AMUSE!ngs: October 2023
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 a trip report from my first visit to Cedar Point and Kings Island!
LTL;DR (Line Too Long; Didn’t Ride)
Looping Through the Latest News
Lightning Rod Gets New Life
Fire in the Hole 2.0
Six Flags/Cedar Fair Announcements
Top Thrill 2
The Flash: Vertical Velocity
RMC Wild Moose
Good Gravy! Holiday World Gets a New Coaster
Journey of Water
LOOPING THROUGH THE LATEST NEWS
We are winding down the summer amusement park season and are deep into Halloween haunt season, but this quarter produced a lot of surprising (and not so surprising) announcements.
Lightning (Rod) Strikes a Third Time
It was announced that after seven years of sporadic operations, the world’s first launched wooden and/or hybrid coaster would be no more. Dollywood has announced that Lighting Rod will be closing at the end of October for the park to retrofit the coaster with a fast chain lift. Eugene Naughton, president of Dollywood Parks, said in a video, “When you pop over that hill at 13 mph, it will be almost the same speed chain versus launch, and the ride home is going to be exactly the same.” Overall, I think this is a win for Dollywood; even if they lose the gimmick of the launch, the greater uptime will be well worth it.
Credit: James Eister
Fire in the Hole 2.0
Silver Dollar City announced a new and improved version of their classic dark ride, Fire in the Hole, is coming to the park in 2024. The new state of the art dark ride roller coaster will be manufactured by Rocky Mountain Construction and will feature a similar layout to the original with three drops and a splashdown finale. I’m ecstatic that the next generation of parkgoers will get to experience a similar attraction from the park’s past.
Six Flags and Cedar Fair Announcements
Cedar Fair announced a few new coasters for next year. Perhaps the most exciting announcement came out of Cedar Point with the rehab of Top Thrill Dragster into Top Thrill 2. The Intamin hydraulic launch coaster will be turned into a LSM launched coaster and the work will be done by Zamperla. They will also add a massive spike that the coaster will traverse going 100 miles per hour backwards.
Kings Island announced a new Camp Snoopy area complete with a Vekoma Junior Boomerang coaster. In addition to the new coaster, they are also adding a kids’ playground. Kings Island has won the Golden Ticket award for best kids’ area in years prior (this year it was won by Dollywood), so this might push the award back in their favor.
For the first time in 16 years, Dorney Park will be receiving a new roller coaster: Iron Menace. The new dive coaster from B&M will feature a 160 foot, 95-degree beyond vertical drop. Dorney Park is in an area of the country with the most competitive regional amusement parks (Hershey Park, Six Flags Great Adventure, Knoebels, Kennywood, etc.) so this will be an excellent addition to drive attendance to the park.
Six Flags Great Adventure announced the first Vekoma super boomerang coaster in North America. While many people are hesitant for this addition because the capacity is low (around 800 people per hour), I am excited to see a new age large scale Vekoma coaster coming to the US market.
Wild Moose Coaster from RMC
Rocky Mountain Construction (RMC) announced a new coaster concept, Wild Moose, targeted at the many aging Wild Mouse coasters from manufacturers like Mack Rides, Zamperla, and Reverchon. This compact family coaster concept uses RMC’s I-Box track system (found on many of their other installations) with redesigned family coaster trains. While I don’t think we’ll see one of these coasters initially, it is a good option for parks looking to replace some of their aging roller coasters.
Good Gravy! Coaster Coming to Holiday World
Good Gravy! Holiday World in Indiana is getting a new Vekoma Junior Boomerang coaster. This highly themed coaster centers around a visit to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. The trains will be themed to a gravy boat and will dodge kitchen utensils throughout the course including going through a giant can of cranberry sauce. This will be Holiday World’s first family coaster adding to their LEGENDary wooden coaster lineup.
THIS QUARTER'S TRIP REPORT
After traveling for 14 hours straight through Wednesday night into Thursday morning due to a flight diversion, we finally arrived at a wet and rainy Cedar Point. The park had posted on social media that due to the rain, openings may be delayed for the day which was to be expected. The park opened at 9:30 for early entry and, to no one’s surprise, nothing was open. In fact, rides did not start opening until 11:30-12 which started with Wild Mouse and Gatekeeper.
Wild Mouse was a really good new coaster from Zamperla. I look forward to seeing the new products from Zamperla in the future.
Gatekeeper was a fun wing coaster from B&M. The setting going through the keyholes of the front entrance and waving to the people at the entrance plaza was fun.
Since Millennium Force opened in 2000, I thought it would make an excellent 200th roller coaster in my roller coaster journey. It was fun, fast, had lots of airtime, and was decently forceful.
At this point in the day (about 3:00pm), Gemini was the only other coaster that had opened and we learned the back of the park (where Steel Vengeance and Maverick are) would not open for the day. In fact, I never saw Rougarou, Iron Dragon, Cedar Creek Mine Ride, Maverick, Steel Vengeance, and Raptor open on Thursday. Many flat rides never opened either. I can understand weather disrupting the operations of a park, but not letting guests know ahead of time that half of the park would be closed (not just “delayed”) leads to a poor guest experience.
Wait time and ride availability data provided courtesy of thrill-data.com.
We returned to the park on Friday and had a slightly better day. However, we were misinformed by staff that the back of the park would be closed which almost caused us to leave for the day since we really wanted to ride Steel Vengeance and Maverick. We saw the Cedar Point and Lake Erie Railroad running and decided to hop on since they had a stop in the back of the park and to our surprise, the train let us off right at the entrance to Maverick which was open.
Maverick was a fantastic coaster; it was fast, had loads of airtime and whippy transitions, and it’s only just over 100 feet tall. Bigger is not always better when it comes to coasters, and Maverick proves that.
After Maverick, we walked over to Steel Vengeance, my most anticipated coaster of the trip. Oh my, did it deliver. My wife and I very rarely agree on opinions of coasters, but as soon as we hit the brake run, we both turned to each other and agreed that it was our favorite coaster. It was so amazing that we ended up waiting in line two other times to ride it.
The most surprising coaster of the trip ended up being Magnum XL-200. I knew it had lots of airtime, but it was way more violent than expected. My wife and I were laughing at how surprising the ride was, but we didn’t want to ride again due to the violent nature of the ride.
Overall, Cedar Point was an okay amusement park. The lack of guest service and communication wasn’t good, but the quality and setting of the coasters in this park was amazing.
After we visited Cedar Point, my wife and I drove down to Mason, Ohio to visit Kings Island. I had high expectations for this park since it’s pretty highly regarded in the industry. We arrived Saturday evening and headed straight to The Beast. I wouldn’t say that it was my favorite coaster, but the world’s longest wooden coaster was certainly interesting. I’m sure the recent retracking helped to make it much smoother than in the past.
Mystic Timbers was by far the standout at the park. The overall ride is amazing and is highlighted by the “What’s in the shed?” moment at the end of the ride.
We returned on Sunday morning to finish up the rest of the rides we didn’t ride Saturday night. Unfortunately, a large health organization was having their company picnic at the park, which made it very busy (most rides had 60-90 minute waits), and we left before noon.
While most of the park wasn’t well themed, I found the addition and rehab of the Adventure Port a step in the right direction. As the best themed area in the park, it does stick out like a sore thumb. Hopefully Kings Island will add more themed areas in the future to complement the fantastic Adventure Port.
The last coaster we rode was Adventure Express. This coaster was recently refurbished and new props and theming was added to the queue; it looked great!
Journey of Water
I got the chance to preview the new addition to Epcot this year: Journey of Water. Overall, I think the attraction is really nice and a great addition to Epcot. The attraction leans into the “Edutainment” aspect of Epcot with lots of signs and interactive areas relating to the water cycle. The interactive elements of the attraction are super fun and will cool you off on a hot day, but won’t get you so wet that you’re soaked.
AOA is proud to have helped with the execution of the Te Fiti figure as well as the execution of the overall attraction.
That’s all for this edition.
Stay tuned for my annual IAAPA recap issue!
Be sure to check out James' IAPPA '22 Vlog on our Youtube: IAAPA 2022 Amuse!ngs Vlog | 4K
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