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AMUSE!ngs: May 2024


Amuseings Quarterly Amusement Industry Blog

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

James Eister

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.



The theme park season is about to kick into high gear so let’s explore some stories about new announcements from Universal and upcoming opening rides across the country.

 

LTL;DR (Line Too Long; Didn’t Ride)

  • Looping Through the Latest News

    • Epic Universe announcements

    • Disneyland is moving forward

    • Amazonia at Bellewaerde

    • Fire in the Hole opens at Silver Dollar City

    • GCI’s Titan Track taking over coasters

  • Trip Reports

    • Wild Adventures


LOOPING THROUGH THE LATEST NEWS

 

Epic Universe Announcements

Summer 2025 is right around the corner, and Universal is announcing new details about Epic Universe. Three of the five lands have been announced, including Celestial Park, How to Train Your Dragon - Isle of Berk, and most recently, Super Nintendo World. Starfall Racers looks like an awesome dueling coaster with great capacity, and I am most excited to ride the Mine Cart Madness coaster as it jumps the tracks. The rides and shows in this park are on another level and I know everyone is eagerly awaiting opening day. I and the team at AOA have been privileged to be a part of such an awesome project and we are sure it will knock your socks off next summer.


Disneyland expansion layout

Disneyland Moves Forward

The Disneyland Forward Project cleared a major milestone this week as it had unanimous approval from the Anaheim City Council. The vote was 7 to 0 in favor of approving the plan at an 8-hour long hearing. The council heard from community members, cast members, and Disney fans over the 8-hour time period. The Disneyland Forward Project allows Disney to work for 40 years to expand the Disneyland Resort with new parks, shopping, entertainment, and possibly hotels. We might see Disney open up a third gate in California or we may see an expansion to Disneyland or Disney’s California Adventure Park. I am excited for the future and to see what this project might bring to the Disneyland Resort.



Amazonia at Bellewaerde

Bellewaerde in Belgium recently opened their new land Mundo Amazonia. The land has four family attractions, the headliner being an Intamin rapids ride called Amazonia. This ride is absolutely crazy with a vertical lift and a large drop with a halfpipe element as seen on many waterslides. The raft then pulls into a dark building with show elements and drops vertically. I don’t think I’ve ever seen these elements on a water ride before and it’s cool to see Intamin innovate on a classic concept.


Rendering of Amazonia water ride

Fire in the Hole opens at Silver Dollar City

For two years we’ve watched a large show building rise over the Fireman’s Landing area at Silver Dollar City, and this March we finally got to find out what was inside. The creative team at Herschend Family Entertainment did a fantastic job adding new effects and updating this attraction. While this is a completely new show building, the park essentially took the same story beats from the old ride and refreshed the sets and animatronics in the ride. Rocky Mountain Construction was the primary vendor for the ride system, and this was the first family coaster they designed and built. It was really awesome that they were able to keep the iconic splashdown finale!


Artist drawing of ride Fire in the Hole

Wooden rollercoaster tracks

GCI and Skyline replace more Titan Track

Great Coasters International and Skyline Attractions have been replacing even more wooden coaster track on Predator and Boulder Dash with their new Titan Track. Titan Track is a specific type of metal track that doesn't contain any welds and replaces wooden track one to one. Most parks use this to replace wooden track in areas of high stress that they have to replace often. It greatly reduces maintenance and provides a smoother ride experience for patrons.


 

THIS QUARTER'S TRIP REPORT

Wild Adventures

Boomerang coaster

I was on the way back from a trip to Panama City Beach and I noticed Wild Adventures wasn't too far out of my way. I had never been before and I knew it was a park owned by Herschend, so I was interested to check it out. The park was in the middle of nowhere, located in Valdosta, GA. There wasn't anything around the park and I never saw any signs for the park driving to it from major highways. Upon entering the park, I realized that it was actually quite nice. There were wide pathways and lots of trees providing lots of shade from the summer heat. The park is situated around a large lake and the layout is a giant loop around the lake. Many of the coasters here are meant for children, and the park only has two major thrill coasters: a Vekoma suspended looping coaster and a Vekoma boomerang.


I had never ridden a Vekoma suspended looping coaster before and was apprehensive to try one out. It was not as bad as people said it was. There was not any head banging and it was quite a fun ride.



Wild Adventures is mostly known for the animals throughout the park. I noticed there was this safari train ride which was really cool since I wasn't expecting to see it. Even better, the park had capybaras, which are the world's largest rodent and my favorite animal. They were very cute playing by the water.


One interestingly themed ride was the Valdosta State Blazer Blast Off. It was an S&S shot tower, which was quite fun. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a ride themed to a university before…let me know if I missed one. Fun fact: this drop tower (and a lot of the park) were featured in the 2009 movie Zombieland.



Swamp Thing coaster

The park’s most unique ride has to be Swamp Thing. Themed to Bigfoot, this Vekoma Junior suspended coaster flies right over Mr. Twister, one of the park's largest alligators.


I really enjoyed walking through all of the animal trails Wild Adventures has to offer, one of which went back in the swamp and you couldn't tell that you were at a major theme park. All in all, I had a great time at Wild Adventures. It was a really fun park and I suggest you check it out if you're ever close to Valdosta, GA.



That’s all for this edition.

Stay tuned for our next quarterly issue!

 

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 blog@insideaoa.com and we'll be sure to mention it in a coming issue. As always, we appreciate your continued support.

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