---- THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS ----
(4/28/15) Internet Fun - Roller Coaster RACE Events Coming To A Park Near You (MORE...)
(4/28/15) New Documentary Coming About Arrow Development (MORE...)
(4/23/15) Cirque Du Soleil Sells Majority Shares To Private Investment Firms (MORE...)
(4/20/15) A Look Inside the Closed Camelot Theme Park in the UK (MORE...)
(4/16/15) Cedar Fair Looking Forward To A DARK Future (MORE...)
2013 Park Attendance Report - (6/4/14) The annual theme park attendance report from TEA and AECOM has come out for the 2013 season and can seen here or downloaded in PDF form here. For the most part, attendance was up at many of the popular parks, through the SeaWorld Parks chain saw losses almost across the board.
The biggest gains of the year in the US were seen by Universal Studios Florida (14%) thanks to the addition of the Transformers ride as well as the Springfield themed area. It was the only park in the US to see double-digit growth, though Disney’s California Adventure would be a close 2nd with a 9.5% increase in attendance.
Globally the Disney parks did very well with double digit growth also reported at the two Tokyo Disneyland Resort theme parks as well as Hong Kong Disneyland who saw a 10.4% increase. It should be noted that the increase in attendance over the prior year experienced by the Tokyo Disney parks is misleading however, as the parks were finally recovering from the poor attendance year they suffered in 2012 when the resort was forced to completely shut down for an extended period of time due following the Tsunami that hit on March 11, 2012.
Lotte World in South Korea also saw huge growth in 2013, with attendance up by an amazing 15.9%. Follow the links and read through the report, as there is some fascinating data in there, though keep in mind that most of the attendance figures are simply estimates and best guesses as most parks do not release their actual attendance figures, and some estimates seem a bit high to me… especially the elevated looking attendance figures posted for some of the Walt Disney World theme parks.
You can also still download most of the previous years attendance reports too:
Download the 2012 Report
Download the 2011 Report
Download the 2010 Report
Download the 2009 Report
Download the 2008 Report
Download the 2007 Report
Download the 2006 Report
General News - (4/28/15) Who's ready for a documentary film about one of America's most famous former coaster maker? Great American thrills and Totally twisted Media are partnering with American Coaster Enthusaists Worldwide to produce a documentary about Arrow Development who would later evolve into Arrow Dynamics. The film is expected to premier later this year at the IAAPA tradeshow in Orlando. Kris Rowberry (from the Lost Parks of Northern California web series) and Nicholas Laschkewitsch (Video Promotions Coordinator for ACE) are heading up the project.
(4/23/15) According to this news report Cirque Du Soleil's Guy Laliberte has sold his majority stake in the company to a private equity firm called TPG Capital, with a Chinese investment company (Fosun) also said to have picked up a minority stake in the company along with a Quebec group also taking another minority interest in the company. This later group includes Mitch Garber who will take over at Chairman of the company as part of the deal, and will see that the Cirque headquarters remains in Montreal. While the actual sales figures were not made public they believe the sale of the company to be around $1.5 billion to Guy Laliberte, who will retain a 10% stake in the company.
(3/11/15) File this one under strange news of the day. A woman driving a Lexus on the 288 in Houston near the airport cut off a semi-truck that was carrying a Tilt-A-Whirl. According to the news report the semi driver slammed on the brakes, but couldn't avoid hitting Lexus, and ended up tipping over the trailer spilling the Tilt-A-Whirl cars all over the freeway.
The good news is that the woman survived with only minor injuries and the big-rig driver kept the cab upright and was unharmed.
(3/2/15) It has been awhile since we've heard anything from our friends at CoasterDynamix, and it appears that they have a new concept in the pipeline to sell to hungry coaster lovers everywhere. Their website now shows off a new item they are calling the Stainless Steel Nano Coaster. These are small desktop sized roller coaster models that have been laser cut from stainless steel. The first one is already for sale for a modest $19.95 and looks very similar in style to many classic side-by-side wooden racing coasters.
Much like their old Statix like of coaster train re-creations, I'm told that they are hoping to work with several theme parks this year to sell official Nano version of several famous coasters.
(2/24/15) Tragedy struck the former Dogpatch theme park in Arkansas on Sunday morning when a fire mysteriously broke out on the park grounds. The long closed theme park was purchased by a new owner last year who has begun a restoration project in the hopes of reopening sections of the old park to the public. A fire with an unknown cause that sparked on Sunday morning burned three buildings down to the foundation before it was put out, with all the public utilities turned off to the site, the fire is now considered suspicious and under investigation to determine the cause.
Internet Fun - (4/28/15) For the fitness and marathon running types out there who also love coasters, it has come to my attention that there is a new thing called Roller Coaster RACE, a group who schedules running events that theme parks around the USA (and one in the UK!) that also include in-park coaster-riding events as well as part of the competition. You can visit the official site for details, but the group already has events planned at:
Six Flags St. Louis on May 5
Kennywood on June 6
The Great Escape on July 18
Six Flags New England on Sept 6
Six Flags over Texas on Sept. 20
Magic Springs & Crystal Falls on Oct. 17
with TDA dates for Silver Dollar City (MO) and Alton Towers in the UK!
(4/20/15) We love all theme parks here at Screamscape, but sometimes the most fascinating parks to view images of are the ruins of closed and abandoned theme parks. This week an interesting assortment of images of the former Camelot theme park in the UK have been posted to Airgates. Perhaps one of the more facinating things is that it wasn't that long ago that we covered the news and rumors about Camelot still on Screamscape, as it was an active and thriving theme park for a good number of years.
(4/1/15) Congratulations to one of our readers, Marcus Gaines, for re-taking the World Record for Marathon Bumper Car Riding. Marcus regained his record this past weekend at Funland Hayling Island after riding for 27 hours, 8 minutes and 25 seconds, along with a benefit to raise money for Epilepsy Research. You can see a video of some of the action here as well.
(3/20/15) For a little internet fun... check out the latest episode of CoasterRadio, as it features me as part of a little game segment called Know Your Coasterboy.
(3/12/15) I can't believe this actually went by un-noticed by me, but the last few months have come and gone without a peep from the infamous Mitch Hawker Wood and Steel Coaster Polls, who apparently are missing in action thus far this year. In an attempt to fill the gap I'm told there is a new Kasnak Coaster Poll effort, which you can find on Facebook along with a detailed explanation about how they are going to total the votes to improve older older systems.
(1/31/15) Stunning Accident On Boomerang Caught on Video (Story Moved To Park Page, Click here)
(1/23/15) A run video report shot by a college went on site to visit Wisdom Industries who makes a large number of portable amusement park rides. In addition to a great interview with Wisdom, the video provides a great behind the scenes look at the Wisdom facility in Colorado.
(12/9/14) A French stunt motorcycle rider took it to the next level this week as he rode his bike in between the racing tracks of the Montana Rusa coaster at La Feria Chapultepec Magico park in Mexico City. This was all part of a stunt promotion for Red Bull it seems, but it sure got my attention. Check out the video below.
(12/3/14) Dutch house hunters were in for a surprise in November, as visitors to one home were asked to board a single seat roller coaster car and go for a ride-along tour of the home, room by room, and even a lift-hill up the stairs before the high speed finale plunge off the balcony and back to the ground level. Amazing! Now if only they were all like this, I’d go house shopping all the time.
20th Century Fox - (6/12/14) While construction of the first 20th Centry Fox World theme park is underway in Malaysia at Resorts World Genting, Jeffret Godsick, Fox’s president of consumer products claims that similar projects in China and Brazil will also soon be announced.
Apex Parks Group - (9/19/14) Interesting news today as we now have a new theme park / attraction chain called the Apex Parks Group. Apex was formed by the purchase of 14 Family Entertainment Centers and one waterpark from Palace Entertainment (the American division of Spain’s Parque Reunidos company) by Broad Sky Partners and The Edgewater Funds.
The newly purchased FECs exist as several well known brand names: Boomers!, Malibu Grand Prix, Moutasia, and SpeedZone, as well as the Big Kahuna waterpark.
The new CEO of Apex Parks Group is a name many in the industry will recognize… Al Weber, former CEO of Palace Entertainment and COO of Six Flags Theme Parks.
Apex Parks Group chain attractions:
10 Boomers! locations in: Boco Raton, FL, El Cajon, CA, Fountain Valley, CA, Fresno, CA, Irvine, CA, Livermore, CA, Modesto, CA, San Diego, CA, Santa Maria, CA and Upland, CA
1 Malibu Grand Prix location in San Antonio, TX
1 Mountasia location in Houston, TX
2 SpeedZone locations in: Dallas, TX and Los Angeles, CA
and the Big Kahuna’s Waterpark in Destin, FL
B&M - (8/6/14) A few new pictures from the B&M track fabrication plant in Ohio came in today, showing off the usual variety of track sections and colors we’ve been seeing for several weeks now. Mostly there is just Orange track left, waiting to be shipped off to Holiday World for Thunderbird, some interesting two-tone Blue/Neon Yellow track segments, and the Teal, some of which was being loaded onto a flatbed truck, which means it will be going to a domestic park. Carowinds maybe? Keep your eyes open. There were also more of the orange Hapag-Lloyd international shipping box-trucks on site as well that were previously used to send the white track to Gardaland. I also have added a few pictures taken on July 31st as well, where they were shipping off big loads of the brown Thunderbird supports. The dark blue steel framework pieces that were there last week also appear to be gone now as well.
(7/4/14) A few new pictures from the B&M track fabricator have been posted to the TPR forum showing off more than the White & Yellow track pieces from before. There are now five different colors represented… including new sections in Teal, Orange and possibly something painted a dark Blue.
The final home for the “White” coaster has been identified as Gardaland as well, as you can see in the last photo of this update that more orange Hapag-Lloyd shipping containers, as seen previously on CarowindsConnection in Ohio, are also on site in Italy where they are unloading white B&M track for their suspected new ‘D6’ Dive Machine.
While the other coasters are not really known, one of these should be for the new Carowinds 2015 coaster as well. Since the nearby Intimidator is red, I would hope Cedar Fair wouldn’t choose Orange track. They already have Nighthawk in the park that has Yellow track as well, so I can only guess that the Teal track pieces may end up being for the Carowinds ride, giving it a similar look to Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland.
Carnival Cruise Lines - (1/29/15) According to a Screamscape source the Carnival Vista will only make three cruises out of New York, departing 11/4/16, 11/6/16 and 11/14/16. While the schedule beyond that isn't known for sure, the rumor is that it will depart New York again on 11/22/16 for a repositioning cruise to set up at a new home port out of the Miami, FL area.
(1/26/15) Carnival Cruise Line is getting in on the theme park style gimicks for their latest cruise ship design, designated the Carnival Vista. The new 3,936 passenger ship is currently under construction and take the first guests in May 2016, the Carnival Vista will feature some very large waterslides, the first IMAX theater at sea, the Thrill Theater (4D Sim Ride), and SkyRide... a pair of side-by-side aerial tracks that you can bicycle peddle your way around in the air over the top of the ships upper deck. You can see a preview video of these and the other new additions and amenities coming to this next generation Carnival Cruise Line vessel. Don't look for it in Florida however, the Carnival Vista will shake out the bugs during a series of Mediterranean cruises first before relocating to run out of New York in November 2016.
CNL Lifestyle Properties - (10/20/14) CNL Lifestyle Properties issued a statement back on September 12th describing how they had signed a deal in June 2014 to sell off their entirely portfolio of golf properties, and were looking into the best opportunities to “explore liquidity strategies, our focus will remain on seeking attractive exit alternatives for the remainder of our property portfolio.”
In other words, it looks like CNL Lifestyle Properties will be seeking to sell off their many Ski Resorts, Senior Housing projects, Marinas and their Theme Park / Water Park attractions. With that in mind, it almost seems doubtful that CNL would bother to invest in new capital additions for the 2015 at any of their properties. This list includes Darien lake, Elitch Gardens, Frontier City, Magic Springs, Wild Waves as well as the Wet ‘n’ Wild waterparks in CA, AZ, TX and Hawaii.
Currently CNL hired outside management companies with experience in the theme park industry to run most of these parks, so I guess the question is if they would considering selling them individually to these management groups, or if they are going to try and group them together for a single group purchase instead.
Cedar Fair - (4/16/15) According to the interview with Cedar Fair CEO, Matt Ouimet, posted to the LA Times, he plans for Cedar Fair to eventually feature new interactive style dark rides like Wonder Mountain’s Guardian (Canada’s Wonderland) and Voyage to the Iron Reef (Knott’s Berry Farm) to all 11 parks in the park. That said… he also confirmed that there are no dark rides currently in the development pipeline at the moment, so it is unlikely we will see a new one added in 2016.
While these first two dark rides were aided by having some existing infrastructure already in the park to house them, Ouimet confirmed that there are “blank spaces and empty boxes at every park” that they could put to use in the future. And while these first two dark rides haven’t put animatronic characters to use, Knott’s Ouimet hopes to work with Garner Holt on future dark ride projects, after finishing two great back-to-back dark ride refurbishment projects at Knott’s on the Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Ride. As for future themes for these rides, don’t look like Cedar Fair to buy into expensive IP’s from studios… they will continue to explore custom made themes about the interesting and mysterious worlds that lie “underneath our parks”.
(2/19/15) Cedar Fair will hold a conference call to go over their Q4 and year-end earnings results today (Feb 19th) at 10am EST. You can listed in online here.
(11/11/14) Cedar Fair posted their Q3 results on their website, but according to a few reports (like this one at NewsPlusNotes) they mention that if the transformation of Mantis into Rougarou at Cedar Point is a success, there are two other coasters in the chain where they can make a similar investment.
While this would be the only other two B&M Stand-Up coasters in the chain… these would also be some of the oldest B&M stand-up coasters built, as part of B&M’s first generation of rides: Vortex at Carowinds and Vortex at California’s Great America. Unlike Mantis, these rides are much smaller (apox 90 ft tall) much shorter and have only 2 inversions each. Transforming these into Floorless coasters isn’t going to do much to thrill the guests of either park, as Carowinds guests are already accustomed to the bigger thrills of After Burn, Intimidator and soon Fury 325, and transforming Vortex in California would get it unfairly compared to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom much bigger and better B&M Floorless coaster, Medusa.
If I had to hazard a guess, Cedar Fair might be better served by opting to move one or both of these coasters to smaller parks who could use a bigger thrill, like Michigan’s Adventure, and converting them into Floorless rides at that time maybe.
Coaster Park Tycoon - (1/28/15) Frontier, the software company who made Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 as well as the ThrillVille series, and are the ones behind the new upcoming Xbox exclusive title ScreamRide, have announced that they are starting the development of a new self-published game to be called Coaster Park Tycoon.
Few details were given about what will make this new Coaster Park Tycoon stand out from the crowd from the other theme park / coaster style games, but it promises to combine typical "Tycoon" style game-play with a sophisticated simulation environment. Look for Coaster Park Tycoon to be released on PC sometime in 2016.
Compagnie Des Alpes - (1/10/15) Compagnie Des Alpes confirms that they have sold their Dolfinarium attraction in the Netherlands to Continental Leisure Projects SARL for 37.5 million Euros. Continental Leisure Projects SARL is an affiliate of Aspro Group, who will also purchase the Walibi Sud-Ouest park in France (formerly known as Walibi Aquitaine) as well by the end of January. The Walibi park will be allowed to keep it’s brand name for at least the next three years.
I’m not 100% certain of this, but I believe Aspro Group may also be known as Aspro Parks, a compain based in Madrid, Spain who owns several smaller attractions throughout Europe, including small amsuement parks, zoos, Dolphinariums, botanical gardens, aquariums and water parks. Perhaps their best known “rides” park would be Oakwood in the UK.
Disney - (3/13/15) You knew it had to happen sooner than later, but the Walt Disney Company confirmed on Thursday that a full length sequel to Frozen would be made. They did not announce an estimated release date yet, but apparently the project has been given the initial green light.
(3/11/15) WIRED takes a great look at the technology behind Disney's Billion dollar gamble on the MagicBand and how it may be a glimpse into the future of the world outside the theme park realm.
(2/25/15) Now that Tom Staggs has been promoted to COO, Disney has now tapped Bob Chapek to take his place as Chairman of Parks & Resorts, moving up from his position as President of Disney Consumer Products and was previously President of Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
(2/6/15) The big news from Disney on Thursday was the promotion of Tom Staggs to the position of COO of The Walt Disney Company, now firmly placing him as heir apparent to Bog Iger when he retires at the end of his current contract at the end of June 2018. From what I've seen, Tom is a perfect fit for the job and really seemed to take to the theme park division quite well, especially during a time of great expansion.
Meanwhile, the rumor mill claims that Jay Rasulo, who was also hoping to take the spot, did not sign any kind of agreement to renew his own contract with the company, which is said to expire in a few months. So Rasulo could be looking to jump the ship and head elsewhere to find his future. (SeaWorld is looking for a new CEO... Hmmm....)
(12/22/14) A great collection of making of videos I’ve seen showing off The Marvel Experience at the first stop of the tour in Arizona has been posted to Disney & More, including an aerial shot of the entire complex under construction from earlier this month so you can get an idea of the scale of it all. (see below) I’m still dying to see pictures from the actual attraction now that it is open, so if anyone has been yet, I want to hear all about it.
(12/19/14) Entertainment Tonight has posted a great first look at what we can expect to see from The Marvel Experience traveling attraction. It includes some animated scenes and a peek at the crews putting together the real life Quinjet you’ll encounter. Hoping to hear more this weekend, as the first stop for the attraction’s test run is in Phoenix starting today through Jan. 3rd.
(12/13/14) Interesting times for Disney, as it was announced that Meg Crofton, current President of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts for US and France will retire on June 1st. No one has yet been named as her future replacement however.
Meg’s departure may be seen as a welcome change by many, as her previous history before running Walt Disney World was mainly in the realm of Disney’s HR departments, giving her little practical experience in world of actually running the world’s most popular theme parks. Of course I think there are many unfair parallels made about her rise to power within the company to a previously very unpopular fellow by the name of Paul Pressler who followed a similar career path that ended with some very bad results. By contrary, Meg’s run has seen the Disney parks continue to grow, though perhaps just not in all the ways we wanted to see, but the opening up of her position of power to a new person is big news, as they will be the one shaping the future of the Disney parks and resorts for years to come. Will it be a person of vision who has experience with the parks or will it be a number crunching pencil pusher? No one can say just yet.
(12/12/14) According to Variety, Bob Iger has confirmed that the new Star Wars attractions in development for Disney theme parks world-wide will all be themed to the NEW films, starting with The Force Awakens (hitting theaters in late 2015) and not the six original films, which are summarized nicely in the existing Star Tours 2 attraction. WDI was going full tilt on designs for Star Wars attractions, mostly based on the stories, worlds and people already created, until Iger put it all to a halt until they had a lock on the story they were planning to tell with the new Star Wars films, as well as proposed spin-offs and other concepts going forward. The first new attractions based on Star Wars coming to Disney theme parks are expected to be announced sometime in 2015 as part of the hype-machine build up for the launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. (This is just a hunch on my part, but 2015 might be a great time to hit the San Diego Comic-Con in July based on the great things Disney has done previously to promote Tron and the Marvel movies in past years, as well as the D23 Expo in Anaheim in August.)
(11/20/14) Want to lean more about The Marvel Experience attraction? A lengthy interview about the project can be found over at Nerdrepository this week, where they let a few more secrets about the attraction experience and technology leak. Things like a 360-degree stereoscopic 3-D dome experience, a 4-D Motion ride, a full size Quinjet that you will go inside that will hold 75 people, and more.
(11/13/14) Walt Disney Parks and Mylan, the distributor of the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. Auto-Injectors have announced a multi-year agreement that will see enhanced access to the life saving devices brought to the Walt Disney Parks & Resorts as well as the Disney Cruise Line. The alliance will include updated maps and signs in the Disney theme parks and cruise ships that will highlight the locations of EpiPens needed to counter severe allergic reactions, as well as new educational resources to increase awareness and preparedness.
(10/30/14) Remember back when Disney bought Marvel five years ago and so many of you were wondering just what the heck Disney CEO Bob Iger was thinking for making that whopping $4 billion deal?
Jump ahead to today and now most of you are now wondering why Disney is being so slow to incorporate the Marvel characters into the theme parks, because the Marvel machine very quickly turned into a virtual money printing press for Disney, with each cinematic hit bigger than the last, building momentum and growth to create this new Marvel Cinematic Universe world that has taken the globe by storm and shows no sign of stopping.
Without waiting for the boat to stop rocking from the release of the first teaser trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron (aka: Avenger 2) a week ago they have now released a second extended version of the trailer showing off a few of your favorite heroes trying to lift Thor’s hammer. If that wasn’t enough, the Marvel and Disney hype machine kicked into high gear with an unexpected press event at the El Capitan Theater on Tuesday where they announced the full lineup of films that will make up “Phase 3” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We’re talking about a full slate of nine… count them… 9 films, all to be released between from May 2016 through to May 2019, immediately following the end of Phase 2 to be shown in Ant-Man on M July 17, 2015. (note: Marvel was clear that Avengers: Age of Ultron (May 2015) was no longer the end of Phase 2, Ant-Man is now the end of Phase 2. I’m not sure why…) The list includes a mixture of sequels and new original character films:
May 6, 2016 — “Captain America: Civil War”
Nov. 4, 2016 — “Doctor Strange”
May 5, 2017 — “Guardians of the Galaxy 2″
July 28, 2017 — “Thor: Ragnarok”
Nov. 3, 2017 — “Black Panther”
May 4, 2018 — “Avengers: Infinity War Part I”
July 6, 2018 — “Captain Marvel”
Nov. 2, 2018 — “Inhumans”
May 3, 2019 — “Avengers: Infinity War Part II”
It’s worth noting that Captain America: Civil War will apparently feature both Cap and Iron Man in major roles, playing out the famous Civil War comic storyline. Black Panther has been anticipated for years and will be played by the talented Chadwick Boseman who was fantastic playing the role of Jackie Robinson in 42. Captain Marvel will also be interesting… as it will be the first female lead character film, telling the story of Carol Danvers who can fly and essentially has the power to take on The Hulk without breaking a sweat. Yup… this is going to be very interesting indeed, especially with Doctor Strange opening up the darker magical and supernatural side of the Marvel Universe where we could eventually encounter new versions of Blade and Ghost Rider). Plus there is the Inhumans… who will take the door to the interstellar Marvel Universe cracked opened by Guardians of the Galaxy, and blow it off the hinges.
If I had one critique however… I really just have to ask, where is The Punisher in all this? Can we please bring back Thomas Jane and bring The Punisher to life the right way? Or perhaps he’s destined for the TV or Netflix side of the Marvel Universe, where Agents of SHIELD will soon be joined by Agent Carter on ABC, and Netflix will begin streaming several new and more down-to-earth exclusive Marvel titles in 2015: DareDevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage and The Defenders.
(10/23/14) Marvel has released the first official Teaser Trailer for the May 2015 release of The Avenger’s: Age of Ultron and simply put... it is incredible and looks to be a very dark and troubling time for The Avengers. Check it out below!
(10/22/14) ParkJourney has uncovered an interesting new Disney attraction patent that could really make your ride experience much more interactive. In essence it seems to describe an interactive seat for riders, that can tell if you are leaning from side to side, forward or backward, and use your own body motion to interact either with a ride experience on an interactive screen or to make a real word ride vehicle react in different ways. Imagine a powered ride that might lean over if you lean, or speed up if you lean forward, much like riding a motorcycle. Or if the seat is mounted to a motion base, your body movements in your seat could affect the reaction of your motion platform… lean left to avoid hitting the rocks and you cruise by… fail to lean enough or in time and your craft could bump and rumble as you bump into the rocks.
While it sounds more like a video gamer’s dream come true… it is interesting to think about what could be done with an themed interactive ride experience.
(10/3/14) The Walt Disney Company has announced that they have signed a contract extension with Robert Iger to serve as Chairman and CEO of the company through to June 30, 2018, thus extending his current contract by another two years.
DreamVision Company - (2/12/15) The DreamVision Company has announced plans to launch two new theme parks this week... both of which we briefly mentioned last week, one in the Forth Worth, Texas area and the other in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
The Texas plans will see a park referred to as DreamVision Mountain / DreamScape Texas and would like to open in 2020. The park would feature a large fake mountain at the center that would offer winter sport activities year-round. The rest of the park seems to be an eclectic mix of strangely themed lands, and a few attractions here and there, mixed with show theaters.
Normally I would be excited by such a grand announcement... but this $3.5 billion dollar just seems to be so much blue-sky and not very well thought out. Plus the lands are just so randomly odd and thrown about, including the out of place year-round ski mountain, I just can't take this park seriously. Nevermind the fact that that this $3.5 billion project seems to have no IP's to speak of to help sell merchandise or act as a draw to get people through the gates so they can pay off those huge loan payments. I see that Jim over at Westcoaster also shares many of my same concerns... presented in a very humorous fashion that is also worth a read.
Just a few hours ago the company also made their presentation for Alabama for the DreamVision Soundscape theme park, which they hope to open in 2019. This park will be themed around "the musical heritage of Muscle Shoals"... because we've all heard of Muscle Shoals before now, right? Yeah, me neither. And because Alabama is a top tourist destination for Americans, they will theme the park with neighborhoods themed to different musical themes like: country, pop, gospel, jazz and more. The park also plans to have Oceanica, a domed water playground area, golf courses, hotels and more. Though I didn't see any mention of another giant fake mountain, the Muscle Shoals park will also cost an estimated $3.5 billion.
So the bottom line is...a company we've never heard of, is going to come up with $7 billion to drop over the next 5 years to build two massive theme park resort properties. Sorry to be the Negative Nancy here, but I give this project a 1 in 7 billion chance of actually happening.
Dynamic Attractions - (3/5/15) Empire Industries posted another press release a few hours ago mentioning that Dynamic Attractions has been awarded another major contract with a total of $42 million to supply a major theme park in south Asia with TWO of their proprietary attractions over the next 36 months.
While the location of "south Asia" is vague, they do mention that this is their first project in south Asia. And since Dynamic has built attractions in China and Japan up in the northern end of Asia. Wikipedia defines "South Asia" as primarily being the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka which does not sound like any place for a major theme park. Some definitions also include Afghanistan, Iran and a few other nearby areas as well, but again... still sounds a little off.
Meanwhile Singapore may make more sense, but it falls into the area more commonly called Southeast Asia along with the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and more. Here we have a better set of parks more likely to invest in this kind of hardware, from Universal Studios Singapore to the new 20th Century Fox World under construction in Malaysia at the top of my list.
(3/4/15) Empire Industries reports that their Dynamic Attractions division has signed a contract worth $24 million to supply one of their "proprietary robotic track rides" to a major theme park in the United Arab Emirates over the next 24 months.
In this case I'm not sure which part is getting the ride, though if I had to pick one, I'd guess this could be something going to the Motiongate Dubai park in the Dubai Parks & Resorts project.
(6/30/14) Dynamic Attractions pulled back the tarp of a new attraction concept they will begin selling at the Asian Attractions Epxo last week in Beijing. They call it the SFX Coaster… and it does bare some striking similarities in what it can do with what we saw from the Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts attraction at Universal Orlando. Check out the video they released for the concept below.
(1/16/14) Empire Industries Ltd has announced that their Dynamic Attractions division has signed two new major ride contracts, both for the United Arab Emirates, but each for a different customer. One is to deliver one of their Dynamic Flying Theater attractions (like Disney’s Soarin’) and the other is for a new “special effects indoor roller coaster” attraction. (Note: Dynamic Attractions provided the hardware when Disneyland rebuilt their Space Mountain coaster in 2005 and was confirmed as the fabricator for the new track system installed on Big Thunder Mountain reopening in 2014.) Both contracts will be executed over the next 18 months.
Any ideas who these may be for? Dynamic already built a Flying Theater at Ferarri World that opened back in 2012 called Flying Over Italy, so perhaps they will return for an indoor coaster, or perhaps the indoor coaster could be for the IMG Worlds of Adventure park, who also appears to have bought a second attraction from Dynamic as well.
The Goddard Group - (1/30/15) Goddard Group has posted a new rendering of the front of the new Studio City Macau building on their Facebook page, giving us a look at The Golden Eye from a new angle.
I missed it before, but earlier this month the Goddard Group announced a major new project on Facebook that they are working on in China called Studio City Macau. The Studio City Macau resort project will cost a whopping $3.2 billion and open this summer. The resort is also said to feature a number of unique attractions, including The Golden Eye, a 130 meter tall figure-eight shaped Ferris wheel that is embedded right into the front of the resort tower itself. More details to come!
IAAPA Conventions - (5/28/14) Good news for fans of IAAPA’s Orlando location… IAAPA has announced that they have signed a new agreement that will extend the run of IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando by an additional 6 years… which will take it through to the 2025 show.
(5/21/14) IAAPA has announced that Hong Kong will be the site of the Asian Attractions Expo 2015 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The event will take place June 16-19, 2015.
Ride Entertainment Group - (11/17/14) Ride Entertainment Group has officially introduced the AirSurfer, the world’s only zipline allowing guests to ride standing up as well as go up and down hills and navigate turns. You can view all the details at the official site, or watch the video below to see this wicked new unique concept in action.
Roller Coaster Tycoon World - (3/20/15) The latest Roller Coaster Tycoon World blog is out and they go over the latest changes to the program including engine improvements which will mean better and more realistic graphics than what we have seen thus far, just what was seen in the last trailer and dropping one of the proposed themes.
(3/9/15) Atari has released some new visual footage of the upcoming Roller Coaster Tycoon World game in action. Check it out below.
(3/4/15) The next progress blog for Roller Coaster Tycoon World was posted late last week with a look at the official box cover art.
(2/2/15) The second installment of the Roller Coaster Tycoon World blog has been posted, in which they talk about the act of building within the game world. As before, the game is all about building your theme park environment from the pathways to the trees to the rides, but now even more elements have been added, such as restaurants. The game had simple food stands before, but now it features full on sit-down restaurants as well.
Another new addition is what they are calling "attractions", otherwise known as "indoor rides". In previous version of the game your section here was limited to generic items such as a haunted house building, or a slide tower, but the new game will feature a much greater variety of indoor attractions (Laser Tag was mentioned), enough to be considered their very own new category of ride within the game world.
All of the in-game world objects will also fall into one of four overall environment themes: Western, Space, Americana or Pirate. While just four themes almost seems a bit limited, I'm guessing we will see more themed added through expansion packs as time goes on as well.
(1/20/15) With the development of Roller Coaster Tycoon World in full swing, the crew has begun a production blog this month to show off the various features and elements of this new modern version of RCT. This edition they talk briefly about the new landscape editor system in terms of what we can expect to see and how it can generate enough variety that every park generated to work on will look different and unique.
(12/19/14) While we wait for more information about the new Roller Coaster Tycoon World game, the developers have posted an interesting new graphic to their blog, showing off concept art for a new game asset (a themed restaurant building from the look of it) and below that, how the finished in-game building looks in the game engine. The detail is beautiful for sure… proving that RCT-World will be far more visually stunning than any previous RCT title was in the past. I can’t wait to see more.
(9/3/14) We now have four official screen-shots from the new Roller Coaster Tycoon World game to drool over this week, freshly released from Atari. The detail level looks fantastic as they show off four different themed park environments. While this is just a taste of what is to come, so far I’m impressed. Another good impression of the work-in-progress program can be read here.
(8/13/14) ATARI has announced that the next-gen RCT game, “Roller Coaster Tycoon World”, will come out for PC in early 2015. Based on the very brief animation released, it appears to be a 3D rendered world once again, but with a realistic appearance as opposed to the cartoon look RCT3 had when it was released way WAY back in late 2004! (Can’ you believe it has been 10 years since the last one was released?)
The interesting new features that will come into play in RCT-World is that your massive theme park can be cooperatively built and worked on by up to four players at once. RCT-World will also take your creation online as well, allowing you to visit and tour other player’s parks as well. And to put your fears as rest, this will be a full release title that promises to be “micro-transaction free”, giving you access to the full range of content right out of the box.
S&S WorldWide - (3/18/15) S&S Worldwide has announced the sale of a new 12-passenger S&S Double Shot tower ride that will be installed in China at the Eon Time theme park in Hohhot. They expect the ride to open in late 2015.
(8/14/14) S&S Worldwide has confirmed the signing of a deal with the Wanda Group to design and build two Space Shot tower rides for new theme parks at Wanda Harbin Tourism City and Wanda Hefei Cultural Tourist City that will open in 2015 and 2016.
Sally Corp. - (2/17/15) Our friends at Sally Corp have posted a fun video giving us a glimpse of what it is like inside the hallowed halls of Sally's factory. Check it out below.
ScreamRide - (2/26/15) I had a little time to play with the ScreamRide demo released for the X-Box one this week, which allows you to play with three different game modes: a ScreamRider mode, a Demolition mode and an Engineering mode. Going back to my first impression of ScreamRide from seeing the the teaser video for the title, I felt at the time it was a bit creepy, since you were encouraged to make rides so intense the riders would fly out, or cause the train derail and smash into buildings with catastrophic effect. Having played the demo, I’m happy to say that the finished version of the game is not creepy at all because no one appears to gets hurt, but instead it does have some darkly humorous overtones which play off rather well as you are given verbal instructions from a female slightly-computerized voice which reminded me just a little bit of GlaDOS from Portal. Meanwhile the “ScreamWorks” testing complex is run by faceless humanoids, which very well could be robots under this mysterious voice’s control. A fun example of the humor comes in the demo’s intro video which has a boat-load of people being driven to the ScreamWorks complex to test the limits of human excitement who appear more like a bunch of college kids on a spring break trip. When one of the excited peeps falls overboard into the drink, the boats keep on driving while our AI hostess says not to worry, someone will go back and get them, “in time…”.
ScreamRider - In this section of the game you get to “drive” a coaster car full of riders around a course. This isn’t just a simulator you sit back and watch, like the Roller Coaster Tycoon series, you actually have a little throttle and brakes control on this bad boy, which kind of reminded me of the old Disney’s Coaster game from years ago. In addition you can lean into the turns, or lean-out to get the car up on two-wheels for a little more excitement. There is also a turbo-boost feature where you need to press X at the right time to capture Boost power from the blue rails so you an use it later at just the right moment to speed things up or catch a little more air on a jump. (Yes, I said Jump...)
Demolition - This mode reminded me of the old Crash mode in the old Burnout game series, where you load riders into one of a few different pod choices, which is mounted to a flat ride that spins them around in a loop faster and faster until you release the pod out into the air in an effort to cause the most structural damage to the city buildings around you. You can nudge the pod a little after release, but not much, though some pods have abilities you can trigger once in the air, such as breaking apart into three separate projectiles instead of one. Meanwhile your peeps are safe and sound inside the indestructible pod... though they don't mention how exactly they retrieve them from the rubble.
Engineering - This is where Frontier's past work on Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 comes into play, as you can finally build your own coaster creation. The experience is a bit different with a X-Box controller but there is an extensive menu of track pieces for you to meet whatever requirements are set for each level . You can even take a virtual test-ride with your Peeps one again to see how intense your layout is. This is also where some real engineering comes into play, because if you make your train hit a tight turn or inversion too fast, not only may a peep or two fly out in mid-ride, but the track itself may break apart from the stress.
All said and done, ScreamRide looks like a fun coaster themed game that will keep you amused and entertained as you master the various mission requirements for each level, as well as the different skill-sets for each mode. Look for the full game to be released on March 3rd for both Xbox One and Xbox 360.
(1/21/15) The new Xbox exclusive coaster game, ScreamRide, is now set to launch on Xbox 360 ($29.99) and Xbox One ($39.99) on March 3rd, 2015.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment - (3/20/15) Huge news came out of SeaWorld Entertainment a few hours ago as it was announced that they have hired Joel Manby to take over as President and CEO of the company. Prior to this, Joel Manby has been serving as President and CEO of The Herschend Family Entertainment company, who is behind popular parks like Dollywood and Silver Dollar City as well as a number of smaller attractions. Prior to this Joel served 20 years in the automotive industry where he helped launch the Saturn brand and was later made CEO of Saab. Joel Manby also got a good bit a fame a couple of years ago when he was showcased on the first season of Undercover Boss in one of the shows most popular episodes.
Honestly, I was surprised by this move myself... not because Joel isn't an excellent choice, because he really is... SeaWorld couldn't have picked anyone better. My surprise comes as I had never even dreamed of seeing Joel Manby leave Herschend to go work for someone else. Suffice to say, good things are sure to be coming to the SeaWorld parks with Joel Manby at the helm, as well as for the park staff, as Manby's reign at HFE seemed to establish a lot of good employee benefit programs as well.
(12/18/14) SeaWorld Parks has announced that they will accelerate their previously announced stock repurchase plan to begin immediately to take advantage of the current low-stock price rather than wait until January 2015. They have already approved a plan to purchase up to $15 million before the end of 2014, with the remainder of the $235 million buy-back plan to take place after the start of 2015.
(12/13/14) As expected from the report the other day, well over 300 employees of the various SeaWorld Parks chain were laid off from their jobs by the end of Friday and escorted from the property. The hits came to all levels of the company, hitting both those in senior positions that had been there for years, as well as part-time staff that had barely begun their careers with their parks. While the positions lost are still being reported in, and vary from park to park, common threads from many locations I’ve seen reports from describe many jobs cut from HR, PR and Finance/Purchasing departments, as well as a few from the Entertainment and Scenic departments as well. On the Entertainment side of things so far, it has been confirmed to me that SeaWorld Orlando did layoff all three of their Mimes, popular long-time entertainment characters, and that Scott Swenson, Creative Director and the mouthpiece of Busch Gardens Tampa’s popular Howl-O-Scream event, was also let go which does not bode well for the future of Howl-O-Scream.
I’m so sorry to hear about all the damage done today at the parks, as many good hard working people lost their jobs today, which is never a good thing.
(12/12/14) Bad news for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, as Jim Atchison has announced he is stepping down as CEO of the company, but will remain of Vice-Chairman of the board and serve as a consultant for the next 3 years. The board will begin seeking out a new CEO, and likely choose one within the next 6-9 months. Unfortunately, along with stepping down, he also announced that the company will begin a series of staff layoffs and job restructuring.
Unfortunately those who will lose their jobs (likely before Christmas) wont be getting the same great $2.4 million cash severance package that Atchison is getting, in addition to $440,000 a year for the next three years for his consulting service. In my opinion, having too much centralized and disconnected management people making this kind of money, and not enough local management empowered to actually “RUN” their individual parks the way they need to be run, is a big reason why the parks have been run so poorly in the past. Longtime readers will remember how I strongly advised that the idea of SeaWorld Parks going public with an IPO was huge mistake and that the company was much better off and stronger being kept private. But they went public anyway and were soon hit by the onslaught of negative press brought on by the film Blackfish, which has been hammering their stock-price ever since, a situation that could have been avoided if the greedy corporate types has played it smart and kept the company private.
Anyway, enough beating of the dead horse… or Clydesdale… because we all know the situation would also have played out very differently has the Anheuser-Busch of old still been at the helm of things. But we can’t dream about the what if’s forever… so I can only wish all my friends and readers who are currently employed by SeaWorld Parks the best of luck in avoiding the layoffs.
(8/21/14) More interesting news about SeaWorld this week has it was announced that they were dropping their appeal to the OSHA Citations that have been preventing trainers from swimming in the waters with the killer whales during shows. While they can still do it behind the scenes for training purposes, this effectively brings to an end decades worth of Shamu show memories for park guests of all ages. The park is still allowed to do it with their other animals just not with the killer whales any longer. So for many of us who grew up with SeaWorld as children… you can now thank the government for letting another fond childhood memory die along with lawn darts, missile shooting Battlestar Galactica toys and helmet free bike rides.
(8/14/14) Interesting news from SeaWorld Parks on Wednesday afternoon after it was announced that they had signed a “letter of intent” to work with Village Roadshow to co-develop new SeaWorld branded theme parks to Russia, India and Pan-Asian destinations. After years of being forced entirely on the home front, SeaWorld is now choosing to focus on international growth. No more details were given, but I do have to wonder if this deal would also involve giving the existing Sea World Australia park (a Village Roadshow park) the official SeaWorld brand. This deal is separate from the chain’s preexisting deal to add a park in the Middle East.
Other news from SeaWorld Park’s Q2 report include attendance of 6.6 million (up .3% compared to Q2 2013), a small drop in revenue to $405.2 million from $411.3 million (1%) in Q2 2013 and news that the board has also authorized a $250 million share repurchase program that will begin at the start of 2015. Guest PerCap is also down 2.5%, which they blame on “an unfavorable change in the park attendance mix.” Roughly translated… they focused the park’s special offerings and deep discounts to those without cash to spend, and lost market share with the wealthy tourists who drop more cash on food and in the gift shops. (In other words… they pulled a Six Flags.)
Going forward they have announced initiatives to start shaving internal costs down now through 2015 in order to re-invest the savings into new attractions at their “destination parks”. News about these new investment plans will come later. So far the market has not responded favorably to the news and SEAS stock price is already down over 32% as a result.
(5/15/14) The Orlando Sentinel reports that SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has signed a tentative deal that could see a new theme park built somewhere in the Middle East. While the article doesn’t identify the partner, nor the country where it would be built, if I had to make a guess on my own, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Discovery Cove style marine life park built in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, or a park that could be a mixture of an Aquatica and Discovery Cove combined.
Six Flags - (4/14/15) According to this news article, Six Flags is seeking a Malaysian corporate partner to franchise the brand to build the first official Six Flags park in Malaysia.
(2/19/15) Six Flags will hold their Q4 / Year End results conference call today, Feb. 19th, at 9am EST. You can listen in through the link here.
(2/17/15) Acording to a brief article at TheBeijinger, Six Flags will open a park in Tianjin by 2018.
Skyline Attractions LLC - (11/18/14) Skyline Attractions has launched another attraction as part of their Games-U-Ride concepts, this one called Spin-U-Win. Check out the video below to see the concept in action as riders try to out-spin each other, tea-cup style, without throwing up.
(11/6/14) Skyline Attractions has unveiled their first new attraction… an odd but fun looking concept that is part of an upcoming line of attractions called “GamesURide”. They call this one the Strike-U-Up, where you and a friend will team up to try to win a game version of a high striker game. One player on the ground will try to hit targets for points that will send the other player, strapped into a chair, moving and bouncing higher and higher into the sky. Hook up several of these attractions side by side and you can have a total of 8 teams competing to be the first one to the top.
Watch the video below to see how it would work in action, as it is an interesting concept for sure that reminds me a bit of the old “Vertical Reality” game that was at the early GameWorks centers.
Sky Turtle - (11/22/14) Did you catch that crazy teaser video showing off the first true modern vertical looping waterslide from Sky Turtle a few days ago? I’ll post it below if you missed it, but our friends from In The Loop caught up with Lance Fisher from Sky Turtle at IAAPA and interviewed him about the creation of this revolutionary new concept, the building of the prototype and just how he got the idea of riding down inside a protective capsule.
(11/20/14) A video you don’t want to miss is a sneak-preview of the first modern true vertical loop waterslide experience by a company named Sky Turtle. I promise, you've never seen a waterside quite like this one, where you actually ride it inside a strange capsule that goes down a true 90º vertical plunge.
Universal Studios - (3/2/15) Interesting news this comes in the form of an agreement between Universal Studios and Microsoft to bring the cars of the new Fast & Furious 7 film exclusively to Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles as an expansion pack for the Forza Horizon 2 game. Even better, the F&F DLC will be free to download from March 27th through April 10, following that it will be $10. I've got to wonder if we may see more exclusive Universal themed content brought to the Xbox platform titles in the future if this performs well.
(11/25/14) It seems the JURASSIC WORLD trailer got released a few days early and OMG! It’s is incredible! We get the whole theme park experience this time, open, full of guests... before the $#!T hits the fan. Watch it here!
(11/24/14) For those who really enjoy the Universal Studios films, we’ve got some fun updates from the silver screen for you to enjoy today. First off, a short teaser trailer for the 2015 blockbuster, Jurassic World, was released over the weekend (see it below), ahead of the official first trailer coming out on Friday, reviving the great Jurassic Park series of films. Oh, don't forget to go play around with the new viral JurassicWorld.com website, made to look like an actual website for the fictional park.
Speaking of series… with Fast & Furious 7 also on the way to theaters in 2015, many thought that Fast 7 might be the last in the series, following the death of star Paul Walker. Nay! Nay! According to Universal chairman Donna Langley, it seems as many as three more Fast & Furious movies are in their long-term plan.
And we’ve heard rumors for quite some time that Universal’s famous “Monsters” property was planning to follow the Marvel plan and become one single unified shared universe with all new future projects. According to the latest statement, not only are they sticking to this plan, but the plan is also to move them out of the “horror” genre and become more action-adventure films, set in the modern day world.
The action/adventure niche should would work well, especially in the context of a greater shared universe concept where they all co-exist and potentially cross-over with each other. Audiences responded well to the revival of the Mummy series several years ago that followed an action style formula, plus Universal is lacking any Superheroes in their catalog of properties they can tap, so this seems to be their answer to that problem. Apparently the new Dracula Untold film was sort of a test for the concept of a more action film, though time will tell if they try to link it into the shared universe or if it will remain a stand-alone venture.
Wanda Group - (1/12/15) Several pictures taken inside the new indoor Wanda Wuhan Movie theme park that just opened can be found at ThemeparX this week. Looks like they have a SciFi themed simulator ride, a 4D theater that features a stage with some live action stunts in front of it (much like Universal's Terminator 2/3D) and some interesting looking queues, lighting and high-tech looking environments. Now if we only knew how well these attractions play out.
(12/19/14) I don’t know too much about this, but it seems Wanda’s first theme park, an indoor park themed to movies in Wuhan, will open on December 20th. Some artwork and old construction photos of Wanda Movie Park were posted to ThemeparX previously, but I’m not sure what kind of attractions this place will actually have inside. I guess we’ll know soon enough...
(11/24/14) Apparently during this interview with Wanda Group, it seems they are also planning to open a new park in the UK. Give it a listen!
(1/16/14) Wanda Group, a new name in China’s theme park industry has hit our headlines a couple of times in the past few months. Back in November it was announced at IAAPA that Great Coasters International would build “The Viper”, their biggest wooded roller coaster ever at the Wanda (Nanchang) Culture Tourism City to open in 2015. (Stats: 50 meter (164 ft) tall lift hill and 1,500 meters (4921 ft) of track) Earlier this month it was reported that the Wanda Group had purchased a new B&M Flyer Coaster for Xishuangbanna Interntional Resort project.
Today I found an interesting bit of news on the Dynamic Attractions website that confirms that they are now in the midsts of building Dynamic’s very first “Generation II Flying Theaters” attraction for Wanda as well.
Village Roadshow - (3/25/15) Village Roadshow has teamed up with Citic from China to create a new investment buisness to help build several new theme parks across Asia, with the first planned for Chengdu in China.
While SeaWorld was not mentioned, Village Roadshow had previously signed a deal with SeaWorld last August to focus on co-developing new SeaWorld branded parks across Russia, India and Pan-Asian destinations. I’ve got to wonder if any of these new park investment projects involving Citic may be SeaWorld branded.
WhiteWater West - (10/22/14) According to a press release from WhiteWater, the “Zhengzhou Yinji Kaifeng” waterpark in China has made the single largest purchase of WhiteWater products in the company’s history, a whopping $29 million Canadian dollars worth of slide hardware. The new Chinese waterpark will feature both an indoor and outdoor sections, with 9 waterslide complexes, nearly 50 individual slides, 3 custom AquaPlay structures, a Shoot the Chutes flume ride, three wave poools, two Wave Rivers and a FlowRider Double. That’s a lot of slides people… all expected to open by Summer 2015.