Tag - theme park news

Sol Spin Now Open at Knott’s Berry Farm

Buena Park, Calif. (April 2017) – Spring time is in full bloom at the farm and the newest thrilling installment has arrived at Knott’s Berry Farm just in time to enjoy during the popular Knott’s Boysenberry Festival. Sol Spin will bring brand new hair-raising thrills to the Fiesta Village area starting April 21st.

Sol Spin will send brave guests on a ride of lifetime by taking them on a thrilling topsy-turvy adventure over six stories high as they rotate in all directions in one of the ride’s six spinning floorless gondolas. This one-of-kind ride will leave thrill seekers astonished by its smooth and gravity-defying movements, circling above the park and into the Orange County skyline, for an upside down adventure like no other.  Sol Spin is manufactured by Mondial and is a Venturi model.  Height requirement for Sol Spin is 54 inches.  Sol spin is the newest thrill ride added to the park since Coast Rider’s arrival in the Boardwalk area in 2013.

Sol Spin is just one more exciting experience guests can enjoy during the final weekend of the delectable Boysenberry Festival, with over 75 boysenberry-inspired items for guests to delight in.

Guests can experience Sol Spin, the Boysenberry Festival and much more with a 2017 season pass. A Knott’s Regular Season Pass includes unlimited 2017 admission to Knott’s Berry Farm and a Gold Pass includes unlimited 2017 admission to both Knott’s Berry Farm and an expanded and renovated Soak City Water Park debuting two new exhilarating water slide towers.  Season Passes can be purchased online starting at $91.00 or 6 easy payments of $15.16. Applicable taxes and fees apply. The Season Pass payment plan is only available online at knotts.com

For more information about Sol Spin and Knott’s Berry Farm please visit knotts.com or download the Knott’s Berry Farm app for your smart phone. Join the conversation about the newest thrill ride using the #SolSpin.

Steven Spielberg Helps Inaugurate Universal CityWalk’s New State-of-the-Art Universal Cinema

Universal City, California, April 20, 2017 – Ron Meyer, Vice Chairman, NBCUniversal; Academy®, Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA award-winning filmmaker Steven Spielberg; Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele (Get Out); Emmy Award-nominated filmmaker Will Packer (Straight Outta Compton); Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy Award-winning producer Jason Blum (Get Out); and Karen Irwin, President & COO, Universal Studios Hollywood, celebrated the grand opening of Universal CityWalk’s multi-million dollar AMC Theatre renovation to create an all-new state-of-the-art Universal Cinema

With its proximity to the Universal Studios’ production lot and filming locations for many blockbuster movies, these award-winning filmmakers helped call “action” and shine a spotlight on the Universal Cinema as the place to “see movies where movies are made.”

“The new Universal Cinema is a spectacular place to enjoy blockbuster films and we’re thrilled to have such acclaimed filmmakers join us to commemorate the occasion,” said Karen Irwin, President & COO, Universal Studios Hollywood. “As The Entertainment Capital of L.A., we’ve entertained guests for generations, taking them behind-the-scenes of movie-making and placing them in the heart of the action with our incredible attractions, so it’s only fitting that we create the ultimate movie-going experience giving fans access to a movie theatre where they watch films in Hollywood screening rooms the same way filmmakers do.”

Universal Cinema’s top-to-bottom makeover coincides with Universal Studios Hollywood’s ambitious epic transformation to reimagine the world-class entertainment destination.

For film buffs, Universal CityWalk has long been the epicenter for fans seeking an environment that matches the excitement of their favorite blockbuster movies. Delivering modern, high-tech elegance and chic sophistication, the renovation of the split-level movie theatre offers a stylish and inviting place that captures the spirt of the glamourous movie studio—complete with screening room quality theatres and ultra-plush reclining seats.

The Director’s Lounge Cocktail Bar—an all-new upscale and stylish second-level retreat, flanked by the upper level theatres—adds a charismatic new dimension to the space for casual pre- and post- movie-going fun.  Beverages served at the lounge can also be taken into the second level theatres.

Each redesigned theatre has been fully upgraded with the most technologically advanced sight and sound achievements. The Universal Cinema represents the first multiplex in the United States to incorporate Christie laser projection, Christie Vive audio sound system and Dolby ATMOS with recliner seating to deliver maximum-impact movie presentations in 18 auditoriums. The installation of new state-of-the art screens, perforated to enable 360 degree audio, complement the overall enhancements.

The recent upgrade to the IMAX theatre features IMAX’s next-generation 4K laser projection and 12-channel sound systems designed to enhance the entire movie-going experience and provide an audience with sharper, brighter, clearer and more vivid digital images than ever.

A departure from traditional movie concession stands, the completely redesigned AMC Marketplace offers movie-goers a contemporary grab-n-go, self-service experience, featuring a delectable new take on concession favorites, including specialty popcorn, gourmet foods, real fruit smoothies, café style coffees and a Coca-Cola Freestyle self-service touch screen soda fountain featuring 165 different Coca-Cola drink products. 

A box office and guest services concierge is now located inside the venue, with convenient automated box office kiosks situated adjacent to the venue by the “5 Towers” outdoor concert stage. Additionally, movie-goers can enjoy $5 Movie General Parking with the purchase of a movie ticket. 

Since 1993, CityWalk has boosted the city’s rhythm through a foundation built on providing memorable entertainment experiences.  With a series of dramatic enhancements currently underway from the introduction of new dining experiences such as the recently opened Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Voodoo Doughnut, and LudoBird, shopping experiences and visually aesthetic design features, CityWalk continues to resonate as one of L.A.’s most influential lifestyle centers.

More information on CityWalk is available at www.CityWalkHollywood.com. Regular updates can also be found on CityWalk’s Twitter @CityWalkLA, Facebook-Universal CityWalk Hollywood and Instagram @CityWalkLA.

Knott’s and Komen Orange County Raise Over $108K Dollars For Breast Cancer Awareness

April 20, 2017 – Knott’s Berry Farm and Susan G. Komen Orange County have partnered for a fourth consecutive and successful year to raise more than $108,000 for breast cancer awareness and services for the local community during Knott’s for the Cure promotion in January. From January 9 to March 5, Knott’s and Susan G. Komen Orange County helped raise money through the purchase of “pink” tickets and select merchandise sold in the park. On April 18, 2017, Cherie Whyte, Director of Communications at Knott’s Berry Farm proudly presented a check of  $108,867 to Susan G. Komen’s Board Member­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­ Dr. Jessica Rhee in the historic Ghost Town area.

Since 2013, the partnership with Komen Orange County has collectively raised close to $500,000 dollars for the organization. The proceeds raised during Knott’s for the Cure will help provide underserviced women and men in Orange County with access to breast health care and services. Knott’s Berry Farm and the Komen Orange County are committed to raising awareness and providing vital funds to the community in efforts to end the fight against breast cancer.

For more information on Susan G. Komen Orange County, visit www.komenoc.org or call 714-957-9157.

Drop of Doom VR Announced at Six Flags Great Adventure

JACKSON, N.J. ─ April 20, 2017Six Flags Great Adventure, in partnership with Samsung Electronics America, Inc., the “Official Technology Partner of Six Flags,” today announced an all-new, extreme virtual reality experience coming to the world’s tallest and fastest drop ride beginning May 5. Thrill-seekers will use Samsung Gear VR powered by Oculus to battle giant, mutant spiders while they plunge 41 stories at speeds up to 90 mph on Drop of Doom VR, a fully-integrated virtual reality (VR) experience on Zumanjaro.

“As the leader in innovation, Six Flags launched the very first VR coaster experiences. Now, we are taking virtual reality to the next level with the introduction of the first VR drop rides,” said Neal Thurman, park president. “Drop of Doom VR plays upon two of our greatest fears – extreme heights and spiders – and delivers an entirely new thrill for the spring 2017 season.”

While anxious riders buckle into their floorless seats and strap on their VR headsets, they are transported into a 360-degree virtual world where they become pilots of a futuristic gunship under attack by mutant spiders. This intense, interactive adventure features:

  • High speed, vertical ascent up 41 actual stories that transforms into 100 virtual stories while teetering off the edge of a helicopter;
  • A 360-degree rotating view high above massive city skyscrapers that are under siege by enormous spiders;
  • A high-intensity gun battle against a giant arachnid, spewing baby spiders that virtually crawl all over the rider’s body;
  • A thrilling 10-second fiery plunge straight down at speeds up to 90 mph between towering skyscrapers;
  • The final showdown with a spider the size of a van, teeth-gnashing and in full attack mode.

For a limited time only, guests can experience the Drop of Doom virtual reality attraction free with paid park admission. Riders must be at least 48” tall to ride Drop of Doom VR, and at least 13 years old to experience Samsung Gear VR.

Universal Cinema to Host Fate of the Furious Cars and Props Display

Universal City, California – April 18, 2017 – Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal CityWalk become headquarters for Universal Pictures’ blockbuster new movie The Fate of the Furious, inviting fans to see the No. 1 film in the world at the all-new Universal Cinema, get up close and personal with original prop cars and costume displays and cap off the experience aboard the theme park’s exciting thrill ride, The Fast & Furious—Supercharged, which features stars from the original film series.

As the one-stop destination for all things Fast & Furious, Universal CityWalk’s new state-of-the art Universal Cinema offers movie buffs the best seat in the house, where they can kick back on ultra-plush recliner seats in Hollywood screening-room quality theatres to watch their favorite characters reunite on the silver screen.

The turbo-charged takeover also provides guests with an exclusive look at the high-speed vehicles from the new movie on display both at Universal CityWalk and Universal Studios Hollywood.  This includes “Dom” Toretto’s (Vin Diesel) 1970 Dodge Charger, which has been souped-up to an Ice Charger with a 707 horsepower, 6.2 liter V8 engine to enable the vehicle to zip along snow and ice terrains in the new film. Other cars on display include the International MXT driven by Hobbs (Dwayne Johnson), Hobb’s Dodge Ram, Roman Pearce’s (Tyrese Gibson) 2004 Bentley GT and the Ripsaw driven by Tej (Chris “Ludacris” Bridges).

Authentic wardrobe worn by Dom and Hobbs will also be prominently featured within the lobby of the new Universal Cinema.

Universal Studios Hollywood also invites guests on an electrifying thrill ride aboard it’s all-original “Fast & Furious—Supercharged” mega-attraction. The Studio Tour’s grand finale ride features characters made famous by Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Luke Evans and catapults guests into the high-stakes underground world of fast cars in a harrowing escapade – at perceived speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour – to save one of their own from an international crime cartel.

For more information and to purchase tickets to The Fate of the Furious, visit www.CityWalkHollywood.com. Additionally, movie-goers can enjoy $5 Movie General Parking with the purchase of a movie ticket.

Visiting guests can get a supercharged look at the new The Fate of the Furious displays within Universal Plaza, located in the heart of the theme park, now through Friday, April 28, and just outside Universal Cinema until Sunday, April 23.

More information about Universal CityWalk is available at www.CityWalkHollywood.com. Regular updates also can be found on CityWalk’s Twitter @CityWalkLA, Facebook page Universal CityWalk Hollywood and Instagram @CityWalkLA. Join the conversation online using #FastFuriousRide, and for the latest news, ‘like’ Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow at @UniStudios on Instagramand Twitter.

Knott’s Berry Farm 2017 Boysenberry Festival

Once again, Knott’s Berry Farm has brought its prized boysenberries into the spotlight with their annual Boysenberry Festival. Running until April 23, the festival sees several stations setup around the park’s Ghost Town area with boysenberry themed foods to purchase and enjoy. Also gracing the park for the festival are some new shows to enjoy such as Snoopy’s Boysenberry Jamboree!

Of the boysenberry flavored offerings this year, I was once again enamored with the “Fun Bun”. A deep fried cinnamon roll with sweet boysenberry frosting… It’s really an amazing treat. Also great were the boysenberry meatballs and boysenberry pana cotta. Also of note is the boysenberry fry bread, which is located over at the churro factory.  The dishes I could have done without were the boysenberry ravioli (I applaud their effort but it just didn’t work for me) and the boysenberry pizza. Of course, the park has its standard restaurants and watering holes open for guests during the festival, so the choice is yours. Knott’s Berry Farm is once again offering their $25 dollar tasting card for sale so that guests can get a little sampling of a number of boysenberry treats. Unfortunately, the fun bun is not on the tasting card, so you’ll have to pick that up separately, but I digress. If you are looking for liquid refreshment, you can find boysenberry cream soda as well as a host of craft wines and beers in the Craft Wine and Beer Garden, located within the Wilderness Dance Hall. There are some great local wineries and breweries on display here, so if you are over 21 and interested, be sure to check it out!

Snoopy’s Boysenberry Jamboree is a fun show for the whole family which takes place at the new Calico Stage and features dancing, singing, and your favorite Peanuts characters. Also fun to take in is Old MacDonald’s Barn over near the Ghost Town windmill. Inside, you will find horses, burros, and all sorts of animals for the kids to look at. At certain times, you can even watch them shear some sheep! It’s how shirts are made, people, and harmless for the innocent sheep.There is also a new Melodrama in the Bird Cage Theater, which is always a fun time. The Bird Cage Theater players are a talented lot and allow a lot of improv to come through with their performances, which just adds to the fun!

Overall, the Knott’s Berry Farm Boysenberry Festival is a fun day trip that will entertain and fill you up. Between the new boysenberry flavored treats and the entertainment options available to guests, Knott’s Boysenberry Festival is always a great time!

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Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey 4K Upgrade Review

The good people over at Universal Studios Hollywood’s PR team allowed us entry into the park to check out the upgraded Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction located within the park’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter area. Recently, the ride’s projection system was upgraded once again – this time, to ultra-high definition 4K resolution and a higher frame rate of 120 FPS! You might recall that, originally, the attraction opened with a 3D projection system that relied on riders to wear special 3D goggles. The ride experience left something to be desired, so the park smartly transitioned the ride back to 2D. The standard definition version of the ride was immensely-fun, but you could see a lot of blur in the image quality of the projection system. This is party due to the fact that the ride video is rear projected onto curved screens. So with the 4K upgrade, I just had to come out and experience the ride again – at least it would provide a good excuse for drinking more butterbeer!

Arriving at the park early, one of the Universal Studios PR team members escorted us onto the attraction and actually rode it with us as she had yet to experience it for herself. The ride was a blast and the 4K update is very noticeable, especially if you rode it prior to the upgrade. The video is still a bit blurry, but nowhere near the degree it was before and it is a lot easier to track the action on the screen thanks to the enhanced frame rate. I didn’t notice any other upgrades to the ride aside from the new projection system, but that’s not a bad thing as the ride is pretty amazing as it is.

After riding Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, we went over to the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade and had a big American breakfast plate with eggs and bacon. Of all the dining experiences inside Universal Studios Hollywood, this restaurant has consistently been the best since its launch a year ago. Their variety of food – from breakfast platters to shepard’s pie to so much more is prepared well and features great taste. Unfortunately, I did find out that the hot butterbeer which wowed me during the Winter is no more. It appears to be a seasonal beverage and I can’t wait for the end of the year to see it come back. In the meantime, I will “make do” with my favorite frosty drink, the frozen butterbeer.

Universal Studios Hollywood is open daily. Check out their official website for ticket information and more.

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American Horror Story Announced for Universal Studios Orlando Halloween Horror Nights

Asylum, Coven and My Roanoke Nightmare are all packed into one horrifying haunted house. It’s the largest house this year, with the largest cast of deranged characters. You will be hunted, haunted, stalked and shadowed through multiple different terrifying scenes at Halloween Horror Nights 27.

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VR Showdown in Ghost Town at Knott’s Berry Farm Review

More and more theme parks are beginning to integrate virtual reality into their attractions these days. The most recent of the bunch is Knott’s Berry Farm, which teamed up with VRstudios to create a VR arcade experience called VR Showdown in Ghost Town. Recently, I was able to check the VR game out at a preview event, and I have some thoughts which I wanted to bring to you, dear readers. I arrived at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park at about 6:15 PM. I greeted the PR folks, got my appointment time to play the game, and then went into the park for some grub. It was rainy, and the way the light reflected off the wet ground made for some very cool photographs.

At my designated appointment time, I moseyed over to the Boardwalk Arcade, which is located beneath the park’s Voyage to the Iron Reef attraction. They recently rennovated the arcade to have a number of modern arcade enjoyments as well as make use of their own card to magnetically store credits on. You load your card up at stations in the arcade then swipe them in the machines instead of depositing quarters like in the days of old.

The VR Showdown in Ghost Town is located in an offshoot room of the arcade, and is set up like a secret office of Dr Welles. For you Knott’s historians out there, you might recognize that name from the venerable Kingdom of the Dinosaurs attraction which used to reside where the Iron Reef is today. It seems that all of Dr Welles’ offices were not converted, and his secrets are still being shared with us today. Once you swipe your arcade card through the swiper (each person pays $6 dollars to go into the VR experience), you will be escorted in pairs of two  into rooms where an assistant of Dr Welles will brief you on safety and the use of the VR gear.

VRstudios is using a proprietary system which handles large scale room tracking, on a bigger scale than the HTC Vive. The play space of the VR Showdown in Ghost Town is 20 feet by 17 feet in dimension and each room is lined with infrared sensors to track the position of the gear. The VR goggles (for lack of a better term) are mildly comfortable, but you will not be able to adjust the interpupillary distance of the two lenses and my head, being a bit larger than most, was squeezed a bit. If you have a large head, please ask the attendant about adjustments. Once the headset is donned, they hand you your gun and then put the headphones on your noggin. The gun is an articulated prop, with several tracking pylons on its edges. The gun prop feels right in the hand and the trigger squeeze, while a bit stiff, will hopefully lighten up after a while.

There is a general VR lobby where you can get used to the visuals, shooting, etc until the attendant activates the game. You can turn your head and see the head and gun of your partner, which helps to avoid colliding with them throughout the game. Unfortunately, this is where things get a bit shaky, literally. Unfortunately, the resolution of the VR headset is a bit low and the refresh rate is set to 60 Hz. This causes some slight visual “stuttering” and actually caused me to get a bit off-balance during a couple twists and ducks I had to perform. The nice thing about the VR game is it is truly meant for players to move around the space and duck behind cover when needed. Also adding to the disorientation effect is that the headset’s field of view is somewhat limited in comparison to a Rift or Vive unite. That might be okay if the refresh rate were increased to 90 Hz, but I digress. Adding to this effect was the fact that I LOVED the system’s wireless capabilities. Their VR headset units have NO WIRES connecting you to anything else. You are truly “free to roam about the cabin” as it were, and so I did.

That being said, the times in which you can stand in one place and shoot straight ahead in the game are outstanding as the image is relatively static (save for bad guys and the like). During these moments, the refresh rate issue did not bother me. This also allowed me to make full use of the 1:1 aiming/shooting provided by VRstudios’ array of tracking sensors.

Overall, the VR Showdown in Ghost Town is a fun arcade experience, but I would not recommend playing if you have ever gotten motion sickness or dizziness from a VR game in the past. Even if you have only had minor dizziness, I guarantee you that the VR Showdown in Ghost Town will bring it out of you like nothing else. That being said, I can’t think of another theme park or arcade that has anything like this attraction right now. It truly is revolutionary, and I hope this is just the start of things to come.

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Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey Gets 4K Upgrade

Universal City, CA, March 23, 2017 – The spectacularly captivating and highly acclaimed “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” thrill ride at Universal Studios Hollywood’s “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” takes a technological bow with the introduction of enhanced 4K-HD ride film projecting at an astounding rate of 120 frames-per-second and designed to offer guests an even more immersive glimpse into J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.

This progressive enhancement replaces the earlier 3D film component of the ride to create a seamless integration between the ride’s elaborate sets and its spellbinding media. The attraction’s storyline remains the same.

Originally projected at 60 frames-per-second, the new ride media now displays at twice the frame rate offering superior clarity and remarkably sharper images than previously shown, with imagery that is stunningly ultra-realistic.

Hailed by press across the globe as a tour-de-force, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” has enjoyed a vast array of critical acclaim, such as:

“The combination of the stunningly detailed queue and the state-of-the-art ride make Forbidden Journey the best dark ride in the world.”

“All roads lead to Hogwarts castle, home to possibly the most immersive, amazing and utterly convincing dark-ride and queue ever invented.

The detail at every turn is exquisite.”

An achievement in pioneering theme park ride technology, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” is a multidimensional thrill ride located within Hogwarts castle. It features a groundbreaking robotics ride system, fused with elaborate filmed action sequences and immersive visceral effects designed to take guests on a once-in-a lifetime whirlwind adventure.

Spiraling and pivoting 360-degrees upon an elevated ride track, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” ushers guests on a journey alongside Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley as they venture through some of the most memorable scenes from the movie, including a Quidditch match where they narrowly escape a dragon attack, as well as close encounters with Dementors and the Whomping Willow.

A spectacular attraction unto itself, the iconic and picturesque Hogwarts castle sits at the heart of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” providing access to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Hogwarts castle is a breathtaking reproduction from the movie, housing narrow stone passageways and chambers that invites guests to walk in the famous footsteps of the film’s heroic character where they will encounter many familiar places along the way, including the Mirror of Erised, Professor Sprout’s Herbology class and a selection of baby Mandrakes, Dumbledore’s office, the Defence Against the Dark Arts classroom, the Hall of Talking Portraits, the Fat Lady portrait at the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room and the Sorting Hat.

Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” at Universal Studios Hollywood is a masterful recreation, faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including as its iconic focal point, Hogwarts castle.

From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” transports guests of all ages to the very places they read about in the stories or watched on the silver screen.

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” resonates with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverages at multiple locations, including Three Broomsticks™ and Hog’s Head pub, as well as the Magic Neep and Butterbeer™ carts.

A foray through the shops adds to the authenticity of the land with eight retail venues and locations, including Honeydukes™, Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges™, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium™ of Confiscated Goods.

The architecturally stunning land also features Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor family coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff™.

Join the conversation online using #WizardingWorldHollywood. Like Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook and follow @UniStudios on Instagram and Twitter.