Sunday 22 January 2017

News Update - 26th January 2017

Time for another week's News Update.

First of the Main Street Electrical Parade is back at Disneyland. The parade returned from WDW back to it's original route that it ran from 1972 to 1996. The stay is only temporary though, while it's successor, the Paint the Night parade undergoes a rehabilitation.

Last week we reported on the Lunar New Year celebrations in California, this week we saw an amazing video of rope drop on the first day of celebrations in the new Shanghai Disneyland. The scenes were almost at stampede level when the park opened and the line for Soarin' FastPasses looks massive.

Staying in Asia, Universal Studios Singapore welcomed it's 25 millionth visitor this week. The park, which opened in 2010, is the smallest of the 5 Universal parks had a slow start attendance wise, but has grown in the last few years.

It's been a quiet theme park news week in the US but Universal Orlando did give us a video with 5 tips for rookies on the Men in Black Alien Attack ride. More importantly they announced the opening date for the Volcano Bay water park as May 25th. I still refuse to call this the third theme park at the resort.

The Legoland parks, and their owners Merlin, are continuing to add theming outside their parks, with two themed hotels in the spotlight for 2018 this week. Legoland California is adding a Castle themed hotel, which broke ground this week, while Legoland Germany is adding a Pirate themed hotel.

At home, Dreamworld is turning 35 this month, and has a sale on to celebrate. They've added a 35 day pass (up until March 5th) for $35. They've also discounted the season pass which is up until December 24th by $35, which puts adults at $64. Just to contrast a single day pass is $65, so you are saving a dollar but getting 11 months more of visits. Plus this week the park has reopened Shockwave and The Giant Drop. And don't forget their brand new Lego shop opens this coming Saturday.

So, apart from the heat it's a great time to go back to Dreamworld. Hurry up though as the ticket sale only runs until the 29th of January.

At Movie World this week they are celebrating Chinese New Year, as they have the last few years. The construction of their new hyper continues slowly. You can check coaster out the post on to see progress towards this September opening.

At Sea World last week we saw the final night of their first Carnivale event, which moved from sister park Movie World this year. did a review of this final night and sadly found it a little lacking this year. The obvious comparison to the last 3 years at Movie World, and in short the event was less about food and rides, and more about the musical guests. All in all the street entertainment was good, but the lack of parade was noticeable. There is potential in the new venue, so let's see if next years event is enhanced.

Village Roadshow Theme Parks (owners of Movie World, Sea World and Wet'n'Wild) announced this week that attendance at their parks of locals has dropped 12% since the tragedy at rival park Dreamworld in October last year. The financial impact of this drop in attendance has not been reported on yet, VRTP shares fell almost 10% in expectation. Financial results for the second half of 2016 will be announced on February 23.

That's it for this week's News Update . For more Theme Park coverage, follow me on Twitter @themeparknut. Until next time, Cheers!

Thursday 19 January 2017

News Update 19th January 2017

It's been a fairly quiet week for theme parks this week, so let's get started on a quick Theme Park News Update!

Starting in Universal Orlando, the Jimmy Fallon Race Through New York ride, that we mentioned last week, has been announced as opening April 6th. More interestingly though, it was also announced it was going to utilize a virtual queue. However, they aren't going to be the first ride to use this Virtual Queuing system, as Universal quietly debuted this system for the Minion Mayhem ride this week.

At Epcot, the Festival of the Arts opened this week, the latest in an increasingly long list of festivals at WDW (particularly at Epcot). This event combines the Performing Arts, Visual Arts and Culinary Arts together, with displays and showcases of each around world showcase it. It did give us a chance to see some Art themed food, and who wouldn't like a bit more of that in their lives.

Disneyland resort announced the MaxPass which is a paid version of FastPass+ with a photopass thrown in. Interesting priced at $10 a day, the pass, is $29 cheaper than just getting a photopass, and gives great option to reserve ride times. It was always going to be interesting how FP+ translated to Disneyland, that has a much higher proportion of local visitors that WDW, however to charge for the privilege is a new one for Disney. Not surprising though, since there is money to be made!

Both Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood have announced their plans for the Lunar New Year celebrations (which in Australia we still call Chinese New Year). They are celebrating with Kung Fu and Chinese food, so I'm not sure who is kidding who at this point. Looking forward to wishing you all a Happy Year of the Rooster!

Quick question, what do ZZ Top, Lynard Skynard and the Village People have in common? They are all headlining the new Seven Seas Food Festival at SeaWorld Orlando, running from February through to May. This is very likely to be the only post ever on this blog that ever mentions ZZ Top, so you enjoy that!

At home, Dreamworld reopened one of their icon rides, the Tower of Terror, last Thursday, and Hot Wheels Sidewinder just a few days ago. They are on track to have everything back open in the next month.

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

Wednesday 11 January 2017

News Update - 12th January 2017

Its been another big week, so let's get into another theme park news update!

Earlier this week, SeaWorld Orlando announced the death of its largest and most infamous Orca Tillikum at the age of 36. Tillikum became well known after the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 and the subsequent movie Blackfish about the tragedy in 2013. Since SeaWorld is no longer breeding or capturing Orcas, this generation of these marine mammals will be their last.

Following Tillikum's passing, SeaWorld San Diego announced it was going to end Orca shows this weekend. The Orca enclosure is getting a revamp, and trainers will still have demonstrations of behaviors however they won't be part of a show.

Staying in the U.S., Panasonic named projection partner for the two U.S. Disney resorts. While traditionally Disney has used less screens than competitor Universal, projection is a bIig deal for parks these days. In other news, Theme Park Insider pointed out that for the first time in 2 years Disneyland is just Disneyland. It's a funny state of affairs when nothing happening is news.

More details have surfaced about the new Jimmy Fallon ride at Universal Studios in Orlando. While flying around New York, you'll be able to enjoy the smell of pizza and get wet from a plunge in the East River.  Sounds vaguely interesting in what is shaping to be the year of the flying theatre attraction.

Screamscape has done a rough estimate of the throughput of Flight of Passage in Avatarland at Disney's Animal Kingdom, which is Disney's next flying theatre. It is estimate to take 1800 guests per hour (around what Star Tours can support) which a huge boost for park capacity.

At Movie World, 20 guests were inconvenienced yesterday when they were forced to evacuate the Arkham Asylum ride which stopped due to a mechanical fault. While it's news here, there was really nothing dangerous or unusual about this incident. It was only big news because of the recent tragedy at Dreamworld.

Speaking of Dreamworld, the park has reported that their revenue since reopening on December 10th until the end of December was down 63% compared to the same period in 2015. It is worth noting that a number of the key rides were closed for this period and the iconic Tower of Terror and Giant Drop rides still remain closed. This means that the park has lost around $15 million in expected earnings in November and December of 2016.

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

Sunday 1 January 2017

News Update - 5th January 2017

It's a new year! In a effort to increase my chances of getting blogs completed I'm moving the weekly news updates to Thursdays! Let's hope this year will give me more time. I'm also hoping to turn these weekly posts into vlogs. You'll hear more on that in the coming weeks.

Let's start by looking at theme park news in the last few weeks.

At Knott's Berry Farm this week we saw the family ride Sky Cabin get stuck with 21 people on board for 8 hours. Apparently after 3 hours attempting to lower the ride using normal evacuation procedures, the fire department was called in. After detailed investigation the riders were individual lowered by rope from the ride.

This week saw the last running of the Hollywood Tower of Terror at Disney California Adventure at Disneyland Resort. A hard ticket event was run on January 1st to celebrate the ride that opened in DCA in 2004. The ride building has already started it's conversion to a Guardians of the Galaxy ride using the same ride system. Thankfully the original version of this ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando is not being changed at this stage. And it better not!

A new coaster has been announced this week for SeaWorld San Diego; the Electric Eel. This third coaster for the struggling west coast park is due to open in 2018.

It's been a busy few weeks at the major parks on the west coast with record attendance at Universal Studios Hollywood and Disneyland reaching capacity yesterday.

In Australia, at Movie World on the Gold Coast we saw the Scooby Doo Spooky Coaster reopen after scheduled maintenance in a rather bizarre state on Boxing Day. The dark ride section of the ride had been completely gutted and temporary fences put around the track path. After a few days operating like this, temporary signs were added to explain that it was in the middle of a make over. It's been suggested that the down time of the new Doomsday Destroyer had severely impacted capacity in the park, so Scooby was rushed into operation half baked just for the school holidays peak.

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