by Danny Miller
After a two-month campaign that has taken us through 66 days at sea, it’s nearly time for Holiday World to announce what they are adding to the park for the 2015 season. All kinds of theories exist, but honestly, nobody is really sure at this point what exactly to expect. The park has done a tremendous job of teasing us, giving us clues, and worst of all, throwing out red herrings trying to throw us off. Today, I’m going to re-cap some of the hints we’ve gotten and try to narrow down the options ahead of the big unveil on Thursday evening.
WHAT WE KNOW – We know that the ride is going to be a part of the Thanksgiving section of the park in the general area of where Pilgrim’s Plunge (later Giraffica) used to stand near Hyena Falls. There is a clearing near that area in the same vicinity as Voyage’s track. We also know that this will be the largest investment in the park’s history, and we recently learned that the total dollar amount is right around $22 million. The significance of knowing the number comes in next.
Previously, the largest investment was roughly $14 million when the Thanksgiving section opened in 2006. $8.5 million of that was put into Voyage. Until a few days ago, all we knew is that it was more than that. Now, we know the exact amount. Also surfacing recently thanks to a hint from the park is that the new attraction is exactly that: one attraction. Unless they are pulling a fast one, this will not be a new section or a new collection of rides, but rather, as they put it, “One. Big. Thing.” Those two clues are key because that really starts to narrow down what exactly we may see. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at what we can and cannot expect on Thursday night.
WHAT IT PROBABLY IS NOT – You’ll notice I used the word “probably” because, like I said, nobody except the higher-ups at the park knows exactly what’s going on at this point. Like Kings Island’s Banshee campaign, very little has leaked. Any leaks that have come out have been put out there by the park, like the shredded engineering drawings that EB from Coasterradio.com found back at the beginning of the campaign. That still is our only real handle to grab in terms of guessing that this may be a steel coaster, but I digress.
With a $22 million price tag, we can almost surely eliminate any type of wooden coaster unless it is so massive or so outrageous that nobody would believe it even if the park straight-up told us what it was. Ignoring the change in dollar value since 2006, this new ride would cost nearly three times as much as Voyage did. To put it another way, Outlaw Run cost Silver Dollar City $10 million just two years ago. Also, the footers placed so far are very much indicative of a steel coaster. Unless we see something crazy like a launched wooden coaster or an inverted wooden coaster that is extremely large, I would think it’s reasonably safe to cross off the wooden coaster possibility.
The other thing we can eliminate is what I will call a “standard” steel coaster. A recent post on the Holiblog mentions that what they are building will be “truly unique” and “the first of its kind.” Those two phrases have lost much of their meeting in recent years as parks have stretched the meaning of “unique” and “one-of-a-kind” quite a bit in order to gain an edge in marketing. Holiday World has never been one for gimmicks, and hearing these terms from them truly makes me think they mean it.
What that means is that we aren’t going to see a moderately-sized looping coaster with four or five inversions. If the ride itself is of a moderate size, there will probably be fairly extensive scenery and an elaborate story to go with it that makes it unique. The question from there becomes, “does that eat up $22 million?” I’m not so sure it does. Banshee and Gatekeeper came in at $24 million and $25 million the last two years, so if it is a steel coaster, expect it to be on the same order of magnitude as those two if there is not extensive scenery and theme elements or something brand new.
WHAT IT COULD BE – This is a bit tougher because there are a lot of options. Let’s start with what I think is less likely: a highly-themed, indoor coaster. Construction thus far hasn’t really suggested that we will see a large building. A decade ago, Revenge Of The Mummy in Orlando cost around $40 million, so a ride with an extensive theme like that is out of the discussion. Perhaps we could see something less extensive with scenery similar to Maverick, but maybe it will not be much of a coaster, rather a dark ride/coaster combo like Wonder Mountain’s Guardian. For the record, that ride cost $10 million to open for this season.
There are plenty of other possibilities, but the “truly unique” and “first of its kind” words are really throwing me. There has to be something unique about it. Day 65 of the teaser site talks about a creature appearing with giant wings. This could hint at a wing coaster, perhaps maybe even a 4-D coaster. B&M has been rumored to e developing one for some time, and it would certainly be the first B&M 4-D coaster. Perhaps the cars are free spinning even. S&S is working on a model of that type, but none exist currently. Either of those options would indeed be unique and firsts.
Another guess may be the first B&M launching coaster. This one would only be on a technicality because B&M did not do the launch system on Incredible Hulk, but again, they have supposedly been developing a system for some time. If they are, we’re going to see it eventually. If it is indeed a launch coaster from B&M, they the possibilities remain large because I would assume it could be used on many of their designs. After all, if it is brand new, we can’t really put any limitations on it. Most of B&M’s vehicles run off the same general chassis design, so using a system similar to their magnetic braking system would theoretically work just fine for a launch system.
I think the above three options are most likely, but there is a small possibility that it’s something completely new and innovative. Maybe it’s a new vehicle type or a new seating configuration. Maybe the seats face sideways like the old scenic railway coasters. Maybe it’s a brand new type of track style. Maybe it’s even two coasters in one and some sort of special racing/dueling coaster. Whatever the result is, we’re only hours away now, and it’s sure to be exciting and the talk of the industry for at least a few days (until another park makes their announcement). What are your predictions?