---- UNITED STATES DEVELOPMENT NEWS ----
(2/18/2024) Maine - New Indoor Waterpark Proposed For Saco
(2/17/2024) New York - An Interactive Dungeons & Dragons Show Is Going To Broadway!
(2/10/2024) New Indoor Waterpark and Resort Planned for Bellevue, Nebraska
(2/1/2024) New Details For Florida's New Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show Theater
(2/1/2024) K1 Speed To Open Third New Center In Tenessee This Summer
(2/1/2024) FlyOver Chicago Released Trailer For Newest Attraction
(1/27/2024) California - The End of the McThriller
Arizona - (4/30/2023) According to a press release the Buckeye Opportunity Zone Fund “launches a private equity fund seeking accredited investors for investment into Ghost Town theme-park development projects across Arizona. ” The fund is seeking to raise $25 million initially, with the group seeking to convert rural land into new income-producing properties.
California - (1/27/2024) According to posts on Reddit, the big McDonalds located about a block to the north of Knott’s Berry Farm has now been completely demolished. Long time visitors to Knott’s may recall that this McDonalds did not look like your typical McD’s on the outside, had countless model trains running on tracks attached to the roof inside and even years after its demise the building proudly featured the sign for the “McThriller”. For those wondering, the McThriller was actually a simulator ride that was added to this location in the 1990’s.
From the sound of things, the fast-food restaurant kind of let itself go during the pandemic, but since McDonalds locations rarely release their grip on the property they own (or lease), especially in such a high-traffic area, then I’d bet good money that the site will soon see a brand-new McDonalds location rise upon the ashes of the old.
We can only hope that they try to build something with more style and charm than what passes as the current stylings of new generic McDonalds locations. There is always a chance that the property could become two different branded locations, as McD’s has just opened the first of their their new spin-off chain called CosMc’s in IL last month with a focus on beverages and small snack items, with plans to open more in 2024.
(1/14/2024) Good news for Fresno, as it was announced that Playland has been given an extension on life just days ahead of being closed for good. According to the reports Playland met with the board of Storyland Fresno to come up with a new financial plan that will allow Playland to remain open until at least June 1st. This will involve lowering ticket prices and an extention of the park’s hours in the hopes to drawing more attendance, with the goal of giving the park more time to become self-sufficient and if so, to be able to stay open beyond the June 1, 2024 extention. So if you’re a local and want to see Playland remain open, then you’ve got to visit it while you can and if you enjoy it, let others know so they can visit as well.
(12/29/2023) Even though it just reopened in June, the local news reports that the kiddie-focused “Playland” park in Fresno will be shutting down once again. The final day to visit the park is said to be Jan. 14th, 2024.
I don’t know much about Playland, though it seems once it shut down due to the pandemic in 2020, it never reopened. A new operator (Helm and Sons Amusements) was brought in to fix up and reopen the park once again earlier this year, but low attendance has not allowed the park to be a successful operation. Helm and Sons isn’t new to the market either, as they also run Fresno’s Storyland attraction as well, which is said to be expanding with a couple of new attractions in 2024.
(12/13/2023) Blooloop reports that the new “Squid Game: The Trials” immersive experience has now opened in Los Angeles. Guests will be greeted by the Front Man before taking on a series of challenges with increasing difficulty, earning points as you go. The attraction also features a store selling exclusive Squid Game merchandise and the “Night Market” serving Korean and other international food and beverages. As for those challenges, apparently if you beat the game, you will have the opportunity to apply to be cast in the second season of Netflix’s Squid Game: The Challenge game show, expected to shoot sometime in 2024. Advanced ticket sales are required to patricipae in Squid Game: The Trials.
(12/10/2023) According to several news reports, musican Drake, has apparently purchased items from a long dead themed attraction known as Luna Luna that started out in Germany back in 1987 featuring a number of displays and attractions featuring designs from famous artists of the era. At the time it was more of an outdoor carnival style attraction with a very visual design, but when it shut down at the end of the 7 week run, most assumed the attractions were lost to time. In reality they were protected and put into storage somewhere in Texas, as the attraction was in the midst of being shipped to San Diego for a US premier that never took place.
Now these rarely seen attractions are being put back together once again inside a warehouse in downtown Los Angeles following the purchase of the 44 shipping containers in Texas by Drake’s company, Dreamcrew. Since January 2022 crews have been reopening, restoring and rebuilding the contents and now the revived Luna Luna is slated to reopen sometime this month. Follow the link to the official website to get alerts on how you can buy tickets when it is ready.
(11/5/2023) Who’s ready for a little Chuck E. Cheese nostalgia? According to a surprise press release by the company the Northridge, California location will soon surprise their guests with the return of the animatronic band that used to be featured at all Chuck E. Cheese locations once upon a time. Yes, Munch’s Make Believe Band will live to rock once more, but only at the Northridge location, just outside Los Angeles. Look for the location to reopen with the band once again after a refurbishment on November 10th, with a Grand Re-opening party set to take place from 6-8pm. For a laugh, the press release was done by the actual animatronic band itself, just so you can see the figures in action once again. Follow the link to see the video.
(10/27/2023) The Sky Star giant wheel in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park is coming down after first being set up in 2020 as part of the park’s 150th anniversary. Don’t be too sad though, it seems the wheel is moving to a new location not far away on Fisherman’s Wharf. The new location will offer all new views of the bay as well as downtown San Francisco.
(10/14/2023) Long time San Diego residents may remember the former Marshall Scotty’s Playland park off I-8 just east of El Cajon. While the once semi-popular micro kiddy park shut down and filed for bankruptcy in the late 90’s, the creepy remains of the once family friendly park have remains for all these years. In proper fashion, the property is frequently brought back to life each October now as a creepy Haunted Amusement Park experience where you can take a walk on the over a mile long Scare Trail.
The fun thing is that many of the old rides from the Marhsall Scotty days are still there… inoperable and rotting away, but covered in creepy lighting, giving the place a legit derelict haunted amusement park feel.
(8/8/2023) We’ve seen mini-golf courses take on a number of interesting and odd thems over the years, but are you ready for a Family Guy themed mini-golf experience? Yep… Family Guy Giggity Golf will open in the Downtown Los Angeles area on Sept. 22, 2023. The attraction will feature a 9-hole mini-golf course for $27, as well as a chance to grab a bite and a drink at the Drunken Clam and Eat My Junk food truck. Of course, there will also be some exclusive Giggity Golf merchandise for sale so you can prove that you were there.
From what I understand, this is a ‘pop-up’ attraction, so it won’t last forever. Follow this link to get on the waitlist for tickets before they sell out.
(7/2/2023) According to posts on social media, the new Treasure Hunt dark ride in Cannery Row (Monterey, CA) has soft opened. An official “grand opening” will likely take place sometime in mid-July, but the should be open to anyone who wants to try and ride it between now and then, barring any downtime issues.
You can already find a POV video of the new ride in action below. It features of mix of interactive screens and real three-dimensional props and animatronics.
Colorado - (4/24/2023) A beloved Colorado attraction will soon reopen… Casa Bonita. Colorado locals are well aware of the place, but if you are a fan of the show South Park, then you may be shocked to know that the Casa Bonita restaurant shown in the cartoon series that features Mexican food and an indoor cliff diving show is actually an entirely real attraction on the west side of Denver, near Lakewood.
COVID did not treat Casa Bonita well and the restaurant announced that they were going to have to close down for good, only to be saved when the restaurant was purchased by none other than South Park’s creators: Trey Parker and Matt Stone. They’ve spent the last year or so fixing up and updating Casa Bonita, hiring new staff and are getting ready to reopen Casa Bonita sometime next month to the joy of many.
If I ever find my way out that way, I know I’ll be dropping by for sure!
Florida - (2/1/2024) New concept artwork showing off the look of the new Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show theater coming to Panama City Beach, Florida has been released. Construction on the new show venue is already under way with the intent to have it ready to open before the end of Spring 2025.
“When completed, the 60,000 square foot indoor theater will have more than 1000 seats. Guests will be treated to a dinner and show where the Crimson and Sapphire pirates battle on deck, in the water of the 15-foot-deep lagoon, and in the “sky” above the two full-sized pirate ships that serve as the swashbuckling stage for adventure, excitement and fun for everyone. When the new dinner show opens, it will employ 300 people, and an extensive nationwide talent search will begin in mid-2024 for the cast. The total cost for the project is estimated at $60 million.”
The new Florida attraction will be the third Pirates Voyage dinner show, joining the original in Myrtle Beach, SC and the second one located in Pigeon Forge, TN.
(12/18/2023) This has been a long time coming, but the local news has confirmed that Dolly Parton will open a new Pirates Voyage Dinner Theater attraction to the Florida Panhandle by Spring 2025. They say that the new dinner theater attraction will open at Pier Park in Panama City Beach. This will be a new 60,000 sqft, 1,000-seat theater space, with a ground-breaking planned for January. Currently there are two other Pirates Voyage attractions in operation, the original in Myrtle Beach, SC and a second one added in Pigeon Forge, TN.
Now, the reason I say that this was a long time coming, is long-time readers may recall back in 2013, news reports came out claiming that Dolly and her World Choice Investment company had purchased property in nearby Destin, FL. The thought at the time was that they were planning to build either a Pirates Voyage or Dolly Parton’s Stampede dinner theater in Destin. Despite the reports claiming that four different parcels of land were purchased in 2013, nothing ever came of it. A decade later, it seems that Dolly and company never quite forgot their attempt to expand into Florida once again, following the sale and closure of the Dixie Stampede attraction in Orlando that ran from 2003 to 2008.
(10/27/2023) Uncle Bernie’s in the Ft. Lauderdale area, a small local amusement park, has confirmed on their social media pages that the park is now closed for good after operating for the past 20 years.
(9/9/2023) It was announced that Jacksonville’s Adventure Landing was expected to close at the end of the Summer season of 2021 to make way for new housing or apartments. Instead the attraction’s demise keeps getting extended, and according to the latest update the attraction has now extended their agreement with the land owner to remain in operation through to at least September 2024. Between now and then, Adventure Landing says that they will continue to explore their options to find a new location to rebuild the attraction for the future.
(8/18/2023) According to the local news, Lolita the killer whale at the Miami Seaquarium (also known as Toki) passed away earlier today. The whale was believed to be suffering from a possible “renal condition” and has been undergoing extensive treatment over the past two days. Lolita was thought to be about 57 years old and previously this year it was announced that plans were now in the works to see the whale released back into the wild.
(7/28/2023) A major new attraction is coming to the Daytona area in Florida. According to the local news the former Daytona Mall is now being transformed into a large aquarium attraction space. The reports say that the 55,000 sqft mall that sat most empty for years at the intersection of International Speedway Blvd and Nova Road will reopen at the Daytona Aquarium & Rainforest Adventure. The developer already has experience in the concept and has already opened an “Electric City Aquarium” attraction in Scranton, Pennsylvania. They hope to have the first part of the Aquarium ready to open by the end of the year followed by the Rainforest section sometime next year if all goes as planned.
(12/20/2022) The leaders ZooTampa at Lowry Park are sharing their vision for a 20-year / $125 million expansion plan. The goal is to expand the park’s Africa and Asian animal habitats, add a new habitat focused on South American wildlife, and a link to the Hillsborough River where they hope guests will one day be able to visit the Zoo via river taxi. Also included are plans are new exhibits featuring lions, gorillas, jaguars, sea lions, river otters, manatees and more.
The first pieces of the plan are already in development, which include a new interactive Stingray exhibit set to open in 2023 and an expanded Manatee rehab and care center that they hope will open in 2026.
(8/17/22) The Florida Aquarium in Tampa, FL has announced a $40 million expansion plan that will begin construction at the start of 2023. The expansion will see a new special exhibit gallery added, a multi-species galley with Puffins, an African penguin habitat, and a large outdoor exhibit for California Sea Lions. The project will be completed in a series of three phases, with the final phase to be finished sometime in 2025. Follow the link to learn more.
Georgia - (9/1/2023) A new collection of waterslide thrills are coming to Georgia’s Margaritaville at Lanier Islands resort attraction. According to the post a new slide tower is coming with four new waterslides: Apocalypso (Georgia’s first waterslide coaster), along with Manga Mania, Dreamsicle Dive and Serpentine Storm.
Illinois - (2/1/2024) FlyOver, a new flying theater attraction in Chicago, has released the trailer promoting their new Chicago area experience called “Believe Chicago”. Look for it to open on March 1st at Navy Pier.
(8/14/2023) The Chicago area will be home to may may be the national premier haunted house this fall with the launch of Terror Roulette in The Arboretrum of South Barrington. According to the description potential guests must first sign a waiver and “safe words” will be issued in case the experience becomes too much to handle. From there groups of up to 8 people will enter the haunt to meet the The Dealer who rules over this land. The Dealer will assign each member a personalized playing card which will in turn be responsible for how you will take a unique path through the experience. For that to happen, the members of the group will be “separated and reshuffled” as they journey deeper into the experience and encounter an assortment of other creepy characters who each apparently rule over their own mini realms, and have their own unique abilities and traits.
According to Blooloop, Terror Roulette is a creation from “award-winning haunt expert Scott Swenson”, a name that is likely to sound very familiar to fans of the Howl-O-Scream event from Busch Gardens Tampa. During his tenure as Creative Director at the park he brought the terror of Howl-O-Scream to all new levels, including the creation of a unique haunt in 2010 called “Alone”, where guests were challenged to take on the darkness of a very unique haunted house all by themselves.
(7/30/2023) According to the latest update posted to Theme Park Tourist, the timeline for the proposed Eco Theme Park for the Chicago area has been updated. The previous timeline posted that including the opening of the Grand Atrium in Fall 2024 was apparently a reflection of pre-COVID times. The new current timeline proposed won’t see the project open until sometime between 2026-2027.
(7/22/2023) It’s been over a year since we’ve heard anything about the so self proclaimed “World’s First Eco Theme Park” project, but Theme Park Tourist has a new update on the Chicago area project. For starters, it seems we have a name and the park will be called “WILD”, but they are also talking about a 500+ room resort planned for the project called “The Adventurer Resort”.
The Adventurer Resort will be themed after “the exploits of the characters of Jules Verne, along with P.T. Barnum, Robert Ripley, among others,” to be wrapped up in a unique Steampunk themed package. If that wasn’t enough the planned resort will also be connected to a large indoor waterpark as well as a complex with an events/conference center space, restaurants, retail and the “Playhouse Theater”. Follow the link to see a collection of concert art for the proposed new resort.
They also mention that the complex will be connected to “The Grand Atrium” which is a large indoor attractions space for the park that will be open year-round and feature several dark rides, exhibits, a butterfly garden and a “wide format theater”. Access into The Grand Atrium will be free, but you’ll need to purchase a wristband to experience the attractions. From the sound of things, The Grand Atrium may also serve as access into the rest of the outdoor theme park when built, as they mentioned that it will be connected to ‘the main street of the theme park”.
Now for a bit of reality… the article also claims they plan to open The Grand Atrium in Fall of 2024 and the rest of the park by Summer 2025, but unless this is secretly under construction already, I just don’t see this timeline happening at all. A new modern theme park itself typically takes about 3 years to build, a small indoor attraction complex may be possible in 2 years, and typically we see resort properties with an indoor waterpark, like a Great Wolf Lodge, always take about 18 months minimum.
Perhaps a better comparison may be the timetable for the new Mattel Adventure Park under construction in Arizona. It was announced back in June 2021, and claimed they wanted it open by Late 2022 (18 months later) to handle all the crowds coming to the city for the Superbowl coming to the city in Feb. 2023. Obviously that didn’t happen, and serious construction didn’t even begin until Early 2022, the coasters didn’t start going up until Early 2023 and the mostly indoor park is now not expected to open until sometime in 2024. So with all that in mind, don’t plan your trip to Chicago just yet.
(4/29/2023) The latest “FlyOver” flying theater ride is coming to Chicago’s Navy Pier. While the attraction isn't’ set to open until Spring of 2024, construction is already in full swing as you can see in a video posted by a local news station. The new attraction will replace Navy Pier’s IMAX theater near the Centennial Wheel.
Flyover from Pursuit currently has attractions already open in Las Vegas, Iceland and Vancouver (Canda), with a second site to open in Toronto in 2024 as well. To learn more about the FlyOver attraction concept, be sure to check out Screamscape’s official review of the Las Vegas location that opened in 2021.
Iowa - (11/6/2022) According to a local news report a proposal has been made to build a $600 million project in West Des Moines, Iowa, that would include a massive 100,000sqft indoor waterpark, a 400-room resort hotel, a family entertainment center and several on-site dining options along with various retail and office space options, along with 1,200 housing units. They’re calling the project ‘The Grand Experience’ along with saying that this will be like having a “Great Wolf Lodge on steroids.”
The question is, will it ever get built? If things go as planned, they hope to break ground on the project in Fall 2023. They don’t give a timeline to open the first phases, but as a good comparison, it typically takes 18-24 months to build and open a Great Wolf Lodge resort, so at best you would be looking at a mid to late 2025 opening if things stay on schedule.
Maine - (2/18/2024) According to a post from Coaster Chit Chat on Facebook, a new indoor waterpark has been proposed that would be connected to a Ramada by Wyndham hotel in Saco, Maine. The project is working under the name “Saco Surf ‘N’ Slide” and would also include an additional 139-room hotel tower. The project is said to currently be under review by the city.
Michigan - (12/30/2023) Is CJ Barrymore’s FEC in Michigan’s seeking to sell their Pinfari Zyklon Loop Roller Coaster? They had the coaster up since 2016 and still have it listed on their website, but a coaster that appears to look just like it is now listed as being for sale over at Rides4U.com which seems to put the future fate of the ride in Michigan up in the air. Anyone know more?
Missouri - (12/17/2023) According to local news reports the KC Wheel is now open. The 150-foot tall Ferris Wheel in Kansas City has been under construction since the Summer and misseds the original planned opening date in November. The lit-up wheel features fully enclosed gondolas and offers a view of the Kansas City skyline. The rest of the complex below the wheel is still under construction and will feature a mini-golf course along with several restaurants and bars.
(3/13/2023) If you didn’t read our last article, know that the City Museum in St. Louis will soon feature a new attraction on the roof of the building. Joining the assortment of odd looking structures and attractions at this most unique attraction will be the former Sea Dragon ride from California’s Pacific Pier. The old ride has been removed from the Santa Monica Pier location and is being prepared to be shipped to St. Louis.
(9/5/22) Blooloop has announced that a new “inclusive and accessible” theme park for visitors with “mental, physical or intellectual disabilities” is being developed in Missouri. The 60 acre park, to be called Spirit of Discovery Park, will follow in the footsteps of Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, Texas as a park designed and built from the ground up to be fully accessible for people with special needs, “regardless of age, ability or mental acumen.”
Currently Spirit of Discovery Park has submitted an offer on the land they wish to purchase, and have already performed the needed environmental and economic impact studies. The next steps will be to finish the planning for the park with 3D and architectural drawings to be submitted to the city for approval, along with the continuation of a fundraising campaign to ensure that the dream becomes a reality. Once the land is obtained and plans approved, they believe the park would could be constructed within three years.
Montana - (5/17/2023) A proposed “Flathead Lake Alpine Coaster” project in Lakeside, Montana just got final approval of their plans from Montana’s DOT. Numerous local residents have been opposed to the project for some time now. While the DOT has signed off on the project, there are still other permits still under review that must be approved before construction can begin.
Nebraska - (2/10/2024) The city of Bellevue, Nebraska has approved to issue bonds to build a $60 million resort project that would include a massive indoor waterpark that would be open year round. If things go as planned the project could be open by 2026. Based on the photos they are showing off of what the park would look like, it seems they are modeling their project after the huge Epic Waters waterpark in Texas.
New Hampshire - (1/12/2024) Apparently Candia Springs Adventure Park in New Hampshire announced on social media that they would “no longer continue operating going forward”. Unfortunately, it seems that shortly after making this announcement, the park’s Facebook and Instagram pages were taken offline. The main website is still live, but has not been updated to reflect anything to do with 2024 at this time.
New York - (2/17/2024) Dungeon & Dragons fans… are you ready to hit the bright lights of Broadway? Apparently Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast are bringing a unique and interactive theatrical production based on the Dungeons & Dragons IP to Stage 42 in New York City starting on May 5, 2024. From the sound of things, the vision is quite unlike anything you may have seen before, and may not be quite what you might expect either.
The show is called “Dungeons & Dragons: The Twenty-Sided Tavern”, and during the show the viewers will have an active role and be able to influence key decisions that the characters will make. This will be done through something called Gamiotics, “a browser-based software that lets users vote on where the story will go, what characters will appear, and which experience to explore.”
While the show will feature a cast of five actors, there will be more than 30 different playable characters that could appear in any given performance. No two shows will be the same as the audience enjoys a unique storyline set within the Dungeons & Dragons world of “Forgotten Realms”. Casting is underway, and preview performances are being promoted as starting on April 19 on the official website.
I’m not a Broadway guy but as a long time nerd who grew up playing Dungeons & Dragons as a kid, consider me deeply intrigued. A trip to New York may just be in my future.
(12/9/2023) A new attraction has opened at the Top of the Rock in New York City’s Rockefeller Center. It’s called “The Beam”, and it allows you to recreate the famous photo from 1932 that featured 11 iron workers eating their lunch, seating on a steel beam floating above the New York City skyline. That photo was actually taken, 69 stories above the ground, during the construction of Rockefeller Plaza so now it’s your turn to try it.
While it is still themed like a steel beam, it features a modern (yet hidden from view) seating/restraint system to hold you to the beam. While located 69 stories up at the Top of the Rock attraction space, the Beam will lift you just 10 feel into the air and spin you around for an unparalleled view of the New York skyline.
(9/2/2023) Imagine Exhibitions has announced that due to extreme popularity the limited time run of their Harry Potter: The Exhibition in New York City that began in May 2023 has now been extended to run through to January 7, 2024.
The addition of this temporary exhibit makes now an interesting time to be a Harry Potter fan in New York City, as the city also features one of the few performances of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child about a 12-minute walk away from HP:The Exhibition, in addition to the Harry Potter: New York store which is a 14 minute walk down Broadway in the opposite direction.
(7/8/2023) Get ready, because the Angry Birds are back! Rovio has announced that the world’s first “Angry Birds” themed Cafe will open today in New York City. Described as a unique “retail cafe”, the location will be called “iSwii by Angry Birds” and will feature a gaming area, photo ops and a retail shop in addition to pastries, cakes and beverages. Look for it to appear in Tangram, a new mixed-use development in the Flushing / Queens area.
(6/24/2023) While New York City isn’t known for having thrill rides, other than those at Coney Island’s Luna Park, it seems a company has gotten initial permission to build a thrill ride in Times Square. According to the local news, the NYC Dept. of Buildings has already approved the plan that would see an observation platform built at the top of a tower on a building that would also feature a 300 foot freefall ride on the side of the tower.
The concept has stirred up a bunch of locals who are opposed to the project and a public hearing has been scheduled. For the moment however, the project was approved to move forward and would be completed by 2027 if allowed.
Ohio - (12/15/2023) You can stick a fork in it, because Cincinnati's Coney Island amusement park is now officially done. According to various news articles the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and their attached management company have purchased the amusement park and site to build a new $118 million “entertainment campus” that will include “the nation’s best amphitheater” for live musical performances.
According to the latest update to the Coney Island website, they thank everyone for supporting the site over the years and state that any 2024 season passes purchased already for the Sunlite Pool will be fully refunded.
(10/3/2023) For those who fondly remember SeaWorld Ohio, huge batch of still images taken during a drone flight over the former theme park late last month have been posted to Facebook, which you can see below. Enjoy!
(6/21/2023) Most Ohio residents will remember Aurora as the former home to both SeaWorld Ohio and the Geauga Lake amusement park. For decades the two amusement parks co-existed on opposite sides of a small lake, with the two parks being merged into one giant park at one point in time when Six Flags had purchased both properties. Unfortunately things quickly went sour once Shamu departed Ohio, leading to the eventual and storied downfall of both properties.
There has been a lot of talk ever since from several parties about how they could re-develop the property in a number of ways featuring more retail, housing developments and the like, but very little has been done. Even today several structures from the former SeaWorld park still remain on site, and you can clearly spot old water flumes and numerous concrete footers from the former coasters on the Geauga Lake side.
In an interesting twist of fate, it seems that the City of Aurora itself is now making plans to buy up 40-acres of the remaining property on the SeaWorld side with the hopes of transforming it into a new public park with a pool, beach and lake-access for residents. If things move ahead as planned, there should even be a trail or boardwalk path built around the entire lake. We wish them well, as I’m sure many would cherish the opportunity to visit and enjoy this property once again, even without the roller coasters.
Oklahoma - (8/19/2023) Bartlesville’s Kiddie Park in Oklahoma turned 75 years old last year and now due to a generous $82,500 donation from a Houston couple that grew up in Bartlesville the park will be moving forward with a slate of planned improvements. From what one of our readers tells us, the small park is planning on adding a number family flat rides from Texas’s former Joyland park, including Dragon Coaster in 2024 (formerly Dragon Wagon).
(5/26/2023) A Screamscape reader stopped by the Tulsa fairgrounds to grab some great pictures of the Von Roll Skyride being taken apart for good. The intention is that the ride is benign sold to an international ride vendor who wants to refurbish and install the ride somewhere in the UAE. We don’t know if that will really pan out or not, so this may very well be last time these ride parts are seen.
(4/22/2023) The local news has confirmed that the former Tulsa Skyride is now being taken out, and the cars are being removed from the stations to be prepared for shipping. As previously reported the attraction was auctioned off to GT Amusement Services, who apparently was the only company to bid on the attraction, with plans to refurbish it and move it to a new location somewhere in the UAE, likely at a theme park there.
No location has been mentioned, so it is possible that the deal to sell and re-install the ride has not been finalized yet, but I could see it going somewhere at the Dubai Parks & Resort complex as a possibility, or a way to move guests from one park paropert to another in Abu Dhabi where Ferrari World, Warn Bros World and the soon to open SeaWorld Abu Dhabi parks all operate along with other attractions like Yas Waterworld, an F1 Racetrack and more.
(2/26/2023) According to the Von Roll VR 101 page on facebook (which I recommend for fan’s of the old theme park aerial gondola rides) it has been reported that the closed Skyride at the Tulsa Oklahoma fair appears to be sold, with plans being worked out to move the attraction and reinstall it somewhere in the UAE.
It has been mentioned previously that some kind of regulation is in place in the US that prevents these style rides from being moved and rebuilt in any new location in the US. So usually when a Von Roll system is retired, it is gone for good, with the more valuable parts and some cars being sold or sent to other still existing attractions.
So the idea that the ride may be sold and rebuilt in the UAE somewhere is kind of a refreshing change of pace, though an exact location has not been mentioned yet. According to media reports, the ride is actually planned to be sold to an Iraq-based used-ride dealer (GT Amusement Service) with the board in Tulsa having unanimously voted to begin sale negotiations on Thursday. A statement obtained from GT confirms that their plan is to refurbish the ride and relocate it to the UAE.
So where might it go? My best guess from Google maps shows an approximate length between the two stations of about 1650ft. When it comes to attractions in the UAE two locations come to mind… Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and the Dubai Parks and Resorts development in Dubai.
The Dubai location is currently home to three small theme parks, with a 4th park just announced themed to the Real Madrid football/soccer team. I could see the Skyride being installed here, either in the new park or as a fun transportation method to move guests from one side of the overall development to the other where a 1650ft long span would actually work.
While business has been slow at the Dubai project, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island has been growing by leaps and bounds, and currently includes some world reknown attractions such as Ferrari World, Warner Bros. World, the F1 Race Track, Yas Waterworld, numerous hotels and will open the world’s first new SeaWorld branded marine life park later this year. While a 1650 foot span wouldn’t get you from one end to the other of this massive development, it could be used to link guests between numerous outlying points within the resort development over busy roads to a more central location near the F1 track or Ferrari World, or as a link to a possible new future development. On a side note, I do seem to recall reading an article several years ago about how Yas Island was looking to purchase some new aerial car track based transportation system with individual cars able to move to various destinations. Since then, I’ve heard zero updates about this concept, so perhaps they’re now thinking of going old school with the Skyride, which gives the added benefit of offering some great views of their property to the riders.
(12/26/2022) It looks like things are still moving forward with the plans to build the OKANA Resort and Indoor Waterpark near Oklahoma City. An official ground-breaking ceremony took place on Oct. 31st for the project which is now hoping to open in Early 2025 if all goes well. We first mentioned the OKANA project back in October 2021, which you can see here.
(10/23/21) Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby announced plans to create a major resort destination near the newly-opened First Americans Museum along the Oklahoma River near downtown Oklahoma City. The plans feature the “OKANA Resort & Indoor Waterpark”, a $300 million project, with a first phase said to develop 40 acres of the 140 acre site with an 11-story 404-room resort hotel, a 5-acre adventure lagoon with sandy beaches good for play and relaxation, a 33,000 sqft family entertainment center, an 100,000 sqft indoor waterpark, along with a conference center, spa, golf simulator and a shopping district that will feature numerous shops and restaurants.
Future phases will expand the project and new amenities and attractions, like an amphitheater and large lawn space able to host various performances, festivals and other events. The OKANA Resort will also connect to the nearby Boathouse District through a new Oklahoma River Cruises Ferry Landing and have access pathways to the north and south side of the property. If all goes as planned, the project could be complete by late spring 2024.
Pennsylvania - (8/5/2023) According to Blooloop the new OTHERWORLD location opened in Philadelphia yesterday. If you haven’t heard of OTHERWORLD, it is similar in concept to a Meow Wolf attraction, with the original Otherworld location starting in Columbus, Ohio. The new location features over 55 unique rooms with all new designs and features, allowing guests to take a self-guided multi-dimensional tour beyond your imagination.
(5/28/2023) Long time readers will recall that the epic saga of the Conneaut Lake amusement park did not have a happy ending, as the new owner who initially promised to revive the park instead systematically began to tear it apart. The last time Screamscape reported on Conneaut Lake, the new owner had been given permission to turn it into an RV Park.
In what may consider a bit of karma’s retribution, there is one other party out there who not only isn’t happy that the park is gone, but they’ve now filed a lawsuit against the park’s owner, Keldon Holdings LLC. This lawsuit is coming from the operator of “Hotel Conneaut” who is claiming lost hotel profits and irreparable harm done to the properties reputation because the former amusement park site now looks like “a demilitarized zone”.
The operator of the hotel, “On the Lake Enterprises” signed a lease to operate the hotel from Keldon Holdings LLC, and is now holding Keldon in breach of contract. They claim that in 2021 Keldon presented them with a list of planned improvements, new rides and other upgrades they were going to put in place at the Conneaut Lake Amusement Park. Obviously the amusement park is a key attractor for guests to stay at the Hotel Conneaut and based on this presentation from Keldon, On the Lake Enterprises negotiated a new lease agreement to continue to operate the hotel, in exchange Keldon ‘agreed to ensure that the park would be maintained in such a way as to draw customers who, when they arrived, would spend money at the Hotel Conneaut for food, events, and lodging.”
Keldon’s ownership of the amusement park resulted in anything but what was promised. According to the lawsuit, “the Defendant (Keldon) never intended to maintain the park in such a way. Instead, the Defendant (Keldon) intended, in bad faith, to systematically dismantle the park. That nefarious plan was carried out over the years following the execution of the hotel lease.”
“During that time period, the Defendant (Keldon) removed from the park its water park and rides”.
“Moreover, during that same time the Defendant (Keldon) caused the park to look like a demilitarized zone, such that few people would ever want to hold an event, eat, or lodge at the Hotel Conneaut. These events are direct and material breaches of the hotel lease.
South Carolina - (1/24/2024) According to some images posted to social media, Shipwreck Cove in Duncan, SC is planning a $6.2 to $6.5 million expansion that will see 10 to 12 new waterslides added from Polin, including a pirate ship themed version of Polin’s King Cobra slide.
(12/27/2023) According to a news report a go-kart track in Myrtle Beach (Broadway Grand Prix) is being sued by a family following claims that their 13-year old daughter is now permanently disfigured by an accident at the attraction. According to the article the 13-year old’s kart crashed into another kart and then caught on fire. The child was unable to free herself from the go-kart as it caught fire, causing severe burns and “mental anguish” as a result.
South Dakota - (11/22/2023) An interesting mixed-use concept called Libertyland USA Theme Park & Resort has been proposed for Black Hills, South Dakota. A link about the project has been posted to the Storyland Studios website, where they describe features like the theme park, a residential district, a retail & dining area, a 300-room hotel with an indoor waterpark and a nearby RV park and campground.
They aren’t real clear on the timeline for this project, which probably means that things are still pretty fluid right now and very much in the blue-sky design phase. According to a local news report however a developer associated with the project tnear Rapids City mentioned a 2026 opening date, but the last actual movement on the project came in November 2022 when a parcel of property that appears to be part of this project was approved for re-zoning. At the time of the 2022 re-zoning request, the developers said that the project would be built up in two phases, with a completion not expected until 2030.
So with a new 2026 being mentioned, this may perhaps be the goal they are shooting for to open the first phase, though we don’t know exactly what sections of the resort property that entails at this time.
Tennessee - (2/1/2024) K1 Speed, a huge operator of indoor go-kart attractions across the US (86 locations) has confirmed that they have plans to build yet another large center in Tennessee. The chain opened their first Tennessee location in Nashville in 2023 and just opened another in Memphis, and will follow this up with the opening of a massive 105,000 sqft location in Knoxville this summer.
(12/18/2023) A tornado struck Hendersonville, TN, just on the outskirts of Nashville this week. A video has been posted showing off the destruction caused by the storm to the “Big Play” attraction space, along with other footage shot by people inside the crowded attraction at the time of the storm’s impact.
(7/9/2023) The creative team behind “The Escape Game” company are launching a new entertainment concept this month at Opry Mills in Nashville, TN this summer called “Great Big Game Show”. The concept will place two teams against each other in a game-show style experience, featuring a variety of puzzles and challenges to solve to see who will win. The initial location will feature two of the private game ‘studios’, each able to host up to 12 players at a time in private team-vs-team experiences, each lasting an hour.
(6/30/21) A new theme park has been proposed for the Nashville, Tennessee area that would be called Storyville Gardens. According to a report at Coaster101, the park would feature four lands, each one themed to a different corner of the world: Africa, America, Asia and Europe. The entrance to the park would lie in the Africa section of the 100-acre theme park that would then branch off into the other lands, complete with rides, shows and other attractions.
The design of the park comes from Storyland Studios and Guerrier Development who hope to not only fill the family entertainment void left in Nashville after Opryland USA closed in 1997, but they also plan to build the park as a way to encourage literary. The developers state that currently almost 70% of young children are not up to their proper grade level in reading ability, so they hope to fill the park with wonderful stories to encourage the desire to read more at home about what they learn at the park.
More information will be available soon at the park’s official website, which currently lists a planned opening of Spring 2025.
Texas - (7/23/2023) TexasLand USA… a new theme park concept is apparently being pitched for the Houston area by a local entrepreneur. Like so many people before, they remember that Houston’s own Astroworld theme park closed back in 2005 and the city has never been quite the same without it. In fact, Houston would be the only major city in Texas without a theme park right now, as even Austin is working on building COTAland.
Meanwhile Houston can also claim to belong to the short list of major cities that once had a large theme park, only to see them closed and the land sold off to developers. In that regard Astroworld shares some history with other closed parks like Opryland in Nashville, Geauga Lake outside Cleveland, Bell’s in Tulsa and even the original Coney Island theme parks. Currently the hourglass is also ticking down to the eventual demise of Elitch Gardens in Colorado, which is being removed to make way for more urban mixed-use development projects.
Does Houston deserve a new theme park? Sure it does! The loss of any long standing theme park to a community is not something easily measured. Historically it has also proven to be something extremely difficult to come back from, due to the complexity involved in creating a new theme park from scratch. Plus the need for very deep pockets to see the dream become a reality. I wish them all the luck in the world, but until they are ready to start construction, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Virginia - (3/29/23) While there is a long way to go, a local news article reports that Massanutten Village in Northern Virginia was approved for a zoning request that will allow more outdoor recreation opportunities in the area, rather than the other proposal to use the site for multi-family homes. It goes on to say that Great Eastern Resort Corporation “plans to add a roller coaster ride to this area”, though I believe this may be in reference to building a Mountain or Alpine Coaster attraction and not a traditional amusement park style roller coaster. At this point the rezoning request still has to get final approval from the local Board of Supervisors in April.
Washington - (6/3/2023) The amazing looking alpine coaster at the Leavenworth Adventure Park in Washington is now open. Check out the video below that has some amazing footage of the Tumwater Twister in action. Visit the official website for all the details on how to get there and ride it yourself.
(4/16/2023) A brand new alpine coaster is expected to open next month in Leavenworth, Washington. I believe it will be called the Tumwater Twister and will be the first alpine coaster in the state, located at the entrance to the Tumwater Canyon.
This new Wiegand Alpine Coaster is just one piece of the new Leavenworth Adventure Park complex under construction that will also feature a Bungee Trampoline, Climbing Wall, and a Mining Sluice for the kids. Take a look at the official website and they’ve got some images and video footage that show off the amazing scenery. In the meantime, you can enjoy a picture of it taken about a year-ago while it was under construction, showing the view from the top. (photo credit: Will Rocket)
I’m not familiar with the area, but it seems Leavenworth is one of those cute little mountain towns that has an entirely Bavarian themed, features a ton of charm, German style food, festivals, awesome Christmas decor in the winter and more. The town is located in the middle of the state, about a 2 hour drive from Seattle, and 3 hours from Spokane.