Into the Woods: A trip to Millers Thrillers

Fall was finally starting to peak on Saturday as we drove down the winding road speckled with autumnal hued trees. Nature’s peaceful display almost made me forget the reason we were taking a 40 minute trek deep into central Tennessee.

Growing up loving ghost stories and Halloween, haunted sites and graveyards have always intrigued me. I was eager to snag the opportunity to write about walking through a haunted forest, but it wasn’t until the day of our trip to Millers Thrillers that my fears started to kick into action and my feet to turn cold. Memories of walking through haunted houses in New York with my friends reeled through my head. I was always the first to volunteer to walk through, only to surely have me trying to find someone to cower behind moments later.

At around 7:30 p.m., we followed the glowing markers into a field. The late-October dusk was just beginning to settle as we stepped out of the car and walked up the path to the ticket booth. You could see the warm glow and smell the bonfire, which anchors the center of their entertainment zone, from the parking lot. Music was playing from the stage and spotlights illuminated the sky above.

By now it was dark out, the ticket sign illuminated by a string of lights.The line to pickup tickets moved rather quickly, but I would highly recommend taking advantage of their online ticket options which allow you to skip this line entirely.

 

A few lone clouds still hung in front of the dim, waxing crescent moon; it was the kind of night you’d expect to run into things that go bump in the night. It was hard not to take the ominous hint and begin worrying again.

The main area was a large clearing that resembled a festival: a ticket booth, haunted house fascade, an over-sized chair for photos and a concession booth glowing in black lights. People of all ages began arriving. By the time we left that night, the parking lot would be full and the line for tickets would easily exceed 45 minutes.  Nearby the roaring bonfire was a stage that would host a variety of entertainers from a light show set to music, the “Reptile Guy” , jugglers, and more. Also make sure to check out the amazing fire performers and the super energetic zombie drum line! If you don’t purchase the Slash-Pass the entertainment is a very welcome distraction while waiting to enter the woods.

Into The Darkness

A large facade marked the entrance to the Haunted Woods. A woman stood in the shadows as we approached the end of the line. “Are you two with a group?” she asked. Maybe I imagined it, but she seemed to smirk at the question, her eyes glinting. “Um,” I said, stalling. Survival tip number one: Never go alone.

We locked eyes with the group behind us, a family with a few teenagers, willing them to take strangers under their wing for the night. It was a low point, but fear makes perfectly rational people do crazy things, like sleep with the lights on for weeks after watching a scary movie (this is why you should never watch “Silence of the Lambs”). Besides, we were simply being practical — it’s all about strength in numbers.

At the entrance to the haunted woods— a forest that we were warned takes 30 to 40 minutes to travel through — being first was not our highest priority. So when the hostess asked who wanted to enter first, we took a few steps back.

In nervous silence, we were guided into a room by a man dressed up resembling Captain Spaulding.  In the next room, we all posed for a group photo before being lead back into the original room that we entered, but it was completely upside-down. After this we were instructed to head down the path into the woods.

Leaves whipped around our feet in small cyclones that hid roots, making us step carefully in the darkness and ignore our basic instinct to run. Though my awareness was heightened for any type of movement — a sinister shadow lurking behind a tree, the fearful snap of a twig — I couldn’t help but notice the beauty of the woods in the nighttime.

For a while, there was no movement. We kept walking, winding deeper the woods. We knew that there were numerous terrifying employees waiting for us in the forest — but where were they? I almost started to enjoy myself, thinking of our tour as a midnight nature walk. This would go great with some mulled apple cider. I made a terrible mistake, I let my guard down.

Survival tip number two: Never let your guard down. As I peered around the bend, a throaty snarl erupted from a tree just behind me. A creature sprung onto the path, half crawling and jumping toward our group. We screamed and stumbled, running up a ramp that led to a shed.

The wolf-creature left us alone, but the shed — and the other makeshift buildings that would follow it on the trail — brought a new terror: the fear of being in a confined space, with a lurking monster and nowhere to run.  At this point,we abandoned all notions of personal space, clutching each other’s shirts as we entered the shed.

The room was filled with swinging black tubes, like punching bags, their movements warped and disorienting from the blinding strobe lights overhead. Everything was pulsing. We wove through the tubes, gripping each other tightly, our vision blurred — was that movement a person? Or was it just us in here? — when a stranger’s voice shrieked from the corner of the room. He staggered toward us, moving fast and in slow motion at the same time, his clown grin flashing between the tubes. We bolted through the door at last, the lights blinking behind us.

The trail became a conduit of terror, the narrator of horror. It held its own scares: redneck zombies jumped out from behind a tree, setting our eardrums ringing with screams; a deranged girl wailed and followed us; a man was suspended in a tree, screaming for help. Still, we preferred to be scared in the open woods, where escape was easy and the openness offered solace, rather than be trapped in dark haunted houses.

We thought we had reached the end of the woods as we approached a black-light illuminated area that was themed to a circus. We were dead wrong. We were handed 3D glasses and motioned to enter a circus tent. Inside there were multiple paths filled with specially painted murals and props that looked like they were incredibly detailed. The glasses play with your eyes: was that clown really just pointing at me, or is it a stationary prop?

After as few more scenes and after crawling through an actual hearse we approached a western ghost town. From its exterior, the final stop along the path looked no different from the other areas we had walked through. We entered the room cautiously, tugging on each other’s shirts. The room became a narrow hallway, giving way to a twisting maze, growing steadily darker and darker. Soon it was pitch black; the only light came from the ceiling, a tiny sliver of moonlight, shrouded by leaves.

An eerie silence took over as we walked in the blackness. With one hand I gripped the shirt of someone in our group, with the other I skimmed the wall, feeling for passages and corners.“This must be what it feels like to be blind,” someone behind me said. Suddenly, a loud smack from in front: we’d hit a dead end. Someone in our group chuckled, brushing past to backtrack. I tried to control my breathing.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of dead ends, we found the exit. We spilled out into the moonlight, laughing about the maze and the trail, walking to the distant glow of the bonfire and huddles of friendly faces.

Before leaving, we posed for a few pictures with some of the characters in the entertainment zone.  We waved as we walked back to the car, thanking the staff, and wishing the waiting ticket holders good luck.

 

THE SHINING WILL MAKE ITS HAUNTING DEBUT AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS’ “HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS” THIS SEPTEMBER

ICONIC HORROR FILM THE SHINING WILL MAKE ITS HAUNTING DEBUT

AT UNIVERSAL STUDIOS’ “HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS” THIS SEPTEMBER

 

For the First Time Ever, One of the Greatest Horror Films of All Time Will Come to Life

in a New Haunted Mazes at the Nation’s Premier Halloween Events in Hollywood and Orlando

 

For the first time ever, the psychological  horror film, The Shining, will bring unspeakable terror to “Halloween Horror Nights” in terrifying new mazes opening at Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort, beginning this September.

 

The twisted minds behind the nation’s best, most intense Halloween events will bring every gruesome moment and paranormal haunting that fans have seen in the film to life in original, disturbingly authentic mazes.

 

“The Shining” maze at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights will provide guests with a unique opportunity to relive some of the film’s most iconic, and sinister, moments.  While venturing through the eerie Overlook Hotel, guests will be thrust into the hotel’s tragic history of murder and madness, bearing witness to caretaker Jack Torrance’s spiraling descent into insanity. Nightmarish visions will come to life in this macabre maze, overwhelming guests with the “shine” of the murderous, ghostly entities that lurk around every turn – all while trying to escape the wrath of Jack Torrance as he violently succumbs to the hotel’s paranormal forces.

 

The Shining has been regarded as “a masterpiece of modern horror” by critics and fans alike. Directed by Stanley Kubrick, the film’s enormous influence on pop culture has been captured throughout a multitude of films, television shows, music and more since its disturbing debut in 1980.

 

Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 20 years, guests from around the world have visited Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood and Orlando to become victims inside their own horror film. The streets of each coast’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones where menacing “scare-actors” lunge from every darkened corner. Multiple movie-quality haunted houses are erected throughout the event, based on everything from iconic slasher films to hit horror television series to haunting original stories.

 

Additional details about Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” will be revealed soon. For more information about Halloween Horror Nights at either Universal Studios Hollywood or Universal Orlando Resort, visit www.HalloweenHorrorNights.com.

2017 Nashville Wine and Food Festival

Get ready for the Nashville Wine and Food Festival!

Corkdorks Wine, Spirits, Beer will present this year’s festival will be located at Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in the area behind the Nashville Farmers’ Market. It will run from Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 20. You can enjoy more than 150 wines from 30 wineries around the country, and food from some of the area’s top restaurants. Chefs and wine makers also will present demonstrations. There will be live music, a beer garden, cigar lounge, cocktail lounge, local vendors, and much more!

Since 2014, the annual Nashville Wine and Food Festival has brought the community together around local artisanal products and world-class wineries, all with a goal to benefit the Nashville Symphony. In addition to great wines and food, this festival also seeks to educate attendees and will feature food demonstrations from local chefs and wine seminars by winemakers from all over the country. The event will serve as a more intimate affair where consumers can interact with chefs, wine makers and food artisans.

Tickets are now on sale. General admission tickets can be purchased for $85. For more information on the 2017 Nashville Wine and Food Festival and to buy tickets, visit http://www.thenashvillewineandfoodfestival.com.

Silver Dollar City’s New Festival of Wonder Leads 2017 Events: A Most Amazing Entertainment Experience!

The all-new Festival of Wonder in April, a new summer concert series and a big new Christmas expansion top the lineup for Silver Dollar City’s 2017 season, designated the Year of Food and Crafts. The Year of Food and Crafts celebrates the art of American fine craftsmanship with new handcrafted treasures, and presents new signature dining experiences with over 200 new specialty foods throughout the season.


The Year of Food and Crafts kicks off with the park’s opening ride event Spring Ride Days March 15-26, then the new Festival of Wonder opens April 6 with amazing acts of curiosity and larger-than-life performances, all billed as “A Most Amazing Entertainment Experience.” Featuring the world’s largest playable stringed instrument, the Earth Harp Collective has strings stretched the length of Red Gold Heritage Hall, vibrating above the heads of the audience as it plays,  creating a multi-faceted music experience. The Earth Harp is just one of the show’s beyond-believable instruments from visionary instrument creator William Close, an America’s Got Talent finalist. The festival also features the Flamenco Kings, seven brothers whose stunning performances are a fusion of flamenco, tap, martial arts and acrobatics; Balancing Wonders, presenting gravity-defying performers in an extraordinary balancing show; plus Speed Painter Dan Dunn, glass armonica music and incredible wind instruments.

New foods for the Festival of Wonder take an outrageous turn as well, including Curious Kabobs with shark or alligator on a stick, and the World of Bacon with Bacon Cannoli and Chocolate Covered Bacon. The festival runs April 6-30.

In May, the popular festival Bluegrass & BBQ brings in top bluegrass musicians, including a special concert with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder. Skaggs, winner of 14 Grammy Awards, 8 CMA Awards, 11 IBMA* Awards and 2 Dove Awards, headlines Memorial Weekend, with a concert on May 28. Also among the festival’s top performers are Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Flatt Lonesome, The Gibson Brothers and The Grascals. A huge new BBQ Pitmaster Courtyard offers savory barbecue feasting, with new foods including layered Barbecue Sundaes, a “Ribs Spectacular,” and Mason Jar Desserts. Bluegrass & BBQ runs May 4-29.

June brings a new Echo Hollow Summer Concert Series, presenting concert fun from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s with performances by Poco, Rare Earth, The Association, The Spinners and The Lovin’ Spoonful. Concerts are June 2-4 and 9-11.

June also brings the family-focused festival Star-Spangled Summer, featuring the Harlem Globetrotters, with 9 new Guinness World Records for trick shots, in the final year of The Globetrotter Experience show. The festival also presents stunt dogs, champion cloggers and cartoon characters, June 3-July 16. Food Days lead into and top off summer events with wild new flavors. The park’s night ride event Moonlight Madness, July 15-30, brings back ride-in-the-dark fun and evening street dances, performances by international touring group Rockapella.

The top names in Southern Gospel fill the stages for Southern Gospel Picnic, August 24-September 4, including Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Dove Award winners The Booth Brothers and Jeff & Sheri Easter, Greater Vision, The Hoppers, Legacy Five and The Isaacs. The food spotlight is on Southern cuisine, as Southern cooking expert and food blogger Christy Jordan presents all-new recipes in The House of Chicken & Fixin’s.

Concerts featuring country music icons Restless Heart, Diamond Rio and Lonestar are presented each evening during Silver Dollar City’s Country Music Weekend, September 8-10, and the National Crafts & Cowboy Festival features the nation’s finest craftsmen and authentic cowboys, September 13-October 28. The festival presents the popular Wild West Show with trick riders, ropers and a world-champion Native American Hoop dancer; Western music, a barn dance, and 125 visiting craftsmen. Cuisine includes Cowboy Beef Stew and Dutch Oven Dessert

An Old Time Christmas is brighter than ever, debuting the all-new Christmas in Midtown, a 70,000 sq. ft. area filled with new light displays 9 stories high, including 30 angels, animated reindeer pulling a sleigh, 3 light tunnels, two 40-foot long moving trains, dozens of stars and snowflakes, and a 50-foot tree, all created at Silver Dollar City. Christmas in Midtown adds 1.5 million new lights, bringing the park’s total to 6.5 million lights. The festival also presents “Rudolph’s Holly Jolly™ Christmas Light Parade” led by the most famous reindeer of all, with musical lighted floats and dozens of costumed characters, plus two original musical productions: It’s A Wonderful Life and A Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Ranked as one of the world’s top holiday events, the park dazzles with the acclaimed 5-story special effects Christmas Tree and an encompassing light-and-sound show on the Square, plus new holiday foods, November 4-December 30. Also new this year is aNew Year’s Celebration December 31 and January 1.

The park presents more than 40 rides and attractions, including the world-famous wood coaster Outlaw Run, named Best New Ride of 2013 worldwide and featured in Guinness World Records 2015. The new Year of Food and Crafts spotlights the park’s 100 craftsmen demonstrating America’s heritage crafts, hundreds of new food specialties are added to the dining options, and shows fill the stages throughout the season. The 1880s-style theme park is open March 15December 31, 2017 and January 1, 2018www.silverdollarcity.com.

Six Flags Magic Mountain and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to Debut The New Revolution Galactic Attack: World’s First Mixed Reality Experience on a Virtual Reality Roller Coaster

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, (NYSE:SIX) and Samsung Electronics America, Inc., the “Official Technology Partner” of the world’s largest regional theme park company, today announced its renewed collaboration on virtual reality roller coasters with the unveiling of a bold, innovative twist on the experience at Six Flags parks. Last spring, the two companies joined forces to introduce North America’s first Virtual Reality (VR) Roller Coasters using Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus, and now in 2017— for the first time ever, riders will be offered a one-of-a-kind mixed reality experience that only Six Flags can deliver. Another world’s first—complex gameplay, where riders make key decisions during the course of the ride that can affect their scoring at the end. The New Revolution Galactic Attack makes its world debut at Six Flags Magic Mountain, near Los Angeles and Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, near San Francisco, offering park guests a thrilling, fully immersive ride of their lives as they battle to save the planet from an impending alien drone invasion.

 

“Six Flags is proud to be partnering with Samsung to develop the newest, most innovative thrill ride experience in the theme park industry,” said Brett Petit, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales. “This mixed reality technology is truly groundbreaking and like nothing our guests have ever experienced. Six Flags and Samsung changed the game last year with VR on twelve roller coasters and now we are breaking new ground yet again.”

 

“Our strategic partnership with Six Flags enables millions of consumers to experience virtual reality for the first time by bringing Gear VR to real roller coasters at theme parks across the country. We are always aiming to create immersive, never been done before experiences with our Samsung VR ecosystem as the focal point, so these new experiences at Six Flags are completely complementary to that key objective. We are thrilled to continue to work with Six Flags and bring VR to the mainstream,” said Marc Mathieu, Samsung Electronics America’s Chief Marketing Officer.

 

When riders board the coasters and don their Samsung Gear VR headsets, they will be introduced to the device’s passthrough camera functionality, instantly making riders aware of their surroundings, by allowing them to see the “real world,” including the person seated next to them— along with virtual content. As they get settled into the ride, a heads up display overlay on the passthrough camera view will show data like current status of weaponry, time codes, fuel cells, and a countdown clock. Cresting the lift hill, a massive, swirling wormhole comes into view. As riders drop at high speeds, the mixed reality view changes to a completely immersive, virtual reality environment and a fighter spaceship cockpit materializes and envelops the riders into a tunnel of light. At the bottom of the first hill, riders are launched into the middle of a space battle, coming under attack from flying drones firing lasers and missiles. After swinging through tight channels, narrowly dodging drones and artillery fire, riders are brought into one of three drone bays, each of which offer a completely different gaming experience and three different endings.

 

To commemorate the opening weekend of The New Revolution Galactic Attack on February 18-20, both parks are “attacking” hunger by hosting a food drive. Every paid guest or season pass holder who brings a full bag of non-perishable food items to support local regional food banks will be given an exclusive opportunity to enjoy the VR ride experience before it opens to the public the following weekend, February 25-26 at Six Flags Magic Mountain and February 20 at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

 

Guests at Six Flags Magic Mountain will experience Galactic Attack on The New Revolution, the world’s first looping coaster built in 1976 and North America’s first VR coaster in 2016.  At Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, The New Revolution Galactic Attack VR will be experienced on Kong, the park’s floorless looping coaster.  VR is free with park admission.

 

The New Revolution Galactic Attack is one of 19 roller coasters in Six Flags Magic Mountain’s world-class coaster collection. The Valencia, CA park holds the Guinness World Record for most coasters in a theme park, including adrenaline-pumping coasters like Twisted Colossus—the world’s longest hybrid coaster; Full Throttle —the world’s largest looping coaster; Tatsu—the tallest, fastest and longest flying coaster in the world; X2—the world’s first and only 5thdimensional coaster; and Goliath—the “giant among giants” mega coaster.

 

The New Revolution Galactic Attack at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, located in Vallejo, CA, will be featured on the park’s floorless looping coaster, Kong, which joins other thrilling rides such as The Joker, Superman Ultimate Flight, Medusa, and SkyScreamer. Family and kids rides, along with animal shows and encounters, wildlife exhibits and educational programs round out the variety of fun offerings for guests of all ages.

TALLEST AND FASTEST ROLLER COASTER IN SEAWORLD SAN DIEGO HISTORY SET FOR 2018 LAUNCH

SeaWorld® San Diego unveiled plans today for its 2018 attractionthe Electric Eel roller coasterfeaturing multiple-launch elements, high-energy twists, and heart-pounding loops. It will expand the park’s new Ocean Explorer realm set to open later this summer as part of the park’s largest new attraction premiere in its history.

Following the unprecedented opening of three new major attractions in 2017Ocean Explorer, the new Orca Encounter and the all-new summer nighttime extravaganza Electric OceanElectric Eel will cap a 24-month period of the most robust growth since the park’s opening more than five decades ago.

“Electric Eel will bring a whole new level of excitement to SeaWorld in 2018,” said SeaWorld San Diego’s Park President Marilyn Hannes. “This new, first-of-its-kind coaster at SeaWorld will give riders the rare opportunity to feel what it’s like to move like an eel as they twist and flip along nearly 900 feet of undulating track.”

Electric Eel will feature astounding loops, twists and airtime.  Multiple-launch experiences will propel riders forward and backward as they speed through the ride’s station house accelerating to more than 60 miles per hour in seconds. Riders then rocket skyward nearly 150 feet where they will brave an inverted “heartline” roll and a twisting loop for an exciting feeling of airtime as riders crest the top before breathlessly returning to the station.  This adrenaline-pumping coaster will offer riders the only upside-down view of Mission Bay.

SeaWorld continues to evolve the next generation of marine-life experiences, setting the standard for combining immersive and innovative ways to engage with ocean animals with flat-out family fun for children and adults.

“The future is bright at SeaWorld and we remain committed to long-term investment in the park,” said Hannes. “We always strive to provide new reasons to visit SeaWorld and give our guests experiences that matter with a blend of exciting rides and incredible animal and educational experiences. We want our guests from around the world to not only have a great time, but be inspired to care about the ocean and the animals that live there.”

Complementing the Electric Eel roller coaster is the anticipated Ocean Explorer experience opening in 2017which will include a hypnotic live eel habitat featuring one of the world’s most extensive collections of moray eels. Through large viewing windows, visitors will plunge into the world of the eel as they swim and dart through the caves and crevasses of their naturalistic deep-ocean environment.

With Electric Eel, SeaWorld’s Deep Blue creative design team will fuse the visceral thrills of a contemporary coaster with a compelling interactive and educational eel experience. Using innovative state-of-the-art technologies, this interactive experience will allow guests to discover fascinating information about these mysterious animals, including their unique predation skills and diets, growth rates and sensory abilities.

Electric Eel will join Manta® and Journey to Atlantis® as the third coaster-type ride experience at SeaWorld San Diego. It will be constructed on an approximately two-acre site on the eastern side of the park between the currently under-construction Ocean Explorer attraction and Journey to Atlantis. The ride is expected to open in summer 2018.

 

 

Six Flags Great Adventure Holiday in the Park® Festival By the Numbers

Six Flags Great Adventure offers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to transform the iconic summertime thrill destination into a winter wonderland for Holiday in the Park®.

Holiday Lights Display at Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ on 11/26/16. (Photo by Frank H. Conlon)

Holiday in the Park by the numbers:

  • 1,250,000+ glittering lights
  • 42,000 feet of power cords – nearly eight miles
  • 15,000 man hours to complete
  • 7,190 ornaments
  • 6,025 feet of shiny garland
  • 1,000+ poinsettias
  • 500+ Trees

o   Cut trees: 460

o   Special Oversized Holiday Trees: 54

o   190 oak trees wrapped in lights

  • 240-foot-tall Treetop Summit, one of the world’s tallest light trees built on parachute ride tower
  • 215 holiday wreaths
  • 100 set up crewmembers
  • 33 rides running
  • 20+ venues with holiday-themed menus
  • 15+ holiday photo ops
  • 12 themed areas
  • 10 giant props & inflatables

o   Includes “Stewie the Snowman,” a three-story, walk-through inflatable and 15-foot-tall Nutcrackers

  • 9 daily tree shows of “Holiday Magic – A Celebration of the Season”
  • 9 roller coasters
  • 8 elves
  • 6 Looney Tunes™ characters in holiday dress
  • 5 snow machines
  • 4 Jingle Jammers
  • 4 stilt-walking toy soldiers
  • 2 gingerbread characters: Dot & Drop
  • 2 royal beauties: Snow Queen and Poinsettia Princess
  • 1 Mrs. Claus
  • 1 Santa Claus

Holiday in the Park runs December 23 and daily December 26, 2016 through January 2, 2017. More than a million glittering lights, dazzling holiday entertainment, delicious seasonal treats, Santa’s village and many popular rides provide an escape from the hustle and bustle, and a way for guests to create their own magical, memorable holiday moments.

Signature Holiday in the Park attractions include:

 

  • Holiday Magic: A Celebration of the Season ─ Spectacular light show on a 52-foot-tall tree in the heart of the park that dazzles nightly every 30 minutes through eye-popping effects and classic holiday music. The only show of its kind anywhere in the country
  • Gingerbread Junction ─ Features peppermint swirl-wrapped trees, dancing lights around the carousel pavilion, Dot and Drop’s Holiday Dance Party and a giant gingerbread man towering above
  • Joy to the World ─ Tranquil pathway of lit trees, luminaries and stained glass showcasing religious holidays from around the world
  • North Pole ─ Guests are welcomed into the warmth of Santa’s home for a meet-and-greet and holiday photos, plus kids can write letters to Santa and meet a talking reindeer. Last chance to visit Santa is December 23 before he travels back to the North Pole
  • Poinsettia Peak ─ Iconic Skull Mountain coaster draped in dazzling red lights with a crimson beauty, the Poinsettia Princess, greeting guests nearby
  • Polar Point ─ Stunning, ice-blue trees twinkle with the illusion of falling snow up above, while the Snow Queen meets guests below
  • Holiday Memories ─ Green, red and gold brighten this section filled with special photo opportunities like Mistletoe Moments and giant ornaments while nearby the Jingle Jammers sing holiday tunes by the fire pits as guests toast s’mores
  • NEW – Trouble in Toyland ─ This indoor show journeys to the North Pole as Mrs. Claus aims to restore order in the Toy Shop
  • NEW – Merry Market Place – Features thousands of white lights, unique gifts, and sweet treats at this holiday-inspired market
  • NEW – The JOKER –Soar outside the confines of the track in wing cars facing other riders on this festive, 4D free-fly adventure located in a Holly Jolly Christmas
  • NEW – HARLEY QUINN Crazy Train – The whole family can enjoy this junior roller coaster themed as a villainous train
  • NEW – Sky Way – This relaxing journey 104 feet above the lights provides a scenic view of the park

The sweet and savory tastes of the holiday season can be found throughout the park. Spiked egg nog, holiday-flavored coffee and hot chocolate, peppermint and mocha fudge, holiday beers, festive funnel cakes, specialty holiday platters of sliced turkey, smoked turkey leg and chicken platters with cranberry sauce, chili bowls, harvest salads and hot soups are available in various restaurants.

Holiday in the Park also features more than 30 thrilling rides such as the Sky Way, SkyScreamer, Carousel, Big Wheel and Tea Cups. Children can enjoy 11 pint-sized thrills in Whimsical Wonderland. Coaster fans can challenge world-class rides like Nitro, BATMAN™: The Ride, THE GREEN LANTERN and SUPERMAN – Ultimate Flight, THE DARK KNIGHT Coaster, Skull Mountain and THE JOKER. All rides and entertainment are weather permitting. Frontier Adventures including Safari Off Road Adventure, Bugs Bunny National Park, Golden Kingdom and Plaza del Carnaval do not operate during the festival.

Sky Trail to be installed at Cedar Point Sports Center

Ropes Courses, Inc. is excited to announce one of its newest installations of their Sky Trail® ropes course attraction as part of a new Cedar Point Sports Center in Sandusky, Ohio. Scheduled to open in the spring of 2017, world-class amusement park Cedar Point and sport management company Sports Force Parks, out of Georgia, have partnered to create a 57 acre multi-purpose sports complex just minutes away from Cedar Point Amusement Park on Ohio’s north coast. It will be home to traveling tournament players in a variety of sports such as, baseball, softball, soccer and lacrosse. The Sky Trail® ropes course addition will challenge them and keep them on their game along with other offerings of a playground, mini golf course, trampoline park and more for both players and families to enjoy. 

“We’re honored to be a part of it all!” said Jim Liggett, owner of Ropes Courses, Inc. (RCI).

 

Participants will experience a whole new level of fun, quite literally, on the Sky Trail® ropes course when compared to the sports fields nearby. It will stand nearly 25 ft. tall, and will officially be the tallest amusement attraction on the Sports Center facility grounds. Participants will enjoy panoramic views of the Cedar Point roller coasters, tournament fields and Lake Erie as they climb through 11 diverse rope activities and soar down the attached Sky Rail™ zip line for a unique and kid-friendly adventure all in its own.

 

The fabrication and installation of the 7 pole Sky Trail® Navigator and Sky Rail™ zip line attraction will take just under a month to finalize. Much like any other amusement attraction, the Sky Trail® ropes course has a “gazillion” pieces and parts that attribute to its renowned caliber for durability and longevity. This course, composed of nearly 9 tons of steel, 6,500 fasteners and connectors, 1,000 ft. of combi-rope, 300 ft. of plumber and 81 gallons of paint, is sure to have a stand-alone “wow” factor when completed.   

 

RCI installation manager, Josh Shoup states, “This course has a standard layout we have experience putting together and it will only require 1 week’s time for 4 installers to complete the job. We’re confident Sports Force Parks and Cedar Point will be impressed with our capabilities.“ 

 

The course takes up 1,800 square feet of space and is designed for additional activities underneath the attraction. Each venue with these courses determines what additional offerings for its clientele works in this space. The Sky Trails® small footprint offers an opportunity for activities in its vicinity or for the not so “thrill seekers” to stay on the ground and watch the players up above. 

 

“The decision to add a Sky Trail® to the Sports Center was a smart one. Young kids and their families go up together and try their luck on the elements they decide they want to go through. When they exit the course, they all have a different perspective on the experience. The only thing that is the same are the smiles!“ said Liggett.

 

For more information on Sky Trail® ropes courses visit www.ropescoursesinc.com. For more information about the Sport Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center visit www.sportsforceparksandusky.com.

Efteling July trip report

In July 2016 we began a mini European trip consisting of Efteling, Movie Park Germany, Dusseldorf Rheinkirmes, Phantasialand, Walibi Holland and Toverland!

First on our list of travels was Efteling in the Netherlands! We drove to Efteling from Eindhoven, it was about a 30 – 40 minute drive to the park which greets you with this amazing entrance structure!

efteling-neil-1 efteling-neil-2

Inside this thatched set of three spires is the park’s main entrance, ticket kiosks, and other miscellaneous services. We picked up our tickets and made our way inside the park. (Efteling also has one of the most intricately themed ATM’s i’ve ever seen!)

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Efteling is described as a fantasy themed amusement park and the attractions are based on elements from ancient myths, legends, fairy tales, fables, and folklore. The whole park follows this consistent background theme but also splits off into separate areas. From the entrance, the park has a large central pathway that leads into the centre of the park. on the left-hand side is the Marerijk area which consists of a winding labyrinth of paths with models of famous folklore tales, with several of them being animated.

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We continued to the end and turned right which led us past a lake home to a scenic two boat ride and found ourselves at the park’s newest thrill machine: Baron 1898, which would be our first ride of the day!

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Baron 1898 is a Bolliger & Mabillard Dive Coaster that opened in 2015 at a cost of 18,000,000 EUR. The ride’s backstory is as follows (Thanks to Wikipedia):

 

In 1898, the wealthy baron Gustave Hooghmoed (whose last name is a variation on the Dutch word Hoogmoed, which loosely translated means haughty or overconfident) is led to discover a nearby cave that is rich in gold deposits by a spirit known as the Witte Wieven (“Wise women”, “Dames Blanches” or “White ladies”); however, this spirit gives Hooghmoed the admonition that if he disturbs the gold in any way, he will suffer terrible consequences for the remainder of his life. In an attempt to circumvent the spirit’s threat, Hoogmoed presses the destitute locals into working in his newly opened gold mine, where many of the workers suffer catastrophic accidents or are chased out of the cave by the “Witte Wieven” and her supernatural cohorts.

After the Baron is called out of his office to tend to an emergency in the mine shaft, mine overseer Laars will help guests into his specially designed mine elevator vehicles that are capable of traveling both vertically and horizontally. After the guests board the special mine cars, Laars and the machine shop are suddenly attacked by vengeful spirits of miners who have previously vanished under the influence of the “Witte Wieven”. Before Laars’s office apparently explodes, he sends the miners out of the mine; as the car ascends, a giant fireball bursts from the opening of the machine shop and almost reaches the rear car of the train. As the train is about to leave the mine, it stops as the “Witte Wieven” can be heard singing from the pit, from which smoke pours and lights can be seen. After a few seconds, the “Witte Wieven” scream, “You shall not evade my curse! Prepare to forfeit your lives!” as the miners plunge down the exit of the mine.[10]

 

We queued around 45 minutes to 1 hour and finally entered the main building in order to experience the first of several preshow rooms. I won’t spoil what happens but it does contain some pretty clever projection techniques. The coaster’s layout is rather simple by way of the lift, vertical drop, Immelman, inline twist, helix and finally into the break run. It’s a very fun ride but unfortunately very short. Fun fact: This is the only B&M Dive coaster that does not turn at the top of the lift before the drop.

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A short walk from Baron is De Vliegender Hollander (translates to The Flying Dutchman). This actually ended up being my favourite ride at the park. It is a water coaster built by KumBak Coasters. It’s also my favourite type of water coaster, one that you don’t get wet on!

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The rides queue starts outside and on this day took about 45 minutes. You make your way into the front of the building and through a series of intricately themed queue rooms all leading up to the main station area. The stations theming is stunning. It’s one of my favourite themed stations i’ve ever seen. From the soundtrack to the faux night sky above, the atmosphere and style are just perfected.

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You board your boat which seats up to 14 people per boat and away you go. The ride has a sort of “Pirates of the Caribbean” vibe to start but then turns rather dark. Before you know it a huge ghost ship looms over you and you climb the lift. A couple of surprises later and you find yourself crusing the outdoor coaster part of the circuit before heading to the final splashdown into the lake for all to see. I really enjoyed this ride and highly highly reccommend it!efteling-neil-35

Up next we decided to check out the two racing GCI (Great Coasters International) wooden coasters – Joris en de Draak (George and the Dragon). This ride opened in 2010 and replaced the aging Pegasus wooden roller coaster that occupied the same spot. To me, this ride felt slightly underwhelming compared to other GCI coasters I have ridden. This is not to say the ride is bad by any means as it was very fun, just that you should treat it as a smaller woodie that the whole family can enjoy together. The highlight of it was the racing aspect. It’s always run as a racing coaster and they make a competition out of it by cheering on the winners and booing the loosers as the trains reenter the station after each ride. The winners station also has winning flags dropped down at this point as well. It’s a really nice touch!

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In the centre of the ride stands the mighty dragon. It’s an audio animatronic that breathes fire and also slaps its tail in the water sending up a fountain of water that it timed to wet the riders on the “Water” side of the coaster. Talking of side, the sides are named “Fire” and “Water” and you get to choose what side you wish to ride just before you climb the stairs to the platforms. I personally preferred the Fire side. It’s full of typical GCI airtime goodness and is a very very fun ride to ride. Riding three times I thought I would have had a good chance of being on the winning train at least once but luck wasn’t on my side this trip as we lost all three times!

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Next to try out was Python. Python is a Vekoma corkscrew coaster with two loops and two corkscrews. The wait was a long one due to single train operation on that day. It was nice to see it was running new trains with Vekoma’s new vest style restraint but it did not seem to help the ride experience. It was pretty rough in parts but on a positive side the ride visually looks great nestled in with De Vliegender Hollander and Joris en de Draak.efteling-neil-43 efteling-neil-44 efteling-neil-45

After a coffee and a snack from a nearby outlet we continued our exploration around the park, taking in some of the sights and the superbly landscaped gardens.

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We found ourselves facing Vogel Rok. I had no clue what type of ride it was, apart from knowing it was a roller coaster of some sort. The queue looked very inconspicuous from the outside but once inside you get to the top of a set of stairs and “Wow! that’s a lot of people!”.

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The ride is a non inverting indoor coaster that simulates the flight of the Vogel bird. It was a nice fun family ride and rode silky smooth as well. After Vogel Rok we located Villa Volta. Villa Volta had always intregued me so I was excited to finally get to try it. The preshow seemed to go on for ages but that might have been due to not knowing the language! What surprised me here was how light it was inside the main ride. Most of these “Mad-house” style rides are pretty dark and dingy but this was was bright and well lit. It made for a nice variation but other than that was a standard mad house affair.

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We made our way through some lovely landscaped areas around this side of the park which housed many childrens rides, over to our next ride: Droomvlucht. This is the parks signature dark ride. You can tell that it is one of the park’s older rides but it’s still very well done. The name translates to Dreamflight and it describes the experience pretty well. It opened in 1993 after failing to open in the same year as Disneyland Paris in 1992. The ride vehicles are pretty basic theme wise but can be described as suspended versions of Disney’s Haunted Mansion Doom Buggies.

The ride takes you past various scenes of fairies, castles, forests and other fairy-tale creatures with a backdrop of fairytale music. The ride’s finale is a huge downward spiral around the edge of a forest. You do seem to pretty much coast the entire way, but no, it’s not a coaster!

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After riding Droomvlucht we continued our tour around the edge of the park by ending up in the centre pretty much back where we started. This area will be the site of next years brand new dark ride: Symbolica. Not much is know about it but I can be pretty much sure it will be a ride not to be missed!

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We knew that we still had the final remaining coaster to ride so we headed off to locate it in a wooded area. Bob is an Intamin Bobsled and one of the older coasters that Efteling has. This ride, like other Intamin bobsleds has the weird drifting sensation as you speed round the corners. It can make you feel a bit nervous when the back end of the car drifts out when your not expecting it, especially if you’ve ridden any of the Mack bobsleds as those do not do that.

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To the right hand side of the park entrance is Fata Morgana. This is a tow boat ride based around 1001 Arabian Nights. It’s quite a long ride, coming in at 8 minutes long. It’s home to a wide variety of animatronic figures and I enjoyed the use of opening and closing curtains over the boats course to hide the upcoming scenes. The ride has a pretty cool musical soundtrack too.

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After Fata Morgana, we headed back into the heart of the park and came across Efteling’s Spooky Castle called Spookslot. I had entirely no idea what this was and by the end there was no way I could have even guessed! It was weird but strangely fun. I think the best thing to do is just watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9KGLtcUa2Y

After the quirkiness of Spookslot we just wandered around the park and decided to ride Pagode. This is a type of ride called a Flying Island, it’s made by Intamin and there are not a huge number of them around so they are fun to ride when you get the chance. The overall experience is pretty similar to a normal observation tower apart from this one as the cabin mounted on one end of a giant arm which rotates up taking you with it. Also, you are not stuck behind a sheet of plexi-glass either! From up the top you get some stunning vies of Efteling and the surrounding area, plus a small sneak peak of the awaiting parts of Symbolica.

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A wander back over to the main coaster area of Efteling and a few more rides on De Vliegende Hollander and Joris en de Draak before we made our way to the main entrance as it was nearing the parks 8pm closing time.

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The park did have an amazing music, fountain and fire display over the lake which put a nice finale to everyone’s day. After the show we made our way out to return to our hotel and off for more fun at Movie Park Germany which is coming up next time!efteling-neil-93

 

Nashville Whiskey Festival

Presented by Midtown Corkdorks, the 5th annual Nashville Whiskey Festival showcases the talents of more than 60 distilleries and provides guests with the opportunity to sample a wide range of fine whiskeys. Enthusiasts can also learn more about the craft by attending educational panels run by industry experts.

In addition to the many samples to try, there will be gourmet food to enjoy and local live musicians will provide a soundtrack to the entire event.

With distilleries from all over the world pouring from their finest barrels, it’s no wonder that spirits enthusiasts will be traveling from all over the country to attend the 2016 Nashville Whiskey Festival.

The Nashville Whiskey Festival will be held on October 1, 2016 from 6:30pm-10:00pm. VIP admission is from 5:30pm-10pm.

All attendees and ticket buyers must be 21 and over.

For additional details please visit www.nashvillewhiskeyfestival.com