---- THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS ----
(6/18/13) According to this article Great Wolf Lodge is looking into a plan to buy an existing Holiday Inn hotel and expand and transform it (MORE...)
(6/17/13) It appears that Cedar Fair has made a proactive choice to revise their policy of how those with “special needs” are to wait in line. (MORE...)
(6/17/13) It has been some time since we’ve last heard about the No Limits 2 coaster simulator program, but a new demo video (MORE...)
(6/5/13) The 2012 TEA / AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report has been released and can be downloaded (MORE...)
2012 Park Attendance Report - (6/5/13) The 2012 TEA / AECOM Global Attractions Attendance Report has been released and can be downloaded in PDF form here. Most of the numbers are as you would expect to see from the major players, with Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom topping the North American market with over 17.5 million guests, up 2.3%. The big mover this year was Disney’s California Adventure which opened Cars Land in 2012 and saw park attendance rise by 22.6% to hit an all time high of 7.775 million! Meanwhile nearby Universal Studios Hollywood also wowed the same local market by opening Transformers: The Ride 3-D and saw attendance at the Hollywood park soar 15% to 5.9 million. Both of those parks invested heavily in major new attractions and it really paid off for them both… so let that be a lesson to the rest of the industry.
By contrast, the only top park in North America to see a big decline in 2012 was Knott’s Berry Farm who saw attendance drop 4% to 3.5 million, which was likely due to the lengthy delay in opening the park’s new Windseeker ride… quickly followed by the shut down of Windseeker a few months later as some guests may have held off their visit until they knew the new ride was running.
The European market was a bit on the soft and runny side however, with many parks seeing sagging attendance figures and only Parc Asterix pulling in a solid increase of 8% aided by the addition of their OzIris B&M inverted roller coaster.
You can also still download the attendance reports from several previous years too:
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 - (5/31/13) If you get the Travel Channel, be advised that two new show seasons are starting this Sunday, June 9th at 8pm: “Xtreme Waterparks” and “Insane Coaster Wars: World Domination”
(5/30/13) The Golden Ticket Awards website has confirmed that this year’s awards ceremony will take place on September 6 & 7, 2013 at the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Click here for official details.
(5/27/13) Interesting news for fans of the Roller Coaster Tycoon game series… as the news reports that Atari is now looking to sell the IP to that title and is asking for a starting price of $3.5 million.
(5/13/13) If you’re a fan of the show WIPEOUT on ABC, then keep an eye out for the new episode airing on Tuesday night at 8pm. It will feature one “Jason Balinskas” who is a member of the Coaster Crew who was accepted to be on the show. The show is always good for a laugh and this should be no exception, especially if the Big Balls are involved.
(4/17/13) Good news for roller coaster fans south of the border this week as ACE (America Coaster Enthusaists) has opted to create a new region dedicated to South America. The new ACE South America Facebook page is already set up to cover everything from Mexico to Brazil, and discover as many new coasters as possible in the region. For example, they discovered this interesting ride at Parque Quiqueland, a park located about 442km from Mexico City. I have no clue who made this creation, but it appears to be some kind of unique inverted coaster with single 2-seat cars made to resemble a hanglider in flight. (This reminded me immediately of the proposed, but never built, Arrow ArrowBatic coaster concept.) The first segment (as seen in the POV video) of the ride looks to take some wickedly tight corners at an extremely high speed before hitting a second lift hill where the rest of the journey is more slow and scenic which you can see in this video if you jump ahead to the 1:45 mark.
(4/5/13) Rick West, our friend over at Theme Park Adventure has posted a very interesting editorial this week, raising the red flag on what sounds like a serious issue within the themed entertainment community. Give it a read and see if you agree.
(3/25/13) Haunt lovers… Behind the Thrills traveled to St. Louis to check out the official Transworld Haunt Show, showcasing haunted items, attractions, and everything that goes bump in the night. Check it out here.
Internet Fun - (6/3/13) While the record is not 100% official yet until Guinness signs off on it, one of our readers, Marcus Gaines, believes that they have broken the Guinness World Record for Marathon Riding Bumper Cars after spending 26 hours, 9 minutes and 45 seconds on the Bumper Cars at Funland, Hayling Island this weekend.
The entire effort was filmed and sent to Guinness, allowing only a 5 minute brake for every fully hour of ride time, plus there also had to be at least two other cars on the track running with him at all times. The previous record beaten was 25 hours, 29 seconds.
(5/22/13) Clinton Shepherd has just taken the Guinness World Record for non-stop riding the Ferris wheel at Chicago’s Navy Pier after a 48 hour, 8 minutes and 25 seconds. Like many of you, my first reaction was that 48 hours would be an easy record to beat, but according to the strict Guinness rules, it’s not as easy as you would think.
Riders are allowed a 5 minute break every hour, which can be grouped together for a longer break if needed, but you absolutely can not fall asleep. While I could ride for days... I don’t think I could stay awake non-stop for over 48 hours. Anyone out there want to give it a try?
(5/13/13) Robb Alvey of Theme Park Review has posted a very “cool” article for the Travel Channel this week, all about the World’s Coolest Roller Coasters, where he reveals his list of Top 15 roller coasters from the four corners of the Earth. While these “Top Coasters” lists can be a dime a dozen, it is honestly nice to see a true list posted from someone who has actually put the miles in and ridden all these creations rather than some journalist hack sitting in an office pulling interesting sounding names from a BING search engine without putting his rear end in any of the rides.
(5/10/13) One of our readers took some pictures at a European company called CSM SteelStructures who apparently constructs some of the coaster and ride systems for Mack Rides (Blue Fire at Europa Park), KumbaK (Flying Dutchman @ Eftling) as well as some work for Vekoma.
They noticed what appeared to be red roller coaster looking supports on site, painted and ready for shipping. I’m just guessing, but these do look similar to the style used on Mack’s Blue Fire coaster but I’m not sure what project these are for. Could be for Sochi Park... may be for the flume/coaster project for Sea World Australia maybe... or perhaps for the Alpina Blitz coaster going to Nigloland (France) in 2014. Or maybe for something else entirely... anyone else have an idea? (Note: I’ve ruled out Helix at Lisberg as I don’t believe it will have red supports.)
(5/6/13) Zombie fun was to be had in Philly last week as The Walking Dead Escape made a return. This time in Philadelphia as people were invited to run through an indoor zombie infested maze built inside the Wells Fargo Center arena. Check out the photos, details and even a full POV run-through of the attraction posted to Behind the Thrills.
The attraction first appeared last summer at the San Diego Padres Petco Park stadium across from the San Diego ComiCon and will return to San Diego once again this summer as well. You can find out all the details about the next outbreak in San Diego (July 19 & 20) at the official site. (Now, who do I talk to about scheduling an outbreak in Orlando to take over both wings of the convention center, traveling through the skywalk from one side to the other in your quest for survival from the undead hordes? Just scheduling it sometime during the Halloween Horror Nights season and your talking a sure fire hit…)
(4/29/13) Our friends over at the European Coaster Club are proud to announce that an all new ECC website has now launched over at www.coasterclub.org. Check it out!
(3/27/13) Great American Thrills has announced that the first episode of the “Lost Parks of Northern California” will be released this Thursday on YouTube and Vimeo. The multi-part video series will follow Kris Rowberry as he hunts down the original sites and memories of NoCal’s 14 bygone amusement parks. “I’ve always been fascinated with the history of the amusement parks I’ve visited,” said Rowberry. “This series is truly a journey back in time.”
Joining Rowberry on his journey is the Assistant Regional Representative for the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) Northern California, Nicholas Laschkewitsch. He also serves as the show’s cameraman and editor.
“One of ACE’s missions is to promote the importance of preservation of both roller coasters and amusement parks,” said Laschkewitsch. “I hope the ‘Lost Parks’ series will do just that.”
Together, the two amateur historians combined forces, in the hopes the concept will eventually be picked up as a special or series on television.
Through their research, both Rowberry and Laschkewitsch have stumbled upon countless, incredible stories that were almost lost to the sands of time. “Pacific City in San Mateo stands out,” said Rowberry. “It didn’t close because of new housing or a fire. It closed because the city’s waste water emptied into the bay just 100 yards north of the park. When we stood on near that creek to film - that stench is still there. How can you not want to tell the story about a park closed by poo?”
Future parks to be highlighted include such well-known locations as: Frontier Village in San Jose, Playland-atthe-Beach in San Francisco and Santa’s Village in Scott’s Valley. “The Internet is full of roller coaster videos,” said Rowberry. “We thought it was time that someone did something that truly stood out - something different.”
Check out the teaser video for the premier episode below.
(3/23/13) I’ve never been the biggest fan of Minecraft, but I’ve been impressed over the years with the creative things people have managed to build with it. Another fine example is a little something discovered today called Bettlejuice – A Minecraft Roller Coaster. This is a mix of a roller coaster and dark ride creation, all themed to the fantastic Bettlejuice film, complete with an awesome remix of the Bettlejuice theme song and movie quotes. If nothing else, this video will make any true dark ride fan shed a tear at the fact that no one ever tried to make a Bettlejuice themed ride all these years, the visual eye candy is perfect for one and this virtual ride creation hits the concept out of the park by creating the ultimate Bettlejuice dark ride experience. If only it was real…
Check it out below and hang on tight because, “It’s Showtime!”
(1/30/13) The latest episode of The Season Pass podcast features yours truly as the guest in the latest Seasoned Pros List Show where we discuss our top ten list of Most Beautiful Parks. Give it a listen here!
(1/14/13) Our friends at The Season Pass Podcast have released a great new episode featuring former Walt Disney Imagineering CEO Peter Rummell (Episode #220) who goes into detail on a lot of park issues as well as the evolution of Disney’s vacation destinations. Check it out!
(11/19/12) For all of you readers who were disappointed when the official Screamscape RSS feed was retired, today may be your lucky day. One of our readers was able to generate a new feed scraped from the content of the home page through Feed43.com. It appears to be working right now, and as a public feed everyone who still wanted the ability to use an RSS feed can now do so again by using this link.
B&M - (2/7/13) NewsParcs has posted a great interview they had with Walter Bolliger (of B&M coaster fame). They talk a bit about how B&M works as a company, their latest designs, and even mention that they are ready to do a launched coaster (LSM) as soon as a customer asks them to do one. In 2013 they will open two new Wing Coasters, Gatekeeper at Cedar Point and now we’ve got a name for the one in China’s Ocean Kingdom… “Flying over the Rainforest”.
(7/23/12) One our of local spies went by the track fabrication plant in Ohio and snapped up a few new pictures of the pieces on site. Not too much activity reported at the moment as most of the green Wing Coaster track we’ve seen lately has been shipped off to China. There were a couple of pieces of new unpainted track on site however, which appear to be for a new Floorless coaster project. I may be forgetting something, but I don’t believe I’ve heard any rumors about a possible new Floorless coaster going anywhere just yet.
(7/11/12) I haven’t heard much about this in some time, but I did get an e-mail this afternoon reminding me that B&M are still working on new exciting coaster projects. With the full scale international launch of their Wing Coaster design now behind us, I was reminded that they are still hoping to evolve the Wing Coaster design into their very own version of a 4th Dimension coaster style attraction, with rotating seats. Don’t look for this to happen next year, and maybe not even the year after that… but from what I’m hearing, they are working on it.
Of course, this leads me to wonder about the other new B&M concept that we have yet to see or hear anything about in some time… the launched coaster. I had heard on good authority that B&M was indeed ready to start building launched coaster layouts and had come up with their own new launch system they were comfortable with. If I had to guess, I think we could see a launched B&M before we see the 4th Dimension. However, for either design, there has to be a buyer willing to take a risk and be the first to build one.
Cedar Fair - (6/17/13) It appears that Cedar Fair has made a proactive choice to revise their policy of how those with “special needs” are to wait in line. While Carowinds and Cedar Fair would not comment to the media about why these changes were put into effect, it seems pretty clear that this is the fallout from the national news stories that have rocked Disneyland and Walt Disney World over the last month, exposing the so called “Black Market” VIP Tour Guides services where rich families hire a handicapped undercover ‘tour guide’ to take them into the park and cut to the front of all the ride lines.
The old Cedar Fair policy allowed groups with a ‘special needs’ person to cut right to the front of the line of almost any attraction, allowing for rampant abuse. The new official system is that the groups will approach an attraction and an employee will determine the current wait time for the ride and give them a special card with a Return Time on it. So if the line is currently about 30 minutes long, the group will be given a card to return in 30 minute and then cut right to the front of the line, thus freeing them up for the 30 minute time to go ride something else, eat, or do whatever they want… while still avoiding the line. Essentially the new experience is almost identical to Disney’s FastPass service where you get a return time and come back later.
Of course this hasn’t stopped some groups from already complaining about the new fair for everyone policy, and now stripped of their immediate front of line privileged access, they are signing petitions to try and urge the individual parks to go back to the old ways. (Case in point… read this story about Carowinds) Unfortunately, there isn’t going to be a way to make everyone happy as there will always be those who think exceptions should be made in their own individual cases, but at least on the surface this system seems to be very fair to everyone and should prevent any abuse.
Comments about the system on Twitter and talking about this subject on the official Screamscape Facebook page, it seems that some Cedar Fair parks had already been using this same, or a similar version of this policy for some time.
(5/13/13) Dick Kinzel, longtime former CEO of Cedar Fair and current Chairman of the Board will be stepping down from his post this year as he hits Cedar Fair’s mandatory retirement age of 72 for board members. Kinzel will be replaced on the board by Scott Olivet, CEO of Renegade Brands LLC and Exec. Chairman of RED Digital Cinema.
So while this has nothing to do with the current legal ruling that Cedar Fair give Jack Falfas his job as COO back, it does seem to make the road a little less bumpy if Cedar Fair chooses to bring Jack back this year.
(5/6/13) We may have spotted a new tagline for Cedar Fair’s 2013 Halloween Haunt promotion in the trademark database. The company filed on March 22, 2013 to use the name “Amusement Dark” on a variety of park merchandise. Meanwhile it's been good news so far for several Cedar Fair parks as Windseeker rides are starting to open up around the nation. Carowinds ride was reported as being open a week or two ago along with Kings Dominion’s, but now Screamscape has been told that the Windseeker rides at Canada’s Wonderland and Kings Island are now open as well. I’ve also been told that they expect Cedar Point’s ride to be up and running for opening day on May 11th. Unfortunately there are other issues delaying the opening of the one at Knott’s Berry Farm.
(4/29/13) In a very interesting development a court of appeals has now ruled that former Cedar Fair COO Jack Falfas, who claims he was fired by then CEO Dick Kinzel back in June 2010, should be reinstated to his job as COO of Cedar Fair. This follows along with the original court decision from February 2011 which also states that Jack be given his job back and paid his salary and benefits for the missing time. Cedar Fair appealed and the judge ruled that they need to pay Jack his benefits and backpay, but said that the law did not permit them to require them to reinstate his job with the company. Jack Falfas then appealed that ruling which resulted in this new ruling that if Jack is ready and willing to return to work, he should be given his job back. According to Cedar Fair, they are going over the ruling and deciding what their next step should be… will they take him back or opt to try and appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court for a final ruling.
(4/23/13) Knex and Cedar Fair have expanded their annual coaster building contest beyond Cedar Point, to also include Valleyfair and Dorney Park. They are also holding an online vote for your favorite fan model online which you can see here. Apparently the designers of “Rimpac” and “Savage” are also Screamscape readers I believe… but no pressure. Take a look and vote for your favorite.
(4/2/13) Cedar Fair will hold a conference call with investors to discuss their Q1 2013 earnings on Wednesday, May 8th at 10am (EST). You can listen in over the ‘net through a link on the Cedar Fair website.
(3/29/13) Our friends over at the SeasonPass Podcast will post their incredible interview with Cedar Fair's CEO Matt Ouimet tonight. Check it out, I hear he may have said some very interesting things about certain parks and future plans.
(3/28/13) Cedar Fair has so far made changes to the Fast Lane system at several parks for the 2013 season, increasing the cost of Fast Lane in most cases by $5, and offering a new Fast Lane Plus program for an additional $10-15 with the benefit of exclusive access to two of the park’s more popular coasters.
So far California’s Great America, Worlds of Fun, Dorney Park, Michigan’s Adventure and Valleyfair and Knott’s Berry Farm are still offering the same Fast Lane access as last season, with no sign of Fast Lane Plus yet.
(3/4/13) Cedar Fair intends to make a private offering of $500 million in “senior unsecured notes due in 2021”. The proceeds, along with other cash on hand and a little new financing will be used to pay in full “all amounts outstanding” in their current bank lines of credit. In English, as I understand it, they are paying off their old high interest debts to the banks that are due in the near future in exchange for new private financing deals that wont be due until 2021.
Chance Rides - (2/25/13) I had not seen this mentioned before, but along with the new Hyper-Lite coaster, Chance Rides has also put out a new flat ride in late 2012 called Freestyle which comes in portable and park models. Check out the animated video of it in action below.
(2/22/13) A reader came across this interesting creation on the Chance Rides website for a coaster design listed as a “HyperLite”, described as a compact 100 foot tall thriller with an 80º first drop that appears to be their attempt to create something akin to Intamin’s MegaLite. The layout is interesting, but it’s a bit too “twisty” and looks to lack the number of airtime moments you’d expect from a MegaLite. Watch the animated video of the layout embedded below and see what you think.
Cirque du Soleil - (1/18/13) As successful as Cirque du Soleil has been in the past, especially in the Las Vegas market, have they finally reached the saturation point? Have they simply opened too many shows, or is it a mix of too many shows with a struggling global economy? Either way the company has announced that they will layoff 400 workers from their global operations due to sagging profits.
Over the 13 months, we’ve seen Cirque forced to close ZED at the Tokyo Disney Resort at the end of 2011, and Viva Elvis close in Las Vegas in August 2012. This Saturday will also mark the closing of their Iris show in Hollywood. With seven active shows in Las Vegas, one of which just opened (Zarkana at Aria), and the new Michael Jackson themed show opening in about 12 months, will we see Cirque forced to close yet another show or two over the next year?
Disney - (5/31/13) Tom Staggs (Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman) was talking about the new MagicBands coming to Walt Disney World parks at the D: All Things Digital conference and let another interesting feature slip out. According to the Hollywood Reporter he briefly mentioned that the MagicBand can also be used to unlock extra elements in the soon to be released Disney Infinity video game.
(5/10/13) Disney CEO Bob Iger mentioned during an earning call this week that “In addition to the Star Wars feature films that we’ve already talked about, we’re also working on opportunities for television and our parks. It’s still very early in the process. We’ll announce details as these developments evolve.”
So it looks like there is a little something to all these rumors of possible Star Wars themed lands or mini-lands being talked about for Disney parks around the globe, not to mention Disney’s own surveys to select passholders sent out earlier this year to get feedback.
(5/1/13) Drawings from a new WDI ride patent application for something called “Twister Ride System” has been posted to the Disney & More Facebook page. It looks like an interesting new take on the old Intamin Flight Commander style ride concept, but all the cars run down a straight path enclosed in some kind of indoor environment, likely surrounded by projection surfaces for added themeing. Check it out!
(4/5/13) Some sad news from the Disney / Star Wars merger this week, as it was announced that Disney has shut down the entire LucasArts game division, laying off the 150 person staff. Along with the closure of LucasArts, this also shut down perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated Star Wars game projects in the past decade, known simply as 1313. According to another report however, a lead on the project claimed that 1313 was still about 2 years from completion, which also implies it was likely a next-gen console title for Playstation 4 / Xbox 720 systems.
(4/2/13) Variety reports that there are early rumors and speculation growing that Robert Iger may choose to extend his run as Disney’s CEO rather than retire from the position in 2015 as previously planned. Simply put, there may simply be too much going on around the company at that point in time for Iger to just walk away, with the first of the new Star Wars films set to launch, as well as the pending grand opening of the new Shanghai Disneyland park. If he does stay the course and retire as CEO, he would however remain on as Chairman of the Board through mid 2016.
(3/20/13) Disney and Marvel have struck a deal with Feld Entertainment to launch a new live traveling “arena” show that will feature Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Avengers and X-Men who will unite again a horde of evil Marvel villains. Feld has worked with Disney for the past 33 years as a the producer for the many “Disney Live!” and “Disney on Ice” traveling shows. The first North American tour show will launch in July 2014 and feature special effects, pyro, aerial displays, martial arts and more.
(3/15/13) IGN reports that the launch of the much hyped new Disney Infinity game has been pushed back from June to August. The new game will now be released on August 18th in North America and August 20th in Europe.
(2/27/13) For all you Disney Haunted Mansion fans out there, Disney is launches a new line of special Haunted Mansion themed merchandise items that will be sold at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Click here to see them all.
(2/7/13) There has been some buzz lately from Disney’s studio side of things about a new film project from director Brad Bird (Iron Giant, Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) that had previously been worked on under the codename “1952” but has now been revealed to be titled, “Tomorrowland” and is expected to feature George Clooney when released into theaters on Dec. 14th, 2014.
If this film title sound familiar, it should, as Disney had previously talked about a Tomorrowland film way back in 2009. At the time the star was to have been Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and the script apparently involved The Rock as an unfortunate test pilot who was blasted 350 years into the future. Think of it as a modern take on the old Buck Rodgers storyline.
While the new film is supposed to be taken from a new script, I do wonder if there will be any connection to the old film idea. So far everyone is tight-lipped on the project, though they have said the story will not feature aliens. Hidden inside a mystery box of possible clues labeled 1952 was a copy of Amazing Stories, which did help launch the tales of Buck Rodgers, so perhaps there is a connection after all.
Disney is also ramping up some interesting productions for your TV set as well. In addition to the already mentioned TV series themed to the world around the mysterious “Big Thunder Mountain”, Disney has also tapped Joss Whedon (director of The Avengers) to create their first Marvel Universe based live action TV series that will also tie directly into the events of the Marvel Universe films. It will be called S.H.I.E.L.D., and shooting of the pilot episode is currently in progress with the hopes for a Fall 2013 TV premier launch date. They have also launched the official S.H.I.E.L.D. Facebook and Twitter feeds as well. The series will take place in the world just after the events of The Avengers film, and apparently fan favorite, Agent Coulson, will somehow be involved. How? As posted by the official Facebook page last Friday, “Coulson Lives!” The series will leave itself open to plenty of guest appearances, but unlike how the films focus on the super-human heroes, the TV series will focus on the all-too human members of S.H.I.E.L.D. and how they deal with the new reality of the world following the climatic events of the film.
Want a little more entertainment news? Lets end this with some new items revealed about Disney’s other big purchase… the Star Wars Universe. According to the official announcement on StarWars.com, Bob Iger revealed that in addition to plans to film a new trilogy of Star Wars films (Episode 7-9) they will also move forward with a line of new spin-off Star Wars Universe films that will focus on specific characters. Two such films are already confirmed to be in development right now. While many characters are possible, the two names to surface from the lake of rumors right now are a Young Han Solo film and one possibly based on Yoda.
(2/4/13) I was shocked last Friday when I received word that Imagineering legend, Tony Baxter, was going to retire. I was shocked... and a bit disappointed for my own selfish reasons. It’s never fun to hear that any great legend of an industry is going to retire. Tony Baxter was behind so many great additions at the Disney parks, especially at Disneyland itself over the past decades.
A great breakdown of all the many attractions that Tony Baxter was involved with has been posted to Disney and More. It’s also worth mentioning that while Tony will unfortunately retire from post at WDI, he will still hang on to serve as a Part Time Advisor for the next generation of Imagineers who will evolve the parks for the next generation.
(1/29/13) According to one of our sources, Disney has some technology patent applications in the system that talk about work on a 3D version of a waterscreen projection show that seems to indicate that they could be planning a 3D version of World of Color at some point in the future. But would this be an upgrade to the existing World of Color show in California, or an entirely new show project elsewhere in the world?
Dynamic Structures - (5/6/13) Empire Industries has announced they were awarded of a new $30 million contract to build a new attraction for a major theme park in the United States through their Dynamic Structures business unit. According to the press release the contract will be “executed” over the next two years.
Dynamic Structures is known best for building the Harry Potter ride for Universal Orlando as well as several high profile rides for Disney over the last decade including the two Soarin rides, Test Track, Radiator Springs Racers and the revised Space Mountain at Disneyland.
I’ve got a feeling that this contract may have been the official signing off for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride system for Universal Studios Hollywood, as a nearly identical announcement also came from Empire/Dynamic Structures 1 year ago for another $30 million contract (over 2 years) for a “media based attraction” going into a theme park for “a global customer”. Last year’s contract was likely for the same ride system now being installed at Universal Studios Japan in late 2014. The statement also mentions that the deal was important to Empire because this was the third such contract awarded to them, and this would be the third version of the ride system to be built.
The Goddard Group - (2/28/13) In an interesting move Variety reports that Gary Goddard (of The Goddard Group) will launch the Goddard Film Group and has already aquired a trio of properties to develop into future feature film projects that they believe will play well to international audiences. This kind of work is not new to Goddard who was the Director behind the Masters of the Universe film (starring Dolph Lundgren) as well as a creator and writer for shows like Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future and Skeleton Warriors. Click here to read the details and plots behind these new film ideas.
Great Wolf Lodge - (6/18/13) According to this article Great Wolf Lodge is looking into a plan to buy an existing Holiday Inn hotel and expand and transform it to become a new Great Wolf Lodge waterpark resort in Fitchburg, MA.
IAAPA Conventions - (6/6/13) IAAPA has announced that Cedar Fair President and CEO, Matt Ouimet, will deliver the Keynote Address at IAAPA 2013 this November in Orlando.
(2/28/13) IAAPA has informed is that the Asian Attractions Expo will move to Beijing for the 2014 show. The trade show will be held at the China National Convention Center from June 17-20.
(2/18/13) The 2013 IAAPA show will take place in Orlando once again from Nov. 18-22.
(5/3/12) IAAPA has announced that the Asian Attractions Expo 2013 will take place at the Sands Expo & Convention Center at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore from June 4-7th, 2013.
Kalahari Waterpark Resorts - (7/31/12) The local news reports that Kalahari may be getting closer to building a massive new indoor waterpark resort project in the Poconos that would eventually be expanded to become the biggest indoor waterpark in the country. Of course I do have to think back to the last Kalahari project… the stalled out and dead plan to build a resort in Fredericksburg, VA. Of course the Fredericksburg project had the misfortune to bump head-on into the economic depression, making it difficult to get funding for the project at the time.
(10/7/11) Screamscape sources tell me that while Kalahari has obviously abandoned their plans to build a third resort in Virginia, they are now preparing to build a new resort in Pennsylvania instead, up in the Poconos. Ground breaking is expected to take place sometime in the next 6 months, and the resort to open about a year or so later.
Merlin Entertainment - (6/7/13) BlooLoop reports that Merlin Entertainment is selling the Earth Explorer brand of science based attractions to Blueprint Entertainment who currently owned the Odysseum in Cologne and the Children’s Museum Explorado in Duisburg, Germany.
(5/14/13) A report from South Korea mentions a few possible future theme park projects may be in the works again for South Korea, including a Legoland South Korea park that could open in 2015.
(3/25/13) According to a tweet from BlooLoop, Merlin is preparing to announce record profits this coming week and is expected to announce a focus shift from UK and Europe on to Asia and America.
(12/20/12) Merlin has announced that they will build a new Madame Tussauds attraction in Prague, opening in earth late 2013 or early 2014.
(10/19/12) The new Legoland Discovery Center Westchester in New York held a ground breaking ceremony earlier this week for the $12 million project. Look for it to open in Spring 2013 in the Ridge Hill shopping center between TJ Maxx and Lefteris Gyro.
(5/31/12) The local news reports that Merlin is planning to open another Legoland Discovery Center in mid-2013 in Yonkers, New York at the Ridge Hill shopping center.
(5/25/12) Merlin Entertainment has announced plans to build their first Legoland Discovery Center in Canada. It will open in Spring 2013 at Vaughan Mills in the Toronto area.
(3/23/12) The local news reports that Merlin is taking over the management of Siam Ocean World (Bangkok, Thailand), the biggest aquarium attraction in Southeast Asia with the acquisition of Living and Leisure Australia Group’s 10 attractions in Asia-Pacific.
(3/20/12) Huss Park Attractions has announced that they have been selected by Merlin Entertainment to build a major observation tower on Weymouth, Dorset, seafront on the south coast of England. The tower will stand 53 meters tall and feature 360 degree views of the English Channel and local countryside from the 70 passenger rotating gondola.
(1/6/12) According to BlooLoop, Merlin has announced that they will open a permanent Madame Tussauds attraction in Tokyo at the Decks Tokyo Beach Mall (Obaiba) in Spring 2013 along with the Legoland Discovery Center which will open in 2012.
(10/31/11) JapanTimes reports that Merlin Entertainment has chosen a 10 hectares (24 acre) site on the Kinjo Pier in Nagoya as the site for a Legoland theme park in Japan. This seems a bit small of a site for a full scale Legoland theme park however as even the new park in Malaysia that will open in 2012 will be 76-acres, and I believe the California park is 150 acres. At the same time, 24 acres is a bit too big for a Legoland Discovery Center...
NoLimits 2 - (6/17/13) It has been some time since we’ve last heard about the No Limits 2 coaster simulator program, but a new demo video has been released today showing off the fruits of their latest game engine. As you will see, No Limits 2 has the ability to produce both coasters as well as flat rides as well as environmental features like lighting, atmosphere and more. The start of the video shows comparisons from NL1 and NL2.
(1/29/13) ThrillNetwork has published a new set of teaser images (showing off one of the new train designs) for the NoLimits 2 roller coaster simulation software as well as an interview with the creative forces before NoLimits 2.
(1/3/13) The team working on NoLimits2 posted an update on new features coming to the follow-up edition of the coaster simulation software program. According to the update NoLimits2 will feature new building methods for the coasters, including a radius comb, new track textures (like rust and peeling paint), an auto-generated catwalk system, switch tracks for dual sided stations, and confirmations of 4D coaster track, B&M Flyers and the addition of the B&M Dive Machine style “splash effect”.
PARC Management - (2/18/13) I guess I forgot about this until now, but local readers up in Canada reminded me that PARC Management also ran a NASCAR Speedpark up at the Vaughan Mills mall in Ontario, Canada which was shut down for good back in Mid-2012. Much like the deal taking place at the North Carolina site (also at one of the Mills malls) a deal was struck with Merlin to build an attraction on the former NASCAR Speedpark site. In this case, the new Legoland Discovery Center will be ready to open by March 2013.
(2/14/13) I don’t know how much truth there is in this, but an anonymous sources confided to Screamscape that one of the PARC Management corporate people sent to Concord to handle the closing down of the NASCAR Speedpark attraction mentioned that they would be going out to shutter the St. Louis NASCAR Speedpark attraction shortly after finishing up the job in North Carolina.
(2/9/13) Just as predicted when the mall announced plans to build a SeaLife Aquarium on their site, NASCAR SpeedPark at Concord Mills in North Carolina announced on their website that they were now closed for good. The switch from a pay as you go FEC style system to adding gates and turnstyles and a Pay-One-Price system seems to have failed PARC Management’s run. I don’t expect that the three others sites (Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach or St. Louis) will fair much better unless changes are made.
(1/25/13) According to this news article, Concord Mills (just outside Charlotte, NC near the Great Wolf Lodge and Charlotte Motor Speedway) is signing a deal with Merlin to build what seems to be a $10 million SeaLife Aquarium attraction that will be attached to the mega mall. This was part of a deal that would provide Simon, the mall owner, with a 85% property tax discount for the expansion project that Simon will build and Merlin will operate. The article also mentions that the new aqurarium will take over the current site of the existing NASCAR SpeedPark attraction (PARC Management) and open as early as Spring 2014.
What is really interesting however is that when I tweeted about this development earlier today (follow @SCREAMSCAPE on Twitter for the latest!) NASCAR Speedpark’s Twitter account responded with the following message, “We have not rvd a formal notice & are seeking adt'l info related to this. We'll continue our normal hours of operation. Thanks!” Curious to see where this goes, though I bet the phone call that must have transpired today between NASCAR Speedpark and Simon was an interesting one for sure.
On a side note… if Merlin is coming to Concord Mills… I do have to wonder how much longer it will be until they decide to install a Lego Discovery Center attraction at the mall as well. We know Merlin loves to group their smaller attractions close together when possible.
Premier Rides - (3/22/13) Premier Rides has announced that they have signed a multi-year deal with Hong Kong’s Ocean Park to provide technical services and support for several of the park’s rides and attractions as well as work together with the park to incorporate the latest technical upgrades to existing popular attractions.
(11/16/12) The work on Twitter is that the “Deep Space” LSM/Dark Ride coaster from premier is the project they working on in India.
(9/19/12) Premier Rides posted a picture on Facebook last week showing off that their “first track shipment to India” was heading out. The track will so to India’s first major theme park, “built by Adlabs outside Mumbai”. Anyone know more about this park? This may the first I’m hearing about this one.
(1/18/12) Premier Rides has announced that they have been selected to design and build “a signature high-thrill roller coaster” that will go inside the Great Mall of China. While the exact stats for the ride will not be released until later in 2012, they can say that it will feature Premier’s magnetic launch technology, feature unique elements and when it opens, it will be the tallest indoor roller coaster in the world.
The Great Mall of China will be located on a 76 acre site about 25km from Beijing International Airport and feature both retail and entertainment venues, an indoor theme park and waterpark when it opens in 2013.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line - (4/17/13) Royal Caribbean has announce
d some interesting details about new features that will be built into their two newest ships, Quantum of the Seas (Launching Fall 2014) and Anthem of the Seas (Spring 2015). For example, take a look at a little thing they call the North Star, a large glass capsule that will hold 14 people, attached to the end of a large arm that will rise up and swing out into the sky high above the ship. They are expanding on the Disney Cruise Line concept of the virtual porthole technology used for interior rooms and will instead offer “Virtual Balconies” instead on their interior cabins.
There is also the SeaPlex, described as the largest indoor sports and entertainment venue at sea. The multi-level space will feature roller skating, a flying trapeze school, full size basketball court, dance floor and… BUMPER CARS. Yes… they are putting bumper cars on a cruise ship if you can believe it. (I think I’d almost rather have bumper boats though… since you could use them as a lifeboat in case of emergency.) On top of the ship they will off RipCord, the first virtual skydiving wind tunnel experience at sea and along the back they will offer a FlowRider stationary surf wave. They will also offer a new two-story music / dance / concert facility call Music Hall and a new entertainment venue in the aft of the ship called Two70º, which evolves from a relaxing place during the daytime into a unusual entertainment venue at night.
With three very active kids and a limited budget, my wife and I don’t usually get to play in the cruise industry, but I’d love to try out the Quantum of the Seas someday. To date we’ve only managed to try one cruise ever (without the kids I might add) on Carnival which we enjoyed. Maybe someday we’ll try again…
S&S WorldWide - (11/16/12) A great and long interview with S&S Worldwide’s Kevin Rohwer was posted by Coaster Crew where they go over a large number of new products that the newly combined S&S-Sansei Technologies Inc are now offering.
They show off a new four-seater version of the El Loco ride car that incorporates the new open look that was first used last year on the 8-seater car for Green Lantern. They also were showing off a seat and artwork for a new 20-seat circular tower ride design that will first open at the Sochi Winter Olympics amusement park called the Sochi Tower that will open in late 2013/2014. The new circular tower design will be evolved once again for a new ride concept coming out in 2015/2016, but no more details were given.
Another new idea is very interesting and at first glance looks like a typical observation tower ride, but there is more to it. It comes in two flavors, the Polar Coaster and Sky Spiral. The Sky Spiral is the mild version, which has a twisting layer of track wrapped around the outside of the tower on which observation cars will slowly climb to the top, where you can exit at the top floor to look around an observation platform, or ride back down again. The entire ride experience is said to take upwards of 30 minutes. In essence, it is a perfect mixture of an observation tower ride experience with a Giant Wheel style ride. S&S Sansei is offering to build these between 200 and 1000 feet in height, running anywhere from 20 to 50 gondolas at a time, with 6 to 20 passengers inside each. If this looks familiar, this attraction concept is also a partnership idea licensed from US Thrill Rides, LLC, created by Bill Kitchen.
On the other side of the coin in the Polar Coaster which will use El Loco style coaster cars that will wrap around the tower stucture to create a giant spiral lift hill all the way to the top, before the coaster cars begin a series of twists, turns, dives and inversions on their way back towards the ground level once again. The Tower height offered here is between 200 to 300 feet tall, but allows for a very tall, large and thrilling coaster experience in a space that only takes up a 50 ft diameter spot. There is an elevator option to rise up through the center to an observation deck at the top that can serve so many purposes.
Finally we’ve got information on that new 4th Dimension style ride, which is actually a combination of the 4th Dimension coaster and the FreeFly concept from 2009. They’ve ditched the canoe style seating on the ends of the FreeFly car, and mounted 4th Dimension style pods that have forward and backwards facing seats. However, rather than spin around like a 4d Dimension coaster, these seats spin sideways like a FreeFly style car, except they can be made to flip over wildly creating a random number of inversion possibilities. They call this one, appropriately enough, FreeFly-X.
They are also offering a new off-shoot coaster from the 4th Dimension concept called 4D FreeSpin or 4D Free Ride. It uses shorter 8 passenger cars, with 4D style flip-over pods, made to fit into a compact space much like the El Loco coasters. However instead of the additional rail system used to hard-wire the flips and spins as they do on a true 4th Dimension coaster, the 4D FreeSpin will use a series of magnetic discs placed along the track used to “encourage” forward and backwards spin momentum. In a way this is S&S taking a shot at Intamin by building a bigger and better ZacSpin style ride, which is fun since the ZacSpin was Intamin’s attempt to rip off S&S’s 4th Dimension coaster experience in the first place.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment - (6/11/13) I’m not quite sure what is going to be announced but SeaWorld Parks is apparently announcing “A Sea of Surprises” on Tuesday (today) that will effect the SeaWorld parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio. More as we find out.
(4/24/13) All the fuss about PETA buying shares of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a bit overblown and all just for media hype for the initial “shock & awe” factor, like most things PETA does to get a quick headline grab. How so? According to Screamscape sources PETA has only spent a little over $2000 on “SEAS” stock. Just enough to be allowed into the annual shareholder meetings, but not enough to give them any kind of power or sway within the company. Still though… I gotta tip my hat to them for this ballsy move. They’ll probably follow it up in about a year with a bit show at the annual shareholder meeting, followed by a very public exit from the company as they sell their shares in disgust.
(4/23/13) Just while SeaWorld was enjoying their successful IPO run… they were blindsided in almost WWE style fashion by the announcement that not only was PETA amongst their new shareholders, but that PETA had bought enough shares “to give us the right to attend and speak at annual meetings and to submit shareholder resolutions asking for policy changes.”
Yep… and if you couldn’t guess, their first order of business “as part owners of SeaWorld” is that the group is formally requesting that all of the chain’s Killer Whales be released. They are also planning to start an educational campaign they’ll lead against the other stockholders about the evils of SeaWorld and the practice of captive marine mammals in parks.
Yep… things are going to get VERY interesting for SeaWorld Entertainment very quickly. See why I previously urged them to keep the company private and away from the manipulations of greedy investors as well as those with a private adjenda. But even I couldn’t have dreamed of a plan so sinister as what PETA has unleashed upon SeaWorld this week, as they attempt to destroy the company from the inside. I don’t imagine that the other stockholders will put up with their antics for long, but I’m not sure what they can do about it either. They may simply be forced to just put up with them at the meetings, much like how families try to ignore the that one crazy relative who only comes to the big family gatherings, drinks too much and then complains loudly to everyone about how good everyone else had it while they suffered endless untold hardships. (Or something like that…)
In other news, SeaWorld’s CEO hinted that one of the companies long term goals may be to cast their net into International waters and see what kind of global opportunities there are for the SeaWorld brand. There was no mention of the previously announcement project to build parks in Dubai however on a man-made island shaped like a Killer Whale.
(4/22/13) SeaWorld Parks launched their IPO on the New York Stock Exchange (SEAS) on Friday and raised over $700 million.
(1/28/13) It seems Disney isn’t the only theme park chain dealing with a possible unsetting film shown at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Another film titled Blackfish has begun to make waves for SeaWorld as it tells the story of Tillikum and the three deaths he was involved with. So far the film has proved popular at the Festival and is expected to get picked up by a studio and given a theatrical release sometime next year.
Six Flags - (5/10/13) Good news for Six Flags stockholders this week as the Board of Directors has just approved a 2 for 1 stock split that will go into effect in June 26th to those owning stock as of June 12th.
(2/21/13) Six Flags reports that they had a record year in 2012, reporting a 9% increase in EBITDA over 2011 and a 6% increase in revenue. Guest spending PerCaps increased slightly and attendance was up 6% to 25.7 million, along with an increase in the number of season pass sales.
(2/4/13) Six Flags has been sending out some interesting online surveys lately to ask people about possible new ride ideas. There is some general stuff at the end where they seem to throw random combinations of three attractions at you and ask that you pick one, each has a random theme (or no theme) and options like the level of themeing, the type of story involved (horror, humor, serious) the type of ride vehicle and if you would have any interactive controls or not. They seem to be asking about a lot of possible dark ride concepts here, which is a great thing to see Six Flags looking into for the future instead of just focusing on nothing but coasters. There are also a couple of mentions of motorcycle themed coasters in there as well, so that could be another item they are looking into.
The only one specific idea I’ve heard reported in from several sources was an odd duck of an idea that sounded like they might try to mix a launched coaster ride with a Men In Black style alien shoot’em up beginning and ending to the ride experience. Not sure how they would mix laser blaster aimed at targets at one moment and get them locked away in time for a coaster launch in order to keep the guns from flying around, but it’s a work in progress and I’ll give it to Six Flags that this is a unique sounding idea as well. Lets see where it goes…
(1/18/13) Six Flags will release their full 2012 performance statement on February 20th. You can listen in to the investor call that will start at 8am (Central Time) here or by calling 888-282-0415.
(1/14/13) A report posted to ThemeParkOverload this week confirms the official word from Six Flags that they plan to roll out the Dining Pass option that was tested in a couple of parks last year to every park nationwide in 2013.
Super78 - (3/18/13) Super78 has announced that they are working on a new unique 4D horror experience film project entitled, “Dark Magic”. Unlike other so called haunt or horror style films produced in the past, which end up as being fairly tame and/or “cheesy” , the new Dark Magic is being produced and targeted at the ‘haunt’ marketplace. “2013 is the Year of Fear! Fear is where it's at, and this heart-pounding, adrenaline-producing, horror-filled experience film will prey on all the senses – sights, sounds, and things that go bump in the night - bringing guests face to face with their worst nightmares,” said Brent Young, principal/director for Super 78. Dark Magic will be ready to roll in time for Fall 2013.
Theme Park Studio - (5/22/13) Pantera Entertainment tell us that while the initial funding of Theme Park Studio on Kickstarter is over, the group is now trying to achieve their “stretch goals” and has launched a new crowd-funding site for this purpose. The great news is that all the great rewards they offered on Kickstarter are still be offered for a limited time. The stretch goals posted note include hitting the $130k mark would fund a Mac version of the program. $180k will see money and theme park management aspects added in and $250k will see them create a PS3 version of the program as well. Find out everything you could want to know about Theme Park Studio at the new official funding site.
(5/20/13) Good news for Theme Park Studio fans, the simulation game achieved their Kickstarter funding goal the other day and had released new screenshots (see below) and video showing off how simple it is to make well themed pathways as well as giving us our first look at peeps to populate your park with.
(5/13/13) It is crunch time for The
me Park Studio this week as the project enters the final week of funding on Kickstarter. As of this morning the project has earned $69,000 of the needed $80,000 goal price. If they don’t make it to the full $80,000, they lose it all, so if you really want to see this project get made, this may be your last chance to help fund them.
We have seen how great the rides in Theme Park Studio will look, but over the last week the program has really been showing off just how well you can use the program to create themed environments. For example they have posted a picture of some great old west Saloon style buildings made with the software as well as some fine examples of realistic looking theme park pathways lined with realistic trees, sidewalks, benches, popcorn machines and plenty of flora. They have also posted another video showing off the “particle effects” of the software, which shows off some of the night lighting you can do with the park, lighted fountains in lakes and much much more.
Theme Park Studio is more than a theme park simulator or roller coaster creator. We’re looking at an entire themed environment design studio that could very well be used by both fans and professionals alike to show off their visions for things even beyond the theme park world with ease… from public parks to a haunted ghost town. Once this hits the streets and the public community gets their hands on it, there is no telling how many fantasic new themed worlds you will be able to download, share and experience. I can’t wait… but they’ve only got 6 days left on Kickstarter, so if you want to get in early, fund their effort and earn yourself a copy of the program at the same time.
(5/1/13) Theme Park Studio has made a few more announcements regarding new features on Kickstarter. Over the past couple of weeks they have shown off several new coaster types that will be included in the game including the Mack Blue Fire style launched coaster system, wooden coasters, a B&M Inverted coaster and now an Intamin Hyper/Launched Coaster Train design. Now I’m curious… if they are going to simulate all these rides, how realistic are they going to be? Will launched coasters mis-fire from time to time and experience roll-backs? So far they are a little over 50% of the way to their goal, but only have 19 days left.
(4/23/13) Theme Park Studio has announced that due to fan support, they have officially announced that Oculus Rift (3D VR) integration will now be part of the program. “We are very excited to announce the merging of our 3D stereoscopic technology into Theme Park Studio. Oculus Rift, integrated into our latest theme park simulation game, is a perfect and inevitable fit. Players will be able to control eye separation and convergence point, allowing them to fine tune their 3D experience and slip into a world of their own creation, and feel like they are actually there.” You can see the rest of the announcement and other developments at the Kickstarter website.
(4/17/13) A new video from Theme Park Studio, also promoting their Kickstarter effort, shows off a lot of new park and ride footage generated in the game, including the creation and POVs of some amazing looking wooden coasters.
(4/15/13) Our friends over at Pantera Entertainment, the masterminds behind the in-development Theme Park Studio project, are seeking a little financial help to finish off their ambitious project and have launched a Kickstarter program.
If you wish to help fund the project, the tiers range between $5 and $5000, with a variety of different rewards to be gained. All pledges $20 and over will include a copy of the game with special variations depending on which tier you fall into. (ie: $20 TPS Silver Edition, $30 Gold Edition, $50 Platinum Edition, etc…) These also include not only a copy of the finished game on DVD, but also access into the beta test program.
(3/12/13) Theme Park Studio wowed me again with their latest promotional video… showing off a Mondial Top Scan ride created in the program, complete with an intense light and effects package. “Theme Park Studio will be released summer 2013, and we really want to emphasize how players will be able to "create anything and share everything!" Theme Park Studio will be fully customizable, and players will be able to build amazing looking theme parks, custom flat rides, and insane roller coasters!” Check out the video below.
(2/11/13) the official website for Theme Park Studio has launched at www.themeparkstudio.com.
(1/28/13) Theme Park Studio has posted a new update this week, this time a video showing off how custom scenery can be made for your park and ride environments. You can find out more about how this works, and maybe ask a few questions over at the official Facebook page as well.
(1/23/13) A fun new video showing off the Huss Troika model in action was posted to YouTube this week.
(1/21/13) The Pantera Game Studio crew has sent out a few new images from the Theme Park Studio game, showing off some incredible looking ride models they’ve created to show off an Troika flat ride. These and more can also be seen on their official Facebook page.
Earlier I had a chance to ask a few questions about the program to someone at Pantera. For starters, this software is being designed for the PC at first, however they have borrowed a lot of code from their own proprietary game engine which can also run on Xbox 360, PS3 and OpenGL ES, so future ports of the program to work on consoles as well as Mac are indeed possible, based upon public demand of course.
I also decided to bring up the one thing I know I had always wanted to do with Roller Coaster Tycoon but was never able to build…. A true Dark Ride experience. You will be happy to know that they are indeed targeting for the creation of custom dark rides in the game as well. “Our goal is to allow the consumer to be as creative as possible.” This alone excites me quite a bit, as it’s great fun to see homebrewed coasters in action, but I think the creations that have really impressed me the most were some of the coaster videos on YouTube where the creation attempted to make a dark ride style environment for their attraction. With the right software, like what you can do with Theme Park Studio, I can’t wait to see the kind of dark rides (dry or wet) that people can dream up.
Stay tuned… I think more good stuff is coming soon!
(1/4/13) Screamscape was contacted by Pantera Entertainment, a video game developer, who wanted to tell us all about a new project they have in the works that will be of interest to coaster and theme park fans. The new title is called Theme Park Studio.
“Theme Park Studio merges all the flexibility of an advanced coaster design tool, with a full graphics' engine, rich with powerful features and technologies. 'Oasis' is Pantera Entertainment's custom graphics' engine used in video games and medical software, for the serious games industry. We exhibited our technology at the Game Developers Conference and the Austin Game Conference. Many of its features have been integrated into Theme Park Studio, providing unprecedented control over the theme park design process.”
They’ve posted some images showing off just what can be done with Theme Park Studio on the program’s official Facebook page here along with a couple of videos showing off the program in action. They didn’t specify, but I can only assume that this will be a PC program at launch, as I’m not sure if a console version is possible. More as we find out.
Universal Studios - (2/14/13) Comcast just can’t get enough of NBCUniversal it seems. It wasn’t just 2011 when Comcast bought controlling interest (51%) from General Electric followed by purchasing the 50% ownership of the Universal Orlando theme park resort sold off by Blackstone. Now Comcast has purchased the remaining 49% ownership of NBCUniversal from General Electric, taking full control and ownership of the company’s film and broadcast divisions, as well as the theme parks in a $16.7 billion deal.
(12/19/12) According to this article, the city’s commission for urban planning in Moscow has given approval for the Universal Studios Moscow project.
(5/1/12) Disney and More takes a look at the concept artwork for the Universal Studios Experience project for Moscow this week as well as the rest of Galactica Park.
(4/25/12) ParkRumors has some concept artwork of what the new Universal Experience project as well as the entire Galactica Park complex may look like.
(4/19/12) Screamscape sources tell us that the Universal Studios Moscow project is legit, and has been working under the name “Universal Experience Moscow” so far. Due to the harsh winters in Moscow, the entire park is expected to be enclosed to allow for year-round operations. If things go as planned, the current target date for the Universal park to open is in late 2017.
(4/18/12) I’m not sure how serious to take this article, but they claim that NBC Universal is in talks to build a theme park project in Moscow with a local developer who is planning an even larger overall resort complex to be called Galactica Park. From the sound of it, they are attempting to copy the basic concept put to use at Resorta World Sentosa in Singapore by linking up their own Universal theme park with hotel resorts, an aqua park, numerous retail and dining options, underground parking and even plans to add a 20,000 seat sports and concert area. Galactica Park is planned to cost an estimate $2.8 billion, with at least $500 million to go towards building Universal Studios Moscow. If the plan moves ahead, look for it to break ground as early as 2014 and have the first phase ready to open by 2018… just in time to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
(3/1/12) China’s sixth-largest city, Tianjin, has been meeting with Comcast / NBC Universal about a joint venture to build a possible theme park and studio in the port city. The government group claims they will meet with other Hollywood studios at a later date before they make a final decision on how to proceed with the project.
Vekoma - (1/11/13) A few readers were quick to point out that we had indeed seen that new Vekoma design before… a little over two years ago when it was shown off as a proposed coaster for the Orlando Thrill Park concept in 2010. One of our sources even have a name for it… the Dive Pretzel Coaster. It is now said that this same layout will premier at the Great Mall of China along with a Vekoma Motorbike Coaster. A third coaster is also coming to the Great Mall of China, a LSM launched coaster from Premier Rides.
(1/10/13) A reader grabbed a screen capture from the MegaFactories episode running this week featuring Vekoma. During an interview with a Vekoma engineer, they flashed a computer screen image up briefly showing off an interesting new Vekoma compact coaster layout that I’ve never seen before featuring a an upright 4-across train, a vertical lift and two large inversions. I wonder where this could be going…
Village Roadshow - (10/25/12) Village Roadshow looks to have signed a deal with Guangzhou R&F Properties to build a new theme park in Hainan Island, China. The name right now is Ocean Paradise, but the park will be very similar to Village Roadshow’s Sea World park in Australia, and will also include a Wet ‘n’ Wild waterpark.
WhiteWater West - (5/22/13) It seems 2013 has been a good year for WhiteWater West Industries, as the company has reported a record volume of sales orders worth $70 million during Q1 2013. Geoff Chutter, WhiteWater’s President & CEO said, “We attribute this success to the energy and momentum built by our commitment to creative innovation coupled with our long standing reputation for quality and customer service. We have been thrilled with the response to our newest generation of ORIGINAL innovations.”
WhiteWater has seen a surge in interest in its interactive play structure, AquaCourseTM; the 3 newest MEGAtubesTM, the RattlerTM, AnacondaTM and AquaSphere; the linear induction Water Coaster, AdrenaLIMTM; and the interactive mobile app, Apptivations.
“Nothing excites our 530 employee base more than the satisfaction of delivering the most memorable, ‘WOW!’ experiences to people throughout the world,” said Chutter.
Andrew Wray, WhiteWater’s Director of Sales, reported that orders were equally divided among the Asian, European/Middle East and North American markets. Continued worldwide growth for the company is expected throughout the year with several exciting new projects soon to be announced.
(11/15/12) WhiteWater has announced the purchase of Apptivations LLC, who specalizes in creating downloadable apps for mobile devices that guests can use to interact with their environments when visiting parks and attractions.
“From live action storytelling to fun and/or educational interactive games, we have created downloadable apps that come to life in REAL time! These apps engage and entertain guests while creating additional ways to reward and generate additional revenue streams with devices that are already in use by consumers.
Once amusement parks and waterparks become a part of our growing app world, there are many engaging opportunities to sell upgrades, reinforce marketing and create memorable takeaways including photo-imaged comic books and postable social media videos, starring guests!
Putting our 30 years of creativity, innovation, imagination and expertise to work, we have combined hands-on interactives and storytelling to enhance mobile gaming, game-embedded waterpark sliding and "night glow" integrated experiences. We will light up your guests' imaginations, reaching, engaging and entertaining this new breed of tech-savvy consumers, who are always looking for the best interactivity!”
Interesting ideas that could really change your waterpark experience to include on-slide interactive games as well as ways to really light up the night time fun at waterparks, giving a reason to stay open long into the night. Check out the video showing off some of these concept at the Apptivations website. If you need a little more history on Apptivations, one of the heads is Denise Chapman Weston, who previously was one of the creators of MagiQuest at Creative Kingdoms, who is looking to bring that kind of environmental interactivty to the waterpark industry. Their first SplashQuest project will be called Pearlmasters, opening soon to bring the themed story behind the new Yas Waterworld park in Abu Dhabi to life in early 2013.