New Rides and Attractions 2020: All in the Family
The Bourne Stuntacular
Universal Studios Florida
Orlando, Florida, United States
Like the “Terminator”-themed show it replaces, “The Bourne Stuntacular” artfully blends filmed media with live performers and real sets. But, with help from Renaissance Entertainment, it ups the ante by using new technology to more seamlessly meld everything.
“Our set pieces don’t just move to the stage on their own. Once there, they continue traveling to different positions, turning and even expanding, to stay in sync with images on the screen,” says Deborah Buynak, vice president of entertainment at Universal Orlando Resort. “As Bourne runs across rooftops or climbs up and around the side of a building, our guests get to stick right with him.” That, along with an immense LED screen, helps immerse guests in the pulse-quickening ode to the globetrotting, action-thriller franchise.
One of the first U.S. theme parks to reopen amid the pandemic, Universal tweaked “The Bourne Stuntacular” to help insure the cast’s health and safety. For example, Buynak says the blocking was adjusted so that performers (most of whom now wear face masks) could remain more than 6 feet apart.
Catwoman Whip and Poison Ivy Toxic Spin
Six Flags Over Georgia
Austell, Georgia, United States
Two of Batman’s sworn enemies have infiltrated Gotham City and are wreaking havoc on Six Flags Over Georgia guests with their namesake rides. “Catwoman Whip” is a Zamperla Endeavor that sends passengers soaring upside down 67 feet into the sky, while “Poison Ivy Toxic Spin” is a classic Eli Bridge Scrambler. The park also freshened the land’s shop, Gotham City Gifts, and introduced a new eatery, Birds of Prey Café, which features beer-battered fries and chicken tenders. “The addition of two exciting attractions, new theming, and revamped food and shopping locations takes the spins, speeds, and screams to new heights for everyone to enjoy,” says Divina Mims, Six Flags Over Georgia communications manager.
According to Pawel Cebula, operations director at Legendia, “Dolina Jagi” represents the last new attraction the property added as part of its five-year transformation from a traditional amusement park to a modern-day theme park. Built by Hafema Water Rides, the river rapids ride features a compelling theme inspired by Slavic mythology along with soak-filled thrills. Passengers pile into rafts disguised as the copper cauldrons of forest creature Baba Yaga.
“Dolina Jagi is a place where, in the olden days, supernatural forces nearly destroyed all human activity, and it remained undiscovered for centuries,” Cebula says, explaining the backstory. “Now, the time has come for change, and we go on a journey to the land of legends.”
Ferrari World Abu Dhabi
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
In February, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi expanded its indoor theme park and broadened its attractions mix with Family Zone. The new area introduces four rides that capture the energy and the essence of the park’s theme, but with toned-down thrills.
“The inspiration behind Family Zone was to create an area dedicated to entertaining our younger guests,” says Bianca Sammut, Ferrari World’s general manager and acting head of Yas Theme Parks. “Little ones can indulge in the Ferrari Feeling with miniature versions of our most iconic and adrenaline-fueled rides.”
The attractions from Zamperla include “Speedway Race,” a whip-style ride with vehicles designed as two-seater racecars; “Flying Wings,” a spinning ride; and “Turbo Tower,” a scaled-down drop tower ride. “Formula Rossa Junior” mimics the park’s famous record-breaking 149 mph coaster at just a fraction of the speed.
Whittlesea, Victoria, Australia
After expanding its water park over the past few years, Funfields Themepark focused on its dry rides in 2020. The Whittlesea, Australia, park transformed its former Kids Zone area into the new Mystic Kingdom. Enhancements included replacing one of the land’s attractions with the new spinning ride “Dragon’s Revenge,” as well as adding “Sky Bounce,” a kid-sized drop tower ride, and a new play area.
“We chose the Airborne Shot from SBF-Visa Group as it perfectly matched the existing footprint we had where our retired ride was located,” says Sam Holdich, the park’s general manager of operations. “It also provided us an opportunity to add more thrill and movement to the area, which was previously more passive.”
Funfields turned to SBF for its second new ride as well, a Drop’N Twist model, finding the ride delivers just the right level of excitement for the land’s target audience of young children and their families. With the incorporation of Mystic Kingdom, Funfields is better able to tell “a cohesive story for the entire area by bringing together an overarching, timeless, medieval theme,” adds Holdich.
Mystic River Falls
Silver Dollar City
Branson, Missouri, United States
When Silver Dollar City replaced its 30-year-old river raft ride, the park in the Ozark Mountains went big. Designed and constructed by Ride Engineers Switzerland (RES), Barr Engineering, and Herschend Family Entertainment Corporate Development, the new $23 million water ride features whitewater rapids before an innovative four-platform, eight-story-tall rotating lift carries rafts skyward like an observation tower. At the top, rafts slowly exit the elevator and then gain speed as they navigate an upper channel, similar to a water slide. In a graceful transition, the rafts leave the slide behind as passengers then careen down a 45-foot drop, culminating in a gigantic splash ending.
“’Mystic River Falls’ is four experiences in one ride,” says Brad Thomas, president of Silver Dollar City Attractions, of how the ride elements blend together. “To get those pieces and parts fabricated in the middle of a global pandemic and have ‘Mystic River Falls’ open is nothing short of a miracle.”
Using native rock found in southwest Missouri along the banks of its channel, “Mystic River Falls” has the “feel of a natural Ozark Mountain river,” according to Thomas. The new water ride utilizes rafts that are smaller in diameter, thus allowing for very narrow channels. The result allows the eight-passenger rafts to pivot and rotate continuously after connecting with the channel walls, leading to an increased amount of spinning and splashing. Knowing guests do not like to walk around with soggy shoes, RES installed a special drainage system in each raft, where excess water does not collect at riders’ feet, but rather exits the raft.
Pirates in Batavia
A new water-based ride dropped anchor at Europa-Park when the “Pirates in Batavia” re-hoisted its sails in July. The beloved attraction, which first opened in 1987, was destroyed by fire in 2018. MackNext and Mack Solutions designed and rebuilt the ride. Europa-Park’s in-house team worked with animatronics developers Garner Holt Productions, Hofmann Figuren, and LifeFormations, as well as Universal Rocks for fabrication support. The park was able to rescue a handful of figures from the original attraction and return them to their buccaneering ways.
“The project has been very challenging,” says Ulla Möll, show producer, adding that guests had strong emotional ties to the popular attraction. While the general look and feel remain the same, the updated version tells more of a linear story about pirate Bartholomeus van Robbemond and his quest to locate a magical dagger. “I think we found a great way to present a new ride with modern technology that still has ‘Pirates in Batavia’s’ lovely, funny adventure,” Möll says.
Quassy Amusement & Waterpark
Middlebury, Connecticut, United States
The “Tidal Wave” invites passengers aboard a ship, but Quassy Amusement & Waterpark’s new thrill ride promises nobody will get wet. Prominently located in front of the arcade, the swinging pirate ship, which replaces a similar ride, is the sixth attraction from the SBF-Visa Group to sail into the Connecticut park over the past 10 years. “When it comes to service, it makes it a whole lot easier working with a handful of manufacturers than gobs of them,” says Ron Gustafson, Quassy’s director of public relations and marketing, explaining the park’s allegiance to the Italy-based company.