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Roar wooden coaster at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to close August 16

On Thursday, July 16th, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom posted across their social media outlets – as well as via a press release – that their GCl wooden coaster, Roar will be shutting down forever on August 16th. The timing is fortuitous – the last day of operation will be National Roller Coaster Day in the United States.

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Photo credit: Kris Rowberry, http://www.GreatAmericanThrills.net

“We are a dynamic and evolving entertainment venue,” said Don McCoy, park president. “Although Roar continues to be a guest favorite, sometimes hard choices must be made to allow for future expansion.”

Roar opened in 1999 as the park was officially re-branded as the “New Marine World Theme Park” – which brought several new shows and attractions, restaurants and shops to the park. An estimated 11 million guests have experienced the 10-story coaster which features the first use of GCI’s throwback “Millennium Flyer” single bench, articulated trains.

According to the park, a special fond farewell to Roar will include a series of events for guests and Season Pass holders, the highlight of which will be a special last rider event.

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How much will this skyline change after Roar is shut down forever this year? Only time will tell… (Photo credit: Kris Rowberry, http://www.GreatAmericanThrills.net)

The shutdown fuels rumors that the ride may be next in the Six Flags chain to receive some sort of renovation from roller coaster manufacturer, Rocky Mountain Construction. While none of this has been confirmed by the park or RMC,  a job posting several weeks ago that advertised several temporary positions available in California has had some in the industry speculate that the Roar project was what they were advertising for.

The ride had become particularly rough over the past few years, culminating with a major track replacement which involved removal and replacement of approximately 1/4 of the total length of the ride last year.

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Dare Devil Chaos to Debut at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in 2015

They say “What goes around, comes around,” and in the case of the new Dare Devil Chaos opening at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom next year, that’s quite appropriate.

According to the park, “Dare Devil Chaos is a single looping thrill ride that builds anticipation as riders seated back to back travel backwards and forwards until momentum takes them at top speed revolutions, only to stop upside down at 70 feet high and reverse direction.”

They add, “The new ride brings the number of ‘coasters’ at the park to nine along with Medusa, Roar, V2, Kong, Boomerang, Cobra, Road Runner Express and SUPERMAN Ultimate Flight. Dare Devil is expected to open in spring 2015.”

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Media Relations

Now, I put the word “coaster” in quotations because there is some controversy with the way these rides are being marketed. Many in the industry are saying that while Six Flags is marketing these attractions as roller coasters – they are in fact, not. While the manufacturer’s website claims their “Super Loop 22m” is a “compact coaster,” experts in the industry are vehement in their opposition to the marketing:

“In perhaps the most disappointing announcement for the 2015 season, four Six Flags parks are to install pendulum style thrill rides typically associated with traveling carnivals and county fairs. Adding insult to injury, Six Flags is intentionally misrepresenting these rides as roller coasters.” 

– Brady MacDonald, Los Angeles Times

 “For the record, I applaud Six Flags for trying to finally add more flat rides, but don’t lie to people and promote them as coasters.”

– Lance Hart, Screamscape.com

For comparison, Elitch Gardens – the first park to install this new model of thrill ride in the United States – does not market their model (identical to the four going into Six Flags parks next year) as a roller coaster:

“Lose your mind on Brain Drain, the All-New 7-story steel looping thrill ride that sends riders forwards, backwards and head-over-heels in an adrenaline drenched 360° revolution.”

– ElitchGardens.com

While these rides are definitely fun and have the ability to be intertwined with others (imagine a ride passing through the loop) they’re constantly powered by drive tires and don’t actually travel on a track, the “train” is attached to one giant conveyor belt loop that’s ingeniously nestled inside the larger, outside loop.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom Dare Devil Chaos Coaster

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

If the ride looks familiar to you, it should. It’s a larger, permanent installation of the “Ring of Fire” attractions seen at carnivals around the world, from Larson International. Although, these permanent models lack the guy wires – they’re still quite thrilling.Just expect to wait for those thrills – hourly capacity is expected to be around 500 – 600 people per hour.

Photo courtesy of Larson International.

Photo courtesy of Larson International.

“This is a great new addition to our line-up of world class rides and attractions, and is sure to be fun for all,” said Don McCoy, park president. “What appears to be a simple track is really complex and riders will have a great time anticipating the inversion they know is coming.”

The announcement, part of a coordinated, chain-wide event for all the other Six Flags parks, coincides with the biggest season pass sale of the year.

What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments section below, or reach out to us on social media!


Six Flags Wins Court Order To Ban “Animal-Rights” Protests From Property

If you’ve visited Six Flags Discovery Kingdom this year, odds are a group of animal-rights activists were there too, trying to pass out leaflets and dissuade you from entering the park.

Well, you won’t have to worry about them interrupting your day, at least for now.

According to the Times Herald, a Judge has ruled that the protests (if they occur) can only be done from the sidewalk of the park – not on park property, as they were being done prior to this injunction.

The activists are angry over what they claim is “mistreatment” of animals in captivity at the park. Activists have also claimed that this captivity has lead to premature deaths of animals, something the park strongly denies.

The protests were already a distraction outside the gates, when Deborah Classen and Janet Locke purchased season tickets to the park, for the sole purpose of handing out leaflets inside the park, hoping to disrupt park operations. The passes were officially revoked on April 13, according to court documents.

But, this is not the end of the saga – Six Flags’ corporate offices are still looking to get permanent injunctions against the activists, to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Now, in all fairness – I have yet to see the controversial film, “Blackfish,” which has been used as a rallying call for animal-rights activists over the past year. The film has certainly done a good job of polarizing people, however: it entrenches people who already had a strong opinion on either side of the argument. From my sources in the industry, serious questions have been raised about how it was produced, and the lack of the “other side” being presented.

I have also seen how many of the animals have been treated at this park, behind the scenes. I have never seen anything that these activists call “mistreatment.” In fact, I have only seen a caring, nurturing environment fostered by the park and it’s animal handlers. Many are deeply bonded with the animals under their care – and that relationship is clear from my interactions with them both in the past, and through the present.

No matter what your opinion or thoughts on the topic, the fact of the matter is this: You can’t do whatever you want on private property, that’s why it’s called PRIVATE property. I look forward to waving at the protesters as I happily drive into the parking lot of the park, soon.

 

 


Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Show Review)

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Yesterday evening, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom was kind enough to invite Great American Thrills™ out to the park for an exclusive preview of their latest entertainment offering – “Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic.”

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

The colors of the performance – just like the performers – are vibrant & stand out.

This program is unlike anything we’ve experienced here at a Northern California park – it’s very glitzy and the production value is VERY high. If you were a fan of the “Marriott Era” of entertainment offerings at, say Great America, or the quality of shows that Disney parks offer – then this show will bring back good memories for you.

It also sets a very high precedent for entertainment offerings in the coming years at all the Bay Area amusement / theme parks. (I.E. You’re on notice!) Unlike many other shows at parks which are produced in-house, Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic is a partnership between Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Cirque Productions.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

There are seven individual performances in all, this one featuring a hula loop artist.

If you’ve ever been to a “cirque” style show before, you’ll see many of those elements in the program (we can’t really call this a show – it’s much more than that). The program features a showcase of talents, that as the park says, “…combines the grace, power and agility of our bottlenose dolphins and the amazing spectacle of of true performance artists…”

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - photo (c) 2013 Great American Thrills and Kris Rowberry

If you don’t feel out of shape after looking at this, you must be one of these two performers!

As you would expect, the entire program is themed with an aquatic flair to it. Costumes mimic sea life, actors are adorned with prosthetics to give them a more “fishy” quality and the entire amphitheater (formerly Dolphin Harbor Stadium) is adorned with colorful graphics strewn about the facility.

There are seven parts to the show in all, each with their own featured characters and skills on display. During pre-production of the show, nearly 300 acts auditioned to be one of those seven featured performances.Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2013 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

The pace is good and the program keeps moving for the most part with no real lag time. During the human performances, the dolphins show off their stuff as well, including a particularly entertaining dolphin hula hoop behavior that you’ll simply have to see for yourself.

The show was created, produced and directed by Neil Goldberg, an acclaimed Broadway director who also founded the Cirque Dreams troupe over 20 years ago. In other words, this guy knows what he’s doing.

“Our goal was to complement the personalities of the dolphins and performers through playfulness…and unparalleled showmanship,” said Goldberg. “It will be one of those unique, memorable entertainment attractions rarely experienced.”

I’ll be posting a full, exclusive interview with Goldberg later this week.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2103 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

Colorful characters abound in this production – the first for a Northern California amusement park.

The only thing that I can find wrong with the show, is that it has a limited run – just from Memorial Day Weekend though August 11th. But in a way, that works – it makes it a limited engagement, so the performances are better and more special to those who witness them as spectators. It’s quality over quantity, and something that most parks would not think twice about.

I’ll be posting a full interview with the Creator and Director of Cirque Dreams Splashtastic, Neil Goldberg, later this week.

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2103 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

The dolphins are not always at center stage, unlike how most aquatic shows tend to be – rather, they work in tandem with the performers to create a sort of serendipity on stage.

For now – get your plans in now and get out to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom to experience this one of a kind piece of amusement park entertainment – it’s certainly worth the trip.

As always, Great American Thrills™ would like to thank those who made this post possible: Neil Goldberg, Nancy Chan, Lee Munro as well as the entire staff and crew of Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Cirque Dreams – Splashtastic!

Cirque Dreams Splashtastic at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. Photo (c) 2103 Kris Rowberry and Great American Thrills

The entire cast takes a bow at the end of the program – to a standing ovation no less – during the first public performance.

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