---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(4/29/16) Texas - City Terminates Lease of Hawaiian Falls White Settlement (MORE...)
(4/28/16) Kentucky's Ark Encounter Granted Tax Incentives (MORE...)
(4/27/16) California - The New "Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival" (MORE...)
(4/26/16) Illinois - Magic Waters Waterpark Update and Survey (MORE...)
(4/22/16) California - Developer Planning $250 Million Queen Mary Area Project (MORE...)
Alabama - (3/12/16) The local news reports that the new Lake City Amusement Park is set to open on April 15th, with a season that will run from April to October, open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Noon to 10pm , and will go to daily operations starting Memorial Day weekend through to Labor Day Weekend, then going back to the Fri-Sun schedule.
(1/27/16) Remember the two DreamVision parks announced almost a year ago, one for the Fort Worth, TX area and the other for Muscle Shoals, AL? While I remember telling everyone that I highly doubled these projects would ever break ground (and they still haven’t…) things did just get a little more interesting. According to this news article the head investor group that was backing these two parks has just been put under the microscope by the Alabama Securities Commission for a possible real estate sales scam. Seem that, through another company called Robinson Capital Investments, LLC they sold securities in 2014 with the purpose of buying houses out of foreclosure to repair and resell them. All together, it seems they bilked a couple of investors out of $600,000 and never bought a single home out of foreclosure.
The head of that company is one Bryan K. Robinson, who was introduced nearly a year ago as the president of another company named Provident Global Capital, who was going to be the lead investor in the DreamVision park projects. Speaking of which… any and all mention of the two announced parks have also been removed entirely from the DreamVision company website.
(1/22/16) The owner of Alabama’s park project, Lake City Amusement Park, applied for permission to sell beer at the park’s concert venue, but the request was denied in a vote by the local city council.
(12/11/15) According to the local news a small new amusement park has just broken ground in Guntersville, Alabama (located in the northern half of the state). It will be called Lake City Amusement Park when it opens in April 2016 and promises a small park with about 35 rides, a pond, splash-pad, picnic area and amphitheater. Given the extremely fast timetable, I would expect that the rides, which will include a ferris wheel and roller coaster, will all be portable / carnival style rides... so maybe think of this more as a carnival that is setting up shop for an entire season.
If thing work out however, they hope to expand the park, add a waterpark and even an RV park as time goes on. The official website is already live (click here) and lists some of the rides that will be coming, and from the look of the news video, several of the rides are already on-site.
(2/5/15) If you recall reading about a proposed 5,000 acre new theme park for Alabama earlier this week, the company behind that bogus sounding sounding announcement made an almost identical announcement for a 5,000 acre massive theme park in Fort Worth, Texas back in May 2013, but nothing came of that announcement either. They promise more information will be coming about both project in the near future, but as someone who has seen many a theme park announcement come and go, these just reek of vaporware for the time being. Maybe their net announcement will change my mind...
(2/2/15) Take this with a huge grain of salt right now, as there appears to be little information about this point, other than the dream to build it, but a Texas based entertainment company claims they are looking into building a new theme park in northwest Alabama that would be called DreamVision Soundscape.
Apparently, the company had previously also mentioned plans to maybe build a park near their HQ in Fort Worth, Texas as well previously, but nothing ever came of that plan either. File this under "wait and see".
Arizona - (11/30/15) The local news reports that a 12-year-old boy is now in a medically induced coma after falling out of the log flume ride at the Castles N' Coasters park in Phoenix, Arizona. The description of the accident is a little odd, and I can't see how he fell out of the log ride, past the attendant at the top of the final drop, unless he stood up or something. I feel bad for everyone involved of course and hope for a speedy recovery.
(10/20/15) Two people were struck by bullets during a gunfighter shootout performance at the Tombstone attraction in Arizona on Sunday. Two actors playing gunfighters began their performance in the streets of Tombstone, which quickly came to an end when they realized one of the guns had mistakenly been loaded with REAL bullets instead of blanks. One shot struck one of the other performers who was flown to a hospital to remove the bullet while another bullet struck a female bystander who's condition was not yet known. Other bullets struck nearby businesses and buildings. Upon inspection of the pistol, it was determined that there was still one live round left in it, and five empty bullet casings from the rounds that were fired. Until further notice, all gunfight performances in Tombstone are now on-hold while the investigation determines just how live ammunition came to be involved.
(4/9/15) According to this tweeted photo, the Wildlife World Zoo in Arizona is apparently getting a new coaster and the track has started to arrive. RCDB lists this coaster as coming from Chance Rides and with a 2016 opening date.
(2/19/15) The Granger Group, a company from Michigan who has developed several senior living care developments as well as health care complexes is now looking to take advantage of the new special tax exemtp district in Williams, Arizona and design a new theme park development for the area. Unfortunately they have never build a theme park before, but they are looking at spending between $300-500 million on the project with the hopes that it will see between 2.5 to 4 million visitors each year. (Editor Note: I think these estimates are a little high, as even on a good year Six Flags Magic Mountain only sees about 2.75 to 3 million guests, though being located to take advantage of the Grand Canyon tourist area can be a big help to this project.)
Few details about the design of the actual park were released, as they are still working on the feasbility study through April, but they do hope to include areas themed to Route 66, the Wild West, Mining and a Navajo Nation themed area. In addition to typical theme park rides, they are also looking into interactive exhibtis, animal exhibits, stunt shows, gold panning, archery, rock climbing, kayaking, ziplines and more. Once the feasibility study is complete, they hope to shop the idea out to experienced theme park operators who can manage and operate the park for them. If all goes well on the fast track, they hope to start construction by Spring 2016.
California - (4/27/16) Haunt fans in California need to know about the new Midsummer Scream Halloween Festival that will debut at the Long Beach Convention Center on July 30-31, 2016, "From the creative minds of CreepyLA and Theme Park Adventure".
Midsummer Scream features more than 100,000 square feet of event space that will showcase vendors, makeup demonstrations, stage presentations, live entertainment, a screening room, haunted attraction experiences and more.
“We’re combining all of our talents, production knowledge, and years of experience to create an amazing show that we know fans are going to love,” said David Markland, Executive Director of Midsummer Scream. “Each week from now until our July debut, we will be announcing more participants and unveiling different aspects of the show that are going to have people counting down the days with great anticipation.”
Already confirmed for the event so far are teams from Queen Mary's Dark Harbor, Universal Studios Hollywood's Halloween Horror Nights, Knott's Scary Farm, Walt Disney Imagineering, Ten Thirty One Productions (Los Angeles Haunted Hayride/Great Horror Campout), Dread Central, Sinister Pointe, Ghost Train (LA Live Steamers), Scott Ramp/The Scream Team, SoCal Valley Haunters, Drunken Devil, Decayed Brigade slider team, Motel 6 Feet Under, Season Pass Podcast, Spooky Hollows, Rotten Apple 907, Fear Station, Figment Foundry, magic of Jimmy H./Mudd the Magnificent, Screenshot Productions, The Empty Grave, Cross Roads Escape Games, Higgins Manor, Dark House Entertainment (The Basement), Girls and Corpses, Evil Twin Studios, and Garner Holt Productions.
Guests looking for additional thrills and chills may venture into the Hall of Shadows, a large “scare zone”, with monsters lurking in the dark, and a host of haunted attraction
previews/experiences that will soothe your Halloween cravings. Bone Yard Effects, Inc. led by Larry Bones will bring terrifying creatures to life throughout the day via makeup
demonstrations on the show floor, and release them into the Hall of Shadows to wreak havoc on terrified fans.
“We are beyond thrilled to bring the Halloween and horror community together here in
Southern California,” said Rick West, Creative Director of Midsummer Scream. “The entire team is fueled by the same fundamental passion for the holiday and the macabre; we met and became friends while covering various haunt events and have enjoyed strong personal and business relationships for the past several years as a direct result. Midsummer Scream is the festival this community deserves, and we cannot wait to unveil everything we’ve got planned.”
Official information and tickets at pre-sale prices are available at the official website, MidsummerScream.org. You can also following along on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
(4/22/16) The LA Times reports that a developer wants to spend $250 million to build a new entertainment and retail complex near the Queen Mary in Long Beach that may even feature a giant Ferris Wheel. Currently the 45 acres surrounding the Queen Mary is made up of mostly empty parking lots. Other developments being looked at include building a 200-room hotel on the land near the historic vessel, and possibly an amphitheater.
The developer, Urban Commons, who was chosen by the city as the new leaseholder of the complex is ironically one who made headlines for a rather odd new business plan at an Orlando hotel they now own. The group purchased Orlando's popular Nickelodeon Resort, but in a move that most found to be quite baffling, opted to drop their valuable Nickelodeon themeing agreement rather than renew it, and instead re-brand the Orlando resort as a regular old Holiday Inn instead. With that event fresh in my mind, I'm not quite sure what kind of vision they have for the Queen Mary property.
(3/5/16) I'm not sure if this is worth the hype they are going to put to it or not, but downtown Los Angeles will soon be home to a unique thrill ride... or perhaps I should call it a thrill "slide". They are calling it the "Skyslide" and they will mount a 45-foot long clear glass slide to the side of the U.S. Bank Tower, standing 1,000 feet above the ground. Height wise, you will only descend one floor, as the slide will start on the 70th floor and drop you off on the 69th, onto a new open-air observation deck.
When it opens in June, bragging rights to say you rode it will cost you however, as admission to the observation deck will be $25, and then you'll have to pay an additional $8 to take a ride down the Skyslide.
(11/13/15) According to the local news, The Queen Mary will add a new state-of-the-art 4D Theater experience on November 20th. The new theater will replace a very old existing theater that was placed in the aft section of the ship. The new 121-seat theater will keep the look of The Queen Mary and have an old Hollywood style art deco style, while packed with a 3D projection system, 7.1 digital surround sound, along with special "4D" extra special effect elements. The theater will be opening in time with the attraction's holiday "CHILL" event and showing a Polar Express 4-D film from Nov. 20 through Jan. 10th. Starting Jan. 11th, the theater will switch over to show SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D: The Great Jelly Rescue and Planet Earth: Shallow Seas 4-D Experience.
(10/8/15) Hollow Studios has been contracted by Visioneering to help develop media for a large mixed-use project coming to the San Diego area by Fall 2017. The $180 million project has been dubbed, "PromisedLand" and will "strive to immerse visitors with the sights, sounds and tastes of Israel." Hollow Studios will produce the media for two attractions within: "Wings over Israel" a film that will take viewers on a epic fly-ver journey around and through the major sites of the Holy Land and "HIStory Dome", a fast-paced 12-minute journey from the Garden of Eden to new Jerusalem in an immersive dome environment. A few images were sent in with the press release showing off an oveview of PromisedLand, the inside of the HIStory Dome Theater and the Arrival Plaza with a "Wailing Wall".
According to the PDF proposal for the Return to Aztlan project, the "theme park" seems more like a waterpark project, with slides intended to come off that giant pyramid temple structure as well as a Soaring Eagle Zip Line. Other attractions mentioned include a SkyVenture indoor skydiving experience, train ride, cultural museums, and a "5-D experience" called "The Journey of the Evil Goddess and Sorceress Malinalxochil". One other very interesting thing is when you look at the list of Aztlan's "strategic partners", one major industry player stands out... Schlitterbahn! Yep... looks like Texas' biggest waterpark secret weapon may be smuggled into California as part of this interesting project. We also finally get a good look at the park layout itself, and it does look like the retail will be limited to a small region of the park, about the size of the on-site hotel, with the majority of the project being taken up by this very large waterpark project, full of connecting all the attraction areas with lazy little rivers so you almost never have to leave the water. This this a Schlitterbahn concept called Transportainment. Consider me very intrigued... as Aztlan just got a lot more interesting.
(2/19/15) A new “theme park” of sorts has been proposed for the Indio / Coachella area off I-10 near the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino. With themeing inspired by Aztec and Toltec empires, they are calling it “Return to Aztlan”, the legendary ancestral home of the Mesoamericans. Don’t think of this as your typical massive theme park development, as the site is only 48 acres and in addition to a small theme park area, the site is also to house a 200 foot tall pyramid, a 10,000 person concert site, a 12-screen movie theater, a river walk, hotel, restaurants and ample retail space. Oh… and the developers would like to look into building a functional movie sound stage as well in order to encourage more production work in the area. Soooo… not a lot of room left for a true theme park once you build up all the rest, though I am curious if they plan to put the theme park inside the 200 foot pyramid and make it an indoor park, similar in scope to the Adventuredome at Circus Circus in Las Vegas. There is still a lengthy process to go through to get permission for the project from the city however, but they do already have a tentative 80-year lease agreement for the site however.
Florida - (4/8/16) No one is quite sure what has happened yet, but a 23-year old worker at the Miami-Dade County Fair in Florida was killed while inspecting a new ride called The Hurricane. The ride will remain closed while they investigate just what happened. It was reported that the ride was not in use at the time, but according to one fair worker, the man was crushed somehow during the inspection process. OSHA and various officials are conducting an investigation and are expected to release their official report soon.
(3/31/16) It has been months since I've heard even a peep about the proposed Miami Wilds, but according to the local news the US Fish & Wildlife Service may throw a monkeywrench into the plans as they are proposing to add the "Miami Tiger Beetle" to the endangered species list. The critter was already thought to be extinct 30 years ago until scientists discovered some living in 2007 in a "pine rocklands" site close to where the park is planned. This will affect the site greatly, controlling where they can and can't build, but for now they are still waiting to find out what the new boundaries will be.
(2/22/16) According to this news report, the SBNO wooden coaster, Dania Beach Hurricane, will finally be torn down on March 16th.
(12/14/15) A few more details about the new flume ride / animal exhibit attraction under construction Zoo Miami has been posted by the local news, which will be part of Zoo Miami's new Mission Everglades area.
(12/9/15) A new flume attraction from WhiteWater is coming to Zoo Miami that will use an 8-passenger slow-moving boat themed like an airboat ride. You can see the boat and hear WhiteWater talk about it in the video below from our friends at In The Loop. The ride will go into a newly renovated area near the entrance to the Zoo. Construction has already started and is expected to open in early 2017 right now.
(5/12/15) A new waterpark project has been proposed for Florida called Lost Lagoon. If they go ahead with it, they are looking at a site in East Manatee along I-75 south of Tampa Bay. Click here to read up on all the details.
(3/9/15) The title of the largest shopping mall in America could move from Minnesota to Florida in the latest plans from Triple 5 are approved. The Canadian developer has announced a plan to open American Dream Miami in north-western Miami-Dade County, a $4 billion / 200-acre entertainment and retail complex concept that would feature an indoor ski slope, waterpark mini-golf, a LEGOLAND Discovery Center, a lake with submarine rides, and more... all at the scale even bigger than the Mall of America.
If the name sounds familiar, it should, because Triple 5 has been working to revive the stalled out Xanadu mall complex in New Jersey for a few years now, and will reopen it as American Dream Meadowlands when it finally opens in late 2016. The New Jersey project is also supposed to feature many similar attraction concepts to the new Miami proposal.
While a project of this size would be daunting for most developers, Triple 5 actually has the most experience of anyone to pull these things off, having built the massive West Edmonton Mall in Canada as well as the Mall of America itself in Minneapolis. For now, they just have to get the go ahead from the local politicians.
(1/17/15) If the proposal for the Fox themed Miami Wilds theme park plan didn't have enough obstacles in front of it, now the environmentalists have gotten into the act. It seems a group believes the plot of “pine rocklands” intended for the theme park as well as a new Walmart store, apartments and more nearby is home to some rare plant life, so they will protest any development of this property. The developers say the description of the property is not accurate, and that it has been used for various purposes over the years including military testing, medical research, incinerators, blimp bays, animal storage as well as home to previous commercial building properties.
Georgia - (4/7/16)
I mentioned a unique project in Atlanta where a mini amusement center was going onto a building rooftop. It turns out it's already built! One of our local readers has a friend who works in the building below and they sent us a couple of pictures showing off the building (called Ponce City Market) and a photo of the mini-golf course and Heege tower on the roof. Just a thought, but I wonder how many golf balls they lose off that roof?
(4/5/16) An Atlanta area developer has signed a deal with a operator who wants to build a unique amusement facility on the rooftop of the former Sears distribution center building that they have renovating over the past few years. Now the 1.7 acre rooftop will become Skyline Park, a small amusement area with mini-golf, a dunking booth, steeplechase game, a giant slide and a Heege tower ride.
(12/23/15) Famous musician, Kenny Rogers, announced a few months ago that he would retire from performing at the end of one final “world tour” that was to begin sometime in 2016. After that, he actually said he plans to follow in Dolly Parton’s footsteps and open some kind of entertainment based theme park somewhere outside of the Atlanta, GA area. He described the site for the park, which he called Kennyland or Kenny World, to be built on an island about 40 miles North of Atlanta. Kenny described the project as being “similar to Dollywood” but more “high-tech”.
While it should be interesting to see a park like this built in Northern Georgia, I’ve got to think it would be interesting if Kenny Rodgers were to just buy up the existing “Kennywood” park outside Pittsburgh just for the name alone.
(12/4/15) A few years ago it leaked out that an out of the way sports complex north of Atlanta was planning to be one of the first locations to open a Polercoaster. Shortly after the project hit the news, it vanished just as quickly and nothing was said again. Just ahead to 2015 and the Lakepoint Sports Complex is back at it again and planning to add a Polercoaster to their entertainment complex as early as 2017. Check out the official website, especially the pages on the Boomtown project as well as one for the Polercoaster itself.
(11/16/15) According to this article, The Hunger Games will be brought to life in the Atlanta area as an attraction opening in 2019, as part of a new project called Avatron Park, which will be built off Red Top Mountain Road in Bartow County, to the North-West of Atlanta off I-75.
(10/29/15) Plans for a 225 foot tall tower that will contain three separate thrill rides is being planned for Atlanta by the SkyView Ferris wheel near Centennial Olympic Park. According to this article the "SkyTower" attraction would feature three rides: SkyShot (slingshot ride), SkyDrop (a drop ride) and SkyTwist (corkscrew ride).
It is worth mentioning that the concept art attached to the article show SkyShot's ride seat to look very similar to the old S&S Sky Sling system, the SkyDrop looks like a typical S&S Turbo Drop tower, but it renames SkyTwist as SkyTilt, along with the phrase "Face Down Atlanta!".
If approved and all goes well, they hope to start construction as early as this January.
(7/14/15) According to the local news, the owners of the Skyview Atlanta wheel are hoping to build a new drop-tower ridecalled Skyfall Atlanta in time to open for Summer 2016.
(6/6/14) I don’t know much about this, but it seems a new development is moving forward in Jasper, Georgia to build Port Royal, a $145 million Waterpark Resort & Conference Center. Themed after the city of Port Royal in Jamaica, the resort will have a tropical Caribbean theme.
The 176-acre resort will feature 400 hotel rooms, a day-spa, restaurants, a sport bar, conference center, 16,000 seat amphitheater and both indoor and outdoor waterparks. They are planning to break ground before the end of 2014 and open sometime in 2016.
It sounds great, though my biggest concern would be the location, and only because I’ve never heard of Jasper, GA. I admit, I’m not familiar with the ins and outs of Georgia, with my primary experience being driving in and out of Atlanta a few times, or passing through along I-95, so forgive me if I’m out of touch with this particular area of the state. Jasper is located an hours drive to the north of Atlanta, but not along the busy I-75 freeway, but instead lies to the east in what appears to be a less populated area. Given the location, it is still close enough for the local Atlanta market to make the drive and stay for the weekend, so they do have access to a vast market of locals who can drop in.
On another note… not too far away in Emerson, GA the local residents have been complaining for some time about the proposed PolerCoaster project announced for the LakePoint Sporting Community. The residents who were behind the LakePoint sports park project at first because it also was supposed to have a waterpark, which was later replaced by the proposed 250 foot PolerCoaster. Apparently the proposed PolerCoaster for LakePoint has been cancelled, because there is no longer any mention of the project on the official LakePoint website. In fact if you look at the list of what’s coming soon to the site, not only is there no mention of a PolerCoaster at all, but instead they are not working on a waterpark once again, along with ropes course, zip lines, mountain bike trails, a movie theater, bowling alley and more to go along with the rest of the huge and impressive sports complex.
Hawaii - (2/2/16) Disney & More reports that a new Atlantis Resort (similar to the ones in the Bahamas and Dubai) may be preparing to be built in Hawaii on the site pretty much right next door to Disney's Aulani Resort. It seems safe to say that Disney isn't going to be happy about this if it actually happens.
Illinois - (4/26/16) According to the local news the Magic Waters waterpark has opted to permanently retire the Splash Blaster waterslide after a number of injury complaints and is now looking into new ideas for future attractions. The park is conducting a survey to see what people would like to see added which you can take here, but your choices seem to be between an Aqua Loop style slide, a Bowl slide or a Boomerang / Half-Pipe style slide.
(3/4/16) Fantastic news for The Walt Disney Birthplace project, as the restoration project for the small home where Walt Disney was born in Chicago was just granted a $250,000 donation from the Walt Disney Company. According to Bob Iger, “Chicago holds a special place in the history of The Walt Disney Company. The Disney story actually started here…in a house on Tripp Avenue, where Walt Disney was born. The house is still standing at the corner of Tripp and Palmer in Hermosa, and it means a lot to us to see the effort to restore it back to its original condition….and to hear that it will one day be a children’s creativity center, inspiring future generations of young dreamers and innovators.”
And the following is a statement from The Walt Disney Birthplace: “The Center for Early Childhood Creativity and Innovation at The Walt Disney Birthplace would like to thank The Walt Disney Company for their incredible support of our restoration efforts. Walt Disney is one of the most enduring portraits of The American Dream. The “worker’s cottage,” built by his father and designed by his mother, where Walt and Roy were born, symbolizes the story of their humble beginnings to the formation of one of the most creative, innovative and beloved companies in the world. Bob Iger’s acknowledgment of The Walt Disney Birthplace fuels our mission of enabling young children and their families to see that the world is full of possibilities and wonder. With their own creativity and innovation, any child can achieve The American Dream.”
So great news for a great restoration project. If you follow along with Screamscape on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook you may have seen pictures of the house itself back in late December as I was in the area and decided to drive by to check it out while the restoration was still ongoing.
(2/5/16) A reader posted some great pictures of the new wheel going up at Navy Pier in Chicago on Twitter this week. Check them out here.
(1/23/16) Chicago's Navy Pier has reopened to the public this week after being closed for a couple of days to allow for some initial construction on the new larger Ferris wheel to take place. A few pictures and details have been posted by the local news.
(12/28/15) I’m told that a newer slide at the Magic Waters waterpark in Rockford, IL has been racking up a collection of costly lawsuits after a few riders reported breaking their lower backs after riding the park’s Splash Blaster slide in under-inflated rafts. (The slide appears to be a Master Blaster style water coaster slide). The slide was closed a few months ago (click here to see a POV video) and now the park is meeting with slide designers and seeking $4.75 million in funds to redesign the slide, as well as make other needed park-wide improvements to give the park a facelift for the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
Meanwhile, in the same city the local CoCo Key indoor waterpark resort has been closed for the past month after the local health department inspected it and shut it down over several health violations. The problems included low chlorine levels, not enough certified staff members and the main reason it is still closed was a malfunctioning temperature control system that will cost $200,000 and 4-months time to repair. Look for Rockford’s CoCo Key to reopen sometime in Spring 2016, following inspections by both the city and health department.
(6/25/15) The wheel at the end of Chicago's famous Navy Pier will be taken down this fall and replaced by a much taller wheel with enclosed temperature-controlled cars that will open in 2016. The new wheel will stand 196 feet tall, almost 50 feet taller than the current one.
Indiana - (8/4/15) The unique Skyline aerial tram ride at the Indianapolis Zoo has had quite a troublesome run since it opened last year. It first shut down with and was forced to evacuate guests in October 2014. That incident saw the ride closed for months of inspections and repairs until finally reopening last month... only to break down once again with guests on-board on July 30th. According to the zoo, the Skyline ride will remain closed until further notice while they determine what the issue is and are sure that it "has been identified and fixed".
Kentucky - (4/28/16) While the final preparations for the Ark Encounter park in Kentucky are under way with an opening now scheduled to take place on July 7th. The project also was just granted $18 million in tax breaks from the state after taking them to Federal court over the issue.
(2/23/16) You can take a first look at the outside and inside of the gigantic Ark Encounter attraction that is now well under way, and plans to open on July 7th in Kentucky. While I'm not going to get into the religious aspects of the attraction itself, the spectacle of the huge Ark itself is kind of imposing to see, standing 560 feet long, 85 feetwide and 51 feet tall. Follow the link to check it out.
(1/28/16) After everything that has happened so far, I'm a bit shocked that a judge would rule this way, but this week US District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove ruled in favor of Kentucky's Ark Encounter project, stating that officials could not deny tax incentive rebates for the project because of the project's religious affiliation.
Of course that really wasn't the issue, as the state knew about the projects religious motivations from the start and originally offered funding incentives. What got the incentives pulled was that Ark Encounter was using their religious beliefs to discriminating against people applying for jobs with the company, and requiring all employees to sign "statement of faith", a "Salvation Testimony" and a "Creation Statement Belief" documents before being hired.
Originally I believe the state asked them to cease this practice to keep their tax incentives application active, but they refused at the time. I'm not sure if they have revised their policy between then and this new current ruling. If not, I'm not sure if we've heard the end of this story just yet.
(6/17/15) Construction on the controversial Ark Encounter project is Kentucky is said to be under way now. How far along are they? Apparently, they’ve just started, but that hasn’t stopped them from setting up a nearby building where they are trying to lure in tourists to view the construction site for $20 per vehicle.
Maryland - (12/24/15) The local news reports that a new haunted house attraction is coming to Ocean City amusement district, which has also benefited from a zoning expansion. As for the new haunted house attraction, it will apparently take a space that used to be occupied by the H20 underage dance club on Worcester Street.
Michigan - (8/11/15) The Detroit area will be getting a coaster in 2016 at the C.J. Barrymore's Family Entertainment Center. The $5 million expansion plan will see a small coaster with a single loop added (looks like a carnival style Pinfari), a drop tower, zip line, and an elevated go-kart track and more.
Minnesota - (1/21/16) An interesting new project called the Mall of Entertainment has been proposed for Albertville, Minnesota by Sony Pictures and a local development company that is described as an “indoor family theme park”. The project is said to have an indoor waterpark, a Sony Pictures Back-Lot “edutainment” experience, plus an on-site 275 room Marriot hotel and convention center. They hope to begin construction by this Spring or Summer and open by late 2017.
Should be interesting to see if this is a real project or another vaporware style announcement with no financial backing, but for now take a look at the official website and see what you think. Given that the Mall of America is about a 45 minute drive from here however, I’m guessing that they are hoping to tap into that same vein.
Mississippi - (4/14/16) A new Margaritaville Resort will open later this spring in Biloxi, MS, located right on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The new resort will feature 373-rooms in a 22-story tower, plus offer a unique 55,000 sqft indoor entertainment complex. This indoor complex will be named ESCAPE, and feature a 40 foot tall volcano themed climbing wall (where the top breaks through the ceiling into the restaurant itself), mini-golf, golf simulators, mini bowling, arcade games, a Sky Trail ropes course, a Sky Tykes junior ropes course for those aged 2-7, as well as the nations first indoor zip-line roller coaster called Cloud Coaster.
In fact, you can find a ton of pictures showing off the installation of the Cloud Coaster posted to Facebook by Extreme Engineering.
Missouri - (4/2/16) Two small Zoo Trains collided in the station at the St. Louis Zoo yesterday, sending an engineer to the hospital for possible injuries. The local news has some good coverage of the accident, including some video footage of the accident itself. There was no word on what the cause was, but fortunately there were no guest injuries, and eyewitnesses reported that it was almost as if the train in motion was unable to stop before it collided with the back of the parked train.
(3/20/16) The local news checks in on the proposed new Branson Mountain Adventure project we mentioned back in December (12/4/15 below) who will build the area's first Alpine Coaster (aka: Mountain Coaster). The report says that the mountain coaster will be just over 5,000 ft in length and down a 350 ft elevation change. If it ends up anything like the Alpine Coasters added to the Pigeon Forge / Gatlinburg area in Tennessee, this should prove to be the next big thing in attractions for the area.
(2/1/16) Previously we had mentioned that the 150 foot Ferris wheel located at Chicago's Navy Pier was being replaced by a slightly bigger version over the winter. Now we know what is happening to the old wheel, which will be moving to "The Track Family Fun Parks" in Branson, Missouri, who hopes to have it up and running in time for the summer. While there are several "The Track" locations in Branson, the promotional video indicates that the wheel will be going to the location closest to the Titanic Museum attraction, listed on maps as "The Track Family Fun Parks Track 4".
(1/14/16) According to the local news, the plans to renovate St. Louis’ Union Station into an attraction are moving forward, with work to begin on February 1st. Just don’t look for a while indoor theme park to be there however, as it appears the plans for the amusement side of things have been scaled back to just a 200 foot Ferris wheel to be placed just out front. Otherwise there will be green areas, new food and drink locations serving inside vintage train cars, a “fire, light and fountain show on the lake” and a new pedestrian entrance locationed at 18th and Market.
(12/17/15) You may recall I mentioned last week that a couple of new attractions planned for Branson were going to build Zip Coasters. While I've never quite see one of these myself, pop on over to the latest Flying Pirouettes trip report where they visit the TreeTop Adventure Park in Australia, where the Zip Coaster apparently was first created. From the sound of the review, the Zip Coaster offers a thrill ride like no other... part suspended coaster, part zipline... but combined to become something else entirely.
(12/11/15) According to this news article a new attraction was approved to go into the Branson area that will feature a Zip Coaster, Zip Lines and rides on something called a "Monster Bus". Yep that Monster Bus is exactly what you may be wondering... a merger of a Bus and a Monster Truck, that should offer some unique off-road adventures. the Zip Coaster will also be an "automated" 3,000 foot long course. Look for the new attractions to be built south of the old "God and Country Theaters" on 76 Country Blvd.
The attraction isn't expected to be finished until 2017, but beyond the opening day offerings, they would also like to add some indoor attractions to the mix later on within the God and Country Theater buildings that would include an indoor rock climbing attraction as well as a haunted house attraction.
(12/4/15) A new attraction is in the works for the Branson area off Highway 165 in what used to be called Butcher Hollow. The new attraction will be called Mountain Adventure Resort and they are planning to build a zip coaster, zip lines, a ropes course and a mountain coaster. They are still working on getting the plans past all the government boards first, so while it may be possible to see one or two of the smaller attractions up and running in time for Summer 2016 if things go well, I wouldn't plan on seeing the whole line up until the following year or so.
New Jersey - (1/8/16) The previously approved plans (see 7/24/15 update below) to build an indoor waterpark in Atlantic City to replace the closed Atlantic Club casino are now dead. According to this news report that Atlantic Club property has been put up for sale after the waterpark plans fell through.
(12/28/15) A 350 foot PolerCoaster attraction was approved for the Atlantic City area for Florida developer Joshua Wallack, who just scored a victory not long ago for an even bigger version of the attraction coming to Orlando’s International Drive area under the name Skyplex. The Atlantic City version will be smaller in both size and scope, as it wont have a huge observation platform at the top either, nor as big a complex at the base either, but it will feature a drop tower ride in addition to the Polercoaster ride, and will have some kind of “nightlife development” at the bottom.
(7/24/15) According to the local news an 81,000 sqft indoor waterpark project was approved in Atlantic City, along with a second 27,000 indoor waterpark that will be part of a new casino/resort project to replace the closed Atlantic Club casino.
New Mexico - (4/11/16) New Mexico... are you ready to experience a wild new themed indoor attraction? According to an article posted by ArsTechnica, what was once a Santa Fe bowling alley has been transformed over the past two years by the Meow Wolf group into an out of this world themed environment attraction called The House of Eternal Return, that opened recently to the public with a simple set of rules to deeply explore the 20,000 sqft themed space to discover secret passages into other dimensions and unravel the mystery of what happened inside The Selig Family house. Check the official website for hours and ticket prices as well as directions.
Ohio - (4/2/16) DJ Knyce from a local radio station is attempting to break a Guinness World Record for taking the longest ride on a Ferris wheel at the temporary I-X Indoor Amusement Park in Cleveland for at least 55 hours, which should happen around 2pm on Sunday. While this seems like an easy task, it isn't, because he isn't allowed to sleep at all for the entire ride, and is only earns a 5-minute break for every hour on the wheel to use for food and bathroom breaks.
For anyone wanting to visit the I-X Indoor Amusement Park, this is a temporary attraction that comes each year and is only open on select dates from March 25 to April 17th this year. Visit the official website for details.
(3/31/16) The famous Columbus Zoo is adding a new area called Shores Park later this Spring that will include a new 4D Theater, a cafe and interactive playground. You can see a map of the new area posted to Coaster101. The problem is that it looks like the only thing done so far to the site is survey markings, so there is still an incredible amount of work left to do to still open something "this spring". So don't be surprised if the opening gets pushed back.
(2/19/16) For fans of the old Geauga Lake / Six Flags Ohio theme parks that closed down and never reopened, a local Drone pilot flew over the site on Feb. 6th and posted new footage of the old parks on YouTube. The weather and lighting conditions were perfect for this, and it is just crazy to watch as the drone flies over the old sites of Batman: Knight Flight and Serial Thriller by the lakeside, which is now littered with well over a hundred huge concrete footer blocks. Or peek inside the empty river rapids flume structure that serve no purpose any longer. Plus they take a nice long flight all around the Big Dipper as well, which remains as the last coaster standing at the park. Check it out below.
(11/12/15) According to the local news in Cininnati, the local area CoCo Key Waterpark Resort was forced to close down entirely after the state Fire Marshal discovered over 100 code violations, some of them severe enough to order CoCo Key to be evacuated and shut down until they can be repaired and pass inspection. The violations included problems with the hotel's fire alarm, fire sprinklers and related water pump systems to be not working at all. Until the inspector clears the property to reopen, the resort is facing $1000 per day fines.
On a semi-related note, the article also mentions that CoCo Key was shut down briefly in May because they didn't have a working "disinfection system" for the waterpark. Sounds like an interesting resort for sure...
South Carolina - (3/8/16) I'm not saying that this is connected at all to the proposed Myrtle Beach area project, but it's worth checking out to make sure none of the same people are involved. With that said, it looks like another "Chinese Cultural Theme Park" was proposed for Australia and in January the project failed to make the rest of a promised $10 million payment, after only putting down $10,000 to the local council to secure the site. It might be wise for the local governments to pay attention to what is happening with that project, and learn from their mistakes if they move forward with future negotiations.
Burroughs & Chapin have announced the first phase of new changes they have planned for the Broadway At The Beach retail and entertainment complex. This will start with a redevelopment of the area known as Celebrity Square and see the introduction of the area's first Dave & Busters. The Hard Rock Cafe Myrtle Beach will actually move out of the current location and into a new interior corner location that will serve as an entry into a new entertainment and nightlife area. Another new eatery called American Tap House will also be added along with a new nightclub called OZ. Meanwhile Boardway Louie's has already moved to a new location near the Carolina Comedy Club.
(3/5/16) The local news reports that one thing those Chinese Investors are looking for when they visit in April is a site to build a "Chinese Cultural Theme Park", which they describe as being similar to Epcot, worth $100 million. They also site a rather advanced time-table for the project that would see it start construction this fall and open one year later in Fall 2017.
While they call it a "theme park", I wouldn't put that name to it yet until we know more about the project, which is still very light on all the details. For starters, comparing it to Epcot may be wrong right out of the gate, as this is called a "Chinese Cultural Theme Park" while Epcot attempt to show off some of the culture from 11 different nations around the World Showcase lagoon, and that doesn't even count the large Future World half of the park that is focused on technology.
If this new park is to be focused entirely on Chinese culture, what Myrtle Beach could end up getting might be more compared to the failed Splendid China park in Orlando that was open between 1993 and 2003. Ironically, Orlando's Splendid China park was said to have cost $100 million to build as well, but back in 1993 dollars, and it features large lush gardens and several miniature replicas of Chinese landmarks as well as several live shows featuring Chinese acrobats, actors, musicians and more. In the end, the park just never caught on with tourists and has since been torn down, and in a twist of irony, the Florida site is now under construction once again to become home to the new "Margaritaville Resort Orlando" project, which might be a better fit in Myrtle Beach than the Chinese funded project.
(3/1/16) The local news reports that former site of Hard Rock Park / Freestyle Music Park is being looked at by a group of Chinese investors for some kind of future development that may include turning a portion of the property into a "sports facility" of some kind. The group is expected to visit the site in person sometime in April before they decide if they want to buy it or not.
While the changes may ultimately be good, I have to admit I'll miss the look of the old Hard Rock Cafe, which had a unique Egyptian Pyramid theme, inside and out, that set this location apart and made it a little different from all the rest.
(2/11/16) The latest update from Myrtle Beach news sources is that the long in discussion new Go-Kart attraction, “The Track” is finally under construction and expected to be open in the “Restaurant Row” area by this summer. The attraction will feature several go-kart tracks, including two multi-level courses that will feature quiet but very fast electric powered go-karts rather than gas powered, as well as a two-story arcade building that will also house a meeting room for the local Shriners.
Tennessee - (3/20/15) It sounds like a proposal to build a waterpark next to the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville is under consideration again. A guest survey was sent out to get feedback on the proposal for what they are calling an "UPSALE WATERPARK COMPLEX" that will be connected to the hotel and only open for resort guests on a 3-4 acre site. The project is described as being open year-round and would include a series of water slides, a lazy river, wave pool, splash pads and a water coaster as well as more peaceful adult only pools and seating areas.
Texas - (4/29/16) Just two seasons after it opened, the Hawaiian Falls waterpark in White Settlement will no longer be a Hawaiian Falls waterpark this season. The city has terminated the lease agreement with Harvest Family Entertainment Texas LP, stating that they had been in arrears on the lease payments and they felt the situation was only going to get worse. While season passes already pre-sold will only be good at the other Hawaiian Falls waterparks, the White Settlement facility will be renamed, staffed by the city and reopened as a new waterpark for this season.
(4/1/16) The Texas based "Last Chance" gas station made famous in the first "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" film is under renovation for a revival in the near future. If you follow this link you can see the new exterior with a "We Slaughter Barbecue" sign out front. It seems a fan bought the aging property and has plans to reopen it as a horror themed tourist site they will bill as a "horror barbecue resort", complete with cabins out back for guests to come and spend the night. Then you can dine in the cafe (where it is almost a certainty that they will serve Chilli!), shop for merchandise and more.
(1/22/16) BlooLoop has posted a great report and videos about Moody Gardens, a non-profit educational attraction in Galveston, Texas. The attraction nabbed a Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement for their new "SpongeBob SubPants Adventure" attraction from SimEx-Iwerks and our friends at Super78. This isn't just another 4D attraction where you sit and watch... this one is interactive as the guests help choose their adventure and interact with the characters in the same way as Disney's Turtle Talk with Crush. Check out their report and be sure to watch the videos to see the attraction in action, both from the front and even more interesting was the second video showing how the digital puppeteer works impressive magic behind the scenes as well to bring the character to life through Super78's Geppetto Animation Control System.
(11/13/15) Back in 2010 you may recall reading a few reports about a new theme park in Texas designed with fully accessible rides and attractions made for handicapped guests with both physical and mental disabilities. It was called Morgan's Wonderland and it became quite the hit in the area at the time. Jump ahead to 2016 and Morgan's will be opening a new 4-acre $9.9 million expansion called Morgan's Inspiration Island, marketed as the world's first fully accessible water park. The new waterpark will offer a river boat ride, five water play areas with every section fully wheelchair-accessible. For guests who have motorized wheelchairs, Morgan's will offer special waterproof wheelchairs and private areas where guests can be lifted and transferred to the waterproof chairs.
Utah - (11/4/15) Tickets to the Beta Test of The Void are now available again through Nov. 21st, or until they sell out, though more dates and times could also be added. The Void has also announced they've hired Sci-Fi / Fantasy author and game designer Tracy Hickman on to serve as their Director of Story Development for the attraction.
(10/15/15) A few lucky gamers were able to grab tickets to a “Beta Test” run of The Void, a VR “Theme Park” experience in Salt Lake City. The beta test run will take place through Oct. 26th, but all the slots were sold out within hours, though they claim more slots could be added and recommend you keep an eye on their Facebook page for info. At this point The Void isn’t expected to open until Q3 of 2016. You can see more about The Void below.
(5/13/15) According to the local news, the creators of Evermore are putting the Evermore project on hold while they are dealing with financial and property use issues, and instead they are now pushing their latest concept which we mentioned last week... The Void.
(5/7/15) An amazing bit of technology and some serious dreams are trying to build a new kind of virtual theme park experience in Utah that could open in 2016 called The Void. The plan is to have guests put on VR headgear while wearing special vest and gloves that will provide both some form of tactical feedback as well as allow the players to interact with the virtual objects in the environment. Meanwhile the actual real-world park they are in will feature a range of special environments, the kind of "4D" effects common to theme parks and other complex hardware to help sell the story, such as physical stages, motion simulators or game pods.
While visiting the official website I also noticed one more interesting item... that Evermore is listed as a partner. Yep, looks like the same Evermore... as in the Evermore Adventure Park project also set for Utah, which you can read about in previous articles below.
Virginia - (10/16/15) According to this article, it sounds like Merlin may still be looking for an East coast location (outside Florida) to serve as a home to a new LEGOLAND theme park. One location said to be under consideration so far is Stafford, an area just to the north of Fredericksburg, VA. We also know that Virginia was considered as one of the two finalists when locations were being chosen for the first Lego park in the US, though in the end Virginia lost out to Southern California. Either way, it doesn’t surprise me that Virginia may be considered once again, though I would also expect Merlin to be eyeballing locations closer to where the current theme park tourist market already is to the south, between the Richmond and Wiliamsburg areas.