Let's return to New Braunfels, Texas, shall we? Last week I posted a review of Schlitterbahn, one of the first water parks in the world. Today, I have some photos to share with you so you can get a sense of why the water park is not only one of the oldest, but also among the biggest, most popular, most unique, and quirkiest parks as well. I visited in May near the start of the season, and parts of the park weren't open. That allowed me to get some rare shots of water slides and other attractions without guests -- or water for that matter. See my pictures of Schlitterbahn.
Photo:© Arthur Levine, 2013. Licensed to About.com.
The second season of the television program, Insane Coasters Wars, recently premiered, and I've been enjoying the improved format. In its first year of episodes, the show grouped four coasters together, seemingly at random, and asked viewers to vote online for their favorite. Somehow Aftershock, a perfectly fine -- if unremarkable -- inverted boomerang ride at Silverwood in Idaho that is essentially a clone of similar coasters at other parks, won the "Hang 'em High" category over far more deserving (IMO) contenders such as Manta at SeaWorld Orlando. This season, the groupings appear to be more equitable, and the voting process seems to be handled better.
It's been seven years since the last Superman film, and today the highly anticipated Man of Steel, the latest Hollywood ode to America's premier superhero, opens. So how is it? How the heck should I know? I'm the Theme Parks Guide.
But I do know a thing or two about coasters and rides based on the Man of Steel. Six Flags has the exclusive park rights to the DC Comics characters (which also includes Batman), and many of the chain's parks feature Superman attractions. My all-time favorite steel coaster is Bizarro at Six Flags New England, which is named for Superman's alter ego in an alternate universe according to comic book lore. It is a tour-de-force and a highly acclaimed thrill machine. Read my review of the Bizarro coaster.
Other Supes-themed rides:
- Superman: Ride of Steel at Six Flags America
- Superman Ultimate Flight at Six Flags Great Adventure
- Ride of Steel at Darien Lake (which used to be known as Superman: Ride of Steel when Darien lake was a Six Flags park)
Photo: © Arthur Levine, 2006. Licensed to About.com.
Busch Gardens Tampa just announced Falcon's Fury, its new attraction for 2014. At a daunting 335 feet, the drop tower ride should unbuckle a few knees -- especially since its passengers will face the ground as they freefall from dizzying heights. The park is playing a bit fast and loose with its marketing, however, by billing it as "the tallest freestanding drop tower in North America." That's true in fact, but not in spirit. Read my preview of Falcon's Fury and my take on the questionable hype.
Photo: SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Used with permission.
For years, I've been reading about, seeing videos of, hearing others sing the praises of, and longing to visit Schlitterbahn, one of the first, and one of the most popular water parks in the world. I finally got to make a pilgrimage to New Braunfels, Texas, and I'm happy to report that it's everything I expected -- and then some. Unlike many of today's cookie-cutter parks, Schlitterbahn is loaded with quirky charm -- and just plain loaded with groundbreaking water park attractions. Read my review of Schlitterbahn.
Photo: © Arthur Levine, 2013. Licensed to About.com.
It's not that big of a deal today to find steel coasters with inversions (as well as all kinds of other thrill rides that tip passengers upside down), but it's been something of a holy grail for attraction designers and amusement parks to incorporate similar topsy-turvy elements on wooden coasters. It's not for lack of trying. In fact, coaster manufacturers have been attempting to send riders head over heels almost since the advent of the industry.
Legendary Coney Island showman and one of the founding fathers of the amusement industry, Fredric Thompson, is credited with coining the term, "amusing the million." The phrase is all the more relevant today as modern theme parks evolve, expand, thrive, and welcome millions and millions of customers through their gates. How many millions? According to The Global Attractions Attendance Report released today by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and AECOM, nearly 132 million guests visited the top 20 parks in North America alone in 2012, 3.6 percent more than 2011. (No wonder it seems so crowded at the parks these days!) Globally (particularly in Asia), business is booming as well, with a 5.2% overall attendance increase last year.Read More...
Sure enough, over the weekend, Disney continued its June ritual of raising its theme park prices. But at Disney World, the Mouse did something interesting: It raised the cost of a one-day, one-park ticket from $89 to an even $90 -- except for the Magic Kingdom. Visiting that highly popular park will now set you back $95. It's the first time that the resort introduced a different pricing structure for its parks.
If you love roller coasters (like I do), you probably crave airtime. If coasters aren't your thing, you're probably terrified of airtime. But if you have a rudimentary understanding of coasters, you may not know what the heck this thing called "airtime" is all about. That's where I come in. Let's get geeky and explore negative Gs, bunny hills, floater air, and more as I answer the geektastic question, What is roller coaster airtime?
Airtime-crazy thrill machines:
Photo: ©Arthur Levine, 2006. Licensed to About.com
With the discouraging news that Universal Orlando raised its ticket price to $92 (and you know that it's only a matter of time until other parks join the ticket inflation), it's all the more important to scout around for the best deals. You lucked out: I've already done the scouting. Among the more intriguing doffers I unearthed:
- Disney World throws in the grub- Learn how to get free meals at the Florida resort. Find out more about Disney World's Free Dining Plan and determine whether it makes sense for you.
- Save on hotel rates- Disney World is offering discounted hotel stays for both the summer and early fall seasons
- Save up to $500 on a summer vacation package- Universal Orlando is knocking some bucks off of its hotel and ticket packages.
- LA Theme Park Package- Visit Universal Studios Hollywood, Knott's Berry Farm, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Legoland California for one discounted price.