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, Parkz.com.au 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!