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AMUSE!ngs: Q2 2022 Edition

Welcome to AMUSE!ngs: 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 quarter has some really exciting developments!

LTL;DR (Line Too Long; Didn’t Ride)

  • Kings Island’s The Beast got retracked

  • New GCI Titan track installed on 2 coasters

  • Space Tourism is taking off

  • Jumanji Ride opens at Gardaland

  • Vekoma Tilt Coaster coming to COTAland

  • Seaworld Orlando announced a new coaster

  • Puy du Fou is coming to Tennessee

  • Meow Wolf is going to have new locations in TexasGlenwood Caverns shows off Defiance

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind thoughts

  • The amazing Skywheel

Looping Through the Latest News

An outdoor wooden rollercoaster in the middle of winter; the rollercoaster’s large drop is in the center of the photo.

The world’s longest wooden roller coaster received some love over the offseason. The Beast at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio got a brand new, reprofiled, steeper first drop and additional replacement track. The repair work actually made the coaster even longer, so it beat its previous record of 7,359 ft and set a new record of 7,361 ft.

A close-up of a wooden roller coaster structure. A steel track is inlaid with the beams of a wooden rollercoaster.

Speaking of repair work, GCI recently announced two wooden coasters in the United States were getting a track section replaced with their new weld-free Titan Track. We now know that those coasters are Predator at Darien Lake in Corfu, NY and Wolverine Wildcat at Michigan’s Adventure in Muskegon, MI. GCI had already installed their Titan track on White Lightning at Fun Spot America in Orlando and that section of track is glass smooth. I look forward to seeing how the retrack changes the ride experience and maintenance requirements for these two coasters.

A large black building emblazoned with the geometric Star Harbor logo and a mounted screen against a night sky filled with stars.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen quite a development on the space tourism front. At AOA, we’ve been developing concepts for Star Harbor. Namely, in the recent announcement of a space flight academy in Lone Tree, Colorado which includes “microgravity flights, neutral buoyancy facility, high-gravity centrifuge, land based and underwater habitats, hypobaric and hyperbaric chambers, simulation labs, and human performance center.” The academy is slated to open in 2026. I look forward to seeing what other companies come up with to support the future of space tourism.

A jungle-themed building is covered in vines and moss. In the center, a hippo bursts through the stonework just beneath a sign that reads, “JUMANJI: THE ADVENTURE”.

Gardaland in Italy has opened its new Jumanji themed ride. This ride uses vehicles from Oceaneering with large animatronics and screens for an awesome ride experience. Merlin recently sealed a deal with Sony to add other Jumanji attractions to other theme parks in the Merlin chain.

Glenwood Caverns is using their location on a mountain to their advantage when constructing their new addition. Defiance, a new Gerstaluer infinity coaster, will send riders down a 102.3 degree drop and straight off the side of a cliff.

A concept rendering for an orange roller coaster with tilting track.

During IAAPA, we found out COTAland is getting a Gerstlauer shuttle coaster in 2022. We also just learned that in 2023 COTAland is getting Circuit Breaker, a rare Vekoma tilt coaster model. A tilt coaster is unique because instead of the standard lift hill and drop, the train is pivoted 90 degrees and released instantaneously from a vertical position.

Concept image of teal roller coaster track with riders standing up on an orange train with an observation tower in the background.

SeaWorld Orlando has announced a new roller coaster to add to their lineup. From the promotional video, it seems that it will be a next generation B&M launched standup coaster. It is exciting to get a new unique addition to the Orlando coaster lineup.

A colorful storefront of blue and pink stands inside a mall. The multicolored Meow Wolf logo hangs above the front door.

Meow Wolf has released details of their next permanent installation sites. They are aiming for Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston. With House of Eternal Return, Omega Mart, and Convergence Station (which AOA helped with), I look forward to seeing what they come up with next!

Concept art showing a large shopping mall, a parking lot packed with cars, and a large statue of a soldier holding an American flag

In an exciting development, Puy du Fou has been looking for its first location in the US and has settled on Tennessee. They have signed a letter of intent with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. Puy du Fou is planning to “create a themed show inspired by stories of heroism by Cherokee natives during World War I”. With the amazing quality of their performances in France, I am ecstatic to see what they come up with in Tennessee.

A spaceship sculpture at Disney’s EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, a Vekoma launch coaster, recently opened at EPCOT and I got to check it out! This ride is a mind-blowingly amazing coaster experience. I can honestly say this was the most fun I had ever had on a roller coaster. The trains are super comfortable and are built with larger riders in mind. The ride experience itself is less intense than I was anticipating, but is a good thrill level for the whole family. While the use of the omni-coaster isn’t revolutionary, the Imagineers used it to their advantage to direct your attention to different story beats throughout the attraction.

This Quarter’s Innovative Ride to Write Home About

Skywheel (multiple carnival showmen)

Manufacturer: Chance Rides, Allan Herschell Company, Velare & Courtney

I recently attended the Strawberry festival in Plant City, FL and came across a ride I had only witnessed in Roller Coaster Tycoon: the Sky Wheel. In the 1930s Curtis Velare and John Courtney (two carnival showmen) noted that a singular Ferris wheel looked “lonesome” on the midway by itself. They quickly conceived an idea to pull together two wheels into one unit. John drew up the design and patented it. The original Ferris wheel was invented in 1893 for the Chicago World Columbian Exposition and the first double wheel was built at Riverside Park in Chicago and opened in 1939. It is great to see 46 years later Curtis Velare and John Courtney innovated on the original concept and created a more thrilling ride!

Credit: Patent US2249076A and James Eister

That’s all for this quarter’s edition. Next quarter I will have some exciting insights and stories to tell from some overseas theme park travel! Stay tuned!

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