Even as nervous families and kids streamed into Great America on Wednesday in a fit of spring break fervor, the president and CEO of the company that runs the amusement park was at the entrance with a calming message: The place is not disappearing and will never be anything other than what it is today.
"We are here to commit to the long-term growth and the vibrancy of Great America pending approval of our master plan by the city," said Matthew A. Ouimet of Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, owner of the park. "We are prepared to invest in a collection of new rides, attractions and shows," he said, speaking at the outdoor fountain and carousel of the 40-year-old institution.
Ouimet said the approval of the master plan will make the park "more fun," referring to a 35-foot height limitation that is a bane to the higher-faster-crazier formula that delights amusement park fans. Now, any ride higher than the limit must get special variances before it is built. The master plan, says Ouimet, promises more spectacular roller coasters and water slides and, with Silicon Valley in mind, "there will be more digital rides."
Co-owner of Rocky Mountain Construction Fred Grubb released a statement on Thursday afternoon regarding the delayed opening of the new Lightning Rod roller coaster under construction at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dollywood, which opened for 2016 last weekend, announced early last week that the coaster would open late and would not be ready for Opening Weekend.
In his statement, Grubb states that issues with the launch system have held up the ride's debut, and that they are continuously working with the sub-contractor supplying the launch system to the ride.
While Grubb stated that work and testing is continuing, he declined to speculate on an opening date, requesting that all questions regarding the ride's opening to be referred to park officials.
Busch Gardens® announced today a new wooden roller coaster is coming to its collection of world-class thrill rides in spring 2017. The family thriller will be the Virginia theme park’s first wooden coaster and eighth roller coaster in total – and will be designed as the world’s first “crowdsourced” ride.
In an unusual industry move, the park is announcing the new attraction much earlier than typical so that fans will be able to help “decide the ride” including opportunities to vote on attraction details, contribute to theme elements and shape the marketing campaign. The first such opportunity kicked off today, inviting fans to select the ride’s name. “Busch Gardens has a reputation for creating unique ride experiences, and our new family coaster will certainly continue that tradition,” said Larry Giles, vice president of engineering. “The dynamics of a wooden coaster, combined with the many ways it will interact with the terrain and nearby attractions, will make this a one-of-a-kind thrill.”
Giles said the roller coaster will have a minimum height requirement of 46 inches for riders. A coaster with the lower height range rounds out the park’s portfolio and has been developed in response to guest requests for a roller coaster that adults and children can ride together, he said.
“This will be a great ride for families, but make no mistake: this will not be a kiddie ride,” Giles said. “This coaster will feature an exciting drop of 74 feet and will have nine airtime hills, the same number as Apollo’s Chariot®. It’s going to be a wild ride.” While the coaster’s track will be wooden, it will be supported by a steel structure. “Riders will get the best of both worlds: the stability of steel supports with the classic feel of a great wooden coaster,” Giles said.
The ride will be located in the New France village of Busch Gardens. It will take guests on a trek of more than 2,100 feet through wooded terrain, underground through a tunnel and in close proximity to the Le Scoot log flume and Busch Gardens Railway. Neither of the neighboring attractions will need to close for extended periods during the construction of the new ride.
The attraction’s theme will be based on a fanciful legend related to the exploration of North America by Vikings. The coaster will invite riders to join the battle between a band of invading Vikings, who have survived for generations looking for new territory, and the residents of the New France trappers’ village, who are fighting to protect their outpost.
FANS TO “DECIDE THE RIDE”
While Busch Gardens historically has not announced new attractions so far in advance, the news of the new ride is part of a larger strategy by the park to involve its members and fans to a greater degree than ever before, said Dan Dipiazzo, vice president of marketing.
“Our fans are so loyal and passionate about this park, and we want to make them co-creators in this exciting new project,” Dipiazzo said. “We still have a lot of details to finalize for this attraction, and our guests will get to weigh in and be a part of the development.”
Surveys through Busch Gardens’ website and social media channels will invite fans to “Decide the Ride,” including selecting the ride’s name and various design elements. Dipiazzo said guests also may get the opportunity to contribute to the queue experience, participate in pre-ride video or audio segments and pitch their concepts for consumer-generated advertising to promote the coaster’s opening next spring.
The first chance for fans to participate started today, with a survey to select the ride’s name from among three contenders: Viking Raider, Battle Klash or InvadR. Consumers may vote once a day through April 1 at http://bit.ly/1UjthUa. The park has committed to brand the new attraction with whichever name gets the most qualified votes.
“Honestly, it’s a big change for us, and not common in our industry, to leave so much in the hands of consumers,” Dipiazzo admitted. “But we respect our fans. We know they love this park and want to be part of our success. This will be their ride as much as ours.”
In addition to crowdsourcing opportunities, Busch Gardens will share construction updates and other milestones in a special section of its website at BuschGardens.com/Project2017 and with the hashtag #BGProject2017 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Great Coasters International, Inc., Sunbury, PA
TYPE OF RIDE:
Wooden roller coaster
Wooden track with steel supports
Nine airtime hills
Interwoven into Busch Gardens topography
2,118 feet of track
2 trains, 16 seats per train
RIDE HEIGHT REQUIREMENT:
Busch Gardens’ New France village
RIDE OPEN DATE:
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS), a leading theme park and entertainment company, today announced that the killer whales – or orcas – currently in the company’s care will be the last generation of orcas at SeaWorld. The company will end all orca breeding as of today.
SeaWorld also will introduce new, inspiring, natural orca encounters, rather than theatrical shows, as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals. These programs will focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health. This change will start in its San Diego park next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019.
SeaWorld also announced today a broad new partnership with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to protect our oceans and the animals that call them home. The company is committing to educating its more than 20 million annual visitors on animal welfare and conservation issues through interpretative programs at the parks and expanded advocacy for wild whales, seals, and other marine creatures.
“SeaWorld has introduced more than 400 million guests to orcas, and we are proud of our part in contributing to the human understanding of these animals,” said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “As society’s understanding of orcas continues to change, SeaWorld is changing with it. By making this the last generation of orcas in our care and reimagining how guests will encounter these beautiful animals, we are fulfilling our mission of providing visitors to our parks with experiences that matter.”
“SeaWorld’s commitment to end breeding of orcas is a long-held goal of many animal advocacy organizations, and we commend the company for making this game-changing commitment,” said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS. “Today we turn a corner, working together to achieve solutions on a wide set of animal issues including sunsetting the use of orcas at existing facilities; maximizing SeaWorld’s focus on rescue, rehabilitation and advocacy for marine mammals in the wild; and sourcing food for animals and customers from humane and sustainable sources, including cage-free eggs and crate-free pork.”
“We are pleased to join with HSUS on the significant issues facing marine mammals and their ocean homes,” said Manby. “The work done by zoological facilities like SeaWorld is critical for the protection of animals in the wild, especially marine mammals. To that end, SeaWorld has committed $50 million over the next five years to be the world’s leading marine animal rescue organization, to advocate for an end to the commercial killing of whales and seals and an end to shark finning.”
The current population of orcas at SeaWorld – including one orca, Takara, that became pregnant last year – will live out their lives at the company’s park habitats, where they will continue to receive the highest-quality care based on the latest advances in marine veterinary medicine, science, and zoological best practices. Guests will be able to observe these orcas through the new educational encounters and in viewing areas within the existing habitats.
SeaWorld reaffirms its commitment not to collect marine mammals from the wild. It has not collected an orca from the wild in nearly 40 years, and the orcas at SeaWorld were either born there or have spent almost their entire lives in human care. These orcas could not survive in oceans that include environmental concerns such as pollution and other man-made threats.
Sharp-eyed readers observed the park’s 2016 map on its website and noticed two things: that Ninja was now blue in color and was labeled “all-new” and opening later in the season. Park President Dale Kaetzel said that Vekoma was on site and working to improve the ride experience with some track work and some improvements to the trains. Kaetzel did mention it would sport the new vest-type harnesses found on Vekoma’s Boomerang coasters (such as Carolina Cobra at nearby Carowinds), but was coy about whether it would be on new trains or on the existing vehicles. I’m wagering it’ll be the former. Kaetzel also mentioned that the name “Ninja” may not be on it when it does re-open, but nothing was set yet.
"This will blow people away," predicts Brett Petit, senior VP, marketing and sales for Six Flags. "This" refers to the virtual reality technology that the theme park chain will be rolling out this spring at nine of its properties. Already highly regarded for its arsenal of kick-ass thrill machines, Six Flags will up the ante by repurposing nine of its roller coasters as ride systems for what could prove to be delirious, out-of-this-world VR experiences. It will take immersive storytelling to new heights – literally.
Take Superman the Ride at Six Flags New England in Massachusetts. Considered by many ride fiends (myself included) to be the country's best steel coaster, the over-200-foot, 77 m.p.h. screamer pays homage to the Man of Steel with its color scheme, logos, and other cursory references. The superhero theme will take a quantum leap this year, however, when passengers strap on VR headgear and embark on a hyper-realistic journey in the city of Metropolis.
"This will be the first opportunity that people will have to virtually fly with Superman," says Sam Rhodes, corporate director of design for Six Flags. And by fly, we're not talking about the comparatively tame rendition of flight that motion simulator rides such as Star Tours at the Disney parks and the Harry Potter rides at the Universal parks deliver. We're talking about flying alongside Supes while experiencing an actual, stomach-churning 221-foot drop, maneuvering through tight turns loaded with bone-crushing G-forces, and floating heavenward from multiple bouts of zero-G airtime.
Alton Towers will re-open the Smiler Rollercoaster next month, after it has been closed for five months following a crash were five people were seriously injured.
The ride was closed in June, after two women had their legs amputated as a result of their carriage colliding with a stationary carriage on the same track.
The theme park will open the ride again on March 19, when the new season begins.
Alton Towers owner to be prosecuted over Smiler crash
A review of the incident has revealed the crash was caused by “human error” and not a mechanical problem.
The theme park said it has new safety measures across all multi-car rollercoasters in a bid to prevent a similar crash from happening.
“On re-opening, The Smiler ride will also incorporate an extensive set of new safety measures, including technical improvements and enhanced training.
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