last week in December, so let's get into this weeks Theme Park News Update!

On the local front, Movie World has re-opened the Green Lantern coaster. This coaster has been closed for nearly 9 months after a near catastrophic accident in March where one train derailed, and nearly flipped off the track. We were able to check out the newly opened coaster last Friday, running in all it's glory, when we went to the White Christmas event (which I'll write up a quick review for shortly).

In international news, this week marked the addition of metal detectors to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and Sea World. It is unclear at this time whether the co-ordinated action by the parks was related to some kind of threat, but it isn't particularly surprising. Universal Orlando has been trialling detectors at their parks in various guises and for specific events for some time. This is sadly inevitable, but if it makes the millions of tourists visiting these parks and the staff who operate them safer, then I am all for it.

At WDW, the new Skipper Canteen restaurant opened this week. This Jungle Cruise inspired table service restaurant has opened on the Adventureland Verandah space, and is the first connection to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers in a U.S. Disney Theme Park.

Over on I-Drive, approval has been given to build a 425 foot tall Star Flyer. This attraction will be not far away from the Orlando Eye which opened this year on I-Drive, and construction is expected to start next year.

On ThemeParkInsider.com today an interesting article has been posted today about the future of Knott's Berry Farm. In it Robert discusses the prospect of Knott's upcoming attractions helping it to get back to it's roots as a family park, rather than the "hard-iron" style park that it had been turning into. While this is all speculation, it is definitely interesting to consider, considering the evolution plan that Universal Hollywood has worked through in the last couple of years, and the revamp of DCA. This is a very tight market, with some very heavy hitters, so it's always interesting to keep an eye on what Knott's is up too!

While this isn't really a theme park, I think this is just a great story, so I think I would add this in this week. A Serbian-born Australian, who runs a recycling shop in Canberra called the Green Shed, has been working on a Amusement Park in the small town of Batocina in Serbia. Tiny, as he is known, has been working on a hedge maze, skate park, jumping pillows and a putt putt course. The area that he is building in has 75% unemployment, and very low standard of living, and his hope is that this little park will stimulate the local economy and create at least 50 jobs. What a great guy who has built a successful life over here, but what's to give something back to the community he came from!

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

Sunday 13 December 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 13th December 2015

I missed last weeks update, so here is a double Theme Park Nut News Update!

The big news from the last two week is from Orlando where we found out that the Skyplex development was approved, but more importantly we found out why Universal was against it! It turns out Universal has an option to buy 474 acres south of Universal Orlando Resort. Overcoming the transportation difficulties, this would make a great space for a third gate, although there would be a blood big pole coaster just across the road. Should be interesting to watch this development over the next couple of years.

On the other coast, we heard last week that Universal Studios Hollywood will be opening their Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the 7th of April. This WWoHP is an almost clone of the original WWoHP in Island's of Adventure in Universal Orlando, except that there will not be a Duelling Dragons coaster, and the Hollywood version of the Forbidden Journey ride will be in 3D (as it is in Japan).

Staying in the U.S., we had Legoland California last week give us a sneak peak of their upcoming attractions, as well as lighting their (seriously awesome) Lego Christmas Tree.

In Paris, Disney has announced a major refurbishment of 10 popular attractions in the next two years. This is good news for this resort, which has been on a well documented attendance slide for the past couple of years. Hopefully this injection will bring new life into the Disneyland Paris Resort.

Earlier in the year we reported that a plan had been proposed to build a non-Universal Universal park in Okinawa. It looks as though the purchase of the USJ Company by Comcast, the owner of Universal, may have squashed that prospect, but it appears that Okinawa has not given up on getting a major theme park to use this space. Last week we saw it reported that they were approaching the Oriental Land Company to build on this land. OLC are the local company responsible building and operation of the Tokyo Disney Resort, however there is no indication of whether Disney would be involved in building the park that is being discussed.

At home, we saw a tiny glimpse of the new Motorsport area that is forming the basis for the re-theme of the Cyclone coaster at Dreamworld (to open on Boxing Day), as well as few details on the new Rider Express system that is replacing the Q4U system. At Movie World, the Green Lantern ride is still not running, although they have claimed this will be running again before Christmas. They have however had their first White Christmas event for the year! We have also had a little bit more detail leak out about the big developments at Movie World, as outlined in this article on Parkz.com.au.

We also found out about the secret improvement that Aussie World was teasing in their recent emails, they have introduced Annual Passes. At $90 for the pass, this equates to about 2.5 days at normal rates, which isn't bad value if you live in the local area. This does however compare badly with the Gold Coast parks, who offer Annual Passes/Memberships at around the cost of 1.5 days.

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

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 1st December 2015

Just  a quick update this week, as there hasn't been a lot happening in Theme Parks for the start of December.

The big news on the Australian Theme Park front is there is definitely something big happening at Movie World. A number of planning applications have been submitted in the last few weeks which appears to indicate that more than just one attraction may be on the way to this Gold Coast park. It will be interesting to see in the next few months if we get an official announcement of what they are up too, and when we are going to see it!
We have also seen this week that the re-theme of Cyclone Roller coaster at Dreamworld, into the Hot Wheels Side Winder is going to officially open on Boxing Day.

In other theme park news, there has been some news out of WDW this week, where the Lumberjack show in Epcot's Canada pavilion has ended. The show was only a recent replacement for the rock group Off Kilter that performed in that pavilion for a long time. There hasn't been any indication of if there will be a replacement in the near future.

Over at Universal Hollywood, they have announced the dates for their Grinchmas Christmas event. This years event will have to work around the construction of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which is opening next spring. Theme Park Insider has posted a feature this week about the Zonko's Joke Shop at the upcoming Wizarding World this week.

At Universal Orlando, they have also extended the run of Beetlejuice's Graveyard Review into January.  Beetlejuice yet again proving to be hard to kill.

Finally over at Europa Park in Germany, it has been reported that they are planning a new kiddie coaster for 2016. No reports on the theme for this new ride, but hopefully further news will be coming in the next few months.

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