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AMUSE!ngs: April 2023

Amuseings Quarterly Amusement Industry Blog

Welcome to Amuseings: a quarterly blog where we explore the amusing details behind themed entertainment’s newest amusements.

I’m James Eister, P.E.; As part of AOA’s Strategic Engineering + Development team, my day-to-day includes navigating the ins and outs of ride systems and keeping up-to-date with ride news. I started this blog to share this news with AOA’s readers and offer an at-a-glance look at what’s going on in the ride and show world.

This edition has some really exciting developments, along with the review of TRON Lightcycle / Run and Legoland Florida’s new attraction, Pirate River Quest!


LTL;DR (Line Too Long; Didn’t Ride)

  • Looping Through the Latest News

    • Disney SXSW robot

    • Dollywood 2024 projects

    • Aquaman: Power Wave

    • Ice Breaker height requirement update

    • New theme parks coming to Texas

    • Fire in the Hole

  • Trip Reports

    • TRON Lightcycle / Run

    • Legoland Florida Pirate River Quest




While we are still in the off-season, there are some exciting developments in the world of theme parks and attractions. I can’t wait to get out and experience some new parks this year!

Disney SXSW Robot

A robotic bunny rolls across a stage on roller skates

In Disney’s “The Art & Science Behind Disney’s Timeless Storytelling," presentation at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference, a small bunny tumbled out of a box and onto the stage. The bunny, which has similarities to Zootopia’s Judy Hopps, proceeded to roll across the stage on roller skates and do a somersault. One of the presenters even picked up the bunny and put it on his shoulders. This amazing technology is meant to create an “emotional connection with our guests.” I think this is an excellent example of innovation within the themed entrainment space as we should always strive to make an emotional connection with our audiences.

Dollywood 2024 Project

Dollywood announced that in 2024 The Dolly Parton Experience will be coming to Dollywood! A new interactive experience showcasing Dolly’s “family keepsakes and career mementos,” will be in the home of the former Chasing Rainbows Museum at the park.

A street with tall buildings with lots of colorful butterflies

The experience expands further with a visit to Dolly’s Tennessee Mountain Home, a new wardrobe experience, and a new show showcasing her faith and family. This is great news for Dollywood as the museum has been closed for a while and is in a part of the park that needs revitalizing. I’m really excited to see these changes implemented in 2024 and also excited for Big Bear Mountain to open in May!

Aquaman: Power Wave – Six Flags over Texas

After being announced in 2019, Aquaman: Power Wave, the first Mack PowerSplash ride in the United States, has finally opened. The ride was delayed mid-construction to add a turntable to increase the ride’s capacity. The ride launches riders backwards and forwards and backwards again before the big splashdown to end the ride. The most innovative aspect of this attraction is the high-capacity pumps that fill the reservoir with water just before the boat splashes down. After the ride is over, the pumps remove the water in the reservoir for the next ride.

A blue water roller coaster makes a big splash with a roller coaster and a drop tower in the background

Update: Ice Breaker Height Requirement

An orange roller coaster dives down from a big hill with an observation tower and trees in the background

I had previously reported that Ice Breaker at SeaWorld Orlando had “useless comfort collars” and sported a 54” height requirement. I am excited to write that as of this article being published, the comfort collars have been removed (and replaced with seatbelts) and the height requirement has been reduced to 48”. As a family coaster, it is great news that more of the family can ride this exciting attraction.

Credit: James Eister

Texas’s New Theme Parks

While Texas has a few amusement and theme parks such as Six Flags Over Texas, Fiesta Texas, and SeaWorld San Antonio, the theme park scene in Texas is largely untapped, until now. Universal Parks & Resorts announced that a new family park was coming to the Frisco area (outside Dallas-Fort Worth). The new park and hotel complex will focus on attractions for the whole family (as opposed to the heavy thrill-based parks in Florida and California). Shortly after the Universal announcement, Merlin Entertainments announced that a second Peppa Pig Theme Park is coming to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The first Peppa Pig Theme Park, located at Legoland Florida, has been a huge hit with families; even my wife and I had a great time. I look forward to seeing the future of theme parks in Texas and how they will flourish!

Concept art of a new theme park and hotel surrounding a lake

Fire in the Hole – Silver Dollar City

Silver Dollar City has given fans plenty of notice that Fire in the Hole is closing at the end of the 2023 season. Fire in the Hole is a custom built powered indoor roller coaster that opened 51 years ago in 1972. The story of the coaster chronicles a burning mining town that guests race through and try to help save it from the fire. Guests eventually find the water at the end of the ride where the ride splashes down. This is one of the most historic coasters in the United States and while I am sad to see it close, I know Silver Dollar City has plans in store for its replacement.

People sit in a roller coaster car and ride past a burning building



My wife and I had the opportunity to participate in a passholder preview of the new TRON Lightcycle / Run roller coaster at Magic Kingdom. The queue and the ride look fantastic. The on-ride visuals of racing next to another Lightcycle were stunning. The launch was great and much faster than I was anticipating (it’s only 10mph less than Velocicoaster’s second launch). I will say, the restraints and loading procedure are a little tricky. I think this might cause some capacity problems from slow loading, but overall, it’s a really fun, well-done ride.

Credit: James Eister

My wife and I also had the chance to preview Legoland Florida’s new attraction: Pirate River Quest. I had heard about the boat ride through the canals Cypress Gardens used to have. I was looking forward to checking out the updates Legoland had done to the ride. I thought the ride itself was well done, with lots of large, vibrant sets that interacted with the boat. It’s definitely a ride created with the younger crowd in mind, and I think it works really well as a family ride. However, capacity is a huge issue with this ride. The ride is 20 minutes long and the boats only hold 12 people and are tricky to load and unload. They only have 4 or 5 boats, which would put the hourly capacity around 144 guests per hour (for reference a small wild mouse type coaster has a capacity of around 1000 guests per hour). Aside from capacity issues, this is sure to be a hit for the park!

Credit: James Eister


That’s all for this quarter’s edition.

Stay tuned for more industry news and a trip report from Carowinds’s new area, Aeronautica Landing!

Be sure to check out James' IAPPA '22 Vlog on our Youtube: IAAPA 2022 Amuse!ngs Vlog | 4K


If you like this content and would like to hear more, let us know! Want to know more about something James' has shared? Send an email to and we'll be sure to mention it in a coming issue. As always, we appreciate your continued support.

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