Cedar Point announces 2013 coaster: Gatekeeper

One of the worst kept secrets for the 2013 amusement park season has been that Cedar Point is adding a new coaster. Today they finally let the cat out of the bag with the announcement of Gatekeeper. This B&M Flying coaster is set to take over the front gate of the park in a similar fashion to Leviathan at Canada’s Wonderland. It will be the longest winged coaster in the world and have the longest drop of any winged coaster worldwide. Check out all the facts & figures for this breathtaking addition to Cedar Point below:

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Canada's Wonderland Trip Report & Halloween Haunt Rumours

Over the weekend, we took a quick jaunt over to Canada’s Wonderland. It’s been a while since we visited the park, so we wanted to check out how the season was going. We got there around 6pm on Friday and the park was busy, but not insane.

We saw the Cirque Ambiente show, which was pretty interesting. We’re big fans of the ice shows, so it’s sad that this year they didn’t have one. With that said, the audience was wowed by the production and overall it was well put together. A nice Cirque Du Soleil style theatrical experience.
The other, Starlight Spectacular, was simply awful. It’s uses some projections on Wonder Mountain, with a random soundtrack and lighting effects. There is no storyline, and it just ends with some projected fireworks at the end. It may be impressive to people who have never been anywhere else, but there is much to be improved upon. While we don’t expect Disney quality shows and fireworks, the show could be a little more exciting in our opinion. Matt Ouimet (the former Disney Castmember who is now the Cedar Fair CEO), please bring a little Disney magic to the Cedar Fair family. Starting with fixing this nighttime “spectacular”, because it’s anything but. Everyone will thank you!
As for Halloween Haunt, one of the workers we spoke with heard the rumour floating around the internet about a new Maze being inside Wonder Mountain, although she thinks it won’t happen. What she did mention was that there will be two new houses and one new scare zone. One haunt is said to be tribal themed, so maybe an African Voodoo theme or something along those lines. She wouldn’t give us any other details regarding the second haunt, other than the Miner’s Revenge would not be returning this year. It will be interesting to see what this year brings to the park.
Now without further ado, here’s our collection of photos for your enjoyment: Continue reading

Leviathan Review, Merchandise and more!

Today marked Season Passholder Preview day at Canada’s Wonderland, an annual right of passage that marks the official start of summer for theme park fanatics in Canada. Thousands of season passholders braved the chilly temperatures to brave the newest attraction for the 2012 season, Leviathan. Reaching a terror inducing 306 feet high, with over 5,400 feet of track and a top speed of 148km/h, Leviathan is B&M’s first coaster to reach over 300 feet high. It’s the third tallest traditional lift-style coaster in the world, after Steel Dragon in Japan and Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

We have been counting down the days for the Sneak Preview, and finally got to ride this monster. We weren’t disappointed. Here’s our review of the ride, along with some pictures of the new merchandise offerings and general areas of the park:

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter goes Hollywood…and expands in Orlando

Major updates for Harry Potter fans. Universal Studios Hollywood is expected to announce a major Harry Potter attraction/expansion similar to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida. They are holding a media event tomorrow to officially announce the project. In addition, we also hear of the possible expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. Read on for details.

First, the Universal Studios Hollywood News from the Los Angeles Times:

“Harry Potter is making his Los Angeles debut on Tuesday. Executives from Universal Studios and Warner Bros. will unveil and for the first time publicly discuss their plans to build the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood at a late-morning news conference.Universal announced the event, stating in an email that it would be “hosting a Butterbeer toast to celebrate a very special announcement.” People close to the matter but not authorized to discuss the event beforehand confirmed it would be the unveiling of plans to duplicate the massively successful Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction from Universal Studios Orlando at the L.A. theme park. Top executives from Warner Bros., which made the “Potter” films and controls licensing rights to author J.K. Rowling’s books about the boy wizard, will be in attendance along with those from Universal. They will include the leaders of both companies: Warner Chairman Barry Meyer and Universal President Ron Meyer (no relation). In addition, demonstrating the significance of what will likely be a huge investment in building the Potter-themed rides and shops, along with the longer-term boost to tourism, California Gov. Jerry Brown will be in attendance.The Orlando Wizarding World of Harry Potter has brought in more than 7 million people in its first year and was the main driver in a 36% increase at Universal’s park there in the first three months of 2011. The attraction isn’t expected to open at Universal’s Los Angeles location — right next to its film and television studio in Universal City — until 2015 at the earliest.”

The Hogwarts Express Station

Now to the juicy Orlando details:

The second item of Harry Potter news are the rumours about the expansion for the original Wizarding World at Universal Orlando which is located in Islands of Adventure. We’ve heard from multiple reliable sources that the reason the JAWS Ride and entire Amity section of Universal Studios Florida is being closed is to prepare for a Phase 2 expansion of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The concept here will be that you can visit London, Diagon Alley, Gringott’s Bank and The original Ollivanders Wand Shop before boarding the Hogwarts Express to the existing themed side of Islands of Adventure. These are wild rumours, but with the sucess the park has seen with the first Phase, we’re sure they are rusing to get the expansion built and ready to open as soon as possible. We’ll keep you posted as we find out more!
What do you think about possible copycat attractions in Hollwood? And how do you feel about JAWS being replaced with more magic from the realm of Harry Potter?

The Duel is Over at Universal's Dragon Challenge

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the the popular twin-tracked rollercoaster Dragon Challenge will no longer be dueling its two coaster trains, and this time it’s permanent.

In the 10 years before The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the ride was called Dueling Dragons and featured two intertwined tracks that allowed the cars to race and give a thrilling experience to riders. While the name changed to Dragon Challenge and the themeing tweaked a bit with the re-theming of the area to fit Harry Potter, the ride system itself stayed the same. Over the summer, there were two incidents in which riders were injured by flying objects, with the proximity of the ride cars to each other being blamed as the culprit. As a precaution, Universal started dispatching trains out of sync so they would not match up along the track. It’s interesting that in over 10 years, only two recent incidents have led to this major change. The Sentinel also adds “Records show that Universal has reported five injuries involving the attraction during the past decade, including reports of chest pain, back pain and groin pain; vomiting; shortness of breath; and numbness in one arm. But none of the incidents involved a rider being struck by a loose object.” This is one of the best rollercoasters in the world and it’s sad to see this change. They have decided to stagger the launch of the trains so they will no longer have the near misses they once had. The worst part of this change is that the ride was intentionally designed by Bolliger & Mabillard to have 3 near misses throughout the run. What a lot of people are unaware of is that before the Harry Potter expansion happened, if you stood infront of the entrance to the ride at a specific spot on the ground, it gave you a perfect view of the 3 misses. The best feature of the ride was when you roll along full speed right at the other train, only to be swept upward into a loop, coming within inches of the other trains passengers feet. The chain lifts are even designed to change speed based on the weight of the ride trains so that the trains meet at the precise spots for the effect each time. At the end of the day, safety is top priority for Universal Orlando, and if this is the easiest way to prevent further incidents, so be it.

Some friends and I at the old entrance of Dueling Dragons


Legoland Florida Opens Tomorrow!

It’s been a while since a new park opened in Central Florida, and were super excited that Merlin Entertainment chose the old Cypress Gardens site for another one of it’s flagship parks, Legoland Florida. We may be a little biased as one of our friends works there, but this place looks amazing. It’s like a giant Lego play-set got juiced up on a lot of kid friendly Kool-Aid. And this is just Phase 1. Coming in 2012 is a Lego themed waterpark. We also hear rumours of a Legoland Florida hotel coming down the pipeline. This will be THE place for all your Lego fantasies to come true. Check out some of the images below from the media preview, and hopefully you can make it to the park real soon! It’s definitly worth the drive down the road from the other two big Orlando attractions (Universal and Disney that is!). Check out their website for all the funtastic details!