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Cuteness Overload as Busch Gardens Tampa Introduces Baby Cheetahs

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Busch Gardens Tampa welcomed two new adorable additions this week. The three month old cheetah cubs were born on November 22, 2014 and their cuteness level rates off the charts. Their names are Tendai, which means “thankful” and Thabo, meaning “joy”. The cubs can been seen at various times throughout the day and when old enough will become part of the Cheetah exhibit.

Cheetahs are a threaten species. Once mature, these cubs will become part of the Busch Gardens breeding program to help boost the Cheetah population.

 

Disney Ticket Prices Rise Above $100

Disney the First Theme Park to Hike Tickets Prices Over $100 Mark

Disney Ticket Prices Rise Above $100

Via Yahoo News

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Visiting Mickey and Minnie just got more expensive.

A one-day ticket for either Disneyland or California Adventure in Anaheim, California, is now $99 for anyone 10 or older, the company said. That’s up from $96.

Single-day tickets for the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, are now $105, up from $99.

Disney has continued to see strong attendance growth at its theme parks and resorts.

For the quarter ended Dec. 27, revenue for the segment rose 9 percent to $3.9 billion, as attendance at the company’s California and Florida parks climbed 7 percent, with Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort each setting all-time quarterly attendance records.

A measles outbreak last month linked to Disney’s Southern California theme parks hasn’t hurt attendance.

Earlier this month, CEO Bob Iger said in an interview with CNBC that the company was seeing no discernible impact on attendance or bookings from the outbreak.

More than 70 people in California, including six Disneyland employees, and about two dozen others in six states, Mexico and Canada have been sickened in the outbreak.

Among other price changes that took effect Sunday: A one-day ticket to Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom now is $97, up from $94.

Disney also bumped up ticket prices for children ages 3 to 9.

Kids in that age bracket will be charged $93 for a single-day ticket at Disneyland. That’s up from $90. For the Magic Kingdom, that ticket is now $99, up from $93. For the other theme parks it’s now $91, up from $88.

Disney typically raises ticket prices at its U.S. theme parks annually, said Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman.

“We continually add new experiences, and many of our guests select multiday tickets or annual passes, which provide a great value and additional savings,” she said.

Busch Gardens Tampa turns to Facebook Fans to name it’s latest addition…

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Pele, a 12 year old western lowland gorilla living at Busch Gardens Tampa gave birth to a baby boy on December 16th. Busch Gardens then turned to Social media to help name the new addition. Fans were given three names to choose from:

1. Birungi, meaning “bringer of good things”

2. Bem, meaning “peace”

3. Enzi, meaning “power”

After more than 2,000 votes on a Facebook Poll, fans chose “Enzi” as the new gorilla’s name.

Enzi and his mother can be seen in the Myombe Reserve habitat at select times throughout the day.

 

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CGI Video of the World’s Tallest Coaster coming to Skyplex Orlando in 2017

Via ABC News

Kingda Ka will soon lose it’s record when it comes to being the world’s tallest roller coaster.

Developer Wallack Holdings, in collaboration with U.S. Thrill Rides, is poised to snatch that crown for “The Skyscraper” come 2017, when the 570-foot-high ride opens in Orlando.

The $90 million ride will tower over New Jersey’s Kingda Ka, which is only 456 feet high but still faster, reaching speeds up to 128 mph. Skyscraper will only go to 65 mph at certain points throughout the ride.

The video simulation shows that riders can expect multiple twists and turns around the observation deck and lot of plunges down steep slopes located all over the site.

The ride is part of a project to build Skyplex, a $250 million indoor arcade and theme park that will also feature restaurants and nightclubs. The site will also include an observation deck where tourists can look out and watch fireworks every night. Construction will take two years.

Frozen - Disney

Disney Retitles Parade to “Frozen Christmas Celebration”

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via News 13

There seems to be no stopping “Frozen” frenzy, and now Disney’s animated hit is taking over an annual holiday tradition: The Christmas Day Parade at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

This year’s parade, which airs on TV on Christmas Day on ABC but is usually taped in early December, has been renamed the “Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration.”

The Christmas parade’s new title appears, along with “Frozen’s” Anna and Elsa, on Disney’s website for the Christmas Parade.

The new title was also included in an ABC media release of the network’s holiday programming schedule. Here’s the bit pertaining to the Christmas parade:

Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration — Music, magic and merriment come together when Disneyland Resort in California and Walt Disney World Resort in Florida present the 31st annual Christmas Day parade and TV special.

The star-studded sounds of the season include some of today’s top musical talents lending their voices to celebrate the holidays.

And, from fairy tales to classic Christmas carols, Disney friends and holiday characters spread joy and good tidings through Disneyland Park in California and the Magic Kingdom Park in Florida.

This year promises some extra Frozen fun with fanciful floats and colorful cavalcades as Santa Claus himself along with his reindeer, wend their holly jolly way down Main Street, USA. (10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET; check local listings)

Disney’s Christmas Day Parade dates back to 1983 and has been held every year since, except in 2000, when Disney instead aired a Christmas Eve special called “Tracking Santa.”

The parade was originally called “The Walt Disney World Very Merry Christmas Parade” and taped exclusively in Florida. An additional host was added at Disneyland starting in 2003.

From 2009–2013, the parade was named the “Disney Parks Christmas Day Parade.”

Now, it looks like the parade is getting — yes, we’re going there — “Frozen” over, at least for this year.

Disney has not announced the dates when it will tape the Christmas parade at the Magic Kingdom in Florida and Disneyland in California, but taping in years past has usually happened in the first week of December.

For many longtime Disney fans, the change is likely a shock, but it also seems like it was inevitable, given the huge success of “Frozen” since its release last Thanksgiving. The film quickly rose to become the highest grossing animated film and fifth highest grossing film of all time.

“Frozen” merchandise has flown off the shelves over the last year, and will continue to be popular during the holiday shopping season, especially the newly released “Snow Glow Elsa” talking — and yes, singing — doll.

Taking all that into consideration, plus the movie’s wintry theme, it’s not that much of a surprise that Disney has chosen to add “Frozen” to the marquee of this year’s Christmas parade. The company clearly hopes the franchise’s popularity will translate to lots of eyes watching the TV special on Christmas morning.

As for others who have grown tired of “Frozen” mania, we believe the word they’re looking for is “Enough!

A Hunger Games Theme Park?

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Via Daily Mail

Lionsgate is launching a touring exhibition of The Hunger Games as the first step toward opening a theme park dedicated to the wildly-popular book and film series.

The movie studio revealed that it’s ‘deep into conversation’ with potential theme park partners.
The post-apocalyptic franchise has proved a substantial money-maker for Lionsgate, grossing nearly $1billion at the box office, and the company is looking for new ways to cash in on its success.
The four-part series has yet to release its final two installments, with the third – The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 – set to arrive in cinemas in November. 

But can the studio turn a successful film franchise into a profitable theme park?
Lionsgate will begin testing the waters with the launch of a touring exhibit, The Hunger Games: The Exhibition, in the summer of 2015.

The studio has joined forces with theme park creator Thinkwell Group to develop its plans.
‘Thinkwell… is spearheading an initiative for line extensions of “The Hunger Games” and all of our other brands,’ Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer said during a conference call, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He said: ‘As a first step, we’ve already designed a state-of-the-art travelling museum involving costumes, props, and other elements of the Hunger Games world that will begin touring the U.S. next summer.’

Now it seems that the studio is eyeing an even grander presence.
During Friday’s conference call, Feltheimer revealed that studio execs are ‘excited about these [theme park] opportunities and are pursuing them,’ reports Businessweek.

He also mentioned that The Hunger Games: The Exhibition would be the first test of several ‘extensions’ of Lionsgate franchises, which include Twilight and Divergent.

Twilight has proved particularly successful for the studio, with the vampire love story’s five-film franchise grossing almost £2billion worldwide.

Apocalyptic teen romance ‘Divergent’ has likewise made a substantial box office impact, netting £164million with its first of four films.

This comes on the heels of Universal Orlando’s launch of the Harry Potter-themed extension to 2010’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

The new area in the studio’s Florida park is called The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley, and cost an estimated £239million.

This is in addition to the initial site’s $158million development costs.

At this point, there’s no word on whether Lionsgate is looking at developing a stand-alone theme park or simply adding themed attractions into already-existing parks.

Shamu leaves the skies

Via Time

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The decision comes amid animal-rights backlash, but the two companies insist the break is “mutual”

Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will be endingtheir 26-year relationship, a decision that comes a year after a documentary film raised questions about the theme-park chain’s treatment of whales.

In a joint statement released on Thursday, the two sides described the decision to end their decades-long co-marketing scheme as “mutual.”

“The companies decided not to renew the contract based on shifting priorities,” read the statement, explaining that the airliner would focus on expanding into international service while SeaWorld is eyeing new opportunities to grow in Asian and Latin American markets.

The press release made no mention of the pressure both companies have faced since the release of the film Blackfish last year. The documentary focuses on the alleged mistreatment of SeaWorld orcas and the violent deaths of several trainers working with the animals.

petition posted on Change.org calling on Southwest to terminate its relationship with the Florida-based amusement-park chain garnered 30,000 signatures. Attendance at SeaWorld parks dropped 4.1% in the last year, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The three Southwest aircraft painted to promote the amusement parks will return to the company’s traditional livery by year’s end.

Cable breaks on Cedar Point ride Skyhawk – 2 injured

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Via Wane.com
SANDUSKY, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio amusement park ride that swings riders up to 125 feet in the air has been closed indefinitely after a cable snapped, injuring two visitors.

Cedar Point spokesman Bryan Edwards says a cable on the Skyhawk ride disconnected at about 10 p.m. Saturday. One guest went to a hospital for evaluation, while the other was treated at the scene.

It wasn’t clear whether the two guests had been riding Skyhawk when they were injured or whether they were on the ground. Skyhawk has two giant arms that swing riders at speeds of up to 60 mph.

Edwards says Skyhawk will remain closed until an investigation into the cause of the accident is completed.

Cedar Point in Sandusky is the flagship park of Cedar Fair Entertainment Co.

 

Thanks to Jewlz for the heads up!

 

What are America’s Fastest Coasters?

Photo by Tim Larsen AP
Photo by Tim Larsen AP

Topping out at 128MPH, Kingda KA at Six Flags NJ is the fastest coaster in the USA. Just for comparison, Apollo’s Chariot, which the fastest at Busch Gardens, only reaches 73MPH.

via USA Today

There are many things to love – or fear, depending on where you fall on the wimp scale – about roller coasters: They soar to crazy heights, they deliver butterflies-in-your-stomach negative G-forces, and they toss us upside down. But mostly, they go fast.

And some coasters go really fast. As in take-no-prisoners, what-have-I-gotten-myself-into, eeeeyaaaahhhh! fast. Which ones are the fastest? Buckle up and hang on for dear life as we count down the top 10 speed demons on the continent.

10. Bizarro at Six Flags New England in Agawam, Mass. and Behemoth at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario (77 mph)

We’re only at number 10, and we’ve already exceeded the legal speed limit. Known as hypercoasters, which surpass 200 feet and are designed to go fast, both of the rides pour on the speed yet are wonderfully smooth. It may not be the fastest, but with its near-perfect symphony of elements, I rate the Superman-themed Bizarro as the country’s top steel coaster.

9. Nitro at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., Diamondback at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, and Desperado at Buffalo Bill’s Resort & Casino in Primm, Nev. (80 mph)

Located along the highway between Las Vegas and Southern California, Desperado was among the world’s first hypercoasters. It might not have aged as gracefully as some, but it still gives one heck of a fast ride. Nitro and Diamondback are more recent entries, and are butter-smooth as well as loaded with airtime. The Kings Island coaster, especially, offers a refined ride that includes some intense free-floating moments.

8. Xcelerator at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif. (82 mph)

Instead of a traditional lift hill, this SoCal screamer uses a hydraulic launch to rocket riders out of the station at 82 mph in no time flat. The trains then navigate a 205-foot, 90-degree top hat tower.

7. Titan at Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas, Phantom’s Revenge at Kennywood in West Mifflin, Pa., and Goliath at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif. (85 mph)

Kennywood renamed and modified the original Steel Phantom to remove its inversions and focus on its (considerable) speed. Spanning a massive 5312 feet of track and dropping an impressive 255 feet, Titan lives up to its name. Goliath also drops 255 feet, and uses its pent-up energy to navigate a series of punishing helixes.

6. Intimidator 305 at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va. (90 mph)

The NASCAR-themed ride was so fast when it first opened in 2010 that some riders were complaining about blurred vision and “grayouts” after its first drop. Intimidator indeed! The park has since altered the track to help quash some of the intensity, but Intimidator 305 still races at dizzying speeds.

5. Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan, Ontario (92 mph)

The second speed demon at the Canadian park rises a mighty 306 feet and travels a lengthy 5486 feet of track. Dropping at a near-vertical 80 degrees at such an insane speed makes for one monster of a ride.

4. Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (93 mph)

The Ohio thrill park welcomed the year 2000 with a ride for the ages and coined the term, “giga-coaster,” to describe its 300-foot threshold buster. Millennium Force clocks in at a breakneck speed that takes passengers’ breath away.

3. Superman: Escape from Krypton at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif. (100 mph)

The first coaster (along with a similar ride in Australia that debuted the same year) to break the 100-mph barrier, Superman uses electro-magnetic propulsion to send its twin trains up, up, and a-way up an L-shaped 415-foot tower. Riders experience prolonged sensations of weightlessness before the trains plummet back down the tower.

2. Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (120 mph)

Similar to Xcelerator, the Cedar Point ride also uses a hydraulic launch system and features a 90-degree top hat tower. Dragster, however, screams out of the starting line at an attention-grabbing 120 mph and climbs a lofty 420 feet, leaving its California counterpart in the dust.

1. Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. (128 mph)

Not to be outdone in the coaster wars, Six Flags roared back a couple of years after Dragster debuted with its own chart topper. Kingda Ka was the king of the coaster jungle as the world’s tallest and fastest coaster until a faster ride in the UAE knocked it off its throne. It still holds the height record, though. (For now. Parks and ride manufacturers are always scheming to build ever more thrilling coasters.)

New Tech in Seaworld and Busch Gardens Parks

Via Orlando Sentinel

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. launched technology Tuesday that allows visitors to pay for food and souvenirs with their smartphones.

smartphone7Guests also can use the new SeaWorld app to skip the line at the busy Antarctica attraction in its Orlando park — but for $10.

The mobile payment system is available at most shops and restaurants throughout Orlando-based SeaWorld’s parks. That includes SeaWorld in San Diego and San Antonio; Busch Gardens in Tampa and Williamsburg, Va.; and Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa.

Guests register a credit card in their mobile app accounts to use the payment system.

The new features that debuted Tuesday include one-time $10 Quick Queue access for Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.

Quick Queue is a sort of express lane for SeaWorld’s rides. Customers typically pay in advance via a desktop computer or at the front of the park. It costs $19 for unlimited access to several rides including Antarctica.

The feature SeaWorld is trying out is unique because visitors can buy express access at the ride if they decide the line is too long, said Anne Fischer, SeaWorld’s corporate director of interactive marketing.

Each SeaWorld user can only access the $10 Quick Queue app feature once. SeaWorld doesn’t know when it will expand the feature to other park rides.

“We’re going to see what consumer demand is,” Fischer said.

SeaWorld has been working on a multiyear digital innovation project that Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison has said will give guests “a premier user experience.”

SeaWorld redesigned its app earlier this year, working with San Diego-based tech firm TE2 (The Experience Engine).

SeaWorld is rolling out its app features at the same time Walt Disney World has been focusing on MyMagic+. That billion-dollar technology project includes a system allowing visitors to book attraction times weeks before their trips and microchip-embedded wristbands that interact with sensors throughout the resort.

“On vacation, particularly now, it’s all about convenience,” said Jim Hill, an industry blogger and editor of JimHillMedia.com. “SeaWorld doesn’t want to be left out. This is them stepping up to the plate and getting their version out there.”

Universal Orlando Resort launched a new app last month with attraction wait times and interactive park maps. Universal announced the debut of free parkwide Wi-Fi access, too.