This summer guests at SeaWorld Orlando may want to dress up in tuxedos to attend the park. That’s because SeaWorld is unveiling their new land, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. Scheduled to open May 24th, Antarctica will feature a themed restaurant, gift shop, educational area, and stunning architecture that integrates both the natural landscape of Antarctica but also artistic representations of the true stars, the penguins. This expansion is the biggest expansion in that parks history.
The true highlight if this new land is the new mobile simulator ride based on the journey of one heroic penguin. The ride itself is reminiscent of other rides in Orlando, but utilizes all new technology and ride cars. Built by Oceaneering International Inc., the ride cars will allow for eight guests to experience the life of a penguin as the cars waddle and slide just like penguins do. One of the most exciting aspects of the ride is the ability for the ride cars to randomize each ride experience. This will allow for each ride to provide guests with unique experiences upon multiple rides but also give ride operators the ability to express different emotions that they want the guest to feel. In one stage of the ride, the cars will move through the actual penguin enclosure that highlights a 20-feet deep underwater habitat where guests will be able to see live penguins playing, swimming and diving.
According to Brian Morrow, Creative Director for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, “Antarctica is the next generation of blending ride experiences and entertainment to empower guests to care for the world and hear the stories we want to tell.” Antarctica represents SeaWorld’s move forward integrating rides and animal habitats. He continues to say that every penguin species on the planet will be represented within this new land.
American Coaster Enthusiasts who attended No Coaster Con on Saturday January 19 were treated to some disorientating news. The historic Batman roller coaster at Six Flags Great America would be turned backwards for a limited engagement during the 2013 season. This week, Six Flags Great America made this news official and released a press release detailing this big change to this classic coaster, Batman: The Ride.
Batman: The Ride which opened in 1992 was the first B&M invert of its kind. For the last 21 seasons, it has been thrilling guests and has given a reported 28 million rides taking them on along a track of 2700 feet and at speeds reaching 50 mph. Batman when opened started an inverted coaster craze that led to not only many clones of the same ride throughout the Six Flags chain, but also many custom inverted layouts that have amazed coaster fans around the world. In 2005, Batman: The Ride at Six Flags Great America was also awarded one of the highest honors any coaster could receive, being dubbed an ACE Coaster Landmark.
Six Flags believes that this change will make the ride, which is an already exhilarating ride, even more thrilling, since guests will not be able to see what elements are coming next. Six Flags Great America Park President Hank Salemi said, "No matter how many times you have been on Batman: The Ride, nothing compares to the thrill of racing down 10 stories facing the other direction." Batman should be turned backwards for opening weekend May 4th and will only be in this special configuration for a limited time. Make sure to book your trip to Six Flags Great America early to not miss out on this great new experience for one of the most storied coasters in the country.
El Loco roller coaster, designed by S&S of Logan, Utah, will replace Rim Runner, the flume at Adventuredome and one of the four original attractions at the park. According tolasvegassun.com, the one of a kind roller coaster and only the second in the US, should begin construction within the next few weeks.
The new 75 second roller coaster will feature a 70 foot drop with negative 1.5 vertical-G’s that dive over, under, and backwards. It will include a 45 degree banked outward turn and a 180 degree barrel roll. It will also include what S&S calls a “greater-than-straight-down diving drop.” The four person cars will be open, giving the riders a sensation of flying as they race along 1,300 feet of track.
“The addition of El Loco to the Adventuredome is a significant move in our efforts to entice a new generation of roller coaster lovers,” said Tom Nolan, Vice President of Operations at Adventuredome. “We are committed to reinventing the Adventuredome experience with fresh and exciting rides for new and repeat guests.”
Adventuredome hopes to open El Loco in December, said officials for MGM Resorts International.
Kentucky Kingdom president Ed Hart has announced that he “fully expects” the standing-but-not-operating park to finally reopen on May 24, 2014, along with the addition of two new major rides and a water park two times its previous size. Hart stated “We intend to have a complete makeover of Kentucky Kingdom.”
“We are very encouraged by what we’ve seen, but obviously, there is a great deal of work to do” to get the park ready for business, said Hart to Courier-Journal. Hart’s investment group was recently granted a lease by the Kentucky State Fair Board in an attempted assist to reopen the park in 2014.
Hart, who had previously run the park for a decade up until 1997, took notice of the review of the status of the park. Currently on the property are 100 buildings, 40 rides and 60 acres of land. Hart said the preliminary review included some “surprises and setbacks” according to Courier-Journal. He said that these “small things” for the most part, and nothing that will keep him from staying true to the May, 2014 opening day.
Courier-Journal says that under the lease, Hart and his partners have agreed to invest $45 million in park improvements by 2017, which includes $20 million in partner equity and $25 million in loans. $1 million in park upgrades will also be a number in this equation.
He also stated that the Thunder Run wooden coaster may need more than $1 million worth of repairs and modifications. Nothing has been said about Twisted Twins, the parks racing coaster, which has been SBNO for two years longer than Kentucky Kingdom.
Reopening Kentucky Kingdom also means more jobs to help stimulate the economy. Hart told Courier-Journal that he plans to hire about 50 full-time park staff in the near future, with up to 1,000 seasonal employees for when the park’s operating.