---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(12/22/14) California - Future Plans For Santa's Village (MORE...)
(12/19/14) South Carolina - Broadway At The Beach Refurbishment Planned (MORE...)
(12/12/14) North Carolina - Sea Life Aquarum Visted By Scuba Claus (MORE...)
(12/11/14) Kentucky No Longer Offering Incentives To Ark Encounter Project (MORE...)
Arizona - (6/12/14) Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare haunt will return in 2014, but will move from last year’s location in Southern California to a new location in Arizona at WestWorld of Scottsdale from September 19 to November 1. Opening night will feature a concert by Rob Zombie himself.
This year’s version will feature three haunts in one:Captain’s Spaulding’s Clown School in 3D, The Lords of Salem in Total Black Out and The Devil’s Rejects. Outside on “Bloody Boulevard” you can take in freak show performers, music, roaming characters, food and drinks, games and more. You can visit the official website here.
California - (12/22/14) Back in May our friends at Theme Park Adventure discovered that plans were in play to reopen the Santa’s Village theme park in Lake Arrowhead, CA. Now we have an update on the situtation, where it seems that the plan was to re-brand the site as Skypark at Santa’s Village for Summer 2015, a place for mountain biking, hiking, zip-lines, fishing and more… but not so much of a reopening of the Santa’s Village park as many had hoped.
Of course the local masses of theme park and creative officials with memories and dreams of how the place could be fixed and reopened are chomping at the bit for a chance to get in there and do something special if the new owner would be open to the idea. Make the jump over to Theme Park Adventure and read all about what’s going on for yourself.
(10/20/14) Our West coast Haunt Guru Steve is at it again, freshly back from a trip to the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor haunt event in Long Beach. Read on…
Queen Mary Dark Harbor Review - by Steve Rowin, Haunt Reviewer
Dark Harbor is a Halloween event that runs all month long at the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. Years ago this event was only a maze on the ship but since then has grown to a full scale haunted attraction. With 8 mazes / tours, a complete midway of games, carnival rides, concessions and a stage show it is a full night of scares!
One thing that stood out on my visit was how exciting the carnival like atmosphere was in the harbor, DJ’s playing music, the sound of people on rides, the smell of hot dogs, popcorn and the sound of a 40 foot blast of fire above the Freakshow attraction every few minutes. I found this atmosphere different from some of the other large scale haunts where the whole area is scary all night. The midway was sort of a safe haven to relax your senses between mazes, grab a beer, go on a ride. Another remarkable element at Dark Harbor was the quality of makeup on the characters throughout the event, some of the best I’ve seen at any haunt.
One of the unique draws to Dark Harbor is the fact that the Queen Mary is rumored to be haunted and several ghosts have been reported by people visiting the ship over the years. That “real” energy is what I was after!
There are three mazes and a private tour onboard the ship, three of them new for this year along with 4 mazes off the ship in the harbor. One thing about all these mazes is that they are long!
Submerged - My favorite onboard the ship for two reasons. One, we walk past the infamous swimming pool where a little girl ghost is seen regularly. This pool is creepy year round by the way and you don’t ever feel alone in that room. Just so happened this little girl ghost appeared before us as we passed the pool. The second was that we explored actual passenger hallways and areas that you expect when you hear “haunted house on the Queen Mary.” Even though there was a flow issue and we got stuck in a cue of people, the spooky factor was there big time! The eeriness was so present that I looked past the line that formed inside which normally is a deal breaker. Production was good in this one with lots of dark spaces capturing the natural ambience of the ship and that is what made this one great.
B340 - New for this year, another onboard maze based on the hauntings reported by guests of room B340. Inside we encounter the workings of a mad man, a man named Samuel the Savage! Trapped in his own mind, we find him in his state room on the bed screaming “GET OUT OF MY ROOM!!!” “GET ME OUT OF HERE!!! PLEASE!!!” “GET MEEE OUT OF HERE!!” As we tour the ship we see evidence of his instanty, crazy writing on the walls and more. The production quality on this one stood out above some of the others and this one was a highlight of the night.
Soulmate - New for 2014, is a masquerade ball themed maze onboard the ship. In this one we are greeted at the concierge desk by a very dead bell man who directs us down the dark passages. Unlike Submerged which uses the actual ship as it’s scenery, Soulmate is based on theatrical sets. One of my favorite rooms was near the end when we see a ghost dancing in the ballroom and many masked men on platforms in a semicircle around the room that you must pass by to exit the room. I didn't find this one too memorable but I'm sure there will be some tweaks to get it dialed in and I hope to see more characters in this one to crank up the fright!
And… of the onboard haunts… the granddaddy of them all!
Encounters - This is the Queen Mary’s answer to the “super scary, waiver required” haunt craze that is sweeping the nation. It is a private ghost tour down into the bottom of the ship and it is no joke. You’ll have to pay an additional fee to go on the tour and sign the waiver release but this is truly what you came for. What is great about “Encounters” is that it contextually fits perfectly with the haunted history of the ship. Nothing beats a really personal experience and with each tour limited to 10 people, none of the things that typically take the fright out of normal haunts get in the way here. Being in a small group leaves the everyone feeling vulnerable and that is a big part of a truly terrifying experience. Without giving away too much, there are some physical situations that hit 11 on the “oh my” scale. The trouble starts when our tour guide foolishly leads us in a seance like ritual summoning spirits on the other-side. Many things happen as a result. I was surprised at how far they took things on a group participation level. Production wise, the most sophisticated ghost effects of the whole night were in Encounters. Unlike the typical tent maze, Encounters is truly a unique ghost tour that only the Queen Mary can do. If you go to Dark Harbor you have to do this one!
Off the ship mazes:
Deadrise - Long Beach is a major west coast port. One of the things you see a lot of around here are big steel shipping containers. Deadrise was essentially a lot of shipping containers end to end. This was the first time I had seen these used to make a haunt and they worked really well! Lots of camo netting, fog and the really wide paths in the shipping containers allowed the creatures to have there way with us. Loud banging on the walls of the steel containers was great and scared the crap out of people. Man this maze was long! While it was not heavy on theatrics, it was really more like trying to surviving a medieval gauntlet. It’s strength was simplicity.
Freakshow - This is an extra $5 to go through. One of the best things about this attraction was that you get to go through it pretty much alone. This allows the things in there to focus all their attention on you! Like you would expect of any traveling freakshow there is a comedic element surrounding the authenticity of the freaks. Sorry but I did laugh more than scream. But that’s what made this fun. In addition to seeing a two headed women there are long maze elements where you will encounter some bizarre little things stocking you in the fog!!
Voodoo Village - Wow what a great haunt. I felt like we were left to roam around this village full of hoodoo cursed zombies. Not to be confused with today’s popular TV zombies but more like the kind that are cursed and buried alive, scratching on the inside of their casket to get out! The talent made this maze really good. I mean really really good. It was what they said and how they said it that felt real. So many times you can tell haunt operators toss some kids in their and say scare people. Many times they fail even if the sets are elaborate. In Voodoo Village, the cast played the most important part, giving the environmental elements purpose. At one point a woman approached us and whispered “Be careful they can smell you”, later some man frantically passed us by not even noticing us mumbling crazy things to himself and hitting his head. It was the furthest from cheesy and these people looked the part and talked the part. Impressive immersive experience!
Circus - Scary clowns, shifting floors, mirror mazes, walls that move to confuse you. Again, these mazes are long, plenty of time to get lost. I liked the fact that they had open maze areas and pretty much let you roam around at your own pace. I got separated from my guest many times in this one. It was a breath of fresh air to the single profile line that really has become a standard in haunts these days. There were plenty of old school tricks that worked well. Get some of this one!
After the night was done we looked at each other and said “that was a lot of fun!” Don’t get me wrong there are plenty of scares, creepiness, one of a kind ghost tours but over all Dark Harbor really hits the mark on a good balance of Halloween themed entertainment. Did I mention you can ride Michael Jackson’s swing ride from Neverland, now that's creepy!
(10/15/14) The other day I mentioned the new “Escape Room” concept of attractions, where guests are locked into a room that serves as a giant puzzle to solve in order to escape within a time limit. I wrote a piece about The Tomb, a more family friendly version running in Pigeon Forge, TN right now, but ThemeParkUniversity also has a write-up about a new more serious adult version running in Los Angeles right now call The Basement. The Basement is a bit more extreme, heavy with horror story elements, live actors, and warnings that you will be touched during the experience. You also must be 18 and up to experience The Basement.
(10/9/14) ScareTourUK interviews the now infamous Russ McKamey (of McKamey Manor) around his own extreme terror experience in San Diego, safe words and what he thinks about the latest extreme haunt tactics being used in the UK, which seems to rely more on sexual themes.
(10/3/14) The infamous McKamey Manor who is said to have been taking the concept of an “extreme” haunt to an all new level has posted a very interesting video a few hours ago. It is nearly an hour long, but goes on to explain how the results from the latest two volunteers (one of which was a 15 year career Marine) have proven to them that perhaps McKamey Manor has become too intense with this 2014 version… as no one has been able to survive the entire experience. People are being broken down both mentally and physically to the point that they have to stop the ‘experiment’ early.
Watch the video, or as much as you can… and while it wont show any of the horrors that these victims suffered, you will see them at the start and then at their lowest point where they simply can no longer continue either from the shock, or in the case of the marine, he appeared to be suffering from hypothermia as he was soaking wet and freezing and mentions being put in a freezer a couple of times. Other tales talk about eating worms, being pushed under water, getting beaten for showing resistance (the one guy has a black eye), and more.
While we may never know EXACTLY what is going on in McKamey Manor, I do have to say that it sounds (and looks) more like they are undergoing almost torture like sessions, as if they were captured by terrorists, rather than undergoing a “haunted house” style experience and encounters with the supernatural. The video is quite shocking, but really worth watching… because I don’t think I could ever bring myself to volunteer for this kind of experience. You can watch it below, or if that doesn’t work, click here.
(9/29/14) A few years ago I did a write up about an amazing and intense Haunt experience that had quietly grown up in my old home town of San Diego called McKamey Manor. It was long and intense, wet and freaky from the videos they had of people going through it back then.
Well… it’s gotten worse… and by worse, I mean it may have advanced itself to become the most intense and sought after haunt experience in the world. According to the latest interview with the master of MaKamey Manor posted at Theme Park University, the already limited haunt experience has now become extremely limited. As in… 4 people a week. Two on Friday, two more victims on Saturday night, for a 7-hour long terror experience. Guests have to apply, go through a screening progress where they pretty much try to talk you out of it, and if and when you are selected to participate, you are told to go to a public location to meet a driver, who essentially blindfolds and kidnaps you to start off the experience. The entire experience is caught on video as they push you to limits where even local marines have broken down and cried for mercy… only there is no mercy. There is no safe word… once you are in… you are in for the night.
And if selected, the experience is essentially free. They only ask that you donate bags or cans of dog food to be given to a local greyhound rehabilitation charity. Hmm… I’ve got several friends in San Diego, I wonder if I can convince them to give it a try… because even I’m not sure I’d want to try this. Just follow the link to see the pictures of what they are putting people through!
(9/2/14) Madame Tussauds in Hollywood opened their new Marvel Super Heroes in 4-D theater attraction last week. This should be identical to the one that opened at the Las Vegas location in December 2013. We’ve still got a reader review all about posted on our Vegas page here.
(7/30/14) According to a reader, two new attractions are under construction at Belmont Park to open later this year: a new 300 foot Zip Line and something called the Leap of Faith which sounds a bit like a SCAD Tower from the description of falling from a tower while in a restraint. Can anyone confirm, or get pictures of these under construction?
(7/24/14) Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor haunt event returns for 2014 on select nights from Oct. 2 through to Nov. 2. This year’s event will feature two brand new mazes, the new VooDoo Village and what they are calling an ‘Exclusive Encounter” aboard the ship itself. Note: the Hellfire and Containment mazes from last year have been retired. Other features include the Monster Midway, the Freakshow, the Deadrise maze and The Ringmaster running the Circus. You can view the details at the official site here.
(6/13/14) A huge review along with photos and video of the amazing looking Great Horror Campout 2014 event in Los Angeles has been posted to Theme Park Adventure. If you are a haunt fan, you really need to see this.
(5/16/14) Could Southern California’s infamous Santa’s Village park in Skyforest reopen? According to a fantastic article at Theme Park Adventure the park which closed down 1998, the 154-acre property has been sold to an “unidentified Lake Arrowhead resident” who apparently has big plans to renovate and reopen the property within a year of closing the deal. Make the jump to not only read the details, but see an amazing photo gallery of old images from the park itself, which largely remains standing as it was.
(3/5/14) Lake Dolores, the fascinating water attraction built next to I-15 between Barstow and Baker, many SoCal residents will remember driving past it on their way to and from Las Vegas. A popular local water fun spot that became popular in the 70’s when the owner created an array of unique waterslides out of sheet-metal (including one you stood up on), it was later transformed in 1998 to become a more modern waterpark known as Rock-A-Hoola. Bankruptcy troubles saw it close in 2000 and reopen in 2002 as Discovery Waterpark, which then closed again in 2004. The park has sat dead and empty for the past decade, but according to this article, a new owner seeks to bring it all back to life, renaming it as the Lake Dolores Waterpark with a goal of reopening the park in 2015. The new official website, OasisThemePark.com, has some great vintage shots of the old Lake Dolores slides, old video clips and more.
Colorado - (7/21/14) What has to be one of the most frightening custom thrill rides ever built has just opened up at Colorado’s Cave of the Winds... and they call it the Terror-Dactyl. Imagine being strapped into a chair on the edge of a massive canyon... and someone begins to pick up the chair from behind, tilting you forward more and more until you are facing straight down at the rocky spires waiting to impale you below. Then you fall... dropping 200 feet down into the canyon, still strapped helplessly into your chair and all you can do is scream so loud that your voice echoes off the canyon walls. Scream in terror... scream for mercy... scream because you just want to wake the F*@K UP from this nightmare! But it’s not a nightmare... because this appears to be the latest creation from thrill ride genius Stan Checketts (Founder of S&S Worldwide / Creator of the Soaring Eagle Ziplines) and it looks simply amazing!
Need a little more? Check out the POV video of one of the first test riders below... but be warned... this video is filled to the brim with bad language from the passenger wearing the camera, so it is not safe for viewing in a work environment. View in an appropriate setting and place. You have been warned!
Florida - (11/11/14) The Miami-Dade County Commissioners approved the $13.5 million grant money the developers behind the Fox Miami Wilds theme park concept requested to move forward with the park’s development.
(11/4/14) The local news reports that a developer is now planning to finally demolish the closed Dania Beach Hurricane coaster in order to build a shipping plaza on the location. The land deals needed to build the 100-acre DaniaLive Marketplace shopping center are still being worked out, with some already complete and six others expected to be finalized by the end of the year. If all goes as planned, they will tear down the Hurricane sometime in early 2015. Such a shame they can’t reopen it and incorporate the coaster as an attraction lure for the new retail plaza.
(10/24/14) It looks like the Fox themed Miami Wilds theme park proposed to go in next to Zoo Miami may still be a thing, as the studio is requesting $13.5 million from Miami-Dade County to built new Coast Guard communication towers elsewhere, to replace the ones currently on the site where the park wants to build.
Of course, if that wasn’t enough Fox is also requesting some “public sector funding” to pay for $40 million in parking, $26.5 million in site prep costs, $26 million for new roadways and $24 million for a “transportation mode inside the entertainment complex”… whatever that means. It kind of makes me wonder just what Fox is paying for, if they do build the park. Somehow, I have little faith in this project climbing off the page and into an actual ground breaking.
(10/13/14) I was looking to see what the latest word on the huge Skyrise Miami tower project was and it turns out that the Miami voters approved the plans for the $430 million skyscraper to be build back in early September. At the time the developers were hoping to begin work on it before the end of 2014 and have it open by 2017.
(10/3/14) WhiteWater West has announced they are building a new attraction for Zoo Miami to open in Summer 2016. It will be a water transportation system inside the new Florida: Mission Everglades exhibit. It will feature a custom themed 8-passenger vehicle designed to look like an everglades air boat that will travel through the themed environment.
(8/11/14) An interesting new haunt experience is coming to Florida’s St. Peterburg area this fall. For 15 nights in October the Radley Haunted House will become Dr. Radley’s Nightmare Machine, which will take you into the horrors of the dream world. However, on the night of October 22 the venue will go to the extreme for one night only and become Dr. Radley’s Sleep Sessions. This will be a 30 minute very intense haunt experience for groups up to 4 people with very limited availability. All who go inside must be at least 18 years old and sign a waiver, because unlike in a normal haunt where you are safe from being touched, physical contact with be a key part of your starring role in the “Sleep Sessions” experience. Go to the official website for all the latest information.
(7/4/14) Surprise… it’s 2014 and guess what? Drop the needle on the Elton John album and play “I’m Still Standing” because the Dania Beach Hurricane is STILL standing. Apparently it has also found a new purpose in life as a billboard. Yep… they are now using to mount a giant freeway advertisement according to a picture sent in by a reader this week. If you recall the owners even started a promotion to give away the roller coaster FREE to anyone willing to come and take it down back in early 2013 but have had no takers. Meanwhile the ride ceased to run way back in 2011.
(11/22/13) A monstrous tower attraction has been proposed for Miami… and it isn’t the Polercoaster. They call it SkyRise Miami, which will have a very modern and unique shape to the proposed 1,000 ft tall structure. If built the tower would be the tallest building in Florida, the tallest “tower” on the Eastern Seaboard and second tallest tower in the US, just behind the 1,148 ft Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas.
Much like the Stratosphere Tower, the plan for SkyRise Miami also includes some thrill rides. In addition to an obverservation level and the obligatory restaurant with a view, the tower will include a “flying theater” attraction similar to Disney’s Soarin’, an 800 ft tall freefall ride called the SkyPlunge and a 600 ft controlled descent bungee jump called SkyRise Drop. The structure will also have room for several clubs and lounges as well as a 500-seat ballroom.
I’m sure there will be a lot of red tape and financial paperwork to deal with for months before this thing gets off the ground, but it would really give the city a globally recognized landmark if SkyRise Miami were built.
Georgia - (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.
Idaho - (10/13/14) Yikes… a temporary Zombie Killing attraction at an Idaho corn maze that allowed riders on a bus slowly creeping through the fields to shoot at Zombie actors with paintball guns was killed instantly when he tripped and fell under the rear passenger wheel of the bus. The guests on the bus believed it was part of the attraction as it slowly rolled away, and the death wasn’t discovered until the rest of the zombie scareactors in the field began to reset for the next group of guests and discovered what had really happened.
Indiana - (10/22/14) Remember the Skyline Ride that just opened at the Indianapolis Zoo over the summer? Apparently the ride stopped on Oct. 12, and kept six riders stranded for about 2 hours. The ride has been closed ever since, with the stoppage due to a broken driveshaft, but the Zoo has announced that while it has been repaired and inspected, the Skyline Ride will remained closed until next Spring when it gets warmer.
Kentucky - (12/11/14) As expected, the State of Kentucky has decided to not grant the Ark Encounter attraction the $18 million in tourism tax credits due to their refusal to remove various religious requirements (a salvation testimony and a Creation belief statement) as part of the hiring process. Of course it doesn’t help that the church group behind the Ark Encounter project (Answers in Genesis) threatened the state with a federal lawsuit to get the incentives if they were declined. According to this report, Cabinet Secretary Bob Steward informed them that the state could not support projects with hiring practices that discriminated based on religion.
“As you know ... we have strongly supported this project, believing it to be a tourism attraction based on biblical themes that would create significant jobs for the community. However ... it is readily apparent that the project has evolved from a tourist attraction to an extension of AIG's ministry that will no longer permit the commonwealth to grant the project tourism development incentives.”
(10/10/14) I was kind of waiting for this to happen, but it seems that the Ark Encounter attraction project is finding itself in hot water, with all of their valued tax credits in jeopardy due to statements made that when they were ready to hire employeed, they would require them all to sign a “faith statement” saying that they believed in Creationism and the flood, as told in the story of Noah’s Ark.
State officials have informed Ark Encounter that this was a discriminatory hiring practice, and that they will not proceed with the tax incentives for the project if they insist upon this practice.
(8/6/14) Kentucky’s long in development Ark Encounter park project was granted up to $18 million in tax breaks by the state after a unanimous vote this week. Construction is expected to begin before the end of the year with the first phase to open by Summer 2016 in Williamstown if all goes as planned.
(3/5/14) I’m a bit surprised this project is going forward, but according to the official Facebook page for the Ark Encounter park proposed for Kentucky, they have the funding now in place and are ready to begin construction and break ground in May.
Technically however, I don't think they have the funding for the entire park… only to build the massive icon for the park, the Ark itself. The rest of the proposed theme park, and funding for it, will have to come later.
Massachusetts - (10/15/14) I found a video showing off the newly opened Berkshine East Mountain Coaster. While it doesn’t show a complete POV for the entire trip up and down the mountain, it does show off a POV of what appears to be the complete downhill run from about the 2:00 minute mark which lasts about 2 minutes (Unfortunately, most of the first minute is spent looking at the riders feet… LOL…)
Missouri - (11/14/14) A plan was filed with the local government in St. Louis to build a $70 million “amusement park” inside Union Station. This is Phase 2 of the renovation plan for Union Station, following the completion of Phase 1 earlier this year which saw the Grand Hall renovated. The developer, Lodging Hospitality Management, is asking the city for $18.5 million in Tax Incentives to help fund this Phase 2 project.
The park would cover 26-acres, both inside the building and out under the old train shed and is said to feature restaurants, retail shops and rides. The only ride detailed was a plan for a 200 foot Ferris wheel that would feature climate controlled gondolas. The hearing on the tax incentive plan will take place on Jan 7, 2015.
(10/20/14) Missouri locals will find this link useful as BransonShows has compiled a list of the Top 8 Corn Mazes and Pumpkin Patches to be found in the state. Some even offer special Zombie Paintball attractions as well, which seems to be a growing trend in the haunted attraction sector.
New York - (11/13/14) Apparently the plan to save and move the Hoffman’s Playland park to Albany is not as set in stone as was previously indicated. In addition to the state grants Huck Finn’s was receiving for the project, it seems they are also waiting on a public hearing over some tax breaks to help fund the move.
(10/15/14) Madame Tussauds unveiled a new wax figure of Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye from the Avengers at the NY ComicCom the other day and I’ve got that say that the figure looks amazing… or at least it does in the photos seen here. The new Avengers figure is being installed alongside other Marvel heros at Madame Tussauds Times Square location as part of the Marvel 4D Experience attraction.
(10/7/14) It’s always interesting to come across a new amusement park that I’ve still never heard of, and today that would be Hoffman’s Playland in Colonie, NY. Unfortunately, Hoffman’s just closed down for good and is in the process of having all the rides removed (which you can see at SFNEOnline) but according to this local news article, the amusement park is being moved to North Albany by “Huck Finn’s Warehouse & More” (a local furniture store) where it will reopen as Huck Finn’s Playland. The moving of the park to the new site is being aided through state grants worth up to $650,000.
While work on the demolition side of things has begun, it sounds like they are still trying to finalize everything needed to rebuild it all at the new site at this point in time, so I’m not sure when they expect to open the new park.
(9/1/14) Theme Park University takes us for a Behind the Scenes look at the “Niagara’s Fury: The Creation of the Falls” attraction at Niagara Falls. Created by Technifex, this new special effects heavy attraction just opened a few years ago and is essentially a Disney style 360 CircleVision theater attraction on steroids, loaded to the gills with amazing special effects and placing the 100 guests inside on top of a motion platform. Oh... and you have to wear a poncho too. Never seen that done before. Check it out here!
(8/21/14) According to the local news there are talks to build a $250 million Legoland theme park in Haverstraw, New York on an undeveloped piece of land. Right now they are just looking over the site and I expect doing the research on the local area to see if it would work for a theme park or not, so don’t expect anything to move ahead anytime soon, especially while Merlin is busy expanding the chain around the globe at a number of new international locations. It may be awhile before they are ready to return and build another US park.
North Carolina - (12/12/14) Scuba Claus is coming to visit Sea Life Aquarum - Charlotte-Concord to spread Christmas cheer, and deposited a box with a $500 VISA shopping spree prize to the bottom of the Ocean Tank. Guests can fill out an entry form at the Ocean Tank to win the prize, which will be selected on Dec. 25th. Scuba Claus and his elf will greet visitors from within the Ocean Tank on Dec. 13, 20, 23 and 24 from 11am to 1pm.
Pennsylvania - (12/3/14) All American Thrills shot some aerial drone footage as well as put some boots on the ground at the Koziar’s Christmas Village holiday attraction in Pennsylvania.
(9/18/14) The latest announcement from ScareHouse is something very VERY special… as ScareHouse has announced that they have joined forces with the creative forces at Legendary Pictures to create the scariest Halloween season ever! This will include bringing in SAM from the cult classic “Trick R Treat” who will appear within The Summoning. Watch the video below!
(8/28/14) Haunt season is almost upon us… and that means more fun videos from our friends at ScareHouse!! ScareHouse is always changing and evolving, so what’s new this season? For starters, The Basement, a special upcharge haunt for those 18+ will return again, where you enter either alone or with a single friend, to encounter intense psychological fears. The Basement will take you “on an interactive journey built to push them outside their comfort zone, challenge their expectations, and scare the hell out them each step of the way.” You must sign a waiver to experience The Basement, as it will include high voltage effects, electricity, sexual content, very low lighting, tight spaces, strong scents, profanity, moments of complete darkness, water, physical contact, violent situations and high impact scares. Sounds very intense!
Upstairs, Creepo’s Christmas in 3-D will return for this season, but there will be two new experiences with it.
Pittsburgh Zombies: Black Out! - An expanded and improved version of last year’s maze, where the lights are going out and the zombies keep crawling in…
The Summoning (All new for 2014) - A new maze from the ScareHouse team that has been in the works for 9 months to create an immersive experience that will take you back in time to October 1932 to uncover sinister secrets and twisted characters in what they promise to be their most elaborate haunt yet. According to ScareHouse’s Creative Director, Scott Simmons, “We’re taking major risks this year. Our new attractions are very ambitious not only in terms of scenic detail and scale, but also in terms of personalizing the experience for our guests.” The new attractions will offer the rare chance to make decisions and interact with characters instead of just passively walking through the sets, so no two trips through ScareHouse will ever be the same. The choices you make along the way will lead to different outcomes… and consequences.
Now on to the video!!
(8/11/14) According to an email sent my way, the Chance C.P. Huntington train ride (now known as Time Traveler Express) at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium never opened for the 2014 season. Our reader contacted the zoo for a reason and was told that not only will it not open at all in 2014, but that they were still uncertain if it would open in 2015 as well. Seems they felt they could afford the maintenance costs to run the rail system and two trains that they have. Currently the attraction has been removed from all park maps.
(6/6/14) ScareHouse is back for 2014, and has posted an all new teaser of what they are working on for this season, which they believe is their most ambitious attraction ever built. The building that Scarehouse calls home is over 100 years old and has it’s own scary history… and perhaps a will of it’s own.
South Carolina - (12/19/14) The local news reports that local big developers, Burroughs & Chapin have plans to perform refurbishments to their Broadway at the Beach entertainment and retail mall in 2015, as well as a refurbishment to Barefoot Landing. The exact nature of these plans wont be released until sometime next year.
(12/10/14) According to the local news the revised plans for The Track in Myrtle Beach have been given unanimous approval. Several pieces of concept artwork showing off the layout and new look they are going for can be found here.
(12/9/14) The demolition of the former Hard Rock Park / Freestyle Music Park continues it seems… even now that the rides and coasters have all been taken down, it seems the whole rumored “kitchen sink” mentality is holding true, as crews have been removing the metal framework, plumbing and any other source of value from the various buildings themselves now. As of the latest report the former Roadies Stunt Show arena structure is gone along with the Rockabilly BBQ and now the old Ice House Theater has been ripped wide open and is looking at pending demolition. It is so sad that once these guys are done, that there really wont be much left behind to ever identify that Hard Rock Park ever existed on this Earth.
(11/6/14) The Track is back with a new proposal for Myrtle Beach, after doing a little extra homework on the local rules it seems. After their last plan saw their request for a zoning change brought before public review, they withdrew and have now submitted an all new plan for the same site, but one that will not require a zoning change, and thus, eliminating the need for a public review.
The new plans will see the current Shriner’s building demolished to make way for a new two-story arcade building, that will include a meeting room for the Shriners, as well as four go-kart tracks, which will now all use silent electric karts rather than the noisy gas engine style. Only one of the tracks will be elevated. The new plans can move right on for approval from the Community Appearance Board, and votes from the Planning Commission or City Council are not required, as the attraction will fall under the site’s current approved zoning.
(10/10/14) The Track has now withdrawn its proposal to build an amusement center at the Shrine Club property after going over the negative feedback from the local community.
(9/18/14) Discussions are still ongoing regarding the proposed new The Track go-kart attraction in Myrtle Beach, as many of the local residents and businesses are concerned about traffic and noise issues. Click here to read more.
(8/15/14) Behind the Thrills tells us there is a great new haunt in Myrtle Beach this season called Outbreak: Dread the Undead. But this isn’t a seasonal haunt… this will be a new year-round haunt opening at the Hollywood Wax Museum Entertainment Center. Based on the photos, the sets look fantastic! Someone give this a try and let us know how it is!
(8/1/14) Concept artwork for the new Myrtle Beach location of The Track, along with their two-story arcade building can be found here.
(7/31/14) The owners of The Track attraction in the middle of Pigeon Forge, TN are now bidding on the site of the Myrtle Beach Shine Club in order to build a new go-kart based tourist attraction. If they get the property, their plans will include a multi-level go-kart track, bumper boats, arcade, train ride and more. The first phase would open by June 15, 2016.
Tennessee - (6/30/14) Amazing new concept artwork for what I’ve heard referred to as both “Opry Walk” and “Opry Town” was sent in and this looks like it could be a huge project for the Nashville area if they move forward with it.
On a somewhat related news item, Ryman Hospitality Properties (formerly Gaylord Entertainment) is planning a $14 million expansion project of the Ryman Auditorium to add a café, history tour, new event space as well as a slew of other renovations to the facility. The actual music venue however will remain unchanged, complete with keeping the wooden church pew seating, in order to preserve the legendary acoustics. With Ryman looking to start making improvements and expand their attractions presence in Nashville, this could be the first step towards making the proposed Opry Walk concept a reality.
Local sources also tell me that they may have been planning this for awhile, as over the past few years many smaller support buildings and left-over structures from the former Opryland theme park in this zone have all been removed one by one.
(6/25/14) A reader sent me the following drawing, showing off what appears to be the creation of a new CityWalk style project to be placed right next to the Opry Mills mall (by the Dave & Busters and Aquarium Restaurant section) in Nashville, TN. On the far North end of the project, near the convention center, is an outdoor waterpark, which will be connected to this new themed retail/dining/entertainment zone.
No exact name is given for it, but it will be connected to the Convention Center on the one end and stretch down to connect to Opry Mills and the Grand Ole Opry house on the southern end. The layout shows several themed zones: Central Park, Music City Way, Town Square, and Country Roads, and scattered throughout the project are various rides and attractions. For example, there will be a Trolley that runs from one end down to the othere, where it will loop around a “radio tower” built in front of the entrance to the Grand Ole Opry house before making the return trip to the Central Park district. Other attractions listed include a carousel, a “Guitar Ferris Wheel”, something called “I’ll Fly Away”, and even a Wooden Roller Coaster. Compare the layout image with the current map of the site here.
Texas - (11/19/14) The Gravity Group has confirmed Screamscape’s rumor that a new wooden shuttle coaster will be coming to ZDT’s Amusement Park in 2015. They are calling it the Swithcback and you can see a video of this amazing new compact layout in action below. Note: while the animation doesn’t show how the ride ends, the straight piece of track after the first drop will likely bring the train to a stop on the return journey and turn into a switch-track, sending the train back into the station.
The themed Timberliner train for the for the new ride was also shown off at IAAPA a few hours ago, themed as a black locomotive, which you can see posted in a video from our friends at In The Loop were also on-hand to interview Gravity Group and the owners of ZDT about the new Switchback.
(11/11/14) I’m not sure how true this is, but I’m hearing a rumor that The Gravity Group may be working on a design for a unique wooden shuttle coaster layout (forwards then backwards) for ZDT’s Amusement Park in Seguin, Texas, a small FEC attraction with go-karts and a few small rides. It’s located a little south of New Braunfels and east of San Antonio. Anyone know more?
(10/31/14) The local news in Houston took a moment to remember Astroworld, which closed forever 9 years ago on October 30th, 2005 after 37 successful years. The former site of Astroworld now sits empty, awaiting redevelopment.
(10/23/14) Hawaiian Falls White Settlement has opened their newest venture, a year-round Adventure Park & Event Center. “Our year-round Adventure Park is a natural extension of our mission to bring families closer together,” said Hawaiian Falls CEO David Busch. “We want families to climb and zip and tackle unique ropes challenges together to create memories that will last a lifetime. Our Adventure Park provides safe, fun and compelling activities for guests of all ages to explore unknown strengths, push boundaries, climb to thrilling heights and even experience a unique 60-foot free-fall. We’re also offering traditional festival games and activities on the ground for guests of all ages and fitness levels.” Adventure Park features a 3-level ropes course, Zip Lines, an adventure trail, cargo net climb, climbing wall and free fall activities.
(9/5/14) A small update regarding the accident in Texas where two teens fell from a flat ride has been posted by the local news. The ride in question is the Sidewinder, from Sun City Amusements. A video showing off what I believe is to be a similar ride can be found on YouTube.
There are now conflicting stories about the accident, one saying the door wasn’t locked, while the others say the teens inside were not wearing their seatbelts and fell against the door, pushing it open.
(9/3/14) A pair of teens were injured when they fell more than 12 feet from a portable ride at a local carnival in El Paso, Texas on Sunday night. One of the teens is in serious condition at a local medical center while the other only suffered minor injuries. According to this report, witnesses claim the ride operator failed to close and lock the door to the passenger compartment, but so far that has been unconfirmed. I’m not exactly sure what kind of ride this was… it looks almost like an old Roll-O-Plane, but with a rebuilt passenger compartment.
Utah - (6/13/14) ThemeParkUniversity spoke with the CEO of the proposed Evermore Adventure Park project in Utah. You can read about the interview here.
(5/23/14) An interesting project called Evermore is attempting to launch in Pleasant Grove, Utah, about half-way between Salt Lake City and Provo. To be clear, this isn’t an amusement park… or even what anyone would call a “theme park” by today’s standards… though it does promise to be well themed. No… Evermore is calling themselves the first “Adventure Park”, which for all intents and purposes seems to be an attempt to create a year-round CosPlay / Renissance Fair style playground with a Victorian period theme.
The idea is to build up a site to resemble the world of the era, staff it with actors to play various roles throughout the land, as well as include many different and functional shops and restaurants to create a living landscape. Throughout the year the tone of the park is planned to change as well, taking on more festive atmosphere in the Spring and Summer, aided through special events, a cheerful winter holiday theme will blanket Evermore in the colder months and in the fall, a Jack the Ripper style haunt theme will fill the shadows. There will be no rides… or at least none on a regular basis, though they could bring a few in for the various festivals where the theme might fit, but in a nutshell, you’ll get out of Evermore what you bring into it.
The idea is really interesting, though to be honest, I’m not sure if Utah has the year-round tourism to support such a venture, but according to the preview website, they are already planing on opening in 2015. Should be facinating to watch and see how this develops.
Vermont - (10/31/14) According to this news report, the Sheriff’s Department reports that as of Thursday all animals have been removed from the Santa’s Land attraction in Vermont. Earlier this year the park came under fire with charges of animal cruelty filed against the park’s owner and caretaker. Unless something changes, I wouldn’t expect to see this attraction reopen, or at least not under the current ownership.
Washington State - (3/5/14) The family behind Seattle’s Great Wheel on the waterfront has now proposed a new downtown aerial gondola line that would be able to carry both tourist and commuters on elevated ski lift style enclosed cars. They are proposing a run down Union Street from the waterfront area by the wheel to the Convention Center, with a midpoint station at the Pike Place Market.
While there are always issues with those who don't want to see things like this built near their property, this will be a privately funded project (so no tax dollars, which is good) which already has the support of the Convention Center, Port of Seattle and the Waterfront Association.