IAAPA releases list of new rides coming world-wide in 2018

ORLANDO, Fla., USA (Nov. 13, 2017) – As global amusement industry professionals gather at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017, the premier conference and trade show for the $39.5 billion worldwide industry, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) releases its annual preview of major new rides and attractions opening in 2018 at amusement parks, water parks, family entertainment centers, science centers, museums, zoos, and aquariums around the world.

The 2018 list includes more than 65 new experiences at the world’s amusement parks and attractions including roller coasters, water slides, games, virtual reality rides, and more.

Below are some of the exciting thrills guests will enjoy during 2018, organized by continent then by nation, state, and/or province. Updates will be posted regularly at www.IAAPA.org/news.

 

NORTH AMERICA

CANADA

Alberta

Calgary Zoo opens Panda Passage exhibit for its two new adult pandas and two panda cubs. Panda Passage enhances the habitat that formerly housed the zoo’s Komodo dragons and rhinoceroses. calgaryzoo.com

Ontario

Canada’s Wonderland in Vaughan opens two new rides and an expanded play and splash area for children. “Lumberjack” is a thrill ride that takes guests to heights of 75 feet on two swinging-axe pendulums, propelling them in 360-degree loops. “Flying Canoes” is an interactive family ride that allows passengers to control their adventure on two-person canoes that rotate around a circuit. In addition, Splash Island’s children’s pool in Splash Works will double in size and feature several new interactive spray features. canadaswonderland.com

Quebec

La Ronde in Montreal debuts Carnaval en Folie, a new family zone where colors and sounds re-create the festive atmosphere of the fairs and carnivals of yesterday. The Carnaval en Folie zone will include three new rides: the “Toubillon” carousel, the “Petite Roue” Ferris wheel, and “Tour du Fou,” a high-flying merry-go-round. laronde.com/fr/larondefr

 

MEXICO

KidZania, the interactive entertainment destination for kids opens in Guadalajara. Children can role-play in more than 100 real-life occupations, explore the kids’ city and have fun, while learning through realistic role-play designed specifically for children ages 2-14. guadalajara.kidzania.com/es-mx

 

UNITED STATES

Alabama

Topgolf opens its second Alabama location in Huntsville. The 53,000-square-foot venue will feature climate-controlled hitting bays for year-round play, a chef-driven food and beverage menu, music, private rooms for corporate and social events, and more than 200 high-definition televisions. topgolf.com/us/huntsville

Arizona

Topgolf opens its third Greater Phoenix location in Glendale. The 65,000-square-foot, three-level venue includes up to 3,000 square feet of private event space and climate-controlled hitting bays that can host up to six players at one time. topgolf.com/us/glendale

California

Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach debuts a 29,000-square-foot Pacific Visions expansion. The new area includes an immersive 300-seat interactive theater, art gallery, and additional exhibition space for live animals. aquariumofpacific.org

California’s Great America in Santa Clara opens “RailBlazer,” a new roller coaster featuring a 90-degree drop, three inversions, and dynamic rotations throughout the ride. Guests straddle the coaster’s single track giving them an unobstructed view of the ground and sky during the off-road adventure-inspired ride. cagreatamerica.com

Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim debuts Pixar Pier a transformed land where guests will enjoy newly themed attractions, foods, and merchandise representing beloved Disney·Pixar stories. disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park premieres a new steel roller coaster “Hang Time.” The ride towers 150 feet over the park’s boardwalk area. The ride experience includes inversions, midair suspensions, and twisting dives along the track. “Hang Time” will send riders up a vertical lift hill and down into a 15-story, 96-degree drop that gives the illusion the track has disappeared. knotts.com

Legoland California Resort in Carlsbad opens Legoland Castle Hotel, a three-story, 250-room hotel. Accommodations will range from 20 suites to guestrooms themed to knights, princesses and more. The park also opens “Lego City Deep Sea Adventure” submarine ride. Up to 12 passengers board one of eight real submarines as they explore an imaginative underwater ocean world. legoland.com/california

SeaWorld San Diego opens “Electric Eel,” the park’s third roller coaster. The 150-foot-tall ride features a triple-launch with accelerations of more than 60 mph. seaworld.com/san-diego

Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia introduces “CraZanity,” a towering pendulum attraction that seats riders in an outward-facing circle and speeds up to 75 mph as it swings 172 feet in the air. sixflags.com/magicmountain

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo debuts “Harley Quinn Crazy Coaster.” The ride’s two trains seat 32 riders face-to-face as they speed past each other in a dueling adventure. The figure-eight coaster turns riders upside down 12 times. sixflags.com/discoverykingdom

Waterworld Concord introduces “Splashwater Island,” a four-story water play structure with more than 100 features. Guests will ascend ladders and splash down more than nine water slides. waterworldcalifornia.com

Florida

Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark in Orlando introduces “Ray Rush,” a new family raft slide which launches riders through enclosed tubes, a translucent sphere, and an open halfpipe slide shaped like a manta ray. aquaticabyseaworld.com/en/orlando

Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista opens Toy Story Land featuring characters Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and Slinky Dog. Toy Story Land features two new attractions: the “Slinky Dog Dash” family roller coaster and “Alien Swirling Saucers,” a flying saucer ride. disneyworld.disney.go.com/destinations/hollywood-studios/toy-story-land

Legoland Florida Resort in Winter Haven introduces “The Great Lego Race,” an attraction that is created by transforming the “Project X” roller coaster into a virtual reality experience that takes riders through a rollicking race. Donning virtual reality headsets and using Bluetooth technology the ride synchronizes virtual visuals with the roller coaster’s twists, turns, drops and climbs, creating an all-new experience. legoland.com/florida

SeaWorld Orlando debuts “Infinity Falls,” the world’s tallest river rapid ride. Each raft will twist and turn through a lush jungle environment as guests experience up to Class IV river rapids. A unique vertical elevator lifts each raft for a dramatic launch into the river, 40 feet below. seaworld.com/orlando/rides/infinity-falls

Topgolf opens its second South Florida location in Doral. The 65,000-square-foot venue features golf games using microchipped balls that instantly score themselves, showing players the accuracy and distance of their shots instantly on a television screen in their hitting bay. topgolf.com/us/doral

Universal Orlando Resort opens Aventura Hotel, a modern and stylish property with views of all three Universal Orlando theme parks. The hotel has a vibrant, free-flowing design, spacious open areas and 600 contemporary guestrooms. universalorlando.com/web/en/us/places-to-stay/universals-aventura-hotel

Georgia

Great Wolf Resorts opens its first Georgia property in LaGrange. Great Wolf Lodge Georgia features indoor water slides, a giant tipping bucket, wave pool, lazy river, and a family raft ride. Additional family-focused attractions outside the water park include the “MagiQuest” interactive adventure game and the indoor Great Wolf Adventure Park. GreatWolf.com/Georgia

Six Flags Over Georgia near Atlanta opens “Twisted Cyclone,” a hybrid roller coaster that goes from a 75-degree initial drop to three inversions at 50 mph. The coaster train, modeled after a classic 1960s sports car, combines a traditional wood coaster structure with a steel track. sixflags.com/overgeorgia/attractions/newfor2018

Illinois

Great Wolf Resorts opens in Chicago’s northern suburb of Gurnee. The company’s 17th resort, Great Wolf Lodge Illinois features indoor water slides, a giant tipping bucket, wave pool, lazy river, and a family raft ride. Additional family-focused attractions outside the water park include the “MagiQuest” interactive adventure game and the indoor Great Wolf Adventure Park. GreatWolf.com/Illinois

Six Flags Great America in Gurnee adds the world’s largest loop coaster, the park’s 16th roller coaster. The 100-foot-tall ride features 32 face-to-face seats and takes daring riders through several 360-degree revolutions. sixflags.com/greatamerica/attractions/newfor2018

Iowa

Adventureland in Altoona opens Bernie’s Barnyard, an area created specifically for the park’s youngest guests with kiddie rides, a playground, arcade games, and more. adventurelandresort.com

Maryland

Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro debuts a new centerpiece for its Hurricane Harbor Water Park, “Wahoo River.” The themed adventure river will have seven water action zones complete with water arches, geysers, surging waves, waterfalls, and tipping buckets. sixflags.com/america

Massachusetts

Six Flags New England in Agawam debuts “Harley Quinn Spinsanity,” a colossal swing ride that reaches up to 70 mph and spins riders up to 147 feet in the air. sixflags.com/newengland

Minnesota

Topgolf opens its first Minnesota location in Brooklyn Center, near downtown Minneapolis. In the 65,000-square-foot venue, guests can enjoy self-scoring golf games using microchipped balls that instantly show players the accuracy and distance of their shots on a television screen in their hitting bay. topgolf.com/us/minneapolis

Valleyfair in Shakopee opens “Delirious” in its nostalgic Route 76 area. The 70-foot looping thrill ride, which features a train that races around the inside of the track, completes 10 revolutions in less than a minute. valleyfair.com

Missouri

Silver Dollar City in Branson debuts the “Time Traveler” roller coaster, the world’s fastest, steepest and tallest spinning roller coaster. The ride features a 10-story, 90-degree vertical drop and three inversions: a dive loop, a vertical loop, and a zero-G roll along more than a half mile of track. silverdollarcity.com/timetraveler

Six Flags St. Louis opens “Typhoon Twister,” in its Hurricane Harbor water park. The hybrid zero-gravity water slide and wave wall sends up to four people barreling down an enclosed 54-foot drop in a cloverleaf raft. sixflags.com/stlouis

Topgolf opens its first Missouri location in Chesterfield. Guests can enjoy point-scoring golf games using microchipped balls that instantly score themselves, showing players the accuracy and distance of their shots instantly on a TV screen in their hitting bay. topgolf.com/us/st-louis

Worlds of Fun in Kansas City introduces “Nordic Chaser,” a new family ride. Guests of all ages will board mini-ships that rotate around a circuit, providing the sensation of rising and falling along ocean waves. worldsoffun.com

New Jersey

Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari in Jackson opens “Cyborg Cyber Spin,” an anti-gravity gondola ride that spins on three separate axes. Twenty four riders sit with their feet dangling as they twist and turn and are propelled up to seven stories above the ground. sixflags.com/greatadventure

Topgolf opens its second New Jersey location in Mount Laurel. The 65,000-square-foot venue features microchipped golf balls that score themselves, providing players with instant feedback on each shot’s accuracy and distance. topgolf.com/us/mount-laurel

New York

The Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George introduces “Pandemonium,” which takes 24 riders at a time on a ride that lifts, spins, and tilts at all angles. At sundown the ride’s colorful light package will illuminate the sky, providing a unique afterdark experience. sixflags.com/greatescape

North Carolina

Carowinds near Charlotte debuts Camp Snoopy, a newly expanded kids’ section featuring new rides, and a climb-and-play area, “Beagle Scout Acres.” Camp Snoopy will feature five new rides: “Camp Bus” that lifts guests into the air and lowers them back down to the ground; “Peanuts Trailblazers” puts guests behind the wheel of a Jeep-like vehicle on a small, round speedway; “Kite Eating Tree” sends a kite vehicle up and down a tree; “Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies” rotates around the popular Pig Pen character while bouncing on a bumpy ride and “Woodstock Whirlybirds” an oversized spinning bird’s nest. carowinds.com

Ohio

Cedar Point in Sandusky opens “Steel Vengeance,” a 200-foot-tall hybrid roller coaster featuring a 90-degree initial drop and a Twisted Snake Dive, a maneuver that puts the train into a half-barrel roll, lets it hang upside-down momentarily, before turning back to the direction of travel, just shy of a complete roll. cedarpoint.com

Oregon

Oaks Amusement Park in Portland debuts a new roller coaster that features a 72-foot vertical lift, a heartline roll, 97-degree loop, and top speeds of 45 mph. The public is helping the park name the new ride through a name-the-coaster contest. oakspark.com

Pennsylvania

Sesame Place in Langhorne debuts the “Oscar’s Wacky Taxi” ride. The wooden-steel hybrid family roller coaster has a bright yellow, taxi cab-inspired train featuring Oscar the Grouch. sesameplace.com/philadelphia

The Boardwalk at Hersheypark in Hershey opens two water rides. “Breakers Edge Water Coaster” seats four riders on in-line rafts and rockets them through splash-filled hills, tight turns, and sweet thrills perfect for the whole family. On the “Whitecap Racer” guests ride on a mat through turns and tunnels as they sail down six colorful racing lanes. hersheypark.com

Topgolf opens its first Pennsylvania location in Pittsburgh in the summer. The 65,000-square-foot venue features point-scoring golf games using microchipped balls that instantly score themselves, showing players the accuracy and distance of their shots on a television screen in their hitting bay. topgolf.com/us/pittsburgh

Waldameer Park and WaterWorld in Erie opens two new family-friendly rides. “Balloon Race” in Kiddieland sends riders spinning around and gliding up and down in colorful hot-air balloons, while the “CannonBowl” single- or double-tube water slide has drops, twists, and turns before it sends riders spinning around in a giant bowl. Waldameer.com

Texas

Cinergy Entertainment Group opens a new location in Edinburg in summer. The new entertainment center features cinemas, bowling, multi-level laser tag, elevated ropes course, game floor, escape rooms, premium food offerings, full-service bar, multiple event rooms, reserved ticketing, luxury recliner seating, and the Cinergy Epic auditorium. Cinergy.com

KidZania, a “mini-city” that allows children to role-play in more than 100 real-life occupations, opens in Dallas. From board member to baker and doctor to truck driver, KidZania’s world of role-play is tailored to resemble the city of Dallas, complete with buildings, paved streets, vehicles, and a self-contained economy fueled by a currency called “kidZos.” kidzania.us/en

Schulman’s Movie Bowl Grille adds a 6,000-square-foot location in Denison featuring dine-in movie theaters, 24 Brunswick bowling lanes, an interactive arcade and amusement center, multi-level high-definition laser tag center, full-service restaurant, and a 100,000-square-foot mixed-use retail center. moviebowlgrille.com

Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland Discovery Center opens at the Shops at Rivercenter in downtown San Antonio. The complex consists more than 65,000 square feet of interactive and educational attraction space. Sanantonio.legolanddiscoverycenter.com

Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio opens “Wonder Woman Golden Lasso Coaster,” a single-rail coaster that features a 90-degree drop, zero-G roll, and a 180-degree stall. sixflags.com/fiestatexas

Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington debuts “Harley Quinn Spinsanity,” a 24-seat gondola-style ride that delivers a combination of negative and positive gravitational forces as it twists and rotates on three separate axes in a continuous movement. sixflags.com/overtexas

Topgolf opens its 11th Texas location in Pharr, in the Rio Grande Valley. The 55,000-square-foot venue features self-scoring golf games using microchipped balls that score themselves, showing players the accuracy and distance of their shots instantly on a television screen in their hitting bay. topgolf.com/us/pharr

Urban Air Adventure Park, a trampoline park for all ages and fitness levels, opens two new locations in Killeen and Tyler. urbanairtrampolinepark.com

Virginia

Busch Gardens Williamsburg debuts “Battle for Eire,” a virtual reality attraction featuring a fierce fairy warrior named Addie who leads riders on an adventure through her homeland of Ireland. Addie’s goal is to rescue the Heart of Eire, which represents the magic of Ireland, with a little help from park guests. seaworldparks.com/buschgardens-williamsburg

Kings Dominion near Richmond debuts “Twisted Timbers,” a hybrid roller coaster featuring a 109-foot barrel-roll drop, three loops, and 20 airtime moments. The 3,351 feet of steel track make some maneuvers possible that were previously unimaginable on a traditional wooden coaster. kingsdominion.com

Ocean Breeze Waterpark in Virginia Beach opens a new family raft water ride with a patriotic theme. Riders board four-person tubes at the top of a 70-foot platform before sliding into a dark, enclosed tunnel with a series of unpredictable twists, turns, and drops that lead to a thrilling and refreshing splashdown. oceanbreezewaterpark.com

Wisconsin

Sky Zone opens a new 22,000-square-foot trampoline park in Greenfield. Guests experience “Freestyle Jump,” “Foam Zone,” “Sky Slam,” and “Sky Hoops,” as well as “Ninja Warrior Course,” a “Challenge Zone” that includes jousting pits and an aerial ladder, “Free Climb,” a climbing wall and “Fusion Dodgeball,” a new take on a classic backyard game that uses a trampoline court system as its venue. skyzone.com/greenfield

 

EUROPE

Belgium

Walibi in Wavre debuts a new family-friendly roller coaster. At its adjacent water park, Aqualibi the park opens a 700-square-meter aquatic playground for children. walibi.com/belgium/be-en

Denmark

Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen introduces “Winter in Tivoli,” the historic amusement park’s first winter-season celebration in its 175th anniversary. Operating Feb. 2-25, the park opens an ice-skating rink, shops, and restaurants. Select park rides will operate during the event as well. “Chess – The Musical” will play in the Tivoli Concert Hall. tivoli.dk/en

Germany

Holiday Park in Haßloch opens the Maya the Bee indoor zone with experiences celebrating one of the park’s most popular characters. holidaypark.de/en

Legoland Deutschland Resort in Günzburg introduces “The Great Lego Race,” a ride transforming the “Project X” roller coaster into a virtual reality experience that takes riders through a rollicking race. Donning VR headsets and using Bluetooth technology the ride will sync the virtual visuals with the roller coaster’s twists, turns, drops and climbs, creating an all-new experience. legoland.de/en

Great Britain

Alton Towers in Staffordshire opens “SW8 – Secret Weapon 8” wooden rollercoaster, the park’s first new coaster since 2013. altontowers.com

Blackpool Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, England, opens “Icon,” a coaster that propels thrill-seekers forward at high speeds at the start of the ride and at a second point halfway through the two-and-a-half-minute experience. blackpoolpleasurebeach.com/icon

Legoland Discovery Centre opens at the Arena Birmingham in Birmingham, England, featuring play areas and adventures including Miniland, an interactive city made of Lego bricks, a 4-D cinema, creative workshops with a master Lego builder, and “Kingdom Quest,” an interactive chariot ride. Birmingham.legolanddiscoverycentre.co.uk

Peppa Pig World in Ower, Hampshire, England, debuts two new rides. “The Queen’s Flying Coach Ride” takes families on a tour around the newly extended part of Peppa Pig World and “Grampy Rabbit’s Sailing Club” which takes guests along a new water route to discover Pirate Island. paultonspark.co.uk/attractions/peppa-pig-world

Sweden

Furuvik in Furuvik debuts “XX,” a dark ride that lets guests compete and collect points by scaring ghosts and other creatures. The park also opens Furuvik Havshotell, a 28-room seaside hotel and restaurant inspired by traditional yacht clubs and classic American boardwalk culture. furuvik.se/english

Liseberg in Gothenberg opens the “Valkyria” dive coaster featuring a vertical 50-meter drop. The ride climbs then pauses at the peak of the life hill briefly before plunging vertically into an underground tunnel at a speed of 105 kph. liseberg.com/en/home

ASIA

China

Little Big City in Beijing is a new family attraction that features interactive, handcrafted miniature locations. It depicts iconic buildings and streets of Beijing city to scale along with special effects and cutting-edge multimedia technology to bring the world class city’s colorful history to life. The attraction also includes more than 6,500 miniature “locales,” created in detail from extensive historical research. merlinentertainments.biz/little-big-city

Japan

Universal Studios Japan in Osaka debuts “Final Fantasy XR Ride,” a virtual reality roller coaster. The attraction, based on the “Final Fantasy” video game franchise invites guests don virtual reality headsets as they board airships to explore various “Final Fantasy” worlds. usj.co.jp/e

Malaysia

Legoland Malaysia Resort in Johor Bahru introduces “The Great Lego Race,” a ride transforming the “Project X” roller coaster into a virtual reality (VR) experience that takes riders through a rollicking race. Donning VR headsets and using Bluetooth technology the ride synchronizes the virtual visuals with the roller coaster’s twists, turns, drops, and climbs, creating an all-new experience. legoland.com.my

 

LATIN AMERICA

Costa Rica

KidZania, a “mini-city” that allows children to role-play in more than 100 real-life occupations, opens in Heredia. From board member to baker and doctor to truck driver, kids can try their hand at real-life occupations. kidzania.com

About IAAPA
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is the premier trade association for the attractions industry worldwide. Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently located amusement facilities and attractions and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the attractions industry. IAAPA represents more than 5,300 attraction, supplier, and individual members from more than 100 with member facilities including amusement and theme parks, water parks, family entertainment centers, zoos, aquariums, science centers, and museums. IAAPA hosts three annual trade shows including IAAPA Attractions Expo, Euro Attractions Show, and Asian Attractions Expo. The association’s global headquarters is in Orlando, Florida, United States. The nonprofit organization maintains offices in Brussels, Hong Kong, Mexico City, and Alexandria, Virginia.

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.

 

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.

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!)

efteling-neil-94

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.

efteling-neil-3 efteling-neil-4 efteling-neil-5

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

Valleyfair Announces a New 230 Foot Star Flyer!

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Valleyfair made the announcement yesterday morning:

“Thrill seekers, get ready to reach for the stars as Valleyfair announces plans for a 230-foot-tall Starflyer ride in 2017.

North Star – named to celebrate the region’s affinity to being “up north” and the great outdoors – is a 230-foot-tall tower that will spin riders more than 20 stories above the ground. Seated in two-person chain-link swings that will allow their feet to dangle, riders will slowly begin rotating in a circular motion reaching speeds of up to 40 mph as the swings ascend and descend the tower.

“The annual trip to Valleyfair has always been a family tradition in Minnesota,” says DaveVF2017CloseUp Frazier, Vice President and General Manager of Valleyfair. “The addition of North Star certainly adds to the continued commitment to provide lasting family memories for our guests.”

By comparison, North Star will rank as the second tallest ride in the park next to the 275-foot Power Tower and will occupy the spot soon-to-be vacated by Enterprise, which will be retired later this month. The location positions North Star at the front of the park where, living up to its name, it will serve as a beacon to guide and greet guests on their journey to the park. North Star is the only ride of this type in the upper Midwest.

North Star is manufactured by Austrian-based Funtime. Construction on North Star will begin this month and be complete by early to mid-December. The ride will open to guests in the spring of 2017.

The best way to experience the new North Star is with a 2017 Gold Season Pass, on sale now at the lowest price of the season. Season Pass holders enjoy unlimited visits all season long, including Soak City Waterpark and Valleyscare, free parking, in-park discounts, exclusive offers and events and so much more.”

 

California’s Great America Announces 2017 Additions!

 

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California’s Great America just announced their plans for 2017!

“Today California’s Great America announced that for the 2017 season, it will introduce Patriot, the first floorless coaster in the park’s 41-year history. Patriot will emerge from the soon to be retired Vortex coaster, the oldest stand up roller coaster in the United States. Season Passes for the 2017 season also go on sale today at the lowest price of the season, offering unlimited admission for the rest of 2016 and all of 2017.

Patriot will take riders to a 91-foot height before plummeting them into a 360-degree loop at 45 miles per hour. Patriot’s position in the park makes it a dynamic visual from three different sections of Great America.

The inspiration for the coaster’s name was taken from the fact that the ride is nestled adjacent to All American Corners within a park whose name celebrates America.

The transition from a stand up to floorless ride will include state-of-the-art blue and white trains positioning guests with their feet dangling above the blue and white track.

“With the track visible beneath their fee, Patriot will create unique and exciting new perspectives throughout the ride,” said California’s Great America Vice President and General Manager Raul Rehnborg.

Guests can take their “Last Stand” on Vortex through September 5. Then work will begin to ready Patriot for the 2017 season.

Great America’s season continues weekend operations through Oct. 30, with Halloween Haunt running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 24-Oct. 30.

WinterFest debuts and takes center stage Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 25-Dec. 30, with daily operations Dec. 19-23 and 26-30. Guests can ice skate in front of the iconic Carousel Columbia, admire magnificent displays of lights and décor, view spectacular live holiday shows, experience 18 rides, see Santa’s workshop and Mrs. Claus’ kitchen, and enjoy scrumptious holiday foods around the park.”

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NAME OF DOLLY PARTON’S NEWEST PIGEON FORGE DINNER SHOW REVEALED

Dolly Parton today announced the name of her newest dinner show set to launch this May in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure Dinner & Show features a captivating storyline, a cast of talented performers and family entertainment only Parton can deliver. 
  
 “I’m truly excited to be working on a new show for families to enjoy while they are in town,” Parton said. “We did a lot of work to come up with the name of the new show and I think we found the perfect fit. My creative team has been working to produce an exciting show which will showcase the amazing competitive skills of our cast. We have a few surprises that will certainly make this an ‘adventure’ for every member of the family.”
Jim Rule, Chief Executive Officer of World Choice Investments, LLC, noted construction on Lumberjack Adventure’s facility is on schedule.
“Facility construction is well underway and we are extremely pleased with the progress to this point,” Rule said. “We currently have a number of renovations planned for both the interior and exterior of the facility.”
Plans also are in place to remove the former Regency Inn to provide additional parking and to make the dinner attraction more visible from the Parkway, the major thoroughfare in Pigeon Forge.
Much like the fabulous meals at Parton’s other dinner attractions, guests will be served a hearty meal truly fit for a lumberjack. Numerous new meal items currently are being tested to create an entirely new menu.
“This completely new and unique production will reflect the same quality, attention to detail and overall entertainment value as our other dinner attractions around the country,” added Rule.
                Follow the progress at www.lumberjackadventure.com

A world’s first, Derren Brown has reinvented the Ghost Train for the 21st Century only at THORPE PARK Resort.

NEW for Spring 2016, a WORLD’S FIRST one-of-a-kind experience like you have never seen before arrives at THORPE PARK Resort.

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Re-invented for the 21st century, this ghost train will blow your mind. Crafted by the master of mind control, Derren Brown, this one-of-a-kind 13-minute theme park experience will be the world’s only fully immersive psychological attraction designed to manipulate the human mind. At the heart of the island you discover a disused warehouse. As you enter a seemingly innocent Victorian train carriage, it soon becomes clear as sights and sounds fill your senses, that you will come face-to-face with what lies at the end of the line. Prepare to derail your mind on a ghost train re-invented for the 21st century that will leave you questioning where perception ends and reality begins.

At the heart of the island you discover a disused warehouse. As you enter a seemingly innocent Victorian train carriage, it soon becomes clear as sights and sounds fill your senses, that you will come face-to-face with what lies at the end of the line. Prepare to derail your mind on a ghost train re-invented for the 21st century that will leave you questioning where perception ends and reality begins.

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ALTON TOWERS RESORT TO LAUNCH WORLD’S FIRST ROLLERCOASTER FULLY DEDICATED TO VIRTUAL REALITY

In a groundbreaking move set to revolutionise the world of theme parks, Alton Towers Resort announces today it is launching a rollercoaster entirely dedicated to virtual reality, a sensational world first.

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Set to open in April 2016, Galactica is the world’s first rollercoaster entirely customised for the full virtual reality experience, transforming riders into astronauts and plunging them into outer space with a G-force more powerful than a real rocket launch.

The exhilarating new ride experience uniquely combines the physical exertion and adrenaline rush of Alton Towers Resort’s iconic flying rollercoaster, with the breathtaking emotive experience of travelling through space. Cutting edge technology launches riders in a different world, complete with virtual space suits, stunning visuals and an exciting space adventure. The visuals have been perfectly synchronised to the thrilling twists, turns and loops of the rollercoaster to recreate the sensation of hurtling through space. Visitors will ride in a prone position along the 840-metre long
(2,760 ft) track, to recreate the feeling of flying.

Galactica’s epic space theme is set to be hugely popular following Tim Peake’s maiden voyage into space in December 2015. Its stunning, high-quality visuals deliver an immersive experience that feels breathtakingly realistic. Space exploration will continue to dominate the news agenda in 2016 with a NASA mission to Mars and a spacecraft landing on Jupiter, a journey that has taken five years.

Each rider wears a specialist VR headset. Through this, an onboard artificial intelligence guides them from the launch pad up into space, flying and looping beyond the stars, banking through wormholes and speeding across undiscovered galaxies, revealing the wonders of the cosmos in stunning clarity.

Speaking of the new attraction, Gill Riley, Marketing Director at Alton Towers Resort said: “Galactica uses ground breaking technology to give riders a breathtaking and completely unique rollercoaster experience. Tim Peake captured the imagination of millions of Brits last year when he set off on his mission to the International Space Station – and now our visitors can become astronauts too.

“There is nowhere else in the world that people can experience the feeling of a flying rollercoaster combined with soaring through the universe. For two minutes, our guests will be transported into space and we believe Galactica showcases the future for theme parks around the world – it’s a complete game changer!”

Galactica will be located in the Forbidden Valley area of the theme park and is set to open in April 2016. The launch follows earlier news of its Rollercoaster Restaurant, which opens in May.