ALL POSTS IN [Amusement Parks]

Staycationers and vacationers alike, rejoice! This weekend, Travel Channel premieres Extreme Waterparks and Insane Coaster Wars, in addition to our summer lineup that includes Trip Flip with Bert Kreischer, which premiered last week and Top Spot, starting next week.

These shows might be too adrenaline-pumping for certain New York Times’ writers, but for those of us looking for a vicarious thrill and perhaps some ideas for our next thrill-seeking adventure, it sounds like the perfect way to spend a Sunday night. Insane Coaster Wars will pit the best and scariest rollercoasters against each other in categories like “G-force Giants” and “Speed Demons,” while Xtreme Waterparks will give viewers a peek at the world’s craziest water attractions.

As far as we’re concerned, journalist Neil Genzlinger’s idea for “Insanely Xtreme Top Shot” sounds pretty entertaining, but we wouldn’t recommend shooting rabbits with a hose or attempting to make a waterslide on your roof. So instead watch videos of insane coasters and extreme waterparks to prepare yourself before buckling down for the jaw-dropping premieres.

Catch double episodes this Sunday, July 8th, of both Xtreme Waterparks at 8|7c followed by Insane Coaster Wars at 9|8c.

The Olde Time Coney Island Strongman Spectacular …
In a display that has not been seen at Coney Island for over 60 years, some of the strongest men in the country gathered on the streets — once known for their outrageous spectacles — to showcase unusual acts and super-human feats. Among the performers were a man who pulled a truck down a street with his teeth and a master escape artist. READ MORE

by Troy Petenbrink

Orlando, the home of Mickey Mouse and sunshine, is the No. 1 tourist destination in the US. It attracts over 50 million annual visitors — and it’s gearing up for more. As Orlando approaches its summer season, it is launching many new and exciting upgrades to its amusement park attractions.

The Amazing Spider-Man at Universal Studios Orlando

Sea World
At SeaWorld Orlando, Orca has some new friends, with the introduction of TurtleTrek, a mix of uber-technology and naturalistic habitats. On the tech side, visitors can experience a 3-D/360-degree film in a cool dome theater that uses dozens of projectors to immerse the audience in an underwater journey of a sea turtle’s life. Real rescued sea turtles, along with thousands of fish and manatees, can also be seen as are part of 2 new habitats — one saltwater and one freshwater.

EcoSafari’s EcoPark
Fans of roller coasters might enjoy The Rattlesnake at Forever Florida EcoSafaris’ expanded EcoPark. The roller coaster-style zipline launches from a 65-foot-high platform before whipping around a 1,000-foot course and reaching speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.

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by Bill Burke

Go for a swim at Walt Disney World’s new Art of Animation Resort, and you’ll hear characters from the Disney/Pixar film Finding Nemo talking to you — from under the water. It’s just one of the details the Imagineers at Disney have added to this newest resort to make it as immersive as possible.

Disney's Art of Animation Resort

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is the central Florida vacation kingdom’s newest hotel — featuring 1,120 family suites and 864 studio rooms slotted into Disney’s “value” level pricing.

Spacious Family Suites
Guests enter through Animation Hall — a lobby festooned with giant reproductions of early concept drawings of Disney/Pixar characters. Cast members (that’s Disney-speak for employees) wear paint-spattered vests, representing the artist’s creative process. Entering into the resort-proper just outside the lobby plunges visitors into a vividly colorful world of animated features. The “Finding Nemo”-themed pool — Disney’s largest outside of its water parks — is designed to make guests feel as if they’re living in the undersea world of Nemo, Dory and friends.

The family suites sleep 6 with a master bedroom, a pull-out couch in the living room area and a pull-down bed that also doubles as a small dining table. The suites also include a microwave, small refrigerator and counter space for preparing small meals. The resort, like all others on Disney property, is serviced by Disney’s motor-coach transportation system — which will ferry guests to and from theme parks — and the free Magical Express service, which brings guests to and from Orlando International Airport to their resort.

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by Amanda DiGiondomenico

To celebrate that extra day we’ve been granted this leap year, many travel destinations — from Orlando to South Africa – are trying to make those extra 24 hours worth your while. Instead of wasting away your leap day, let these 5 travel ideas inspire you to make the day something to remember.

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One More Disney Day
For starters, Disney wants your leap day to be extra magical, so they are officially calling leap day, “One More Disney Day.” To commemorate the day, Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando’s Disney World and Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, will be open 24 hours straight. Once the gates open at 6 a.m. on Feb. 29, Mickey fans can have the run of the park until the rides shut down at 6 a.m. on March 1. The lines will probably be short in the wee hours of the morning, offering maximum opportunities to ride.

Leap at Martha’s Vineyard
If peace and quiet are more your speed, then head to Martha’s Vineyard for a little rest and relaxation. But don’t take yourself too seriously there; at the Vineyard Square Hotel you can score a free bottle of wine if you bring a photograph of yourself leaping over something. So let loose, find the closest leap-able object and bring someone who has a camera.

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by Christina Ricchiuti,
PackedSuitcase.com

 

Harry Potter fans celebrate plans for new theme park in Hollywood

Get ready, West Coast Muggles … the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is coming to Universal Studios Hollywood in California!

Just when you might think that our favorite boy wizard’s been replaced by the latest literary craze (I’m looking at you, Hunger Games …) Universal goes all-in and continues to make Harry the cornerstone of its amusement park empire.

This looks to be a good move. The Orlando attraction, which opened to the masses in June 2010, led to a 68% increase in attendance during the first 3 months of 2011 and continues to be a top incentive to visit the older Universal Studios parks. Needless to say, the Orlando version has been a resounding success, and the Los Angeles attraction is sure to draw its fair share of fans as well. READ MORE

Killer Whale Returns to Perform at SeaWorld

The orca responsible for his trainer’s death last year is performing at SeaWorld Orlando again. The killer whale Tilikum was back in the pool performing for crowds last week. The whale will also be part of the “One Ocean” show at SeaWorld, which debuts April 22.

You may recall that SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau drowned to death last year after Tilikum bit her ponytail and held her underwater.  Now a year later and with mixed emotions, Dawn’s family says their OK with whale’s return to public performances at the theme park.

SeaWorld has plans to dedicate the Dawn Brancheau Educational Complex in honor of the trainer. Despite their goodwill, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has slapped the theme park with a $75,000 fine that is currently in dispute.

SeaWorld has taken steps to improve their trainers’ safety.  The theme park no longer allows trainers in the water with orcas. Plans are also underway to build an escape hatch that trainers can activate with the press of a button.  A false bottom of the pool would raise the whale and trainer above the surface of the water, ideally separating the trainers from danger.

Disney in China

Construction on a new Disneyland theme park is scheduled to start as early as May in Shanghai. The Disney project will include 3 parks including Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and Animal Kingdom. The first phase of the theme park will cost $3.7 billion dollars.

According to a Chinese government statement earlier this month, plans indicate several water features, including a lake and 6-mile, man-made river surrounding the park, which will be located 13 miles from People’s Square. The gates of Shanghai Disney aren’t expected to open until 2015.

China will also be home to another new theme park. World of Warcraft, modeled after the online game, has been touted as the first video-game-themed attraction. There were rumors that the theme park was a hoax, but the Huffington Post claims there are plenty of construction photos and Chinese news stories about the project. The park will be built in China’s Wunjin district.

No word yet on when gamers will get their chance to explore the new theme park.

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