Written by Russell Meyer
Published: July 6, 2005 at 9:06 PM
It was not a happy 4th of July in Largo, Maryland as Six Flags America experienced a fatal accident. A 27-year old woman died while riding the park’s Shark Attack water slide. It was thought, and later shown, that the woman died of a heart attack, and not because of any fault in the attraction. When the woman exited the slide into the splash pool, she was seen floating by one of the lifeguards who immediately pulled her out of the water and began administering CPR. The park staff also began using an on-site defibrillator prior to the paramedics arriving. Sadly, the efforts of the park staff were not enough. The woman was in the park with her family, who must feel terrible about this tragic accident. I’ve never heard of anyone so young having a heart attack on a water slide, but that appears to be the case here. The water slide was shut down for the remainder of the evening, and is still closed so that the 55-foot tall slide can be inspected.
Let the Speculation Begin
With the summer doldrums already setting in, and the theme park news moving about as fast as molasses out of a jar, I thought I would take some time to examine what’s going on at the theme parks around the country, and what big projects are on the horizon for the end of the year and into next year.
With the 50th anniversary celebration in high gear, Disney is in the process of regrouping, and preparing to unleash another series of attractions on the world. The biggest, Hong Kong Disneyland is slated to open its doors to the world on September 12, 2005, and the newest Disney park has already seen its first wave of visitors. The park has been offering preview days, and will continue to through August and early September. The pictures (Mouseinfo.com) that have come out of the park make it look very much like any Disney park, but perhaps a little more sterile. It could just be me, or maybe just the lack of people in the pictures, but the park does not look all that inviting. It will have all the standard Disney rides (Space Mountain, Jungle Cruise, Mad Hatter Teacups, etc…), and a surprising amount of English from what I could tell. Aside from the new park, Disney is also adding some new attractions at some of the other parks around the globe. Disneyland is building a “yet to be determined” attraction at the site of the old sub lagoon that is reportedly going to be a complete revamp of the old attraction and themed around Finding Nemo. It is expected that Disney will make an official announced regarding this attraction in a couple of weeks. It has also been reported that George Lucas has a new Star Tours movie in the works, and the attractions in California and Florida will both be updated. Meanwhile, Disney’s California Adventure is working on yet another reincarnation of Superstar Limo that will take riders on a journey through the world of Monsters Inc., as Mike and Sully come to the rescue of the formerly hapless attraction. Guests can also expect updates to both versions of Pirates of the Caribbean including the long rumored Jack Sparrow animatronic figure. The biggest thing coming to Orlando is the biggest Disney mountain on earth, Expedition Everest. The construction on the Animal Kingdom coaster is moving along, and reportedly ahead of schedule with an expected early 2006 debut. The Paris parks are adding two big attractions, with Buzz Lightyear scheduled to open at Disneyland Paris in 2006 and Tower of Terror scheduled to open at Disney Studios Paris in 2008. No, that’s not a typo. Disney has confirmed that the Tower is still two and a half years from completion, but just in time to save the park from boredom.
There doesn’t seem to be anything coming out of the Universal camp, and after the addition of the two Revenge of the Mummy attractions, the Studios can be cut some slack. However, Islands of Adventure is not deserving of such a reprieve. Unfortunately, the only rumors coming out of the park are circling around some mystery coaster/attraction in the Jurassic Park section of IOA. The park is in desperate need of something, but it looks like if anything is on the way, it may not arrive until at least 2007.
Both Busch Gardens parks built massive attractions this past year, and will probably both take a year to gasp for air, and some cash. Aside from the rumored new water park in Orlando, the Sea World parks also look to be taking some time off. There’s still a possibility that something could be in the works for San Antonio or Orlando after the summer, but as usual, Busch parks are incredibly hard to read.
It has been well documented that Six Flags Great Adventure will be getting an Intamin wooden coaster for 2006. How big, long, or head jarring the coaster will be has yet to be announced, but I would not be surprised if silly Six Flags goes for another record. Six Flags Magic Mountain, the new second fiddle of the franchise, has begun work on what may very well be a custom B&M flyer on Samurai Summit. Some initial clearing and surveying has been done, and all fingers point to a flying roller coaster, and not the 500 footer that was previously rumored. Six Flags Over Georgia has begun surveying for an attraction that looks to be a coaster. While the details are incredibly sketchy, the survey markings are all pointing to some kind of coaster, and a big one at that. The “smaller” Six Flags parks do not appear to be doing any site preparation, and with money tight, Six Flags may be targeting its most profitable parks for major improvements and leaving the rest to fend for themselves.
The only park that seems to have any site preparation going on is Kings Dominion. The Virginia park has begun construction on the northern section of the water park (Water Works) and the area around where Diamond Falls once stood. Rumors are circling about a potential Italian Job coaster for the park, similar to the ones in Canada and Kings Island, but the construction could be part of a water park renovation. Many of the other Paramount parks have transformed their water parks into Boomerang Bay with an Australian theme, and such a renovation would be feasible for both Kings Dominion and Carowinds.
Aside from the silliest rumor I heard the other day, about a 500-foot vertical lift coaster at Cedar Point, all of the Cedar Fair parks appear to be in a holding pattern. Dorney Park just opened Hydra and Knott’s opened Silver Bullet last December. If you can believe it, Cedar Point has gone two years without a roller coaster. Could it go a third? It’s highly unlikely, but there hasn’t been any activity…yet.