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Owen
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2016 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sat Dec 31, 2016 12:14 am

2016 - A Year In Theme Parks


Hello everyone and a happy New Year's Eve to all, 2016 has been quite a year, and that goes for theme parks as well! We have had dark rides and coasters popping up everywhere and so I invite you to look back at 2016, and the year it's been...

We start in January which was quiet as usual, but whilst some were recovering from a hangover Lewa Adventure smashed into 2016 with their huge new MACK coaster "Flash" on New Years Day 2016. The biggest MACK attraction in existence which featured a giant vertical loop opened with great reviews, but soon it was time for February to dawn on us…

February was again a quiet month, but saw the start of the British themepark season with Blackpool Pleasure Beach opening it’s gates for another year on the 1st of February 2016! Although there were a few issues to start with the season generally kicked off very well. However, for Ferrari World 'very well' would be an understatement when they finally debuted their Intamin wing coaster "Flying Aces" on the 24th of February which was met with very positive reviews (and a very fast lift hill!). With no February Half Term event at either Thorpe Park or Alton Towers, all eyes turned to them as they prepared for the opening.

March then saw the first major opening for the UK, with Thorpe Park. After knowing that the Ghost Train spawned from Derren Brown’s mind was delayed (typical southern trains!!!) many decided to hold off visiting. However, the next day Universal had a trick up their sleeve and debuted "Flying Dinosaur" at Universal Studios Japan! This new bucketlist coaster opened on the 18th of March and surprised many people with how large the attraction was, although that wouldn't be the main shock from the attraction, with its 720 minute queue time shocking most. Whilst people were still waiting in the queue, it was time for Alton Towers to open the gates and let people run for their favourite attractions. With it being The Smiler’s first time in operation since 2015, many ran toward it disregarding the new space adventure on the other side of the park. The adventure in question being "Galactica" – marketed as (I warn you it’s a mouthful) ”the universe’s first rollercoaster fully dedicated to virtual reality” (I warned you!). The addition of VR to the classic Air attraction had a luke warm reception, with what was once a universally loved ride now being a very “marmite” ride – a term that could be used to describe 2016. A very “marmite” year. But wait, There’s more! Over in Holland, Walibi Holland were preparing to open their new MACK Big Dipper attraction – Lost Gravity. Unlike Galactica, "Lost Gravity" became an instant hit when it opened on March 24th, with some interesting elements that seemed to make people become even more excited about its manufacturer, albeit with a slightly painful restraint system. Not only this but Legoland Windsor announced a brand new major attraction and land based around the popular NINJAGO franchise - something that excited many fans!

April then entered the picture with nothing too exciting expected, until Universal once again threw a curve ball and opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade at Universal Studios Hollywood on April 7th, which included a new variant of the award-winning "Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey" attraction. This version included the addition of 3D technology, which went down slightly unpleasantly for some who were given the opportunity to see their Three Broomsticks Lunch for a second time. Once the inevitable success of the area swept over, it was time for RMC to debut their first of many attractions in the form of Kentucky Kingdom’s "Storm Chaser"! The hybrid coaster opened on the 30th of April and was met with praise after it managed to pack all the thrills of an RMC attraction in a much smaller coaster. Although both these developments were exciting, summer was rapidly approaching which also meant that the final rides of Spring were about to debut…

May was no exception to the buzz, with 2 new coasters opening on the 7th. Lake Compounce's "Phobia Phear" was one of these and it saw riders catapulted to great heights and turned head over heels on one of the highest inversions in the world. However, this was no match for "Valravn", Cedar Point’s long awaited Dive Coaster! The attraction was a new concept from B&M having restraints similar to those seen on Cedar Point’s own Gatekeeper and Kings Island’s Banshee attractions. The ride received generally positive reviews, although some did mention that the attraction didn’t deliver as much as they’d have liked, preferring Busch Gardens SheiKra to Valravn. There also seemed to be some odd happenings in the UK on the 7th, with what could only be described as a group of crazy people taking over Thorpe Park resort, and their Nemesis Inferno attraction. Although this was odd, it didn’t stop Paultons Park from delivering what some call one of the best family areas in the UK, The Lost Kingdom. Featuring a Vekoma Suspended Coaster and Junior Boomerang Coaster, the area was a hit for families (and a few big kids!). Unfortunately, May also saw Thorpe Park’s Ghost Train fail to open, which some considered a joke. Ironically, the Joker was running wild with two Joker based attractions opening between the 28th and 30th of May, and to be incredibly original, they were both appropriately named “The Joker”. First, "The Joker" (aka Total Mayhem) struck Six Flags Great Adventure with an S&S 4D Free Fly attraction, with green and purple rails, something that lasted to be unique only for 2 days when Six Flag’s Discovery Kingdom opened its “The Joker” RMC hybrid attraction, also boasting green and purple rails. Both attractions received a positive response, although the RMC had some of the most hideous and terrifying trains that many had ever seen! Finally, whilst not an attraction the British theme park community had their first taste of "Virtual Towers", a simulation game based on Alton Towers Resort which was met with many positive reviews.

June was a very exciting month, with ten major attractions opening across the globe. This started on the 4th of June where MACK struck again, this time at Walbi Belgium with "Pulsar". This one of a kind attraction turned many heads due to its interesting design and use of technology, not to mention the huge wave it creates! However, also opening on June 4th was something quite remarkable, "Monster" at Adventureland. The massive beyond vertical Gerstlauer attraction boasts a crazy design and elaborate lighting system that truly made this attraction stand out, although this wasn’t the only beast rising in this week. SeaWorld Orlando finally debuted their hyper coaster "Mako" from B&M which saw a boat load of positive reviews. The unique coaster supported an air time filled swift layout and debuted as the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Orlando on the 10th of June. The unique theming and ride experience earned this attraction worldwide recognition and allowed SeaWorld to step out of the shadow recently cast upon them. The month didn’t slow down yet, and 3 days later saw Dollywood finally unveil its "Lightning Rod" attraction after a long line of delays. The attraction was incredibly well received due to its aggressive and forceful nature and fast layout which had been made possible thanks to its uphill launch at the start of the experience. Unfortunately for Dollywood, their hype train was cut short as 3 more days later saw the grand opening of Shanghai Disneyland. The park was a hit, even without some beloved attractions such as Space Mountain. Instead an incredibly unique motorbike coaster was installed based on the moderately successful movie Tron: Legacy. On top of this the Pirates of The Caribbean attraction turned heads with its incredibly impressive set pieces and unique ride experience. Whilst June 16th may have only been the beginning, Shanghai Disneyland is expected to expand with attractions such as Expedition Everest being rumoured to join the ride line up. I’d like to say that’s it for June, but like a spoilt child it demanded more with SeaWorld striking a second time on June 17th, with their brand new MACK spinning coaster "Cobra’s Curse" at Busch Gardens Tampa. This attraction was also a hit, and saw some of the most extensive theming from SeaWorld ever including an 80ft cobra. Many would recommend this experience – but be warned its got bite! Although, it seemed as though Disney had yet another card to play, this time at Disney World EPCOT. "Frozen Ever After" opened to a 500 minute queue on the 21st of June and received… mixed reviews. Whilst some appreciated the amazing (albeit terrifying) animatronics, many felt the ride felt extremely lack lustre and disappointing, not to mention it having continual breakdowns. However, this didn’t stop the month of June as 4 days later on the 25th of June, Energylandia opened its new Vekoma launch coaster "Rollercoaster Formula 1". The attraction was well received with many shocked with its smooth nature, and this began a new era for Energylandia. Now, unfortunately there are always risks involved at theme parks, and it is with greatest sadness that an incident at M&D’s amusement park in Scotland occurred on the 26th of June. Unfortunately the park’s "Tsunami" rollercoaster derailed and hurt 10 people. Although these incidents are sad it is important to look back at these and hope they help in the future of theme park safety. On a lighter note, it was time for one of the most anticipated attractions of 2016 to arrive in the form of "Wildfire". Kolmarden Zoo opened Wildfire on the 28th of June and it was instantly praised and labelled as one of the best wooden roller coasters ever created, an amazing feat for a zoo with no other major rollercoasters. The hype for the attraction was also in aid to Phantasialand, who had finally gotten something amazing ready to open. Klugheim debuted on the 30th of June which included "Taron" and "Raik". Both attractions were met with praise as well as the area itself which some commented is one of the best themed areas ever. So with that, June had finally ended! However concern was beginning to build for the fate of Thorpe Park’s Ghost Train…

After the crazy month of June, July began quite slowly as expected with only Universal’s "Skull Island: Reign of Kong" and Europa Park’s Ireland area expected to be debuted. However, unexpectedly on July 6th Movie Park Germany announced an intriguing new MACK attraction for 2017, “Star Trek: Operation Enterprise” which features a very unique layout. Putting this to one side, finally UK enthusiast prayers were answered with "Derren Brown’s Ghost Train" finally opening on the 9th of July! The attraction initially received an incredibly positive response due to its theming and technology, however some said the ride lacked in an understandable story line. As the ride was torn apart many flaws were found, not to mention it's ongoing technical issues that eventually lead to a very rough start for the ride. However, finally as Ghost Train was put to one side it was time to see what the rest of the world had to offer in July. Europa Park’s new kiddie area based around Ireland opened on July 13th however it didn’t have a chance to create any waves with Universal stamping down hard with their long-awaited "Skull Island: Reign Of Kong" attraction. Also opening on the 13th of July, Reign of Kong was one of the top attractions of the year with it looking stunning and being a prelude of sorts to the new Kong: Skull Island movie for 2017. Alas, some Floridian fans were met with disappointment as the attraction didn’t live up to expectations due to the extensive use of 3D screens within the ride as opposed to physical sets like Harry Potter and The Forbidden journey. This aside, attention shifted back to Europe as Parc Asterix announced a brand new an extensively themed Gerstlauer family launch coaster named “Pegasus Express” for 2017 on July 14th. Along with this, reports of disturbances at Alton Towers Resort began to be heard on the 16th of July, due to reports of a similar group of mad individuals seen at Thorpe Park earlier in the year had targeted Alton Towers next and taken over their TH13TEEN attraction… how strange. In the coming weeks, the group didn’t return, however Alton Towers did announce their Cbeebies Land hotel that is set to open on the 8th of July 2017.

After two quite jam packed months everything began to settle as parks across the globe began preparing for their Halloween events in August. Although Universal had yet another hit for 2016, "The Incredible Hulk" in its new and improved state which opened on the 8th of August. The new Hulk included brand new trains that incorporated on board lighting and sound effects, not to mention the entire track for the ride getting replaced. This went down well with many agreeing it was an improvement on the previous version. The rest of August was very uneventful until the 31st when IMG Worlds of Adventure finally opened in Dubai. The first park of many in a new plan to make Dubai the theme park capital of the world opened with a good reception. With it being an indoor attraction, it was perfect for the Dubai heat and a unique park for the entire world.

Unfortunately, there comes a time where all attractions must be closed and September saw exactly this with Chessington World of Adventure's Bubbleworks attraction taking its last riders on the 6th of September. The attraction was truly a hit for young families and nostalgic for older fans which saw September 6th being a fairly emotional day for some. However, with promise of the factory coming under new management in 2017 speculation soon started. Speaking of which, one of the most anticipated and speculated events of the year finally opened its doors on September 16th. Universal's Halloween Horror Nights 26 offered a scare with all of its attractions, with clear favourites being two houses new for 2016, American Horror Story and Krampus! With this event underway, it was time for announcement season to kick in, first with Europa Park announcing a brand new dark ride on September 20th code named Project V, set to be Europe’s largest flying theatre attraction (similar to Soarin' at EPCOT). SeaWorld also announced two major experiences for 2017 on the 26th. SeaWorld San Antonio announced plans for a new family launched coaster named "Wave Breaker", whilst SeaWorld Orlando announced their floorless roller coaster, "Kraken", would receive a virtual reality experience for 2017 - following Alton Towers' Galactica. On top of this, up and coming amusement park Liseberg announced two attractions for 2017 and 2018 on September 27th, the first being a large Intamin Gyro Swing named "Loke" which would also see a retheme of its surrounding area including the park's wooden coaster Balder. The park also announced a brand new mini Dive Coaster from B&M named "Valkyria" for 2018. However, this announcement couldn't compare to Blackpool Pleasure Beach's MMXIII announcement a day later on the 28th of september. This new mack roller coaster caused shockwaves not only in the U.K. but across the globe in the US with its twisting layout, and will act as direct competition for Secret Weapon 8 in 2018...

Announcement season continued in October with a huge announcement from Energylandia on October 2nd. With a huge collection of new attractions the main few included "Speed" - the world's tallest and fastest water coaster from Intamin, an extensively themed family boomerang coaster from Vekoma as well as an Intamin log flume and rapids! On top of this 9 family attractions were announced, solidifying Energylandia as a major player in the European theme park market! Not to mention an announcement for 2018 to really get excited about, although that will come in later. Taking a break from announcements, Halloween was fully underway with Thorpe Park's annual Fright Nights even opening its gates once more on october 7th. Featuring one new maze and 2 reinvented mazes the event went down well, even if the new maze "PLATFORM 15" wasn't to everyone's taste. Oddly, October 8th reports of a crazy group of ghouls and demons raiding the park came in including a pair of hillbillies, a rogue Sub-Core worker and even an escaped Sanctuary patient! All this aside, it also saw Alton Towers Halloween offering Scarefest kick off including the new maze "Altonville Mine Tours", which although initially receiving mixed reviews soon became a new highlight of the Halloween season and of Scarefest. A week later, Dreamland Margate premiered its award winning Screamland event for its second year on October 14th with all mazes receiving an overhaul, along with a new maze - "The Paradise Foundation". On top of this, Heide Park announced a brand new Ghostbusters 5D attraction set to be named “Ghostbusters 5D – The Ultimate Ghost Hunt”, continuing the sudden explosion of Ghostbusters attractions opening recently. By October 22nd Halloween was in full swing and clowns had invaded Britain, yet something much scarier was soon to disrupt Alton Towers and its Scarefest event, with sightings of deceased Unicorns, rogue Phallanx Operatives and dodgy doctors being reported throughout the day, quite an odd bunch I have to admit. Of course the Halloween season had to come to an end, with Legoland Dubai celebrating October 31st by opening at long last, although somewhat disappointingly with many attractions being out of action!

November began with Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland opening on November 18th for its tenth anniversary, which of course meant the world’s largest travelling roller coaster “Olympia Looping” would make its U.K. debut and it certainly made a splash! The rest of November was expectedly slow, and only picked up pace at the last minute with some exciting news arriving on November 28th. The first construction glimpses of Alton Towers’ brand new GCI roller coaster finally appeared, however this excitement was short lived as Energylandia offered more details on their brand new Intamin hyper coaster for 2018, the tallest and fastest on the planet, on the same day. Not to mention Universal decided to announce another major addition to not one, not two but three parks the day after. The new Universal partnership with gaming giant Nintendo was announced on November 29th sending fans into a brief moment of hype at finding out a Nintendo world would be debuting at Universal Japan, Hollywood and Orlando! Although nothing more was to be announced until December...

Finally, after what was actually a fairly jam packed year we have reached December. Kicking off the final chapter of 2016 was IMG World of Legends being announced on December 6th. A whole new theme park including new brands such as Pokemon set to expand on the previously mentioned IMG Worlds of Adventure. As well as this, Orlando saw more exciting news as Fun Spot Kissimmee announced a brand new Gravity Group hybrid coaster on December 8th, to open just six months later in Summer 2017. Furthermore, Universal offered the first details of its Japanese Nintendo area "Super Nintendo World" set to open in 2020. Unfortunately though, December also saw some less exciting news in that PortAventura World's second gate “Ferrari Land” had a large fire on December 14th that panicked many - luckily no one was hurt and construction is believed to still be finished by the planned opening date. On a lighter note, Fun Spot Orlando premiered a new experience on December 16th by permanently adding virtual reality to their "Freedom Flyer" coaster, something many were excited for! However, more excitingly a brand new park, Motiongate Dubai, opened on the 19th premiering various new attractions based on popular brands such as Ghostbusters and Zombieland, with a look similar to Universal Theme Parks. Speaking of which, Universal Hollywood responded to the motion sickness issues with their new Harry Potter and The Forbidden Journey attraction on December 20th, removing the 3D aspect from the ride - an improvement according to many. Our final pieces of information come from the UK, far from where we started the year in China. On December 22nd it was discovered Chessington World of Adventures’ new carousel was set to be named "The Chessington Adventure Tree", however eight days later more interesting news came from the park. It was finally announced on December 30th that the recently closed Bubbleworks attraction would reopen as "The Gruffalo River Ride Adventure" in 2017, although many are currently unsure in the development it is interesting to see what this may mean for Chessington World of Adventures!

Finally, thank you for taking the time to read this summary of 2016 (it took a fair while to gather the information trust me!) and as you can see, although 2016 may have been quite a "marmite year" it's been eventful for the good as well. With highlights including Derren Brown's Ghost Train and the reopening of The Smiler paired with some goodbyes such as to the iconic Bubbleworks and the many announcements for future developments making up the crazy theme park year in 2016. So although the year may have seemed less than exciting for some, I hope you can look back on this and smile at the year it's been.

I hope you all have a fantastic 2017, and I look forward to seeing what crazy and great things occur within it.
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ThemeCrafter264
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Re: 2016 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sat Dec 31, 2016 7:44 am

Great article! It is clear you spent lots of time creating it
 
Luce
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Re: 2016 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sat Dec 31, 2016 9:00 am

I agree, a great post and I enjoyed reading it :)
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Dom
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Re: 2016 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sat Dec 31, 2016 11:28 am

When you scale it down into a post, 2016 seems more busy than it actually seemed. What a really great post Owen. Such a joy to read
 
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GMan
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Re: 2016 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sun Jan 01, 2017 1:02 am

Looking back, this may have been one of the better years for new roller coasters with multiple world-class rides. That said, it was also a year full of a LOT of delays and late-year openings.

For me though, it was the first year I really got involved with the forums and shoutbox, and I'd like to thank members I met at the event for helping me come out of my shell on the site. It was also the first time I went to my new favourite place on earth Phantasialand, so that's a plus.
1. Helix | 2. Taron | 3. Nemesis | 4. Expedition GeForce | 5. Wodan
 
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ThemeCrafter264
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Re: 2016 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:33 am

This article now is so 2016 :lol
 
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theparklifekid
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Re: 2016 - A Year In Theme Parks

Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:35 am

Great post Owen! I must of taken you a long time to make it, no wonder you deserve that "Best Overall Poster" award! If I had to add something to the list it would be that Bollywood Park Dubai also opened this year, other than that you got it covered!

2016 for me in terms of parks was a great one. Moving countries and getting to experience the parks over here. Finally going to Thorpe to ride The Swarm and getting to ride Olympia Looping. Also this was the year I started getting more involved in the forum, so thanks to all for making me feel welcome. Bring on 2017!
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Nickolai
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Re: 2016 - A Year In Theme Parks

Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:32 am

Wow! Great post - I love the description and they way you covered each park!
The highlight of 2016 was riding on The Smiler again in March. I got a front row in single rider and managed to get on with Capt. Barnacles and some other enthusiasts (I wasn't yet on TTSP). That was the highlight. It was my second time on The Smiler and I loved every minute of it!

Heres to the 2017 season and lets see what Merlin pull out of their bag...
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Stan.H
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Re: 2016 - A Year In Theme Parks

Mon Jan 02, 2017 11:40 am

:yikes: Woah! What a detailed and interesting report! That was a pleasure to read and included some very interesting points - many of which I agree with! As others have said, I can see why you got your award!

For me my highlight(s) off the 2016 season were riding The Smiler again with the people in my life who are nearest and dearest to me, Scarefest (just all off it) and finally the Galactica area (not the VR)! Over than that, I hope you all have an amazing 2017, and I am hopefully going to come to a meetup!

and lets see what Merlin pull out of their bag...


Budget cuts, increased ticket prices and probably not a new thrill flat :( :lol
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