By Robert Niles: Feel like Halloween yet? Well, it's Halloween already at the Walt Disney World Resort, where Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party kicked off tonight with its earliest-ever start.The August 16 start is the first of 36 nights for this year's after-hours, hard-ticket party in the Magic Kingdom, which runs through November 1 this year. And also for the first time this year, Disney is offering a season pass for its Halloween party.The new Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Pass costs $299 plus tax for adults ($284 for kids) and gets you into 35 of the 36 event nights. (One-night prices rage from $79-135 prices, for context.) The ticket is available by calling 407-939-4295 or at Disney World ticket booths, and yes, you can upgrade a one-night ticket to the season pass, but quantities are limited.And for the "35 of 36 nights" thing, guess what the one ineligible night is? That's right, the actual Halloween — Oct. 31. But with 35 other nights to play like it's Halloween, maybe you can spend the "real" one trick-or-treating in an actual neighborhood instead?This year's Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party features a new fireworks show, Disney's Not So Spooky Spectacular, hosted by Jack Skellington.The event also includes Mickey's Boo-To-You Halloween Parade, a DescenDANCE Party in Tomorrowland's Cosmic Ray's, Storybook Circus Disney Junior Jam in Fantasyland, Halloween music and lighting on Mad Tea Party, live pirates inside Pirates of the Caribbean, and a completely dark Space Mountain, plus unlimited, all-ages trick-or-treating throughout the park, including a new treat trail at Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor.Reader ratings and reviews for Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
The Shadow Lands haunted maze will return to Knott's Berry Farm for Halloween Haunt 2019.
By Robert Niles: Per reader request and to celebrate National Roller Coaster Day, we are building a roller coaster glossary to help new fans understand all the terms that we throw around here to describe our favorite thrill rides.We will start with some of the major coaster types, but I would like to invite readers to submit or request additional definitions, in the comments. I will use those to update the main post as the week goes on. Example videos follow most definitions.Hyper coaster: A coaster with a drop of 200 feet or more. Manufacturer Bolliger and Mabillard described its hyper coasters as "high speed, no inversion coasters specially designed to create air time."Mega coaster: Manufacturer Intamin's name for its model of hyper coasters.Giga coaster: A hyper coaster with a drop of 300 feet or more.Strata coaster: A coaster with a drop of 400 feet or more. Inverted coaster: A coaster where the train is mounted under the track. (Think of a ski lift.) Inversion: Any track element in which riders are upside down.Suspended coaster: An inverted coaster where the train is mounted to the track via a fulcrum or hinge. Suspended coaster trains feel like they are swinging below their track.Flying coaster: A coaster where guests ride in a prone position, usually on trains mounted under the coaster track.Wing coaster: A coaster where the seats are mounted on the sides of the track.4D coaster: A wing-style coaster where the seats rotate as the train moves along the track.Spinning coaster: A coaster where train cars spin atop their track mountings. The spinning can be a function of weight and gravity or programmed.Floorless coaster: A coaster with traditional seating but no floor between rows, allowing riders' feet to dangle above the track. A temporary floor rises from the "pit" below the coaster in the station to allow riders to board and depart the train.Stand-up coaster: A coaster without seats, where riders stand against back supports, upon which their over-the-shoulder restraints are mounted.Dive coaster: A coaster with a 90-degree vertical drop where riders face straight down for a hold before the drop. This is typically associated with a specific Bolliger & Mabillard model (shown below), but other manufacturers now use the term.Launch coaster: A coaster that achieves its speed from some form a mechanical launch rather than being dragged up a lift by a chain to use the conversion of potential to kinetic energy to move the train.Wooden coaster: One where the track and its supports are made of wood rather than steel.Hybrid coaster: A coaster with a mix of wood and steel, typically with a steel track atop wood supports, but it can be the opposite, too.Family coaster: A coaster with a relatively low height restriction, smaller hills, and no inversions.
Festivals have become not just concerts, but destination events.
By Robert Niles: The Cedar Fair parks are gearing up for National Roller Coaster Day tomorrow with a bushel of new attraction announcements.The big one comes from Cincinnati, where Kings Island announced its largest investment in park history - and the fastest, tallest and longest steel coaster in the park - the Giga coaster Orion, with a 300-foot drop and a top speed of 91 mph along a 5,321-foot track. Here's the concept POV:Elsewhere, two of Cedar Fair's top parks will be celebrating major anniversaries next summer. Knott's Berry Farm will celebrate its 100th birthday with "A Knott's Family Reunion" in 2020. If you're surprised to hear that the park is that old, well... it's not. (Okay, that pun works a lot better if you say it aloud.) Next year's 100th anniversary actually commemorates the 1920 founding of Walter Knott's original berry stand — the Knott's Berry Farm that over the years evolved into the theme park we know today.Images courtesy Cedar FairKnott's is promising "festive park decor, themed food items, unique entertainment, exclusive merchandise and special surprises along the way" for the event, with more details to follow in the coming months.Meanwhile, flagship Cedar Point will be celebrating an even bigger anniversary in 2020 — its 150th birthday. The Ohio park will celebrate the anniversary of Louis Zistel first ferrying guests to Cedar Point in 1870 to visit its new bathhouse and beer garden... and the beach. As for the festivities next year, "guests will enjoy a fully-immersive nighttime celebration along the Main Midway, try new, delicious and innovative food options (along with a few throwbacks of old), take home new memories with a complete line of nostalgic souvenirs and merchandise, step into a reimagined Town Hall in Frontier Town and climb aboard a river expedition for a new generation," Cedar Point said in its press release. Again, more details to come.Carowinds and Worlds of Fun will be adding new mat racing water slides to their water parks in 2020. Boogie Board Racers at Carolina Harbor will be the longest mat racing slide in the Southeast, while Riptide Raceway at Oceans of Fun will be the longest in the Midwest, according to the company. Boogie Board RacersKings Dominion also is focusing on its water park in 2020, with a renovation of Soak City's Coconut Shores area. Improvements will include Lighthouse Landing, multi-level sprayground play structure, and Sand Dune Lagoon, a mini wave pool with a two-foot water depth and one-foot waves.How to save money with theme park ticket deals and discounts
By Robert Niles: It's no secret that I love Universal Orlando's Volcano Bay. This might be the world's greatest water park, with theming, decor, and attractions to appeal to any theme park fan. By mixing equal parts of relaxation and fun, Volcano Bay has delivered a perfect day every time I have visited. The only thing that could make it better would be getting in for free. And, well, now we can help you with that.Our authorized ticket partner has just released new Universal Orlando ticket deals that include admission to Volcano Bay for free when you buy a three-, four-, or five-day Universal Orlando Park-to-Park or base ticket. Depending upon how long you stay, the deals can save you from about $89 to $135 per ticket off Universal's regular prices. Look for the ticket options that say "+ Volcano Bay Water Theme Park FREE" on our Universal Orlando tickets page. Tickets must be purchased before December 2, but if you want to hold on to the tickets to lock in this deal for a trip next year, they are valid through May 21, 2020. (Tickets are blacked out between December 26-31, however.)If you want to learn more about at what Volcano Bay has to offer, check out our initial Volcano Bay review, our video walking tour of Volcano Bay, and our podcast about Volcano Bay's backstory with Creative Director Dale Mason. Or you can enjoy my water coaster on-ride video that I never can keep myself from posting.Theme park ticket deals and prices change frequently, so please check our How to save money with theme park ticket deals and discounts links whenever you are pricing theme park visits. Get the Volcano Bay deal: For discount tickets to Universal Orlando's theme parks, visit our officially authorized Universal Orlando tickets page.
The artificial rocks have been at the land's entrance since it was remodeled in 1998.
By Robert Niles: It's a big day for 2020 attraction announcements, and we're kicking it off with Legoland California. The resort announced today that it will be bringing The Lego Movie World to the park next year.We visited Legoland Florida last spring for the debut of the original Lego Movie World. Like in Florida, the California installation will feature The Lego Movie Masters of Flight flying theater show and the Unikitty's Disco Drop tower ride. However, since Legoland California already has a Splash Battle over in Pirate Shores, it appears that this new version of the land will not include the Battle of Bricksburg that Florida had as a retheme of its old Quest for CHI ride.[Update: Legoland California's extended press release says that visitors will be able to "ride a fully reimagined carousel" and the park's updated map includes a "Something Awesome Coming 2020" sign overlapping Lego Friends Heartlake City, so it appears that The Lego Movie World will be replacing at least part of that land and will include a rethemed Mia's Riding Camp.]Looking back at the Florida originals, Unikitty's Disco Drop offers a cute screen effect atop the tower, showing Unikitty's reaction to the motion of the ride. There's also a rocket play structure in the middle of the land, Benny's Play-Ship. Back side view of the Florida installation, so you can see better the play elements.But the highlight of the land is Masters of Flight, a delightful flying theater adventure that carries on The Lego Movie's schtick of abundant cultural references with call-outs to several other theme park attractions, including Universal's Despicable Me Minion Mayhem and Disney's Flight of Passage.The Lego Movie World at Legoland California is scheduled to open in spring 2020. Legoland ticket deals: For discount tickets to Legoland California, visit our officially authorized Legoland California tickets page.
By Robert Niles: Remember that one more show announcement we were awaiting from Universal Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights? It dropped this morning, and... as expected (see those comments)... it's a Halloween-themed lagoon show."Halloween Marathon of Mayhem" won't carry the "Cinematic Celebration" branding, but it builds upon that foundation — a "greatest hits" projection show upon water screens in Universal Studios Florida's central lagoon, accompanied by fountains, lasers, music, and other special effects.Properties included in Universal's "larger-than-life mix tape" will include several featured in houses at this year's Halloween Horror Nights, such as Stranger Things, Ghostbusters, the Universal Monsters, and Killer Klowns from Outer Space.The new show will run three times nightly during Halloween Horror Nights, at 10pm, 11pm, and midnight.Halloween Horror Nights kicks off September 6 at Universal Orlando, running 41 nights through November 2. The 10 houses this year will be themed to Jordan Peele's Us, Stranger Things, Ghostbusters, Universal Monsters, Killer Klowns from Outer Space and Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses, plus four original productions: Graveyard Games, Yeti: Terror of the Yukon, Nightingales: Blood Pit, and Depths of Fear. Tickets are available on Universal's website.Reader ratings and reviews for Universal Studios Florida
Lego Movie World will open in Spring 2020 at the Carlsbad kiddie park with three attractions, a play area and a meet-and-greet location themed to the movie town of Bricksburg.
The Knott’s Family Reunion will feature anniversary decor, live entertainment and themed food and merchandise at the Buena Park theme park.
The Paranormal Inc. haunted maze will return to Knott's Berry Farm for Halloween Haunt 2019.
By Robert Niles: A couple of months ago, I asked if the popular online instructional course Masterclass ever would feature a themed entertainment designer. Now, competitor Khan Academy has jumped in to fill that space, offering an online tutorial in cooperation with Walt Disney Imagineering.Imagineering in a Box features a series of instructional videos and exercises that take viewers through the process of creating theme park attractions. "Disney Imagineers from hundreds of career disciplines around the world share how they use a wide range of skills – from story development and conceptual design, to math, physics and engineering – that all come together to create immersive experiences," the course's description says.Khan Academy is an online learning resource known for its supplementary courses aimed at high school students, but it also offers material that dives into more professional disciplines — such as, now, theme park attraction design. The Imagineering in a Box course includes three lessons, each with six to 10 assigned exercises. Each exercise is preceded by an instructional video, usually around six minutes, that introduces and explains an important concept in the lesson.The first lesson, "Creating worlds," introduces theming, layout, and building, landscape and sound design for theme park lands. The second lesson, "Designing attractions," talks about storyboards, ride systems, layout, and capacity. The final lesson, "Bringing characters to life," gets into character types, costumes, armatures, and actuators.Khan Academy courses are free, and while this one alone won't get anyone a job on a design team, a first run through shows a solid overview of the field that can help inspire and direct someone considering themed entertainment design as a career. Or, at the very least, it should deepen any fan's appreciation for the work that goes into creating a successful theme park attraction.The TEA Summit shows how artists make the impossible happen
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Unless otherwise noted, all events are on the Cal State Fullerton main campus, 800 N. State College Blvd., and are free and open to the public. Wayward Artist “Three Letter Words.” The Wayward Artist and Michael-Miguel Productions present a play written by Michael Mejia and directed by Miguel Torres that looks at what happens when