Darien Lake is making some changes this season. The 58 year old park located in upstate New York is getting a new General Manager an Marketing Director.
The managing company of Darien lake, Herschend Family Entertainment, released a statement in early January naming Bob Montgomery as the new General Manager of the park. Mr.Montgomery has been working with Herschend Family Entertainment for 10 years. Most recently he was the General Manger and Vice President of Wild Adventures (A park also owned by Herschend Family Entertainment). According to an article by AmusementToday.com, before working for Herschend, Mr.Montgomery served as Vice President of Operations and Development at LEGOLAND, the Director of Operations at Toronto's C.N. tower and Director of Attractions at Canada's Wonderland.
In a statement released by the park, Mr.Montgomery said “The combination of entertainment and accommodations offered at Darien Lake are unique in the industry, and I am excited about this opportunity. The community has a lot of enthusiasm for Darien Lake, and I look forward to leading this great vacation destination, especially as we introduce three new family rides this year.”
Darien Lake will also be receiving a new Director of Marketing. Steve Hallowell is a New York native and a veteran in the marketing industry. For over 25 years he was director of consumer experience marketing for Eastman Kodak. Mr.Hallowell said in a press release that “I look forward to working with the marketing team and the Buffalo and Rochester communities to attract even more guests to our park and accommodations”.
New Marketing techniques already seem to have been implemented when for a brief period Darien Lake had a new logo. Two weeks ago (according to Screamscape) the website and Facebook page of the park featured new logos. As of today that logo cannot be found on the website, but COASTER-net did get a copy of it while it was up, and you can see it in our Darien Lake Park Gallery article (linked to in the related links of this article). For now, another logo, much more like the one from last year, is on their Facebook page and on their website.
A new development has occurred in the roller coaster story surrounding the struggles for revival of the Kentucky Kingdom amusement park, now SBNO for the past two years. After numerous attempts by Ed Hart and others being brought up, the Fair Board has continually shot them down and has all but eliminated him from the picture, despite always commenting that they want nothing more than to see the park open again.
According to the Courier-Journal, it now appears that the Koch family, owners and operators of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, are seeking rights to operate Kentucky Kingdom. Local website InsiderLouisville.com first broke the story when the Koch’s issued a response to an inquiry by the website, and it appears they are looking to grow their business in amusement parks by looking towards Kentucky Kingdom. They also reported “the process is still in the fact-finding stage; no decisions have been made by the Kochs whether to pursue this opportunity.”
The Fair Board’s main concern remains getting $20 million from the General Assembly in 2012, despite their tight budget. Ed Hart, who owned Kentucky Kingdom for nearly a decade prior to 2000, returned after the park closed with efforts to get it operational again, and first began pursuing money from the General Assembly last year. He secured the arrangement of $20 million in bank loans from the Al J. Schneider Company, plus $3 million of his loan, he just needed $20 million from the General Assembly to get the park open. Despite his efforts, things just wouldn’t work out, and then in September, the Fair Board announced it was ending talks with Hart, essentially throwing him out of the picture.
Though they haven’t made any offers, they have confirmed that it’s a path they’ve been looking into pursuing.
The world's first tubular steel coaster will be undergoing a bit of a change during the 2012 season. Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds is set to receive a new set of trains. The changes should be completed for the summer of 2012.
Matterhorn Bobsleds' current trains allow for two riders to sit in the same seat while the coaster traverses its circuit. This will no longer be an option once the new fleet of trains are installed. According to Theme Park Tourist the new trains will consist of two cars that hold three people each. Each train consists of two cars for a total of six riders per train. Each rider will sit directly behind the rider in front of them. The trains will show a pretty strong resemblance to those found on Space Mountain at Disneyworld in Florida.
As you may have noticed, Matterhorn Bobsleds closed on January 9th. This was the first step in the installation of the new fleet. According to Theme Park Tourist the ride will remain closed for a few months in order to get the new trains up and running. During this time the new trains will be installed and then tested to ensure that they are safe and running correctly. The ride is expected to reopen in June.
Matterhorn Bobsleds gave its first rides to the public on June 14, 1959. Its hard to believe that this coaster has been providing family thrills for over 50 years now. While it certainly isn't the tallest or fastest coaster in the world, it is certainly one of the most nostalgic.
The buzz around Alton Towers attraction for 2012 has been growing, and the park recently gave us some new information. The park announced that the ride will be named Nemesis: Sub-Terra. Also the opening date has been set for March 24, 2012.
Nemesis: Sub-Terra is going to be an indoor ride that plays off the same theme as the world famous Nemesis B&M inverted coaster. According to the Los Angeles Times, the ride is being built in the Forbidden Valley section of Alton Towers, which will place it near Nemesis and AIR.
The new ride is going to be built by ABC Rides. Due to this fact, it is heavily rumored that the ride will be of the same type as Extremis at another of Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of Alton Towers, park named London Dungeons. This ride features an indoor drop tower as well as some animated scenes. Nemesis: Sub-Terra will descend to depths of around 2 stories below ground, yet again displaying the ability of Alton Towers to get around their restriction that prevents them from building too high into the air.
According to the Los Angeles Times the exterior of the building that houses the ride will be themed to fit in with the industrial and military theme of the surrounding Forbidden Valley section of the park. Also, the Lava Lump rock-climbing wall and the Body Zorb bumper orbs have been removed in order to free up space for Nemesis: Sub-Terra.
As a build-up to the ride Alton Towers has been releasing teasers and other tidbits of information periodically. Their latest teaser is this YouTube video. It contains a comic strip that goes into the back story of the extraterrestrial Nemesis monster.
Coming as no great surprise, HUSS, the maker of the Timber Tower at Dollywood, is seeking dismissal of the park’s $500,000 lawsuit according to a report from timesnews.net. Dollywood has been experiencing nothing but problems with the ride since its opening nearly six years ago, including malfunctions and mechanical failures which have led to extensive downtime. This led to the park closing the ride in late 2010 due to “contract disputes,” and the ride has remained close ever since.
In early October, The Mountain Press revealed that Dollywood was suing HUSS Park and Attractions (HPA) and HUSS Parts and Services (HPS), the companies responsible for building and maintaining the ride, for $500,000 for “breach of contract, breach of warranty, and negligence.” Dollywood was displeased at being continually charged for a ride which had never worked properly to begin with and had numerous repeat problems, something HUSS apparently did not feel responsible for. Costing the park $2.2 million for the ride plus an additional $2.4 million for site preparations, the ride has been down far more than it has been up.
After the rides completion in March 2006, it only took a few months before the ride started experience problems and malfunctions. In October 2006, however, HUSS Maschinefabrik filed for insolvency and was taken over by HUSS Park Attractions and HUSS Parts and Services, according to The Mountain Press. Maintenance was performed by HUSS in January 2007 after negotiating a new contract with Dollywood. Again, within just a few months, by April, the ride was experiencing new problems, which led to the June 17 incident that year which left 38 riders stranded at the top of the tower. Dollywood then had to replace the ride’s main hydraulic pump and the circulation pump, in September and November 2007 respectively. Later, in June 2008, after just over two years of operation, Dollywood had to replace the gondola motor drive, and that year the ride was down for 627 operating hours.
According to timesnews.net, the lawsuit moved to the U.S. District Court in Knoxville in December, and the motion to dismiss it was filed at the end of December. HPA and HPS requested to dismiss the lawsuit claiming that since they are not successors to the original company that built the ride and made the contract with Dollywood, they are not liable or responsible for the claims.
The original contract, signed with HUSS Maschinenfabrik, was signed in June 2005, with a one-year limited warranty on the structure and rides operation. After filing for insolvency in October 2006, HPA and HPS took over their assets, but according to Tennessee law, “when a corporation purchases the assets of another corportation, the purchaser is not automatically liable for the obligations of the seller,” as reported by timesnews.net. As a result, HPA and HPS do not feel they are liable, though it seems Dollywood may argue that even after HPA and HPS did further work on the ride after this, it has still not operated properly, making them at least partially responsible. No trial date has yet been set.
Transformers to Debut in May
Universal City, California - This past week, Universal Studios Hollywood confirmed that their Transformers: The Ride – 3D will be opening at the park in May 2012. Though the park has not yet announced a firm opening date, but according to reports from Screamscape, the park plans to have the ride open in time for Memorial Day weekend, on May 25th. It is also stated that the park hopes to potentially have a soft opening before then, but these dates are by no means firm.
The park has launched a teaser website for the new ride at www.prepareforbattle.com, and has released a trailer video along with it. From the video, it appears this version of the ride will be very similar, if not nearly identical to the Transformers ride that opened at Universal Studios Singapore just a few weeks ago. As the story goes, humans will be thrust into the middle of an epic battle between the Autobots and Decepticons. Guests will be fighting alongside the Autobots as NEST recruits, trying to protect the ALLSPARK from the Decepticons, who want the ALLSPARK for far more destructive purposes.
Like its cousin overseas, the ride will utilize the same complex ride-show-simulator technology used on the Amazing Adventures of Spiderman attraction at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure. The new attraction will fit into the closed Backdraft and Special Effects Soundstages attraction in the “Lower Lot,” according to Theme Park Tourist. Time to prepare for the ultimate battle of man and machine in early 2012!