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Theme park news: 2018 industry highlights, superheroes and wooden coasters

steel vengeance theme park news roller coaster

2018 was a busy year as great new attractions opened at theme parks across the world.  Here are six highlights.

I’d like to point out five new additions and one major development.

By Lance HartScreamscape

1. Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi

One of the most interesting projects to keep tabs on over 2018 was the opening of the Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi theme park in the UAE. Developers took a modern highly themed park concept, and managed to cram the entire thing inside a massive structure. The new park features a variety of exceptionally themed lands and environment. The DC Comic worlds of Superman and Batman and the Looney Tunes characters are all represented. So too are a variety of other classic cartoon favourites such as The Flintstones, Jetsons, Scooby Doo and Tom & Jerry.

2. Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point

A roller coaster in the news was the new Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point. The goal for Rocky Mountain Construction was to transform the park’s former Mean Streak wooden coaster into the world’s premier hybrid coaster creation; and they succeeded on a number of levels. Not only is Steel Vengeance bigger and meaner… but a number of the track elements, starting with the first drop; are just frightening to look at from the ground, let alone to encounter while riding on the rails.

3. Single-rail raptor coasters, anyone?

Jumping into the pure steel coaster category, I’d have to say that a number of folks in the industry were keeping careful tabs on yet another Rocky Mountain Construction creation… the opening of their first two Raptor single-rail coaster projects; Wonder Woman: Golden Lasso Coaster at Six Flags Fiesta Texas and RailBlazer at California’s Great America. The unique single rail design came with the promise of more intense elements, taken in a tight compact format. This style of coaster has the ability to perform quick and twisted manoeuvres; something that other coasters simply are not able to do.

4. Battle for Eire

Another unique project that caught my eye (though didn’t hear much more about it after it opened) was the Battle for Eire ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. The park had taken the ride hardware that had been originally built for an old fashioned cabin style simulator ride years ago. They had removed the cabin  and the simulator screen. They had added a system that put VR headgear on every rider instead. While adding VR to an existing thrill ride has delivered mixed results, adding VR to a simulator ride seemed like just the kind of thing that VR may have been invented for.

5. wiegand.maelzer’s SlideWheel

A notable new and unique new ride system was the fascinating SlideWheel from wiegand.maelzer GmbH. Not only does the large spinning wheel of waterslide tubes act as a great visual; but based on the videos I’ve seen, it really seems to provide a fun experience like no other. Add in music, lights, or other enhancements; riders seem to lose themselves in moments of uncertainty as they roll forwards and backwards inside the wheel as it spins; unaware of where they are, or what is coming up next.

6. The battle for 21st Century Fox

Disney 21st Century Fox, 2018 HighlightsLastly… while this isn’t a new park or attraction, I have to bring up the surprise purchase of Fox by Disney as a major highlight of 2018. This latest acquisition by Disney will have huge ramifications on the company for decades to come. This will not only affect the television and movie studio side of things, but I’m sure will eventually trickle down into Disney’s theme park division with future changes and additions. Just look at how long it took for new Star Wars and Marvel themed stuff to hit the parks after Disney bought those properties, and then look ahead to what could happen from Disney buying an entire studio’s IP catalog.

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Lance Hart

Lance Hart

Lance has been running Screamscape for nearly 20 years. Married and a father to three roller coaster loving kids, he worked for SeaWorld (San Diego and Orlando) in Operations and Entertainment for 19 years.

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