---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(1/28/15) North Carolina - SeaLife Aquarium Welcomes The Octonauts (MORE...)
(1/17/15) Florida - Fox Miami Wilds Proposal Draws Protesters (MORE...)
(1/14/15) Missouri - Union Station Amusement Park Update
(1/12/15) Texas - Moody Gardens Spongebob SubPants? (MORE...)
Arizona - (1/9/15) While no plans for a new theme park or attraction have been announced, the state of Arizona has cleared the way to make things a little more business friendly for any such project in the future, as long as they are willing to build in the northern community of Williams, who has created a special district on the town's northern edge where the properties would be exempt from property taxes. I guess we'll have to wait and see if anyone bites.
California - (1/8/15)
The local news in San Diego reports that not just one, but THREE separate proposals to build new Giant Observation Wheels along the San Diego Harbor are being discussed. There are proposals from Allegis Development and Chance American Wheels, but the big one of the three is called The Skywheel at Discovery Point and is the $200 million baby of a couple of developers who have partnered up with SeaWorld who would actually maintain and operate the wheel attraction. Set on the edge of the water, the center would feature a 3-level parking structure, pavilion and the 400 foot tall Skywheel itself, featuring 30 cabins, with an estimated 30 minute ride time. The structure would also feature an interactive lightshow as well, and would be a stunning addition to the already beautiful San Diego skyline.
Of course, given the NIMBY nature of San Diego politics over the years, and the hordes of self-rightous know-it-all complainers that come out of the woodwork every time someone proposes a major development anywhere near the water in San Diego, not to mention the complicated and hair-pulling nature of dealing with the California Coastal Commission that was enough to even kill a proposed DisneySea park in Long Beach, I don’t see any plan to build a giant wheel in San Diego as having a clear shot. It’s going to be a rough and bumpy road ahead for them all.
(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.
(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 - (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.
One of our readers who lived in Panama City, FL noticed that one of their local amusement attractions named Race City was putting up a new small compact coaster. Based on the photos of the coaster and the trains, this is the Hurricane (S.D.C.) that was just removed from Adventureland.
(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.
(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.
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 - (1/14/15) Check out the video posted by the local news showing off concept art about the proposed amusement park plan for St. Louis’ Union Station building.
(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 - (1/28/15) Captain Barnacles and Kwazii of The Octonauts children’s program on Disney Jr., will visit Sea Life Charlotte-Concord Aquarium Jan. 26 to Feb. 22. During this period, visitors can take photos with the characters at scheduled meet-and-greet events and participate in special Octonauts-themed activities at the aquarium. “Our team is thrilled to have The Octonauts visit us again,” said Trisha Ruf, General Manager at Sea Life Charlotte-Concord. “We hope our little guests will have fun meeting their undersea heroes and learning more about how to help endangered sea creatures.”
For meet-and-greet times and ticket information, visit the official website.
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.
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 - (1/12/15) The latest confirmation on the new Spongebob attraction coming to Moody Gardens calls it "Spongebob SubPants" and describes it as "an InterMersive (interactive and immersive) Character Experience - a state-of-the-art theme park attraction that combines interactive 3D digital puppetry, branching storytelling, multiple high def stereoscopic screens and immersive in-theater effects."
(1/5/15) I'm told that the new coaster coming to ZDT’s Amusement Park in Texas wont be ready to open until probably mid-summer due to the late start on the project.
(12/31/14) Screamscape has been told that the Moody Gardens attraction in Galveston, TX very close to Schlitterbahn Galveston Island will add a new Spongebob themed attraction in Spring 2015 to the attraction’s 4D Special FX Theater. (Currently they are showing Rio 4D Experience and Polar Express 4D.
(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?
Utah - (1/5/15) It has been awhile since we have heard anything about the proposed Evermore Adventure Park project, but according to this article the project is opening to open up an attraction in Pleasant Grove, Utah this summer. The plan now seems to be focused on opening small temporary festival themed events over the Summer, Fall and Winter seasons each year, with the dream of also offering a haunted hotel experience several years down the line.
(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.