---- THE LATEST INDUSTRY NEWS ----
(12/19/14) Wanda To Open First Attraction This Weekend (MORE...)
(12/19/14) A First Peek at The Marvel Experience Attraction (MORE...)
(12/19/14) Roller Coaster Tycoon World - An Example Of The New Detail Level (MORE...)
(12/18/14) SeaWorld Parks To Speed Up Stock Repurchase Program (MORE...)
(12/16/14) The Fall of the Six Flags Power Plant (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 - (11/20/14) A fun collection of interesting new videos were posted to YouTube by our friends at In The Loop today, as they stop by a number of the smaller and more unique booths. One interesting one is something called Archery Tag, with a great William Tell act at the end. Other videos tonight include Honolulu Hot Dog Company and the Maxx Tracks Indoor Ski Slope.
The one you don’t want to miss however 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 waterslide quite like this one, where you actually ride it inside a strange capsule that goes down a true 90º vertical plunge.
(11/18/14) Our friends over at COASTERnet are currently holding the 2014 Golden Loop Award Survey. Please give it a look and add your opinion.
(10/21/14) Not that this is huge news, as the title has been out for iOS for months and many diehards are waiting for the full featured “Roller Coaster Tycoon World”, but “Roller Coaster Tycoon 4 Mobile” is now available for Android and can be downloaded from the Google Play store or Amazon App Store.
(10/9/14) With 2015 looming ahead of us, only a couple of months from now, you may be wondering where you can obtain a new 2015 Roller Coaster Calender? CoasterTalkNoBSZone is already selling their calender, featuring many classic rides from the North-East US from parks like Luna Park, Walameer, Holiday World, Cedar Point, Six Flags America, Lakemont Park, Kings Dominion, Hershepark, Knoebels, Dorney Park and Seabreeze Park. The calendar is just $12 or you can buy a bundle that will also give you their Great Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Road Trip book for $21. Click here to see more.
Internet Fun - (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.
(12/1/14) A preview of NoLimits 2, now with Oculus Rift support, can be seen below and it looks quite stunning, a must have for any coaster lover who has the hardware to support this habit.
(11/22/14) Last chance to vote is this weekend in the Thrill Weekly Poll to award the Best Theme Park Website of the Year. Will Screamscape be able to take it for a 5th year in a row? I hope so, but I’ll need your help so get out there and vote!
(10/24/14) Voting has now begun for the Park of the Year (Region 1) at the Thrill Weekly Poll. Make the jump and vote for your favorite park.
(10/21/14) This week on the Behind the Thrills weekly poll is to vote for “The King of Halloween” for 2014. Which park do you think has the best Halloween event this year?
(10/15/14) Behind the Thrills has begun their 5th Annual Thrill Weekly polls once again, that will launch a new topic to vote one week through to the end of the year, starting with the Best Theme Park Show of 2014.
(10/9/14) ThemeParkUniversity takes a look at the use of “drones” in theme parks and major entertainment venues that we’ve seen to date, including the new Let’s Dream show at Lotte World (put together by Gary Goddard Entertainment) to get an idea of where we may be going with the technology in the near future.
(10/7/14) Theme Park Studio has announced the addition of a major new feature requested by many Kickstarter backers… the inclusion of Oculus Rift support.
To activate Oculus Rift from within Steam, simply right click on Theme Park Studio from within your game library and click 'Properties'. Next click 'Set Launch Options', type in -oculusfullscreen ( for fullscreen mode) or -oculus for windowed mode.
Other new additions include four new coaster types (Giga, Dragster, Floorless & Inverted), Animated brake transport tires, new LIMs, multi trains running per coaster, dynamic track selection and train length options, custom train importing, brake hold time, fullscreen mode and more.
Check out this latest video showing off what you can do with Theme Park Studio here, it really does allow for some awesome customization options to build out the theme park of your dreams.
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.
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 - (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.
Disney - (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.
(10/21/14) I have a quick follow-up on that report that was posted to Fool.com the other day regarding Disney’s attraction budgets. I have to admit the numbers seemed terribly high for all those things listed, and it turns out, they are. What the numbers represent is the total capital expense for the entire Disney company for an entire year… for all projects, even film and television production, and not just one theme park attraction. The attraction mentioned for each year is really just the primary budget item on the park’s slate for that given year (Cars Land, New Fantasyland, etc…) but there is no telling exactly what the final cost of each project was.
One of our sources does have some rough estimates for various projects however, such as $800 million to build Aulani, $900-$950 million EACH for the Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships, $1.3 Billion for all of the California Adventure renovations and expansions, including Cars Land. New Fantasyland is said to clock in at about $550 million, compared to a mild $10 million spent on moving the Lion King show into a new theater at Animal Kingdom, and so on.
Oh… but the price tag for MyMagic+ is still a shocker… said to cost Disney $1.5 BILLION all by itself. Yep… your read that right… they spent more on making MyMagic+ than they spent fixing, rebuilding and adding several attractions onto California Adventure if you can believe it. My jaw is still dropped on that one…
(10/20/14) It may not always seem like it, but it seems Disney has been busy investing BILLIONS into the companies theme parks over the last several years. Take a quick glance at this report on Fool.com to see the details, but the quick breakdown is $3.6 billion in 2011 on California Adventure, $3.8 billion in 2012 in Florida for all of New Fantasyland, then another $2.8 billion for the MyMagic+ creation and installation in 2013 and in 2014 they’ve earmarked an estimated $3.8 billion on Shanghai Disneyland.
(10/13/14) Good news, the awesome looking The Marvel Experience touring themed attraction is set to kick off it’s first tour this December with a technical ‘preview’ of the attraction in Phoenix, AX from Dec. 12, 2014 through to Jan. 3, 2015.
From there it will move to Dallas, TX (Jan 9 – Feb 1), San Diego (Feb. 7-22) and then to San Francisco (Feb 27 – Mar 22) with more dates to be added to the schedule as time passes. The highlight attraction that will also serve as the centerpiece to the six-story tall dome shaped S.H.I.E.L.D. base structure will be a new 4D motion based ride. Tickets for the first locations are already on sale through Ticketmaster.
(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.
In other Disney news… Pixar has posted a teaser video showing off their next big film called Inside Out which will hit theaters in June. Click here to watch it.
(9/18/14) Alterface has posted a new update on their website that tells about their involvement in the new traveling “The Marvel Experience” attraction project, working with Hero Ventures and Marvel Entertainment. Alterface is currently creating “an original 3D-animated interactive gaming cinema allowing fans to be part of the action.”
This is fantastic news for Alterface, especially as they are also involved with Six Flags new Justice League: Battle for Metropolis dark rides coming in 2015, giving them the chance to work with the best of both Marvel and DC Comics properties.
Dynamic Attractions - (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.
Funtime - (9/12/14) Funtime tells us that the first Skyfall prototype actually made a debut at Oktoberfest in 2013, so there are a few Skyfalls already running. Another great video of the Skyfall in action at Oktoberfest can be found below. I love the rotating logo on top of the tower… that’s a nice touch. Plus we get a peek at the great light package on it in the night footage too.
For our European readers who want to track down and ride them currently, you can follow along with two versions through their Facebook pages. One is called Skyfall while the other is Mega King and features a King Kong figure on top.
(9/11/14) Would you believe that someone is now offering a 262 foot PORTABLE drop tower ride? Yep… Funtime is now offering this exact thing under the name, Skyfall. I’m not sure how they’ve done it, but apparently it also does not require a crane to set up either and it holds 24 passnegers per run for a 700 pph capacity. Funtime tells us that they’ve already sold four of them which will arrive at sites around the the world soon. Check out the video below!
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.
Merlin Entertainment - (9/29/14) According to an article posted by The Guardian, Merlin Entertainment believes it’s DUNGEON attraction franchise could be expanded across the globe to become a major new attraction brand. The proof is coming from the early response to the first Dungeon location to open outside of Europe in San Francisco a few months ago. The results have been encouraging enough to convince Merlin’s CEO, Nick Varney, to look into adding more Dungeon locations into other major cities across the US.
While no locations were mentioned, I’d have to guess that major tourist cities like Las Vegas, Orlando and New Orleans might be high on the list of targets, especially New Orleans which has a rich and dark history from which to mine storylines for the localized Dungeon attractions.
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 - (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 - (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.
(8/8/14) According to this article S&S Worldwide will build their first 4D Free Spin coaster project at an unknown North American theme park to open for the 2015 season. They say the coaster will cost $7 million, hit 38 mph on a 1,265 foot long track. They describe it as a more family friendly version of the 4th Dimension coaster, where every time you ride you will get a different experience. Very interesting… now to just figure out where it is going to be installed. (UPDATE: Six Flags Fiesta Texas)
ScreamRide - (10/1/14) A new video showing off the gameplay to be found in the upcomming game, ScreamRide, an exclusive for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One systems, can be found below.
(8/19/14) Frontier, who I believe were the developers behind Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, have an interesting new game in the works exclusively for the Xbox One and Xbox 360 called ScreamRide. You are in control of a theme park, but instead of building a successful park, your goal this time is to create the biggest amusement ride disasters using real-world physics. It’s sort of a merger of Roller Coaster Tycoon with the Crash Mode from the Burnout driving game series. Look for it in Spring/Summer 2015 and check out the trailer here.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment - (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 - (12/16/14) The final two installments to the Six Flags Power Plant story have been posted to ThemeParkUniversity this week… Part 3 (which goes over how the concept never made any money) and the finale in Part 4 which shows off attraction concepts proposed for the Six Flags Power Plant that never made it off the page.
(12/12/14) Theme Park University is back with a great article about what may have been one of the strangest attractions to come out of Six Flags, the Six Flags Power Plant in Baltimore. This unique indoor attraction was definitely something out of the comfort zone for Six Flags at the time and could have been a real game changer had it been given time to grown and evolve and add the elements the park’s designers knew it needed to survive… namely “RIDES”. Yep, Six Flags management refused to put any rides into the Six Flags Power Plant. Give it a read… PART 1 and PART 2.
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 - (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 - (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.
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.