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.
IAAPA Expo 2023 has come and gone with some cool new announcements. In this edition I’ll also discuss some major changes coming to the amusement industry.
LTL;DR (Line Too Long; Didn’t Ride)
Looping Through the Latest News
AOA, S&S, Hasbro, and Seven partner to bring Axis to life
Top Thrill 2
Polin Zip n Slide
Six Flags/Cedar Fair Merger
Dollywood Open Heartsong Lodge
Nessie gets new life
Knott's Berry Farm
LOOPING THROUGH THE LATEST NEWS
S&S Announces the first Axis coaster
AOA has partnered with S&S, Seven, and Hasbro to design the world’s first Axis coaster. Originally announced back in 2019, this coaster concept has riders pivoting about an axis parallel to the track and has truly unique dynamics. Hasbro and Seven came to AOA for help designing a Transformers themed environment for their new family entertainment facilities coming to Saudi Arabia. When asked about the story for the attraction Ilana Kirschbaum, Creative Lead, replied “Guests will find themselves whirling through Trypticon Prison and the Kaon skyline breaking into the prison and coming face-to-face with the Dinobot Grimlock.” Asking Damien Latham, Chief Attractions Officer at Seven about the new facility in the middle east he replied, “Whether you're a fan of Transformers or you're just a fan of amazingly themed attractions, you're going to love this ride and this facility.” We here at AOA are excited for this collaboration between us, Hasbro, Seven, and S&S and we look forward to opening day!
Holiday World has really hit the nail on the head with their new family attraction Good Gravy! The train was recently unveiled at IAAPA at the Vekoma booth and it looks just like the china my grandmother had. In fact, we learned from Holiday World that the trains have been hand sculpted and hand painted which isn’t something you see every day in the coaster industry. Holiday World is really focused on the details with this attraction and I’m excited to race through a can of cranberry sauce when the coaster opens next year.
Top Thrill 2 Updates
Zamperla unveiled the Top Thrill 2 trains at IAAPA and they look fantastic. The wheels have a diameter of around 22 inches which is as big as a dinner plate. Cedar Point also released a video with news that the 420 foot backwards spike has finished installation. The pictures from the top of the spike are terrifying. Cedar Point has also shared some videos of Top Thrill 2 completing it’s first test runs over the top hat. It certainly looks like this coaster will be ready for opening day in the spring.
At the Intamin booth, we got our first look at the trains for Falcon’s Flight at Six Flags Qiddiya. When it opens, it will be the tallest, fastest, and longest roller coaster in the world. To put it into scale, the coaster will travel over 2 miles with a top speed of 156 miles per hour. It will have an elevation change of over 600 feet which is almost as tall as the St. Louis Gateway Arch. This will be an incredible coaster to watch construction for.
Polin Waterparks Zip ‘n Slide
One product I found incredibly innovative at IAAPA was the Zip ‘n Slide concept from Polin Waterparks. It combines a roller coaster, waterslide, and a zipline to give riders a thrilling experience. It would be really cool to be sliding along and then have the slide drop out from under you like in a cartoon. I could also see this concept working well with heavily themed elements
Six Flags and Cedar Fair Merger
In what is likely the largest industry news story of the decade, the Six Flags and Cedar Fair companies have decided to merge in an 8-billion-dollar deal. The combined company would now have 27 amusement parks and 15 waterparks. There isn’t a lot that is known about how the guest experience will change, but it has been confirmed that they will offer a combined season pass, which is awesome!
Credit: James Eister
Dollywood opens Heartsong Lodge
Dollywood has been knocking it out of the park lately, and speaking of out of the park, they just opened their new Heartsong Lodge & Resort. In addition to the DreamMore Resort, Dollywood now has a second resort. When asked about the resort Dolly said “HeartSong is about the Smoky Mountains and why I continue to come back home year after year.” With its high vaulted ceilings and wood beams, the resort really does feel like a secluded getaway in the Smoky Mountains. AOA is proud to have helped with the execution of this project.
Loch Ness Monster Refurbishment
It isn’t very often we see parks keep coasters around after their service life has been exhausted. Busch Gardens Williamsburg decided to extend the life of its most iconic coaster: Loch Ness Monster. Nessie was originally designed and built by Arrow Dynamics, but since they aren’t around anymore, Premier Rides has been tasked with reconstructing the beast. Premier is replacing over 900 feet of track on the coaster. I hope this improves the ride quality, because it was quite rough when I rode it this summer. In any case, it is super exciting to see a park investing in keeping around such a historic and iconic coaster.
Credit: James Eister
THIS QUARTER'S TRIP REPORT
Knott’s Berry Farm
Using our Cedar Fair Platinum passes, we paid a late season visit to “America’s oldest theme park” Knott’s Berry Farm. This amazing park is full of charm and I hope Cedar Fair (and Six Flags) takes care of it for years to come. This park has what I consider two of the most influential rides on the industry: Timber Mountain Log Ride and Calico Mine Ride. Both of these rides inspired rides across the nation including Splash Mountain, Blazing Fury/Fire in the Hole, and many others. It’s really great to see how Knott’s has plussed these attractions over the years with the addition of many Garner Holt animatronics and new audio.
I had not visited since the rethemed dark ride to Knotts Berry Tales. It was amazing and one of my favorite dark rides. They Boysenberry scents and the mix of screens and sets really made this a special ride.
Xcelerator had just reopened the day before we went to Knott’s. This was my first Intamin hydraulic launch coaster, and while it is a one trick pony, that one trick is really good. 0-82 mph in just 2.3 seconds, the ride really is a rush.
We had a wonderful visit to this park and I hope Cedar Fair keeps the charm alive in the future.
That’s all for this edition.
Stay tuned for our next quarterly issue!
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