The last couple of weeks have seen a number of interesting developments at theme parks and attractions. There have been closures, new rides, rebranding and parks involving their guests in naming a new attraction. There was also a court ruling that has the potential to affect the entire industry.
By Lance Hart, Screamscape
1) Kings Dominion to retire Volcano: The Blast Coaster
Kings Dominion shocked and disappointed the coaster enthusiast community on Friday evening when they announced in a new blog update that the park had made the difficult decision to close and remove the iconic Volcano: The Blast Coaster.
Volcano was a custom designed launch inverted coaster from Intamin. It was located in a repurposed large fake mountain structure that once housed a number of smaller attractions in the past. The mountain was altered to look like a giant volcano and the coaster would erupt out of the top of it; often accompanied by flames.
According to Kings Dominion, “This wasn’t an easy decision for us, because we know that people love this one-of-a-kind coaster; however, over time it became nearly impossible to keep the ride up to our high standards of reliability and guest satisfaction, and for these reasons we had to make the tough call.”
2) The Park at OWA adding a dark ride
Good news for The Park at OWA, a new park in Alabama that opened in 2017. They have announced that they will open a new interactive dark ride attraction this season. In fact, they are actually holding an online poll to select the name from the following options:
- Alabama Ghost Adventure
- Mystic Mansion
- Midnight Maze
No further information was released about who might be designing the attraction.
3) The Stratosphere Tower getting a new name and new attraction
The popular Las Vegas attraction and casino, The Stratosphere, announced this past week that they are going ahead with plans to rename the casino as simply, “The STRAT”. The new name will be accompanied by a series of needed renovations and upgrades to the casino resort. Amongst the changes will be a renaming of the attractions and observation level of the tower itself to become the “SkyPod”. Early permits filed so far also indicate that a new attraction is being planned for the top of the tower. The attraction is to be called the “SkyPod Walk”; and will feature “glass platforms” that go out over the edge of the tower itself.
4) Six Flags Dubai cancelled
After being rumoured for the past week, DXB Entertainments confirmed in a statement that the Six Flags Dubai Project is not proceeding. This comes after the “strategic review” that took place in August 2018 where concerns were raised by financiers about revised projections for the plan to open the park. As such, “the syndicated finance facility intended for utilisation as part of the development of the Six Flags branded theme park is no longer available”. In other words, Six Flags Dubai is now cancelled.
5) SeaWorld Parks hire new CEO
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment announced this past week that they have chosen to hire Gustavo Antorcha as the new CEO of the company. Gustavo comes to SeaWorld after a long history with the Carnival Cruise Line company. Interim CEO John Reilly will now officially take on the role of COO for the company as well.
6) Nickelodeon Universe at American Dream names coasters
The names of the four coasters being built at the indoor Nickelodeon Universe theme park inside the American Dream mall in New Jersey were released last week.
The park’s two large interwoven coasters from Gerstlauer will both carry a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle theme to them. The large EuroFighter style coaster that will feature a vertical lift hill into a 121.5º beyond vertical first drop will be named “TMNT Shellraiser”; while the Spinning Coaster will be named “The Shredder” after their arch-enemy. A family coaster from Chance Rides will be called the “Nickelodeon Slime Streak” and a compact launch coaster from Intamin will be named, “Sandy’s Blasting Bronco”.
7) Six Flags loses biometric data lawsuit in Illinois
The Illinois Supreme Court passed a ruling against Six Flags that could have long term impact on the rest of the industry regarding the collection and use of guest biometric data.
Illinois has set their own unique law in place regarding the collection and use of such data without having written owner consent. And in this case, a mother filed a lawsuit against them after her 14-year old son’s fingerprints were collected and linked to his purchase of a season pass to the park. While no damage was caused by this; which was the argument Six Flags was using to justify their actions; the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that “a person need not have sustained actual damage beyond violation of his or her rights under the Act.”
The impact of this ruling could effect other future laws throughout the world; as well as how and why biometric data has been collected and used. In the Florida area for example, guests have long been asked to scan their fingers and hands in various forms for much of the past couple decades to link their identity to their theme park passes at the turnstiles.
8) Walt Disney World now testing new Disney Skyliner
Walt Disney World has reported that they are now starting initial testing of their new Disney Skyliner aerial tram system. The new resort transportation system isn’t slated to open to the public until sometime in fall 2019. However, they are far enough along that the first gondolas and stations have begun active testing already.
9) Cirque du Soleil buying The Works Entertainment
Over the past couple years, Cirque du Soleil has been on an interesting growth pattern. They have been acquiring other select live entertainment offerings starting with the Blue Man Group in 2017; and then a year later, VStar Entertainment Group known for their various touring children’s live shows. In 2019, Cirque is at it again. This time purchasing The Works Entertainment; the company behind a number of “magic” themed show, such as The Illusionists, Now You See Me Live and more.