AMUSE!ngs: Q3 2022 Edition
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 quarter has some really exciting developments!
LTL;DR (Line Too Long; Didn’t Ride)
Knott’s Berry Farm
Worlds of Fun
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Knotts/Universal Chaperone Policy
Lost Island Closes Early
Wildcat Hershey Park closing
Harry Potter Forbidden Forrest
Intamin Motion Tower
Europe Trip Report
Looping Through the Latest News
It’s finally announcement season so let’s take a look at what is coming to a park near you!
Knott’s Berry farm is renovating the Fiesta Village section of the park including Montezuma's Revenge, a shuttle coaster. It originally opened as a Schwarzkopf coaster in 1978 with a flywheel launch. As the ride has reached the end of it’s service life, the park has decided to rebuild the track and convert it to an LSM launch and give it new trains (from KumbaK). They are also adding a variety of new randomized launch profiles so you never know if you are going to be launched forwords or backwards. I know a lot of people are really sad to see the old flywheel launch go, but I look forward to seeing new life breathed into this section of Knott’s Berry Farm!
Carowinds is retheming the back of the park (near Afterburn) to Aeronautica Landing. They're adding a few new flat rides including a Zamperla Air Race, some new food and beverage options, and some new games. This sounds like a really exciting addition to the park that will revitalize an area that was once overlooked.
Canada’s Wonderland continues to be the go to theme park for crazy flat rides. The park announced they will be adding a Mondial Avalanche and a launched family coaster to the parks line up. The Mondial Avalanche will be the first of its kind anywhere in the world and has motions that could be described as a top scan crossed with a swinging pendulum ride. At over 150 feet tall, this ride will surly be as much fun to watch as it will be to ride.
Worlds of Fun
In my last edition of Amusings, I had mentioned that GCI was producing new sections of Titan track for a couple of roller coasters. Well, the first full circuit Titan track roller coaster has been announced as Zambezi Zinger at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. This coaster will also be the first to use GCI’s new Infinity Flyer trains. It pays homage to the original Zambezi Zinger at Worlds of Fun with its weird spiral lift hill. I look forward to getting out to Kansas City and riding this one day. I can't wait to see more Titan track roller coasters be built.
Dollywood recently announced an addition to their Wildwood Grove section of the park: Big Bear Mountain, a Vekoma launched family coaster. At almost 4000ft of track this will the longest coaster in the park's history as well as the first coaster at Dollywood to have on-board audio. It will surely be a hit with families with small kids due to the 39” height requirement. While an excellent addition that will appeal to families, it does seem a bit odd to be adding another family launched coaster to the park. With Firechaser Express, Dollywood already has a family coaster that launches forwards, backwards, and has special effects such as fire. It seems a bit odd to be adding another coaster of the same type, but I know it will be a hit with families.
The Vikings are coming by land and by sea at Adventureland in Iowa. Adventureland announced they are adding a log flume and a family coaster from Zamperla to the parks lineup. This seems to be a similar model to what is going in Luna Park in New York City. It's exciting to see this part keep expanding after they added nine new rides last year. It's quickly becoming a destination park of the Midwest.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Busch Gardens Williamsburg recently announced the first indoor straddle coaster (not to be confused with a strata coaster). Riders will hop aboard snow mobiles to “Escape the storm.” This ride will be situated in the former Curse of DarKastle ride building. The coaster will include 4 launches and 2454 ft of track. It’s a ride needed for the park to maintain capacity with their year-round schedule.
Over the past quarter, we've seen a couple of parks institute chaperone policies. Knott's Berry Farm allows guests age 21 and older to chaperone up to five guests ages 17 and under. Each chaperone who accompanies five minors each with paid admission will get a free admission to that night's Knott's Scary Farm. Universal Studios Orlando also instituted a similar chaperone policy where anybody under the age of 18 is required to exit the Citywalk area at 9:00 PM unless they have a movie ticket or a ticket to an event such as Halloween horror nights. These policies both came after fights broke out between juveniles in Knott’s Berry Farm and in the Universal Studios parking garage. I wonder if this will influence Knott’s Scary Farm attendance.
The owners of Lost Island theme park in Waterloo IA decided to close early for the season. Their attendance numbers were not as high as projected and were between 250 and 700 people a day so it wasn't cost effective to keep the theme park open. The theme park did not offer season passes this year but it looks like they will be offered next year which could fix part of the problem. They also don't have a shuttle running between their very popular water park and the theme park and it's not a walkable distance to get between the two. This might help the attendance issue as well. I really hope to visit this park next year because it looks like it might turn out to be another Hard Rock Park…I hope not.
Hersheypark announced the closing of the very first GCI coaster, Wildcat. This coaster has long been due for refurbishment since it has gotten so rough over the years. RMC replied to their Twitter post saying they might have a few ideas for what's to come I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
A different type of themed entertainment experiences coming to Virginia and New York soon. Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is a nighttime thematic walking trail experience that is set to debut later this year. Guests can cast a Patronus and meet different animals from the Harry Potter and fantastic beast series. At the end of the experience, guest can purchase themed food and beverage options from the wizarding world.
Intamin recently announce a new motion tower concept. It’s similar to a flying theater crossed with a drop tower (much like Avatar: Flight of Passage). With an 80 person capacity, it would be a great fit for a regional park, but I would be interested to see what IP it would be paired with.
This Quarter’s Trip Report
A few weeks ago I had the chance to go to eight different European theme parks. Each one was very unique but all of which were fun and interesting in their own ways. Here is a summary of the parks that I visited!
Tivoli gardens was jam packed with history. There is a roller coaster that's so old that needs a brakeman, and a copy of the Matterhorn (older than Disneyland’s). There is a lot to do in this very small city center park. Rides were stacked on top of one another, and it was a challenge to find some of their entrances. We didn't have a whole lot of time here, but I would have loved to stay and see the park at night with all the lights. It appeared that this was a great local hangout spot though with all the grass areas and chairs around the park.
Leesburg was one of my favorite parks that I went to on this trip. It was amazing to see how the park had integrated most of the rides on the giant hillside that the park sits on. Helix was the star of the show here and it lived up to the hype. It was a really well paced coaster, and I enjoyed the launches too. Unfortunately, Balder was closed (and I’m glad it is based on what happened to El Toro) but that's just something I'll have to look forward to on a return trip.
My wife and I have visited this park on a concert night, and it was unfortunately very busy and uncomfortably so. The fun house was the highlight of the park with its old school charm and magic carpet exit slide. The coasters were fun too and gave good views of the water surrounding the park.
Europa Park was my second favorite park that I visited on this trip. Everything is so nicely landscaped, and you could really tell that the rides were well taken care of. With so many dark rides there is plenty for families with children to do, and with 13 roller coasters the park pleases thrill seekers. It was a lot of fun to ride the first of its kind roller coasters from Mack Rides.
Steinwasen park was the sleeper hit of the trip. I didn't think my wife, or I would like this park, but it was one of our favorites. Even though the park is small and doesn't have many attractions, it's situated on a hillside with lots of great hiking trails and a zoo. The bobsled was the highlight of this park with its do-it-yourself nature and no operator.
My wife and I fortunately got to stay in Hotel Charles Lindbergh which made the Pantasialand experience absolutely magical. Taron and F.L.Y. are very good coasters, each unique in its own ways. Chiapas was a definite highlight here too. I would say outside of Disney and Universal, this is the best themed park in the world.
We unfortunately ran into a bunch of school groups at Toverland, which made the park unbearable, as most were not well behaved with lots of pushing and shoving, but the rides roller coasters were pretty good. Fenix is definitely my favorite wing coaster now, but Troy was really rough and I don't understand the hype for this ride. The park looked nice with all of its expansions and all of the new areas are extremely well detailed and themed.
Efteling ended up becoming my favorite theme park ever as it was just so well landscaped and the paths twisted in between the trees so naturally. Baron 1898 became my favorite dive coaster just because of the elaborate theming and preshow the ride has. The Flying Dutchman water roller coaster was also a lot of fun and well themed. The dark rides Dreamflight and Carnival Festival were also wonderful additions to this park.
That’s all for this quarter’s edition. Stay tuned next quarter for a trip report from Dollywood and an IAAPA recap!