Theme Park Central

A site for theme park junkies everywhere.

Archive for the month “September, 2010”

Ferrari World Set To Open

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world’s largest indoor theme park, is set to open October 27, a day earlier than expected, officials say. The brand new attraction is the first park themed on the famed racing cars and includes the world’s fastest roller coaster, Formula Rossa, with top speeds of up to 150 mph, among its 20 Ferrari-inspired thrill rides, simulators and family-friendly attractions. All are located under a 2,200,000-square-foot red roof, modeled after the side profile of a Ferrari GT. Officials in the United Arab Emirates say the opening will be a “historic day,” and guests will be able to experience for the first time the park’s wide variety of rides and attractions, special festivities, shows and souvenirs. “This will be the beginning of an exciting Inaugural Period, with the start of operations at the world’s first Ferrari theme park,” says Claus Frimand, general manager of the theme park. “The Inaugural Period will continue throughout November, leading up to a Grand Opening in December with the official launch of Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.” In addition to Formula Rossa, the park boasts the region’s first dueling roller coaster, Fiorano GT Challenge, and a 4-D experience inside Speed of Magic. During the Inaugural Period, families and racing fans will be able “to experience the legendary Ferrari passion, history and culture” through offerings that also include unique shopping and dining experiences with an Italian flavor, officials say. Ticket prices include unlimited use of rides and attractions and will range from about $61 to $102 for adults (anyone taller than 4 feet 11 inches). Children’s prices are about $45 to $74. The higher priced tickets come with priority on all attractions (you get to cut lines) and include access to an exclusive lounge with refreshments, as well as other benefits.The park will be operating on a six-day a week schedule from Tuesday to Sunday, opening each day at noon. Nearly three years since the first stone was laid, Frimand says an operations team of nearly 850 dedicated staff is currently conducting “comprehensive ride testing,” and working around-the-clock to get the park ready for the public opening date. “We are on schedule to open the park with a wide selection of rides and attractions. We have managed to turn one of the world’s most exclusive brands into an extraordinary experience which families and fans will come back for time and time again.” Among the other attractions are Made in Maranello, a virtual trip through the famous Ferrari factory in Italy; V12, a flume ride through the heart of a 12-cylinder engine; and G-Force, a tower ride that shoots thrill-seekers through the red roof and 203 feet in the air before plummeting back to Earth (experiencing the actual G-force of a Ferrari, in a seat directly inspired by the Ferrari Enzo). Among kid-friendly attractions, Junior GT lets kids drive reduced scale F430 GT Spiders and Carousel features never-before-seen Ferrari prototypes based on winning designs from a Ferrari competition.


Disneyland Paris Turns 20

Disneyland Paris will celebrate its 20th anniversary in a little under 18 months. In the world of Disney theme parks, where these corporate birthday events enjoy year-long festivities of a Soviet May Day-style intensity, you can be sure that the Paris jamboree will be given particularly special treatment. When Disney announced plans to construct a European park at the end of the Eighties it created the sort of sensation that would be hard to imagine today. In the wake of Skytrain, travel to the States had boomed during the Eighties despite tough economic circumstances. A trip to Disney World in Florida suddenly became the ambition of any family that could afford the holiday.Disney World offered a family holiday of perfect hot summer Florida days, stunning theme park rides and good-value accommodation – all that and as many burgers, fries and milkshakes as you could manage. From this success the Disney corporation estimated that a theme park built in Paris ought to flourish even more. Instead of flying nearly half the day to America to sample Disney fun, residents of France would only have to take the train a couple of hours to Paris. Since the idea was the brainchild of Disney’s saviour, Michael Eisner, who had established himself as a latter-day Walt, it reached fruition. From well before Euro Disney, as it was then called, opened to the public in April 1992 doubts were expressed. Was there really a market for a year-round theme park on the eastern outskirts of Paris where temperatures can be pretty frigid in the winter and spring? Would a predominantly French workforce be able to adapt themselves to the smiley Disney culture? In the end only the French farmers – a sort of Gallic rent-a-mob – bothered to turn up (hard to see why they were opposed, but they were). In order to hog the TV channels of Europe, Disney had a televised broadcast of the pre-opening party that included an impressive roster of stars, from Pavarotti and Eddie Murphy to Tina Turner and Michael J Fox, in a lavish event that cost more than £20 million (a sum that would have bought a fairly substantial UK theme park). Fairly quickly the park ran into financial troubles and had to be rescued by a substantial investment from a Saudi prince. Before the bailout there were real fears that Disneyland Paris, as it became in the rebranding, might not have survived. It says much about the Disney energy and spirit that the theme park has not merely survived but grown. To get the most out of any theme park trip – but especially a visit to Disney – you need to prepare meticulously: study the guides and the maps before deciding where you want to go and when would be the best time to do it. If you want to watch the regular daily parades of Disney characters, you need to plan to find a good spot to watch the show well before the event. The key event of the year in Walt Disney Studios, the second Disney park in Paris, has been the opening of the Toy Story Playland area, with Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin and RC Racer. The premise is that Andy’s away and ‘the toys are ready to play’.

Happy birthday Disneyland Paris!

Islands of Adventure Modifies Seats For the Forbidden Journey

The “Forbidden Journey” ride at Universal Studios’ Harry Potter park just got a little less forbidden, at least for some large tourists (no offense). The park has added new larger sized seats to the ride, so at least some of those who were turned away in previous months might have better luck now. Banks Lee, a man who was turned away because of his size, reported on the new seats:

“Now, with the addition of the modified seats, the test seat process has changed. When you sit down, there are three lights next to you; red, yellow, and green. As I stated earlier in the post, red=no ride, yellow=modified seat, and green=sit anywhere. If you get yellow and need a modified seat, once you get to the part before the loading platform where the second test seat is, the attendant will put you in the middle line, which is reserved for guests needing the modified seat.

Since there are only around 8 vehicles that currently have modified seating, you have to wait for one to come around. Once it does come you go to the loading platform, and choose either of the outside seats. The two middle seats are not modified. You still need three clicks to be able to ride, but they are now much easier to get, especially with the little extra room you have in the seat.”

Sydney May Get A Water Park

Plans were unveiled yesterday for the new $80 million water-based theme park at Prospect. While it is yet to get formal planning approval, Premier Kristina Keneally was busy selling the concept to western Sydney families. “It gives them the opportunity to get in the car, get on a bus and go to Wet ‘n Wild and have that special treat for the kids,” she said. But Prospect Heritage Trust president Brian French says while he is not against the park as such, it is in the wrong location. “An alien water fun park would be as intrusive as all the factories that have been built in the surrounding area,” he said. He says the local landscape is historic and has remained semi-agricultural since the time of early settlement.

12 Year Old Orca Dies At SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld’s signature Shamu show, already under scrutiny after a trainer died in February, suffered another setback Tuesday when one of its famed killer whales mysteriously died in San Diego. The 12-year-old male orca named Sumar did not have any health problems and his passing shocked SeaWorld employees, many of whom feel the creatures are like family. Sumar’s passage leaves the San Diego facility with six of the highly valuable whales and lowers the company’s national total to 18, including animals in San Antonio and Orlando, Fla. “All of us, especially his trainers, will miss Sumar more than you know. He was a truly wonderful whale and was very deeply loved,” the company said in a message to fans on Facebook. Sumar’s death complicated challenges for SeaWorld’s shows, which rely on captive breeding of whales such as Sumar instead of capturing the giant mammals in the wild. They also rely on public support for keeping orcas in captivity, something that animal rights groups said is eroding after a string of high-profile incidents. Tuesday’s news followed a $75,000 fine last month by the U.S. Department of Labor over allegations that SeaWorld neglected safety measures before the death of an orca trainer in Orlando Feb. 24. Veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau died after being battered by Tilikum, Sumar’s father. SeaWorld said it would fight the charges but it remains unclear how the company will comply with safety mandates and allow its trainers to return to the popular performances in which they swim with orcas. Analysts said the company likely won’t see any impact at the gates from Sumar’s death. “People aren’t going to stop coming because one whale died,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services, a consulting firm in Cincinnati. “Visitors still go to see the killer whales in the pool and it didn’t affect their entertainment value, (SeaWorld) felt,” Speigel said of the research. But he said Sumar’s death could be costly if SeaWorld decides it needs to buy another whale — for instance from another theme park. Company officials downplayed that possibility on Tuesday, saying they would continue with captive breeding efforts. Sumar’s mother Taima, 20, died during childbirth in Orlando in June. Some conservationists said SeaWorld’s ill fortune this year underscores long-standing questions about whether large pools at entertainment parks provide healthy environment for creatures that cruise the world’s oceans. “Sumar was 12. That is not a long life — not for a wild orca. Was it a happy or fulfilled life? Not from our perspective,” said Courtney Vail, a campaign director for Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, an international nonprofit group. “The loss of Sumar today is not related to him being a whale in a zoological environment like ours,” said David Koontz, a spokesman for SeaWorld San Diego. “There is no other marine-life organization in the world that is more committed to the care of their animals.” Sumar died at about 1:45 p.m. after park officials canceled the early afternoon show so they could care for the sick whale. “This came on very quickly,” Koontz said. He said veterinarians took blood samples from Sumar and put him on antibiotics after he started acting lethargic on Monday. Koontz said there’s no concern that the whale had an infectious disease that might spread to other animals and he said other orcas appeared to be fine on Tuesday evening. Koontz said a necropsy is planned for today but details may not be known for weeks. Yeri Park, 21, of San Diego, and her friends learned the first show on Tuesday had been canceled about 30 minutes before it was scheduled to start and they later heard the final show of the day, at 5 p.m., also was nixed though park officials didn’t say why. One of them wondered whether another trainer had died. “That’s really sad,” said Park, after hearing about Sumar’s death. That (Shamu show) was the last thing we wanted to see.” The Bristols, from Cincinnati, visited SeaWorld on Tuesday because Isabella, 10, and Audrey, 7, had never seen the park’s famed killer whales. “I hope he had a good life,” Isabella said.

Disney Brings New Tron Ride To California

So long Tomorrowland — the new addition to Disney’s theme park is straight out of the digitzed world of Tron: Legacy. Check out the first ever concept art to Disney’s hot new electronic clubland, but try not to get derezzed!

From the looks of things Tron is giving The Main Street Electrical Parade a run for its money. According to Disney Parks Blog this theme-land will sadly only be available at Disney California Adventure park. The park itself will feature:

“a dazzling dance club under the stars to an authentic recreation of Flynn’s Arcade to some radical gaming, it’s like nowhere else on the grid! Each night, we’ll feature live entertainers, complete with lasers, glow accessories and the hottest music ever to rock the grid. ElecTRONica is “the” place to dance the night away in a fantastic world that only Disney can create. Highlights for the entire family will definitely be Flynn’s Video Arcade, face painting and the TRON: Evolution video game area.”

This park is just one of many massive undertakings Disney is prepping to help reboot the Tron franchise. Also on the menu, more movies and a cartoon! ElecTRONica will be active this Fall on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

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