by Danny Miller
It’s been a month since Holiday World captivated the coaster enthusiast community with the announcement of Thunderbird, the first ever B&M launched wing coaster. Today, we are less than 24 hours away from finding out what Carowinds is adding for 2015 after a teaser campaign that has been every bit as confusing and entertaining. As I did ahead of the Thunderbird announcement, I am going to talk about what we know, what we think we know, and what we could expect to see tomorrow morning when Carowinds unveils all of their plans for 2015.
WHAT WE KNOW – There is a ton of information that we think we know, but honestly, not a whole lot that we definitely do know. Let’s start with the track. Just arriving on site is dark teal B&M track with a lime green accent color on the bottom of the spine. Barely visible behind the track are white supports that appear to be for the transfer and storage area. Unless a lot of extra time and money is going into this campaign by shipping fake track, these items are for the new coaster, so we know it is B&M as well as the colors of teal, lime green, and white.
We also know that the park has released several teasers, some pointing to a roman theme, while others point to a different theme that could relate to bees or a swarm of bees. While visiting the park last week, a teaser that said “Join Our Conquest” next to a set of roman armor appeared. In the reflection of the armor, a wing coaster train can be seen rushing by. What we don’t know from all of that is how real it is, or what it means.
WHAT WE THINK WE KNOW – There is a lot here, so I will try to get as much as I can. We know that Cedar Fair owns trademarks to the names Centurion, Fury, and Fury 325, so one of those three will presumably be the name of the ride. I haven’t been able to confirm, but several sources say that the Centurion trademark has been suspended. This will come into play a bit later. We also think that we know the layout. A while back, blue prints were found that seem indicative of a hyper/giga coaster style layout. It seems to lack inversions, and contains several turns and a few hills, not a far cry from the layout of Leviathan, although this ride does seem to be longer.
We think we know that this ride will be a giga coaster, and we know that B&M has done it before for Cedar Fair, so it’s not out of the question. The real hang-up with saying that it definitely is a giga coaster is the teaser that I mentioned earlier. The reflection inside of the armor clearly shows a wing coaster train. The logic to dismiss it however, is that if the roman theme (and Centurion name) is not real, it could simply be another case of “The Bat” teaser that Kings Island did last year. The whole thing could be fake and we could be getting a giga coaster after all. Some have also suggested that the roman teasers point to the front gate renovation that is likely, as the current entrance featured roman-style columns at the turnstiles.
THEORY #1: CENTURION TROUBLES – The more I think about it and the more I see and find, the less I see this one being the real thing. The Centurion trademark is rumored to be suspended, which means it wouldn’t be used. While it is a great name and a pretty awesome logo, I am more skeptical about this now than ever. However, an interesting theory came from our friends atcoasterradio.com last week. What if Centurion was planned to be the name, but an issue with the trademark forced a change of plans? The trademark for Centurion was filed in October 2013, while the original Fury trademark was filed in January 2014. Oddly, Fury 325 was not filed for until June, just a few months ago. Is it possible that the Centurion name/theme fell through, and a new plan was needed, and Fury 325 is what resulted? They could have already had the Centurion logo made and decided to use it for something to throw us off since they know it wouldn’t be used elsewhere.
THEORY #2: SWARM IS LANDING – Is it possible that all of the talks of Centurion and Fury 325 are off and Carowinds will call the coaster something completely different? Here is why the name Swarm could be the real name. In the code of Carowinds’s website, the microsite for the attraction is called Swarm, just as Gatekeeper’s microsite was called Gatekeeper. While Swarm has not been trademarked, Gatekeeper was not trademarked until the day of the announcement at Cedar Point, so there isn’t a good argument against it in that regard. Swarm also connects to both speculated names. The connection to Fury 325 is fairly simple, as a group of bees is often called a swarm. The connection to Centurion was found by my sister last week. The Latin word for swarm and/or squadron is “turma.” Doing some digging found that the leader of any one “turma” is called the “centurion.” So the name Swarm has a connection to both names while not being either one. Could both Centurion and Fury 325 be fake?
THEORY #3: MULTIPLE FURIES – This theory is one that I’ve come up with on my own completely over the last week or so. Remember back in 2010 when Cedar Fair had big additions at Carowinds and Kings Dominion? They wanted to use the name Intimidator, but Dale Earnhardt Inc. owned the rights to the name. Cedar Fair approached DEI in hopes of being able to use the name, and sure enough, two areas with heavy NASCAR influences got roller coasters with a Dale Earnhardt theme and name. To distinguish between the two rides, the taller of the two was called Intimidator 305 (from its height).
What if Cedar Fair is doing the same thing this time around? In June, I spotted footers at California’s Great America. Since then, some have said it was for a new haunt or a new pavilion, but they certainly did not appear to be either of these to me. What if either the Great America project, or another Cedar Fair project in the near future is going to take advantage of the Fury name? Both Fury and Fury 325 have been trademarked separately, and the “325” in the leaked Fury 325 logo could easily be removed for a ride simply named Fury, just like in the case of Intimidator and Intimidator 305. Could Cedar Fair be looking to use another name more than once at different parks? If so, this would explain two trademarks with one having the height distinction attached to it.
THEORY #4: GIGA WING – This idea has come up a few times in recent days, especially since the teaser video with the wing coaster reflection, but what if it is both a giga coaster and a wing coaster? B&M has shown that they are all-in with the wing coaster, as they have committed to trying new things with it such as a launch system that Thunderbird will use. Who’s to say they won’t try a giga-wing? I think it’s unlikely, but at this point, we can’t totally eliminate the possibility. Some have expressed concerns of the practicality from an engineering stand point. From my knowledge and experience, I see no reason why it couldn’t be done. If this is the case, then all of the clues would make at least some sense, even in the case of it being called Centurion because all of the bee and buzz clues could simply point to the idea of something that has wings.
THEORY #5: TWO RIDES – This is probably the least-likely of any theory out there, but what if Carowinds is getting two major rides? It is probably not the case, and it doesn’t even have to be two coasters, but what if two big rides are coming in at the same time? Both the Centurion and Fury 325 names could be used (in whatever sense) and it would explain the two very different paths each of the names go down. Again, it’s not likely, but it’s worth the thought.
A day before the Thunderbird announcement, I had a pretty good idea of what was probably going to happen, but with this one I am at a loss. I would love to think that the new ride(s) will be something close to one of my theories, maybe even a combination of a few of them, but I honestly don’t know. Cedar Fair showed with the Banshee campaign that they have quite the playbook when it comes to teasers, and we really can’t take anything out there as real or fake for sure. Join our discussion on the Carowinds 2015 project as we get closer and closer to the moment of truth!
by Andrew Rybarczyk
It's been no secret that I've been openly critical of SeaWorld over the last year. The documentary Blackfish raised a number of questions in my head. After further research, I wrote this blog: After Blackfish, Should I Still Support SeaWorld? The film and research made me question the company, its practices, and also the support I've given them. My trips to Busch Gardens in both Tampa and Williamsburg along with my trips to SeaWorld in Orlando, Aurora, and San Antonio have always evoked pleasant memories. However, upon introspection I could no longer support the parks for two major reasons. First, after numerous accidents (some fatal), I did not support trainers in the water. Secondly, I also did not approve of the way SeaWorld housed its killer whales and thought the animal enclosures were far too small for an animal of that size. Other issues raised were the issues of how truthful the corporation was and its treatment of orca families. My ultimate stance was to no longer support SeaWorld or Busch parks with the only way I could vote on the issue, my wallet. It was a tough choice because of the fond memories, but I could not in good conscience support a company that I felt was doing wrong in my eyes.
Yesterday morning, I opened my email and was shocked to read what I saw. Before I start with this, let me say that I had been contemplating writing a blog about what SeaWorld should do to restore its image in the consumer's eyes. As many of you know, this week SeaWorld released some pretty dismal financial news and the stock market responded accordingly with a 30% drop in price in one day. That's a devastating number to a company who just over a year ago released its IPO to resounding success. In this blog I was going to write about where SeaWorld had gone wrong and how they could right the ship. Yesterday, however, SeaWorld wrote my blog for me.
The Blue World Project, as SeaWorld is calling it, will double the size of the killer whale habitat in San Diego. Not only will it increase in size but it will feature technology to create currents to give the whales even more "diversity" in habitat experience. What's even better is that it seems as if the park is making it a truly unique viewing experience with views at eye level, above the water and below the water. This enclosure is exactly the type of thing I envisioned when I thought about how the park could restore its image. Obviously issue two was also resolved by the courts when they refused SeaWorld's request to put trainers back into the water. I'd also say that embarking on not only this investment but also a $10 million investment into the research of killer whales also alleviates my concerns about the corporation. To be honest, I never expected to see this. SeaWorld was so dug in with their "truth team" that I never thought I would see them budge an inch or admit that what they were doing wasn't the best. Both these moves changed that perception and impressed me greatly. Because of that, I say with certainty, that I can now change my answer that I have been asked persistently over the last year. Yes, I support SeaWorld.
With that being said, I will not diminish the "Blackfish Effect." I stand by my position I held for the last year and look proudly on every word I wrote or uttered. Let me also say these were not easy words to speak. Like I said before, I enjoyed my time at Busch Gardens and SeaWorld and it pained me to have to give them up for my beliefs. I truly believe, though, that it is because of Blackfish that these orcas will now be able to live in a habitat the likes of which have never been seen before. Like it or hate it, Blackfish shone a light on a part of SeaWorld that was not pretty. You can dispute facts or trivia presented, but in the end the major issues resonated with me and many others. I believe that through this new investment that SeaWorld can truly move positively into the future. I know that the radicals will not be pleased by this, but guess what, radicals of all sorts are never pleased. SeaWorld needed to win over the common park guest like myself. They have done that.
So in short, thank you Blackfish for opening my eyes to this cause. It has been a struggle the past year, but I believe I am better for having gone through it. Thank you SeaWorld for restoring my faith in your company that has provided me joy over the years and can now do so once again.