Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Photostream: Nickelodeon Universe, June 2011

I know it's a bit late, but I've uploaded my photos from Nick Universe. These were taken on my trip about a week ago. There's not a lot, all unedited as usual. Nickelodeon Universe has also been added to my Park Impressions list, which is growing ever longer...

As always, click on the photo to see more. Enjoy the pics!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Orlando Thrill Park Plans Abandoned

I-Drive Investors LLC dropped plans today to develop Orlando Thrill Park, a collection of high thrill rides and roller coasters, on International Drive in Orlando, Florida. The Orlando Municipal Planning Board has previously rejected zoning changes for the project, due to worries that park noise would affect homes nearby. I-Drive Investors LLC and the city have agreed to hold public hearings about land-use changes for the site, although plans for a thrill park will not be permitted. Representatve for the land owner Neil Frazee said that the developer will "return to the drawing board" and that there are no "alternative plans for the property at this point."

You can read the full article at the Orlando Sentinel.
Feel free to discuss this news with other readers in the comments below!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Photostream: Valleyfair, June 2011

It seems as though there was some trouble with the Elitch Gardens photo link - it led to our Universal Studios Park Impression. I apologize for that, and I think it should work properly now. Anyway, you can click on the image above to view all 87 pictures from Valleyfair. Enjoy!

A Small Progress Update...

Hey guys,

I apologize for the lack of activity for the last few days. I've been out at Cedar Point and Kalahari, so at least this means that I can add those to the list of future Park Impressions. I'm going to try to have the pictures from Valleyfair up later today - they're uploading as I speak. As for the Kings Island Park Impression, I'm working on it, but it will be at least another week before I get it up.

On another note, Park Impressions is doing well. We've had our highest number of viewers ever this month, as well as increasing support on Twitter. I really appreciate it, so thank you!

As a final note, our poll will end tonight. It's been kind of slow, and I think this will be the last poll for a little while. I have a few other ideas for the site that I'm working on, so we'll see what happens. Keep an eye here and on our Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Photostream: Elitch Gardens, June 2011

We're going to do this a little differently...

I'm using a new free image hosting service called imgur, which is a lot easier to use than Picasa Web Albums. I'll be uploading previous park photos to imgur over the next few days, but for now, you can click on the image above to view photos from Elitch Gardens. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Mythos" coming to Europa Park

In addition to the Bell Rock Hotel, Europa Park has announced the addition of Mythos to its coaster lineup for 2012. Mythos will be a GCI wooden coaster positioned in the Icelandic section of the park. Mythos will stand 115 feet tall and will travel at approximately 62 mph, for a total length of about 3445 feet long. The video below is a short presentation about Mythos, but it is in German:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cedar Fair Names Former Disney Executive Matthew A. Ouimet President of the Company

Cedar Fair Press Release
SANDUSKY, OHIO, June 20, 2011 – Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN) today announced that Matthew A. Ouimet has been named president of the Company, effective immediately. Ouimet, 53, will succeed Dick Kinzel, 70, as chief executive officer, who will retire upon the expiration of his contract on January 3, 2012. Today’s action is in line with Cedar Fair’s previously announced CEO succession planning process.
Ouimet is a 20 year veteran of the amusement park and hospitality industry, of which 17 years were spent with the Walt Disney Company (“Disney”). During his tenure with the global entertainment conglomerate, he had the opportunity to work in a wide range of business lines with increasing levels of responsibility. Highlights of his tenure at Disney include serving as:
  • Senior vice president, finance and business development, and chief financial officer of the Disney Development Company, in which he was responsible for the financial management of Disney’s resort, theme park and corporate real estate projects in California, Florida and France;
  • Executive general manager of Disney Vacation Club, where, through expanded marketing and sales initiatives, Disney established itself as a major competitor in the timeshare industry;
  • President of Disney Cruise Line, where his team built the most successful family cruise product in the industry;
  • President of the Disneyland Resort, where he and his team developed and implemented a comprehensive strategic plan that resulted in significantly improved and sustained performance for Disneyland’s 50th anniversary and beyond.
    In 2006, Ouimet was recruited to serve as the President of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, overseeing 900 owned, managed and franchised hotel properties in 95 countries. In this capacity, in support of brand-driven pricing premiums, he drove an operational focus on delivering a guest experience consistent with the characteristics of each of Starwood’s hotel brands, including St Regis, Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels and five other brands. In 2008, Ouimet joined Corinthian Colleges, a $2 billion, publicly-held, post-secondary education company which operates in the U.S. and Canada. As President and Chief Operating Officer, Ouimet championed executive talent development and the expansion of management and systems infrastructure to support rapid growth in the student population and expanded regulatory complexity. 
    “Without question, Matt is the right leader to join Cedar Fair now as it builds momentum on its renewed path of sustained, profitable growth in 2011 and beyond,” said C. Thomas (“Tom”) Harvie, independent chairman.  “Throughout his career, Matt has proven to be a critical thinker and effective business strategist with an enviable track record for identifying growth opportunities within existing businesses in the amusement park and resort industry. His broad and diverse background in resort development, finance, marketing and operations will allow him to integrate quickly into Cedar Fair.
    “While our thorough search process with the assistance of the executive search firm Korn/Ferry International enabled us to meet with and consider many extremely qualified candidates, the Board agreed that Matt stood out from the rest due to his strategic business mindset and his natural and engaging leadership style,” said Harvie.
    “Matt is an impressive business and operational executive whose character and values will be a great complement to the strong Cedar Fair culture,” said Dick Kinzel, chief executive officer. “I look forward to working with him over the coming months to ensure a seamless leadership transition.”
    Ouimet currently serves on the Board of Collective Brands, Inc., a $3.4 billion global enterprise encompassing the internationally recognized footwear brands of Payless, Sperry Top-Sider, Stride Rite and Saucony, where he serves as a financial expert on the audit and finance committee. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree majoring in accounting from State University of New York at Binghamton. 
     “I am thrilled to join this successful Cedar Fair leadership team. I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to work closely with Dick Kinzel and to continue to build on his legacy in years to come,” said Matt Ouimet. “Cedar Fair is a wonderful company – its properties are vibrant and extremely well-run, its reputation is superb, and the record-setting 2010 performance has put us on a path to deliver the positive financial results Cedar Fair has long been known for. I am truly honored to have this opportunity and sincerely thank the Board for entrusting me with this critical leadership role at this pivotal point in Cedar Fair’s evolution.”
    “On behalf of the Board, the management team and all of our colleagues past and present, I would like to thank Dick Kinzel for his unparalleled vision, passion and selfless dedication to Cedar Fair over the years,” said Harvie. “Without Dick, Cedar Fair would not have the opportunities or the growth potential it has today. He has been the heart and soul of this organization for many, many years and, while he can be succeeded, he can never be replaced. We wish Dick and his wonderful family all the very best as he moves into his well-deserved retirement at the end of the year.”
    Kinzel began his career in the amusement park industry at Cedar Point in 1972. In 1986, he was named president and chief executive officer of Cedar Fair, L.P., the parent company of the parks, which was listed on The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: FUN) in 1987. Kinzel also served as chairman of the Board from 2003 to 2010.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    2010 Theme Index Released

    Hey guys,

    The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and AECOM Economics have released their 2010 Theme Index, the "Global Attractions Attendance Report." You can view the full report here, but here are some of the highlights:

    • North American parks saw an average 1.8% attendance increase in 2010
    • Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Florida was again the most-visited park in the world, though the park saw a 1.5% decrease in attendance compared to 2009.
    • Disney Parks make up the top 8 most-visited parks worldwide.
    • Universal Studios Islands of Adventure saw a 30.2% increase in attendance in 2010 due to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
    • Most European parks saw decreases in attendance, while attendance at Asian parks generally rose in 2010.
    • Worldwide, waterparks generally saw increases in attendance, whereas in the U.S., the top 5 waterparks saw decreases in attendance though others saw increases.
    • The top amusement parks in North America, Asia, and Latin America, as well as waterparks worldwide and in the U.S. saw the highest attendance levels since 2005.
    • Top amusement parks in Europe saw a continued decrease in attendance from 2008, despite an overall increase from 2005.

    As always, a very interesting report that any enthusiast should check out. The outlook is optimistic from here based on these statistics. Hopefully we'll see these upward trends continue.

    Again, you can view the full report here.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Impression: Universal Studios Florida

    Universal Studios Florida was one of the most rushed park visits I have ever done. Now, that’s not saying much considering that some people make it a sport to see how many they can fit in. Between the two parks, there was just a bit too much to do in only one day. If anything good came out of the day, it was that now I know I have to go back soon.

    We actually flew down to Florida for a long weekend. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision that we came up with on a Thursday night, booking the flights on the spot. We flew into Miami the next day to see family for a day or so. On Saturday, we made the three-hour drive up to Orlando.

    I have always wanted to go to Orlando. It’s arguably the amusement park capitol of the world, with Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, and Busch Gardens nearby. The sad part is, I hadn’t been to Orlando since I was very young, and I don’t remember any of it. I was really looking forward to this trip - I had hoped to do a two week vacation someday where I’d do absolutely everything. This was a travel plan forming in the back of my mind. For this weekend, though, I knew that one park would have to suffice. I decided that Universal would be the best to do, as I figured it would be easy to move between the two parks easily, and they had the biggest coasters in the Orlando area. Not to mention that I am a big Harry Potter fan….

    We arrived at the park around 11:30 on a Sunday - not a great start to an already full day. Anyway, we saved some time and did the valet parking, and hurried in to buy our 2-park tickets. We started off at Universal Studios, planning to do Islands of Adventure in the afternoon, and getting a quick lunch in the Citywalk in between.

    The first thing we did in the park was run to Hollywood: Rip Ride Rockit. After all of the ups and downs it’s had, I wanted to make sure I got on it while I had the chance. If you remember from our live tweets at the park that day, it was a complete walk-on. This was a bit surprising for being a (relatively) new coaster and for being the largest in the park, but I wasn’t complaining.

    We got on the ride in all of about 10 minutes, with the walk through the queue and then the loading process. As I sat in my seat, I hurried to choose a song, which was not as easy as I would have liked. Quickly exiting the station, I resorted to the first song on the list, Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” I did, in fact, survive the ride, which was nice.

    The ride itself was a lot of fun. The non-inverting loop was great, a fun and unique element. The rest of the ride was just my type - perfectly twisty, compact, and maintained speed. My only complaint is that I wish there was just a bit more airtime, but I can live with that. Overall, an excellent ride, and a great addition to the park.

    I don’t quite know why, but we decided that Twister would be a good ride to do next. I had no idea what to expect, but it looked decent and the line was short. As for my opinion, it was pretty meh. That’s an “average” opinion, formed from my dislike of the first half of the attraction, and my approval of the second half. Really, the first video was a bit lame, and the walk-through was spoiled by the fact that the employees were shoving us along. The next “scene,” for lack of a better word, was very cool however. All of the effects were very well done, and genuinely surprising. As a whole, Twister was kind of fun, but I wish it could all be as good as the last few minutes were.

    Time was running short at that point, as we had agreed to meet family in Citywalk for lunch around 1. We knew we wouldn’t have time for much more, so we went to Revenge of the Mummy next. This actually had a bit of a line, so it’s a good thing that the queue is (a.) indoors and (b.) themed. It moved pretty fast though, and we were on the ride in about 20 minutes.

    I can now say that, having ridden both the Florida version and its California counterpart, I liked this version better. Maybe the California version was a bit hazy in my memory, but this version seemed faster, more exciting, and a longer ride as well. It had several good maneuvers, and really took advantage of the fact that riders couldn’t see what was about to happen. The California version did this to an extent, but not as well as I think it could have. Overall, this just seemed to be a step up from the “Mummy” in California.

    After we finished with Revenge of the Mummy, we were really running out of time. After getting a little lost, we ended up near Jaws, so we made that our last attraction. There was no wait for this either, which I understood after I’d ridden it. It wasn’t bad, it was just a little… lame? I guess it was fun and all, but not something I needed to ride again. I was a little disappointed that I’d ridden it, because now I didn’t have time for Men in Black, which I’d heard a lot of good things about. Not to mention the fact that the kids behind us on the boat were yelling constantly and sarcastically, just to be annoying. Not very pleasant…

    We power-walked back to the front entrance, as I grabbed a few quick pictures of Men in Black, the Simpsons Ride, and other stuff. I would have loved another ride on Hollywood: Rip Ride Rockit, but we just didn’t have time.

    We had a quick lunch at Emeril’s (which was delicious), and then headed over to Islands of Adventure. The atmosphere once you step in the gate was amazing - completely authentic, right down to the locker area (which was in a small “cave”). Called “Port of Entry,” I immediately felt like I was somewhere in the Mediterranean, a small trading village in north Africa or southern Europe. The midway was lined with shops and stalls, all fitting the theme, which was a nice break from the traditional “Main Street” theme you see at a Cedar Fair or Six Flags park.

    After doing a little bit of shopping, and stopping into a small restaurant for a drink, we headed into Seuss Landing. What a charming area, perfect for a Dr. Seuss fan. It was like I was stepping into one of Geisel’s books. My younger sisters loved the play area in the center, while we all enjoyed the Carouseussel. Cat in the Hat was one of the better non-shooting dark rides I’ve been on, but not quite as good as Winnie the Pooh was at Hong Kong Disneyland. The great thing about having these “islands” is that it’s easier to structure your day around them. By keeping the number of attractions small, you can easily ride everything and move on, without worrying that your spending too much time in one area. I really like how this park is set up.

    We kind of rushed through the Lost Continent, stopping only for pictures and to look around. As much as I wanted to try Mythos, I had just eaten at Emeril’s and there was still butterbeer waiting for me in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

    Of course, that’s where we went next. We started out by heading into Zonko’s Joke Shop, which was mostly just crowded. As a Harry Potter fan myself, I loved how everything looked and how well they had paid attention to all the little details. We headed into Honeyduke’s Candy Shop next, which had a lot of great Harry Potter candy. We ended up buying a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans and three Chocolate frogs, and hurried out before we could be tempted to buy more.

    Skipping the long line for butterbeer right outside, we instead headed to Dragon Challenge. There was a very short wait for this too - we didn’t actually stop at any point until we were in the station itself. The queue is a bit too long, I’d have to say - it really drags on for a while. The first time through, I was questioning if we’d ever actually see the light of day again.

    We did the Chinese Fireball (Fire) first, and managed to get relatively close to the front - I think I was in the third or fourth row. It was a very nice coaster, fast and forceful. It was much better than some of the newer, milder B&M inverts, and more reminiscent of the older style, as seen on Raptor or Montu. Of course, I couldn’t miss out on the Hungarian Horntail (Ice) either. We all looped back around and did it again, and this time I sat in the front row. After riding, I easily decided I liked the Horntail better. It was just as powerful as the Fireball, if not more so, and also seemed to interact better with the Fireball than vice-versa. Either way, both were excellent, and I was surprised that they didn’t have longer lines.

    We started to get hungry at that point, so we headed over to the Three Broomsticks for a quick snack and the famous butterbeer. I can’t seem to remember what I ate, except I vaguely remember that there was macaroni and cheese involved. The butterbeer was amazing, though - we tried the regular kind (not the frozen variety), and it was delicious! The soda was a bit strange itself, but the cream on top made it all better. This is something everyone should try, it really completes the Harry Potter experience!

    This was when our experience soured a bit. First, my camera died, so I didn’t manage to take any good pictures of the castle. Needless to say, I was disappointed. Anyway, it was starting to get late, and the park would close at 7 that night. We decided that the Forbidden Journey would be the best way to end the night, as we knew we wouldn’t have time to do much beyond that. The line wasn’t actually too bad, which was nice, so we hurried to put our stuff in a locker and we got in line. The queue was very well-themed and moved quickly, and before long we were in the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Unfortunately, that’s when we heard the dreaded announcement - the ride was down. We stayed in line for a good half hour, while they continued to play the same announcement over and over, with no progress update. At about 6:25, we decided that we didn’t want to wait all night, and we left the line.

    We figured that we could make it to the Incredible Hulk Coaster if we hurried. We ran through Jurassic Park, Toon Lagoon, and finally ended up in Marvel Super Hero Island at around 6:40. We got in line for the Incredible Hulk Coaster, which was only about 10 minutes long. Our ride, even in the middle of the train, was excellent. The launch was unique and fun, and the barrel roll and cobra roll over the water were really great. The whole ride was one of my favorites - it kept very good speed, and had a lot of quick maneuvers. There was a bit of head-banging in a few spots, but nothing too bad. It beat out Hollywood: Rip Ride Rockit as my favorite coaster of the day. As we exited the ride, we noticed that it was only 6:55, so we hurried to get in line one last time. We were in the back for this ride, and it was a bit rougher. Still a lot of fun though, and a great way to end the night.

    We started to head out of the park after that. I was beating myself up over not getting to ride the Forbidden Journey, but I was consoled by the fact that I had gotten two great rides on the Incredible Hulk. At least now I knew that I had to come back - not only for the missed rides, but simply because both parks were amazing. It was really a great day - a bit rushed maybe, but still a lot of fun. We managed to do a lot in one day, and I was proud that we had managed it.

    Looking back on the visit, I can’t think of any single thing I didn’t like about either park. Both were well themed, had a good selection of rides, and well-executed in design. The only mildly annoying things I can think of were Twister’s first half, the kids on Jaws, and the crazy-long queue line walk on Dragon Challenge. I really don’t have much to complain about, so those few things are the only factors that have influenced these ratings, besides the fact that I didn't get to see all of each park. When I go back, I’ll be sure to post another Park Impression with updated ratings. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this (very large) report!

    Overall Rating (Universal Studios): 8/10 Stars

    Overall Rating (Islands of Adventure): 9/10 Stars

    Sunday, June 12, 2011

    Flying Turns POV

    I don't know how we missed this, but Knoebels posted a full POV of Flying Turns to their Facebook page. While this is good progress, the park was sure to make it clear that there is still a ways to go before it can open. At least we're getting closer!

    Friday, June 10, 2011

    Holiday World Steel Coaster Survey

    Quick update...

    Holiday World has created a survey for us enthusiasts about our preferences for a possible future steel roller coaster. It contains many questions asking for your favorite steel coaster, your favorite sensation on a steel coaster, and what type of coaster would best suit Holiday World. This could have very interesting results! Once I complete it, I'll post my answers in a comment! Please fill out the survey here, and feel free to post a comment with your choices and/or thoughts.

    HodgePodge: Week of June 5, 2011

    Busch Gardens Williamsburg
    Mach Tower seems to have encountered more problems. Apparently some damage was done to the undercarriage due to incorrect installation of the brakes. Screamscape reports that, because of this, the park does not plan to announce a release date until they have dealt with all of this. Also, Mach Tower will have certain exciting new features added. According to Screamscape, these include onboard audio, a rotating carriage, and vibrating seats. Sounds a bit like SFOG's Acrophobia to me; if so, it should be exciting!

    Dorney Park
    Cedar Fair has announced the purchase of 6.75 acres of land next to Dorney Park, which will be used for expansion. Could this be for Invertigo in 2012? We'll have to wait and see. You can read the full press release here.

    Keystone Thrills has another construction update from Hersheypark, where excavation continues and supports are now on site. From the looks of it, they are Intamin's newer box supports, that are used on Intimidator 305. Check out more pictures here.

    Photo from Keystone Thrills

    Screamscape reports that some of the nasty weather we've seen lately has hit Knoebels. Apparently a very heavy storm hit the park on Thursday, with hail and high winds. As for whether or not any rides have been damaged, we do not know. Follow this link to see pictures of the destruction.

    Knott's Berry Farm
    Westcoaster stopped into Knott's again, where Ghostrider is undergoing maintenance and Windseeker is almost topped-off.

    Photo from Westcoaster

    Morey's Piers
    As most of us probably know, an 11-year-old girl fell from the Mariner's Landing Ferris Wheel and died on Friday. NYDailyNews.com reports that an eyewitness saw the girl, Abiah Jones, look over the edge of the car when she fainted and subsequently fell. As of now, the ride remains closed. You can read the full article here.

    Sea World San Diego
    Behind the Thrills has posted an update on the opening of One Ocean, as well as some pictures of the clearing for Manta. Check it out.

    Walt Disney World

    Photo from MouseSteps
    MouseSteps has an update from WDW which features the new Fantasyland Expansion. They've got a lot of great pictures of the park, with more progress on rock work and the Little Mermaid building. Check them out here.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Poll Results, and Happy Summer!


    Now that school's out, I'm going to have a lot more time to update Park Impressions! Expect to see the pace and frequency of updates increase, and keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook pages for live tweets from parks across the country. As for those, Valleyfair and Six Flags Great America may be coming up soon, but I'm not sure yet.

    Also, about that poll I keep pestering all of you about on Twitter: B&M has won with 4 votes, compared to Intamin's 2 votes and GCI's 1. I'll have the other one up this Sunday, to try to get us back on the usual schedule. Keep an eye out for that.

    One last thing... I mentioned in one of my very first posts that I am a big Roller Coaster Tycoon fan. Somehow or other, I've completely forgotten to post any of my work. A new page should pop up tomorrow for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, so please be sure to check it out.

    That's all for now!

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    Photostream: Kings Island, May 2011

    Hey guys,

    While you're waiting for my Universal Studios and Kings Island Park Impressions, here are the pictures that I took at Kings Island a few weeks ago. They're completely unedited, and there's a lot of them! Click on the image below to see all of them.

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Darth Vader Goes to Disneyland

    I just saw this great promo for Star Tours. Really funny, actually. Watch it now!

    Friday, June 3, 2011

    HodgePodge: Week of May 30, 2011

    We're back with another HodgePodge! Don't forget to vote in our poll either, it runs until Tuesday :)

    Cedar Point
    A PointBuzz member managed to get this video of Windseeker's great light display. The ride isn't open yet, but the lights have been on almost every night recently. The video is below:

    More preparations are underway for Dollywood's 2012 addition, it seems. Screamscape has some great pictures of the progress, including quite a lot of land clearing. Check it out here!

    Kentucky Kingdom
    Amusement Park Authority has posted a whole lot of pictures of the park in its current state. Kind of interesting - check them out here.

    Six Flags Magic Mountain
    CoasterForce has a quick update on Green Lantern. Apparently, the ride is scheduled to open on July 1, as problems with the loading platform have caused them to push it back from the previous June 18th opening date.

    Walt Disney World
    Screamscape managed to find a great report on the new Fantasyland expansion progress. A lot has been worked on, including more rockwork, renovations to the castle, Belle's Cottage, and more. Check out this great report over at Orlando Theme Park News.

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Photostream: Universal Studios Florida, May 2011

    Hey again!

    So I've finally managed to upload all of my photos from Universal Studios Florida last month, so here they are. Around ninety total, with no editing whatsoever. Unfortunately, I didn't manage to take very many pictures in the evening, as my camera died shortly after we entered the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them!