Friday 30 December 2016

2016 Year in Review

This year has been a massive year for theme parks both good and bad. To be honest, I've been watching most of it from the sidelines as, in real life, our son was born in May and we've hardly slept since. However 2017 is a new year, and I'm already working on how to get a bit more blogging done in the new year. Without any further ado, here is a 2016 theme park round up!

In short, internationally it's been a year of massive openings. In Australia it's been a year of tragedy and closures.

Let's start overseas.

Any year that a Magic Kingdom opens is automatically a big year in theme parks. In 2016 it was Shanghai Disneyland. The second Disney park in China after Hong Kong, this is the biggest Disney build since Tokyo DisneySea.  The park is anchored by a handleful of new or reimagined attractions most notably a brand new Pirates of the Caribbean and the TRON Lightcycle Power Run. This is a great park but we probably have to wait another 6-12 months to know just how well received it will be by the locals.

In the U.S. there were two big openings for Universal theme parks, one on each coast. WWoHP at Universal Studios Hollywood was an almost complete copy of the original WWoHP in Oralndo. Not surprisingly this had been a winner for the Hollywood park, which was already increasing in attendance before thos enhancement.

In Orlando, Islands of Adventure opened Skull Island: Reign of Kong. This attraction is based on a portion of the Hollywood studio tour however it has been massively scaled up. Once again the reaction was very positive, with the only real negative being the "adult" nature of the ride. While not the scale of Diagon Alley, this is yet another hit for Universal Orlando Resort.

CityWalk at UOR also added a pretty insane restaurant this year, with the opening of Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. I haven't heard a bad word about this place, and certainly the pictures of this place look amazing (although some have said their menu was designed for Instagram).

Over at Walt Disney World there has been a mixed bag this year. Epcot opened Frozen Ever After as a replacement for Maelstrom in the Norway section of World Showcase. This has, not surprisingly, been incredibly popular. Over at Animal Kingdom, their brand new show Rivers of Light failed to actually open. Due to open on April 22nd, it was announced om April 5th that it wouldn't open on time. In it's place a smaller show connected to the luce action Jungle Book movie was thrown together. Rivers of Light is still expected to open some time in 2017.

Over in the U.A.E, a brand new multi-park resort opened. Dubai Parks and Resorts consists of three theme parks and one water park: Motiongate Dubai, Bollywood Parks Dubai, LEGOLAND Dubai and LEGOLAND Water Park opened December 18th. While all the LEGOLAND parks are cut from the same fabric, Motiongate and Bollywood are brand new park concepts. It'll take a while to know how popular this new resort will be but initial signs are positive, particularly for tourist flows from Southern Asia and Europe.

In Australia, boxing day 2015 brought the retheming of the Cyclone rollercoaster into the Hot Wheels Sidewinder and the opening of the motorsport precinct at Dreamworld. Later in the year Dreamworld opened Tiger Cub Kindy as a temporary attraction while Tiger Island was completely refurbished. The new improved Tiger Island has improved stadium seating for viewing the Tiger Behavioural Presentations. Dreamworld also refurbished their Ice Cream Parlor this year. This park actually had gone through quite a rejuvenation this year before the tragic events of October, which we'll  discuss in a second.

At Movie World they opened the brand new Doomsday Destroyer ride and DC Super Villains Unleashed precinct in September this year. This opening represents probably the most detailed themed area in Australian theme parks and a real plus for the Gold Coast park. The area it replaced was largely wasted space since the closure of the show stage, so it is great to have it filled with a quality attraction (even if I think it's strange that is separate from main DC attractions). Movie World also added Australia's first VR Coaster experience on Arkham Asylum this year, altough Dreamworld very quickly followed this up in the Motocoaster.

Movie World's sister park Sea World had no major openings this year but similar to the other parks went through a rejuvenation program this year including opening a new and improved central plaza. The parks are starting to look very nice ahead of the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

On Tuesday 25th of October a tragic accident occurred on the Thunder River Rapids ride that resulted in the horrific death of 4 Dreamworld guests. By some miracle 2 children on the same raft as the victims survived this accident. The accident appears to have been caused by an empty raft getting stuck at the bottom of the conveyor belt that returns rafts to the load/unload station. Tragically a second raft with 6 passengers struck this raft and was flipped backwards; spilling it's passengers onto the partially submerged conveyor belt mechanism. Dreamworld remained closed until December 10th, while investigations and safety audits were conducted. Not surprisingly the Thunder River Rapids and Rocky Hollow Log rides have been permanently closed and removed from the park map. Dreamworld has been taking time to reopen their major thrill rides, most of which did not reopen with the park.

Dreamworld and the other Gold Coast parks have all safety audits. We believe this is the reason why Sea World decommissioned their log flume Vikings Revenge at the end of this year.

We hope that after this horrific event and the subsequent safety clamp down across the Australian theme park industry, that we never have to have a tragedy like this in Australia ever again.

There are certainly things to be excited about in Australian parks in the next twelve months. Dreamworld is going to open a Lego store at the front of the park, which was due to open in November this year but is now expected in the new year. And of course we are very excited for
Movie World's new hypercoaster (or near hypercoaster) which is under construction at the front of the park. It hasn't been officially announced but we are expecting a Mack looping Hypercoaster similar to the Flash coaster in China. From the teaser poster we expect this to open in September 2017.

Hope that all you fellow Theme Park Nuts have a safe and happy New Year. Let's hope for a bigger and better 2017!

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

Saturday 29 October 2016

Dreamworld Thunder River Rapids Tragedy

On Tuesday 25th of October at approximately 2:30 PM a tragic accident occurred on the Thunder River Rapids ride that resulted in the horrific death of 4 Dreamworld guests. By some miracle 2 children on the same raft as the victims survived this accident. The accident appears to have been caused by an empty raft getting stuck at the bottom of the conveyor belt that returns rafts to the load/unload station. Tragically a second raft with 6 passengers struck this raft and was flipped backwards; spilling it's passengers onto the partially submerged conveyor belt mechanism.

I'm not going to write much on this tragedy. It is very hard to write about. If I could pass one comment on this, the Australian media, in general, has acted like a pack of pathetic soulless vultures on this issue. They should be ashamed.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the grieving families of these victims. Words cannot express the sorrow that we feel for your loss. This tragedy has broken the heart of all Australian theme park enthusiasts (and many overseas), and our theme parks will truly never be the same.

Rest in Peace Kate Goodchild, Luke Dorset, Roozbeh Araghi and Cindy Low. 

Sunday 16 October 2016

Movie World Trip Report October 2016

Movie World have just opened there most recent attraction, Doomsday Destroyer as part of the new DC Villains precinct. Since the local school holidays have just finished, it was the perfect time to check it out.
The former site of boot hill, is now the world's first DC Super-villain precinct. 
The area is anchored by Doomsday Destroyer, a suspended twin hammer. But the real attraction for me is the great theming in the Villains area.
Each villain is interactive in some way. Although the don't move, the action poses make these guys look impressive.
Not to mention creepy!
A new garden!
Some of the villians have add smoke or water effects to make them more impressive.
Ice to see you!
This guy was my favourite. I don't know who he is, but I'm totally with him.

And of course the Joker and Harley Quinn Make an appearance.

In case you were wondering, Wild West Falls is still there. There has been very little impact on this attraction from it's new neighbour. Overall I have to say this is probably on of the best themed areas in an Australian theme park. Tonnes of detail, and very cohesive. Although the choice of them doesn't really resonate with me, I do admire the effort that Movie World have put in here.

Else where in Movie World, keen fans can play a quick game of what's missing. Did you get it?
Although they've been behind walls for a while, the Chinatown gate for the old Leathal Weapon ride has finally come down.
And to finish on a personal note, Movie World's second newest attraction was definitely the highlight of my day. My daughter and I did many laps on this super fun ride!

Sunday 18 September 2016

Sea World Trip Report September 2016

This week we got a chance to return to Sea World after not visit visiting for about 6 months. Boy, has there been some changes in the park in that time!

While no new attractions have been added a lot of work has been done to front and middle of park that really improved the feel of the park. With both Dreamworld and Sea World having such dramatic face-lifts in the last 2 years, I think we are starting to see these parks hone their image for the upcoming Gold Coast Commonwealth Games (and the tourists that come with).

A few simple touches like a bridge being replaced, or a few new statues can make a huge difference.

The real star of the recent rejuvenation is The Plaza. 
This central dining retail precinct has been revamped with improved shop fronts and an awesome high roof added. 

However the biggest win here is, believe it or not, the new path.

This completely changes the flow of the park. It finally feels like you are headed the right way. To achieve this some of the unused rail line and station have been removed, as well as a shop from the entrance of Nickelodeon land, but it is well worth it. 

Plus Nickelodeon land now feels much more like a land, rather just some kids rides squished together. The Plaza opened last week, just in time for school holidays. 
I can also confirm the monorail is back in action and it definitely fits under the new Plaza roof. In general the park felt neater and cleaner. Even the underwater viewing at Shark Bay smelt better than previous visits.

This was also my first real chance to check out Creatures of the Deep. 

Much like it's predecessor Dinosaur Island, this attraction focuses on big things (mythical and real) making small movements with some sound. 
Thematically this is a better fit for Sea World than Dinosaur Island, and the animatronics are of better quality. But I love Dinosaurs, so it's a hard act to follow.

There is also a temporary attraction at what was the Polar Bear Cub enclosure, with 4 rescued New Zealand fur seals called Seal Rescue and Rehabilitation. 
I was surprised by the high level of detail added for this temporary attraction. It was very quiet too because almost no one new it was there.

Both the Sea Lion show and the Dolphin show were very impressive as always. In general, this was probably the best day I have had at Sea World! It is wonderful to see the park being looked after so well!

Monday 23 May 2016

How do Australian Parks compare to international standards?

Recently on internationally renowned theme park site Theme Park Insider gave us an article on the 20 things that every great theme park should have. This got me thinking about how the 3 major Australian parks on the Gold Coast, Dreamworld, Movie World and Sea World, and how they compare to the great theme parks of the world. So let's rate each park out of ten for each attribute . The total will be out of 200, however I would expect only Disney and Universal parks would push above the 150 mark for this test. So I'll set the pass mark to be a world class park to be 100. Lets see how our Australian parks compare!

1. A photogenic, iconic landmark that draws people into the park
Dreamworld - 1/10
Movie World - 1/10
Sea World - 0/10

Dreamworld and Movie World get a point each get a point for their Globe and Archway respectively. They are photogenic but they don't draw people into the park. Indeed, they both stop people right at the enterance.

2. Beautiful landscaping
Dreamworld - 7/10
Movie World - 6/10
Sea World - 4/10

Dreamworld in it's current state of maintenance does pip Movie World in landscaping,  although Dreamworld has fluctuated on this between a 5 and a 7 in the last 5-10 years.

3. Multiple attractions with no height restrictions, that appeal to all ages
Dreamworld - 2/10
Movie World - 2/10
Sea World - 4/10

Dreamworld has more attractions, but it's only really the Tigers and thw Australian Animals. Everything else is really aimed at a specific age group. Movie World is much the same. Sea World has not much extrain the ride department, but more shows and exhibits that cross the generation gap.

4. Enough available attraction capacity to keep peak waits for non-new attractions under 90 minutes
Dreamworld - 7/10
Movie World - 3/10
Sea World - 7/10

Dreamworld and Sea World rarely have super long waits for non-new attractions. The  same can't be said for Movie World. On a non-busy day, no worries. But even slightly busy day can see ride waits blow out towards 2 hours.

5. A high-capacity, slow-moving indoor ride
Dreamworld - 0/10
Movie World - 8/10
Sea World - 0/10

Simply put, Movie World has Justice League, the rest have squat. They would have got 10, if had a little more capacity. Dreamworld does have a dark ride (The Big Red Car Ride) but it's so low in capacity that it's still worth nothing.

6. A large-scale, sit-down, indoor show
Dreamworld - 6/10
Movie World - 7/10
Sea World - 7/10

Movie World and Dreamworld have screen based indoor attractions. Sea World and Movie World both have outdoor but covered shows (3 for Sea World). So, the honours are split here.

7. A playground
Dreamworld - 10/10
Movie World - 0/10
Sea World - 10/10

Both Dreamworld and Sea World have strong playgrounds and play areas. They aren't immersive like Disney, but they count.

8. All long queues (10 min+) are shaded or indoors
Dreamworld - 5/10
Movie World - 5/10
Sea World - 5/10

Each of the parks has some shaded and indoor queues but very few that are actually pleasant in the hot Queensland summer.

9. Shortcuts across the park
Dreamworld - 10/10
Movie World - 0/10
Sea World - 0/10

Dreamworld has both a train and also a much more open layout than either Movie World or Sea World. There is no comparison here.

10. Table-service restaurants
Dreamworld - 6/10
Movie World - 6/10
Sea World - 5/10

Each of the parks have a buffet restaurant, although Sea World's is in the resort not the park.

11. Easy-to-order allergen-free food options
Dreamworld - 0/10
Movie World - 0/10
Sea World - 0/10

I'm sure each of the parks have options, but I don't know where, so that fails easy-to-order test.

12. Non-fried, low-carb, vegetable-containing food options
Dreamworld - 0/10
Movie World - 0/10
Sea World - 0/10

See previous answer.

13. A unique, signature food item
Dreamworld - 0/10
Movie World - 0/10
Sea World - 0/10

Nothing unique here!

14. Family bathrooms, plus changing tables in ALL bathrooms
Dreamworld - 10/10
Movie World - 10/10
Sea World - 10/10

I'm not certain of this one, but mt memory is that our parks are pretty  good in this department.

15. Kiddie toilets
Dreamworld - 0/10
Movie World - 0/10
Sea World - 0/10

Again, don't quote me on this one but I remember any children's toilets in any of these parks.

16. Free, accurate wait-time app or webpage
Dreamworld - 0/10
Movie World - 0/10
Sea World - 0/10

No wait time apps or web pages here!

17. Free, usable Wifi in the park
Dreamworld - 0/10
Movie World - 0/10
Sea World - 0/10

No luck here either.

18. Free, accessible electrical sockets
Dreamworld - 0/10
Movie World - 0/10
Sea World - 0/10

I know that Dreamworld has a pay to recharge station, but other than that I'm not aware of any designated recharge facilities.

19. Park-branded and attraction-branded merchandise
Dreamworld - 10/10
Movie World - 9/10
Sea World - 10/10

Australian parks are all good at merchandising. I've taken 1 point off Movie World just because their characters dominate their merchandise rather than their attractions.

20. Well-trained, experienced, and empowered employees
Dreamworld - 7/10
Movie World - 4/10
Sea World - 6/10

This is a hard one. In my view Dreamworld has the best staff of all the parks. They aren't great but they aren't too bad. Sea World aren't far behind. Movie World definitely brings up the rear. Not that they are awful, they have some great staff, and their character talent is always pretty good. However they do fall behind the other parks in Ride Ops and Food and beverage.

Overall Totals
Dreamworld - 81/200
Movie World - 61/200
Sea World - 68/200

In short, are any of the Australian parks great international theme parks? No. However they do punch above their weight! None of them reached half way satisfying the criteria, however their scores are still higher than I expected. I was also suprised how much higher Dreamworld rated than Movie World. It means that on these measures (which don't measure attraction quality) put Dreamworld significantly closer to being a world class theme park. And perhaps that is fair, given that Dreamworld was modelled on Disneyland, which is the true benchmark for modern theme parks. However there is a lot that needs to be done to get Dreamworld to world class.

Hey Dreamworld, you should consider adding a dark ride!!

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 10th May 2016

There is plenty of news week, but sadly I don't have plenty of time! So here is an action packed Theme Park Nut News Update!!

The biggest theme park news this week was clearly the soft-opening of Shanghai Disneyland. Even though this was an invitation only event, we did get a great look at this new park, including some sneak peaks at a few of the great attractions. We got a huge look at the brand new Tron Lightcycle coaster that anchors Tomorrowland. We also got the briefest of peaks at the brand new Pirates of the Carribean, which I am really excited for. I can't wait for a full ride through to be uploaded to YouTube. There are so many photos all over Twitter, it's hard to keep up, but if I can get time I'll try to get a collection of the best going sometime later this week.

But that wasn't the only big news this week. Six Flags gave us some concept art for the upcoming Six Flags Dubai. The first full thrill park in the Persian Gulf is planned to open in late 2019, with 27 attractions.

Cedar Point in Ohio opened yet another record setting roller coaster, with Valravn the world's fastest, tallest and longest Dive coaster. This looks like one heck of a ride!

At Universal Orlando, we got our first taste of the new Hulk coaster! It's got an all new story to go with the rebuilt track. This also looks like it will be really great.

And of course, May the 4th was Star Wars day, which means that it was a great time to reflect on all the Star Wars Theme Park related happenings. For local Star Wars fans, Dreamworld on the Gold Coast has it's annual Star Wars Weekend coming up this weekend, raising money for local charity TLC for Kids. It's a great cause, so people should get involved!

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

Tuesday 3 May 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 3rd May 2016

What a huge week in Theme Parks!

Universal's owners (NBCUniversal) have purchased DreamWorks Animation. This could be a very big deal for the parks as they are already have attractions themed to some of DreamWorks movies, although their licences are varied across their different parks. For example, in the U.S. there are some limit Shrek experiences in the parks, however in Singapore they have a large area dedicated to multiple franchises from DreamWorks. The most exciting part about this for me is this: "In addition, DreamWorks Animation now owns the licensing rights to several other franchises, including ... the Rankin/Bass Christmas specials." That's right, we could see some seriously awesome Christmas theme park action, from some of the most memorable (for my generation) Christmas favourites!

Tokyo Disney made some interesting, and huge announcements over the last week, when tabling their development plans for fiscal year 2020. That might sound like it's a long way off, but it really isn't. Most exciting is the planned brand new Beauty and the Beast ride, described as:
“Guests board enchanted serving dishes that dance in rhythm to the film’s well-known music and follow Belle on a romantic musical adventure inside the enchanted Castle where she dances her way into the heart of the Beast, just in time to break the fateful spell. Guests will feel like they have entered right into the film.”

At WDW, we wished a final goodbye to the Earful Tower. And Disney has started offering the most amazing (but likely most expensive) location for a wedding, when it announced that it will start hosting ceremonies at the foot of the Cinderella Castle. You just need a cold US$75,000 for the ceremony. Yikes!

Over West, Legoland in California has also opened Ninjago the Ride, which is a next generation controller-free interactive dark ride. It looks really really impressive!

In a disturbing incident, a father caught on video his son's seatbelt released mid ride on a roller coaster in Wonderland Amusement Park in Texas. This is a very strange incident, both for how it happened, and that the father managed to continue recording after the seatbelt broke. The park has given the usual assurances that it takes safety seriously, but to be honest, these kind of incidents seem  to be happening regularly at smaller parks.

Coming back home to Australia, gives us a look at the Suspend Twin Hammer ride, that it appears is destined to be the new Doomsday Destroyer ride at Movie World.

And finally in my favourite bit of theme park news this week, Dreamworld have announced they are opening a Lego Certified Store at the park in November this year! A real Lego store in Austalia is super cool! Reports are that it will be accessible from both inside and outside the park, which would be super cool also, but one has to wonder where it is going to be placed? The current exit pavillion is the obvious spot, but perhaps there is extra room that I haven't thought of yet.

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

Tuesday 26 April 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 26th April 2016

This week had a few big stories in Theme Parks. We had a large press event at Walt Disney World, which gave us some general teasing of new attractions, although as usual we didn't get a lot of concrete dates out of Disney. We did get a few more fresh details of the Toy Story Land to be added to Hollywood Studios. The new art that has been associated with these releases, has led some fans to try to work out how Toy Story Land Star Wars Land will fit together. Which is pretty cool. We also heard today from WDW that Paddlefish is set to replace Fulton's Crab House at Disney Springs, although it is going to be run by the same parent company as the former Crab House.

Universal Orlando has raised ticket prices this week also, which lead to this hilarious tweet from Jason Garcia:

Staying in the US, Six Flags Magic Mountain has opened The New Revolution VR roller coaster to the general public, after extensive previews over the last month. It looks like a really interesting attraction.

Heading international, ThemeParks-UK have give us some news about the upcoming SW8 for Alton towers, including a potential layout for the attraction. Alton Towers have been giving us some great roller coasters as their "Secret Weapon"s. The strongest rumour at the moment is that this will be a wooden coaster!

Over in the UAE, a new park has been announced, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi. The park will feature DC Comic Superheroes, Scooby Doo, and classic Warner Bros. kids characters (like Bugs Bunny). This is not directly related to the other Warner Bros. Movie World parks (of which there was originally 3, but now only two on the Gold Coast and in Spain), but you can see the similar themes. It will be interesting to see what makes up this indoor park.

In Australia, the good news of the week is that Dreamworld's log ride has re-opened. After a very short closure, it was found the accident that occurred two weeks ago was due to rider behaviour and not a technical issue, which is good news for the 35 year old ride. At the same time Dreamworld have also started Google-mapping their parks, which is interesting! They will have to keep doing this, since their park has a number of structure changes happening at the moment (including the rebuild of Tiger Island), but still it will be a great little feature to be able to work through the park virtually!

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

Tuesday 19 April 2016

Theme Park Nut Update - 19th April 2016

The biggest news this week in Australian Theme Park news, is that Rocky Hollow Log ride at Dreamworld has closed (temporarily) after a man was injured after a fall from the ride. There is some conjecture about how this happened, and whether the man in question may have had some kind of intellectual disability, however all that is confirmed for the moment is that this issue is being investigated as we speak. The ride is currently close, but despite some media reports, it is expected to reopen in the coming weeks.

Looking more globally, the news was also not good for Hong Kong Disneyland, where rumours suggest that employees are being laid off due to a slump in profits. Hong Kong tourism is a difficult thing to measure, as the fact that their dollar is tied to the US Dollar, means that the local Chinese market has massive swings in value from visiting the region. At the moment it is a bad swing, and so even with the wonderful new attractions at this park, there has not been a significant growth in visitors. Who can say what affect the opening of Shanghai will have on this market in the coming year as well.

This week we heard ThemeParkInsider remind us that we have another park, other than Shanghai Disneyland, opening this year with a spotlight piece on Motiongate Dubai. This park looks like such an interesting mix of IPs, who knows what it will look like when finished, or in 10 years time for that matter.

Over in Anahiem Disney officially "broke ground" on Star Wars land. But let's face it, this ground was broken MONTHS ago, so there isn't any great surprises here.

In Orlando, we got to see a POV of Mako the brand new coaster for Sea World. It looks like a thumping good ride, but it is totally to little to late for this park!! Over at WDW, Animal Kingdom has again delayed showing it's new show River's of Light. They must be going through some serious unexpected technical hurdles, to have pulled the plug on the media day for this show. Hopefully it will all be worth it, when the show debuts (we hope) some time this summer.

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

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 12th April 2016

The biggest news of the last few weeks in the Theme Park world, was the official opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. While it had been soft opened for a while (which means we had a great collection of guides before it even opened), there was still plenty of celebration to be had when the newest world premiered. After it opened, it has started people wondering what is next for theme parks in Southern California. The short story is, there is plenty in the works for SoCal.

In contrast, Disney has has a less successful week.  Firstly, they had to delay the opening of the Rivers of Life show at Disney Animal Kingdom. Secondly, the heir apparent to the Disney leadership Tom Staggs announced that he was leaving Disney. Although it's not clear what has happened to take this turn of events, it does show that Bob Iger will be difficult to replace at Disney, if the best home grown candidate is happy to move on.

In good news for Disney, they have added (yet another) up charge event for  WDW's Magic Kingdom, with Disney Early Morning Magic. This was rumoured a couple of weeks ago, so it's not a surprise. It's certainly no surprise that Disney has found a way to take more cash from rich travellers pockets.

Legoland California has announced that there new Ninjago ride is going to open on May 5th, which is an awesome day, because it also happens to be my birthday.

On the opposite coast, Orlando's fastest ride, Mako is going to open at SeaWorld on June 10.

Meanwhile, Universal Studios Japan has announced that the Back to the Future Ride, the very last Back to the Future Ride, is going to close this May. It is quiet reasonable for it to pass on, since the ride itself is partial set in the "future" of 2015.

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

Sunday 27 March 2016

Dreamworld Ice cream Parlour

The Ice cream Parlour at Dreamworld  recently underwent a beautiful restoration, and it is now a beautiful pink with lovely retro style. They've added a few menu items as well, so i had to try the Krispy Kreme Ice cream sandwich. Before anyone asks, yes you can put whatever Ice cream you like in the Ice cream sandwich, and yes I put in Rainbow. Because Rainbow ice cream rules, that's why!

Friday 25 March 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 26th March 2016

Well it's been nearly a month since my last update! We've been on holidays, and everyone has been sick here. Plus we have another little Nut on the way, which always keeps things busy!!

So here is 4 weeks worth of Theme Park News!!

At the start of March, we had Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters opened at Disney California Adventure. This ride is the replacement for Luigi's Flying Tires, which opened with the Carsland expansion of DCA. Sadly this ride never really had the kinks (both mechanically, and thematically) worked out of it, however the new ride looks like a much more interesting enhancement.

Disneyland Resort also set an opening date for their new Frozen musical as May 27th. This new show replaces the phenomenally popular Aladdin musical which had a 13 year run at the park. They have simultaneously announced the closure of the Frozen singalong show at DCA as April 17th. Meaning the resort will only have 2 Frozen musicals running at any one time, instead of a disgraceful 3.

Over at WDW, Disney has set an opening date for Rivers of Light, April 22nd. This new night time show at Disney's Animal Kingdom promises to be very different from any nighttime show currently presented at WDW.

WDW have also given us a new way to spend our money, I mean have more time in the Magic Kingdom, wit the introduction of the Disney After Hours event. It only costs $149 per person (yikes!). There is also a strong rumour, that they are going to be adding an Early Admission upcharge event as well, in the near future.

We also heard more about Shanghai Disneyland this month.

At Universal Orlando, we've started to get the first few tastes  at the upcoming Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction at Island's of Adventure. This includes getting a look at some of the creatures that are going to be part of this ride. If they can tie all their effects together smoothly (which they have gotten very very good at recently) this is going to be one heck of a ride!

They have also announce this month that the NBA City restaurant, which has closed at Universal Orlando CityWalk, is going to be replace by an awesome looking Steampunk Chocolate Factory. The Toothsome Chocolate Factory will be a full menu restaurant, however it will clearly be heavily chocolate oriented.

Universal Hollywood has been all a buzz this year, with the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, but this month the biggest news as that they are adding a new all-year-round Walking Dead attraction. Well the biggest news apart from raising their one-day ticket prices. They also added an expensive new type of Annual Pass this month, with no block out days. And since more UH visitors are either locals, or one of day visitors, that means this park has just got more expensive for everyone. And so it should have, it's got Harry freaking Potter!

Universal Japan has announced their Nintendo land is expected to open in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, which is ridiculously exciting news! No word on when other Universal parks in the U.S. or Singapore might be getting anything Nintendo related (but at least for Orlando, it is inevitable). USJ also opened the world's longest flying coaster, Jurassic Park: The Flying Dinosaur this month. 

Over at Knott's Berry Farm in California we got our first look at the food for this year's Boysenberry Festival. Now, I don't eat Boysenberries, but I'm willing to make an exception for some of these as they just look delicious!

Six Flags has taken a leaf out of Europa Parks book and announced it is bringing VR coaster experiences into their parks. The early reports of this technology is that it has worked really well, and people were not experiencing the nausea anticipated from the ride.

Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi has opened two new attracitions, including a really interesting looking trackless interactive dark ride called Benno's Great Race. It is great to see some of these non-major parks working with some really innovative companies to create really interesting attractions. 

Finally, the embattled SeaWorld parks in the U.S. have announced that they have ended their Orca Breeding Programs, which effectively means that there will be no more Orcas in these parks beyond their current rotation. This has come after enormous pressure from Green and Animal Rights groups over the last 5 years. I come down somewhere in the middle of this debate, where I am not concern with the keeping of animals for Zoos and Parks as long as the conditions are good enough. I also feel it's almost impossible to have conditions good enough for any kind of Whale, they are just too large. However, this is a big deal for SeaWorld, to effectively phase out what was previously their signature animal. The parks have been suffering incredibly large drops in attendance over the last couple of years, so maybe they need to change who they are to really keep themselves afloat. Only time will truly tell!

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

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 1st March 2016

Officially I am holidays this week, so there isn't time for a full weekly update this week. But here is a few pointers:

U.S. Parks
- Disney legend Jack Lindquist passes away
- Disneyland and WDW to move to a seasonal pricing model
- Disneyland Resort sets opening day for Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters at March 7th.
- Universal Orlando give us first glimpses of Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
- Penn and Teller rumoured to return to universal's HHN

International Parks
- Alton Towers to reopen The Smiler on March 19th
- Thorpe Park to open new Darren Brown's Ghost Train on May 6th

Australian Parks
- Dreamworld Tiger Cub kindy to open (near ocean parade) to show off 4 new tiger cubs. 2 white, 2 gold.
- Tiger Island to close for extended 7 million dollar refurbishment designed by Jamie Durie.
- Also mentioned in that article is a new Master Plan for Dreamworld that we'll see later this year.
- Dreamworld starts offering monthly Memberships.
- Rumour about the Doomsday Destroyer at Movie World reported at Screamscape.

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

Theme Park Nut News Update - 23rd February 2016

The biggest news of the Theme Park week dropped today, as WB Movie World announced their new ride and precinct for 2016! The Doomsday Destroyer will be the anchor attraction for the DC Comics Super Villains Unleashed area, which opens in October 2016! General Manager of WB Movie World Greg Yong has described the new attraction as a 20 metre high looping attraction with high thrills, high speeds and inversions. Parkz has speculated that the ride might be Intamin Suspended Twin Hammer, although there is not enough information yet to determine the validity of these rumours. It is very exciting! It is interesting to see how this area is going to connect to the rest of the park, since the parks DC area, including their current Villain attraction (Arkham Asylum) are based at the front of the park, and the current area being cleared is behind the Scooby Doo coaster at the back of the park (although these areas aren't actually that far away from each other). Given we only have to wait until October, I'm guessing we won't have long to wait to find out more!

There is plenty going on outside of Australia this week as well!

Over the weekend, Disney had a special for Disneyland's 60th with a segment on the upcoming Star Wars land, which sadly released so more concept art, but very little new details. WDW also announced this week that it is adding two new Star Wars shows to Disney's Hollywood Studios. So it won't be long until we have more Star Wars at Disney!

Staying in Orlando we the Magic Kingdom has announced that it will updating it's castle show in April. The new show "Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire",  will add characters from recent Disney animated movies, Princess and the Frog, Tangled and Frozen (d'uh). Also in Orlando this week we got a peak at the trains for Mako, SeaWorld's new Hypercoaster which is opening in the U.S. summer.

Six Flags have announced some Managerial changes at the very top of their food chain. President and CEO Jim Reid-Anderson is moving up to the Executive Chairman role, while existing CFO John Duffey is moving into the President and CEO role. It is expected that this transition will be a smooth one, with Six Flags looking to maintain the positive financial results achieved over the last 6 years.

This week also saw further construction walls coming down at Universal Studios Hollywood, where the new "main street" was shown for the first time. This park has really gone through a revolutionary change in the last 2 years, where this park now looks almost nothing like it did originally. We all know that the WWoHP is going to be huge for this park, but the more exciting thing for theme park fans, is they aren't letting the rest of the park stagnate while they spend heavy on Harry.

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

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 16th February 2016

Universal has given us two big stories to lead off this week's Theme Park Nut News Update!

Firstly, one of the most anticipated lands to open this year has soft-opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened for the first time last Friday afternoon. While the land itself is very similar to the original Wizarding World in Orlando, it has had some small updates, including the inclusion of enhanced interactive wand usage and 3D in the signature ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This new land will no doubt have a massive impact on Universal Studios Hollywood over the next 12 months, as it has had in Orlando and Japan. There is no stopping the boy wizard.

In Orlando, Universal has increased their single day ticket prices to US$105 this week. This puts it's two parks in line with Magic Kingdom, as the most expensive theme parks in America. I would be very surprised if this had much, if any effect on attendance numbers at the resort in the next year, but I do expect the move will be good for Universals balance sheet.

At Cedar Point in Ohio, the troubled Shoot the Rapids ride is closing. This ride became infamous after an incident in 2013 where 7 riders were flipped upside down when their boat went backwards down the lift hill. This isn't a terrible surprise given all the trouble this ride has caused the park.

Over at WDW, we've got a sneak peak at the vague ride layout for the Na'vi River Journey boat ride that is coming as part of the Pandora expansion of Animal Kingdom. There isn't any real surprise here either, as it looks like a fairly standard dark boat ride track. What will be great to see is the effects used inside the ride that bring this bioluminescent planet to life.

At home, Village Roadshow Theme parks have made a curios announcement, where they have announced that they have limited number of memberships for sale which will close on the 29th of February. This is strange as most expected these memberships to be the plan for the future when it replace the existing Annual Passes in the middle of last year. What exactly is going to happen when the 29th of February rolls around, we aren't sure but for one I am sure there will be some way to be a longer pass to the parks after February. The cynic in me says this is purely an artificial scarcity designed to increase demand. I guess we only have two weeks to wait to find out!

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

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 9th January 2016

It's been a relatively quiet week of theme park news this week, so let's get into a quick Theme Park Nut News Update.

Dorney Park in the U.S. made the biggest theme park news this week, after it failed to re-hire a special needs employee of 12 years allegedly saying that he would not fit in with other staff at the park. The park that he'd been working at as a cleaner, for 12 years. A facebook post by a disappointed former co-worker went viral, and suddenly 30 year old Chris Emery was making international headlines. To the parks credit, they have apologised and offered him a position for a thirteenth season. However Chris has decided not to return. Hopefully Chris has found a better position with a more understanding company.

In Disney news, blog Disney and More have given us an absolutely massive update about Shanghai Disneyland. Included in this is one of our first peaks inside the Shanghai Disneyland Resort hotel, which looks absolutely stunning (not surprisingly). It will be great to hear more about this park when it opens in June. Also in this update was listing of the ticket prices for the opening days of the park.

Over at Universal Studios Hollywood, they have released date-specific pricing. The way it currently works is all days cost the same at the gate, but the value of online discounts change for different days of the week. This is a very smart move ahead of the opening of WWoHP on the west coast, which is likely to peak attendance on many days in the next year.

On the opposite coast, Comcast (owners' of Universal) announced the price paid for the 475 acres of land it purchased at the start of this year. They reported paying $130 million for the land, which is widely tipped to become at least one new park for Universal in the next decade. This is a pretty good bargain considering the size and location of the land. However I'm sure it is tinged with sadness at Universal, since there previous owners sold that land, and a lot more (1800 acres in total) for about $70 million in 2003.

Walt Disney World announced this week that Fulton's Crab House at Disney Springs, is going to close in April for a long term renovation. This is the most popular independently owned restaurant on WDW property, which means the closure until November is a big deal.

At home, put up a trip report for Movie World this week, showing off some pretty cool Chinese New Year decorations. Movie World is really putting in a lot of effort lately, which is great! Hopefully this focus is transferred to the construction of their new attraction at the back of the park over the coming year.

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

Tuesday 2 February 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 2nd February 2016

It's February 2016! One month of 2016 already gone!! It's time for this week's Theme Park Nut News Update!

It's a generally quiet period for theme parks this time of year, however we do have a few little titbits of news that have rolled out over the last week. Firstly, two bits of news about Universal Hollywood. This week they have sweetened the deal on their Annual Passes, by adding up to 9 days in February that will no longer be blackout days. This push has been as an attempt to build up a little moment pre-Harry Potter's opening. Speaking of which, this week we also got confirmation that the popular Interactive Wands from Universal Orlando will be in effect when the West coast WWoHP opens in April. This isn't really surprising though, to be honest, it would have been bigger news it if wasn't going to be a feature of the new WWoHP.

At Dollywood, we have seen the reveal for the trains for the Lightening Rod coaster, which do look pretty cool. In fact this coaster itself looks like a lot of fun! We've also see a little bit more about the new flat ride Fatamorgana at Tivoli Gardens in Denmark, which is also looking pretty cool.

Going outside the U.S. for Disney news, and we got a little bit of sneak peak this week at what the Downtown Disney area of Shanghai Disney is going to be like. Sounds like it will be an interesting mix of original stores and large chains, hopefully to cater to the tastes of local visitors. This week we also saw the Walt Disney Studios Paris stage show Animagique performed for the last time. It is being replaced by a new show Mickey and the Magician, which is due to open in July this year.

We also had some drama at Disneyland Paris resort, where a man was arrested for possession of two guns. The man has not been linked to any terrorist or militant group but was allegedly carrying the weapons for personal protection.

In Australia, the big news this week is construction fences at Movie World! The suggestion is that the fences, in the much maligned Western Area of the park is related to the World Class ride that was eluded to at the end of last year. We believe from the planning submissions that this will be a rollercoaster, and the strongest rumours at this point to some kind of Mack coaster replacing (or bypassing) the Show Stage. Only time will tell on this! But I expect we will know more in the next month!

Australia day (Tuesday last week) saw the return of one of the original stream trains back to Dreamworld. Dreamworld previously had two engines that worked in rotation, however they were replaced in 2013 with the more economical diesel engine. Dreamworld subsequently announced that the engine would now be making monthly outings at the park, which is sure to please steam train enthusiasts.

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

Tuesday 26 January 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 26th January 2016

Happy Australia Day/Respectful Survival Day, theme park fans. It has been an incredible quiet week in theme parks this week, so let's get into a short public holiday addition of Theme Park Nut News Update.

A testament to how quiet this week has been in theme parks globally, is this article from Theme Park Insider on how to buy a Corn Dog cheaper at Disneyland. I have nothing to comment on this controversial subject.

Knott's Berry Farm has announced the details of this years Boysenberry Festival. Meanwhile competitor Universal Studios Hollywood announced an amazing competition. The winner will win a trip to Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal Studios Orlando, Universal Studios Japan and the Making of Harry Potter exhibition at the WB Studio Tour in London. Sadly though, it is only open to U.S. residents, otherwise I would be entering this as many times as possible.

Universal Studios Hollywood also opened a 5000 space car park at the park, in anticipation of a influx of visitors over the next year as their version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens.

Six Flags broke ground on the Six Flags China park in Haiyan. The park is due to open in 2019.

At home in Australia, there was a post covering Australia's most infamous SBNO coaster at Scenic World in the Blue Mountains, the Orphan Rocker. It is amazing to see nature take back what was original a pristine area.

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

Tuesday 19 January 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 19th January 2016

Let's get straight into some Disney news this week!

This week Disney announced that Bob Weis is taking over as the new President of Walt Disney Imagineering. He brings great credentials to the role having overseen the redevelopment of Disney California Adventure, and been involved with the development of Tokyo DisneySea.

In a completely unrelated piece of news, Kylo Ren is going to Disneyland! Seems like the thing to do after you *spoiler deleted*. As with most Disney changes at the moment, I'm happy for new, as long as it doesn't effect the old. As long as I can still get a photo with Darth, Kylo can be can-caning in the parade for all I care.

In a surprise to almost no one, the Lights, Motor, Action stunt show has been announced as closing in April. While this was never a hugely popular attraction, it's death is more to do with the position of it's real estate, and the coming Star Wars invasion than anything else. The Orlando Sentinel is also saying that the Earful Tower and the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure, are also on the shopping block. I'm sad for the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids attraction, although I did think it was inevitable. It's only hope was being saved by some kind of Toy Story retheme. Still Star Wars is good!

Theme Park Insider had a good follow up to the news we wrote about last week, of Efteling's up coming dark ride Symbolica: Palace of Fantasy. This give a few more details on this genuinely exciting development in the Netherlands.

Very sad Australian Theme Park news this week as one of Dreamworld's first Tiger Cubs Sultan died, at the age of 17. Sultan was the largest Tiger at Dreamworld, at 200 kilograms, and was one of 4 cubs born at Dreamworld in 1998. The 4 were dubbed the Awesome Pawesome (Sultan, Taj, Rama and Sita), and were very big news for the park in the late nineties. Two of the Tigers, Rama and Sita still reside at Dreamworld.

Finally, Australian theme park site Parkz has added a trio of posts this week, updating us on the status of all 3 of the major Gold Coast parks: Dreamworld, Movie World and Sea World. The highlight for me of these posts, as strange as it sounds was the shots of the newly refurbished ice cream parlour at Dreamworld. That has always been a special place for me, so I'm excited that it is looking so fantastic for a change!

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

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 13th January 2016

January is a traditionally quiet time for theme parks. U.S. parks come out of their Christmas/New Years rush, just as Australian parks are hitting their mid-summer school holiday peak. But this year, there is no stop to the action! So let's get into this week's Theme Park Nut News Update!

Let's start in China, where the opening date of Shanghai Disneyland has been announced! First guests will be seeing the park on June 16 2016. Which means that we have just over 6 months to wait for a peak at Disney's newest park. I for one am excited for June 17th, which will no doubt be the day that the first on-ride video for the new Pirates of the Caribbean ride will be uploaded to YouTube.

In the original Disneyland, we got a glimpse at the future of the Rivers of America in the same week, that they closed the Rivers to start construction of Star Wars land. What a coincidence! I do love how beautiful but vague Disney continues to make their concept art! At DCA, we had to wave goodbye to (arguably) the most popular theme park show of all time, as "Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular" closed this week. This makes me sad, as everything I have read or seen of the show has been insanely positive, and yet I'll never see it (unless they bring it back somewhere at WDW!!). I understand though, DCA needed room for yet ANOTHER Frozen show.

In Orlando, Sea World topped off what is going to be (at least for a little while) the tallest coaster in the area, Mako. This B&M Hypercoaster peaks at just on 200 feet tall, and Sea World is desparately hoping that it's completion will boost attendance at this struggling park.

In the Netherlands, Efteling has give us a few more details on their epic dark ride for 2017. Symbolica: Palace of Fantasy will be a trackless dark ride where riders choose 1 of 3 potential paths, each with interactive elements. This ride sounds like it will be amazing!

At home, we have a couple of little bits and pieces going on as well. Technically not a theme park, but I'll give it a run here anyway, Wet 'n' Wild is bringing back Dive in Movies. This one-off definitely sounds like a trial of the event, to see if bringing them back would be viable. But regardless, the Lego Movie is an awesome choice, so I hope lots of people turn up! At Dreamworld, the twin girl tiger cubs have been named: Akasha and Adira. This week they also met their older brother Kai, and took their first steps onto Tiger Island. So flipping cute!!

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

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 5th January 2016

Happy new year! Welcome to another exciting year of Theme Park News coverage on Theme Park Nut. I've been a bit slack, and I haven't yet posted up my 2015 Yearly Round up. But hopefully I'll get time to finish that over the next few days. In the meantime, here is a news update for the last week of 2015 and the first week of 2016!

Before I get onto the few titbits of Theme Park news, I got to say something about the mammoth opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Disney's Christmas Blockbuster is shattering box office records, which is set to be the highest grossing film in the U.S. (ahead of Avatar) within 3 weeks of being released. It is likely to become the 3rd highest grossing film world wide in roughly the same timeframe, with only Titanic and Avatar ahead of it. It is not certain that it will over come Avatar in world wide gross, but it will certain come close.

There are cash registers ringing in every part of the Disney organisation, and our appetite has now been wet for Star Wars Land which has been announced for Disneyland in Anahiem and Disney's Hollywood Studio in Florida. As such Theme Park Insider has given us a 4-part series on the upcoming land, and what Disney has to live up with constructing the Star Wars Land (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4). It's a good read, particularly if you are a Star Wars nerd like I am!

At Universal Hollywood, the park has quiet rolled out dynamic pricing for their single day tickets. The change has been entertained and tested by both Disney and Universal in the past couple of years. The idea is that the park will be able to make the quieter days cheaper for individual ticket holders, with the hope that the tourists will gravitate to the cheaper days, and even out the crowds. The change comes ahead of the park opening of WWoHP this year, which will likely draw massive crowds to the park.

Over at Disney World, there was a stampede with reportedly 15 people injured at Disney Springs, as panic set in when a rumour started that their had been gunshots in one of the restaurants. The irony is the panic that their were no gunshots, and the original disturbance was a 70 year old man taking a swing at a restaurant manager after he had waited a long time for his food.

At Dreamworld on the Gold Coast, Boxing Day marked the opening of the Hot Wheels SideWinder, a re-theme of the Cyclone roller coaster. took the re-opening as a chance to give a bit of a history lesson of the roller coaster, which is an interesting read for those that don't know the back story. You can see some images of the make over in the Parkz Forums. Overall, the feedback seems to be that the ride is a lot smoother with the new trains, which is a great thing!

Since we are starting off 2016 this week, it's appropriate to have a look at Theme Park Insider's Top 10 Most Anticipated Openings for 2016.  There are a couple of big hitters on the list, particular the WWoHP in Universal Hollywood. There is never a quiet year in Theme Parks!!

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