Saturday, March 29, 2014

WOF Off Season Tour 03/28/2014

With about two weeks to go before park opening day (April 12th), more updates at the park are approaching completed status, and there is a LOT of action going on in the park.  We were able to visit the park on Friday Afternoon with Rachael Murie and Wayne Meadows.  Later that evening we were joined by about a dozen ACE members for a behind the scenes look at Steelhawk.

First, as some have read my prior Wayne Meadows interview story a few updates. While many updates are happening this year, not everything that we had talked about in August will be happening this season.  For example the train unfortunately will not receive its (much needed) coat of paint and rehab.  Also the Voyager rehab which while there is some work occurring on the ride this off season, and probably more then the ride has seen in MANY years, its entire rehab will be spread over a few years.  With that being said many things are happening, so lets take a look.

So here we are at the entrance to the park... though we had been told originally that the plans to re-cover some of the midway had been scrapped due to the new Steel hawk (and costs associated with it), it appears, thankfully, that some of the entrance way has been re-covered with new asphalt.  There has been some confusion online since in the past, with every new season the park has re-sealed the existing asphalt, this is not the resealing, this is actually new asphalt.   It extends from the security Post 8 (approximately) to the Ranger station/Season Pass processing on the opposite side.

So inside the park we start with Scandinavia.  As some know a recent rant of ours has been the towers on the old Scandi Skees/Plaza gifts that were the only part of the building NOT repainted with its refurb a few years back, due to lights on the towers.  While we do not have a photo (thanks Jeff), the lights have been removed, and the towers are to be repainted.  From what Wayne told us, the lights will not be added back but there are plans to uplight the towers.  We will see.

 The old Copenhagen Nogginvear (if anyone remembers that), or more recently Just for Girls store has officially be retired as a store and is now storage.

 What's old is new again?  Some of us may remember Worlds of Fun TV, when the park installed tv's into several of the major ride queue lines, and played video loops to entertain those in line.  I barely remember it, and I'm 36... so yes its been awhile.  Cedar Fair is introducing (or in WOF's case re-introducing) in-queue tv programming. 

Don't scroll by this photo thinking nothing to see... As Wayne mentioned in his interview the goal with Voyager is to start from bottom (supports) up.  Many of these supports have been covered by a foot or two of mud for who knows how many years.  You can see the orange on the supports where the mud was sitting for years.  The point of what is going on here is to add retaining walls so that the supports can be properly inspected. 

 Prepping for trough painting, I wish I could make this scratch and sniff, you could smell the paint.

 Originally home to Beetle Bumps (kiddie ride relocated to Planet Snoopy), and for the last few years, Tibetan Treats.  This small kiosk will become a Coke Freestyle station.  For the few not familiar with this concept, guests can basically create their own soda from 100 different flavor options.   Also as an FYI, the kettle corn will not be returning to the park. 

 The Bamboozler station is receiving some work too.  Last year the paint on this station looked rather pathetic, it was peeling, rotting, basically not good.  The trim on this station has been renovated and you can see that work is continuing along the column bases which still have unpainted wood.

 Panda Express eating area is also receiving new concrete and new tables. 

 And here is Steelhawk up close and personal.  Though the work on Steelhawk has progressed surprisingly quickly (and MUCH faster then in previous years), it still has several weeks worth of work left, both for electrical, LED lighting and testing.  Basically this ride will not open to the public until it is well broken in, and 100% safe.  The park official line on opening day for Steelhawk is "late spring".  So please don't expect it to be open on April 12th.

 A closer view of the ride carriage and seats. 

 Here is the offending ladder.   This is the reason Worlds of Fun has Steelhawk and not Knott's Berry Farm.  This ladder is certifiable safe in 49 states, and dozens of other countries (including Canada).  California was the sole exception, they wanted an outside rung and also cage surrounding the ladder.  If you look at the photo below and see the same ladder in the photo (to the left of the opening), and then see the ride carriage, there is no way a ladder cage would have fit.  The entire ride would have had to have been redesigned.  Wayne and by default Cedar Fair's commitment to safety is 100%, they would not open a ride to the public that they would not put their family on in good conscious, and would not open a ride that could not safely be maintained.

 Wayne Meadows himself answering questions about Steelhawk for ACE members.

This photo rates rather high on the cringe worthy scale for Worlds of Fun fans... The pond around the "Henrietta" (the keel) is being filled in.  It will no longer have a lagoon, which while looking incredibly dismal these last few years, still its a sad reminder that the last remnant of Henrietta will disappear from the park...  From what I have heard there may be some sort of water feature/creek build in below the bridges.

 Another look at the Henrietta pond.

On a more positive note, Vittle Griddle looks nice with its new wood and paint job.

Last thing, as many know another of my more recent pet peeves, irritations has been Autobahn and its quite frankly, dismal status operating with only 6-7 cars.  We have been advised by Wayne that parts have been purchased from Majestic (bumper car manufacturer) to retrofit and get up to 17 total cars operating on the Autobahn cars.  I'm not sure if I should when or if this happens, I will be incredibly thrilled.  Well... atleast happy about Der Fender Bender... ahhh Autobahn.

Also to answer the question about the roof lines in Africa (galvanized steel on Congo Clearing/Gorilla Grill), they are to be painted, a green color.  Right now they have not be painted yet, the park is waiting for better weather.

So that's about it.  I really do like the improvements we are seeing in the park.  Do I wish more was happening this year? Of course.  However, the park as a whole is admitting to many problems that they are starting to correct, and they are starting to fix them.  This is a VAST improvement over the past.  I am still optimistic about the future, and it will most definitely be an interesting ride.

More photos from the March 28, 2014 visit to the park can be found on Facebook!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Park Off-Season Photo Update 02/28/2014

So Jeff and I headed out to Worlds of Fun this last Friday, February 28th for a look at the park during the off-season.  Special thanks to Rachael Murie and Wayne Meadows for escorting and visiting with us yesterday!

First, though there is a LOT of work going on in the park this off season, it is not as much as we originally would have thought.  When the discussion with Wayne Meadows occured the annoucement of Steel Hawk had yet to be made, due to costs associated with installing the new ride, many of the original park enhancements have been delayed (not cancelled!) until either later this season or for 2015.  Yes, Steel Hawk isn't a new ride, but from discussions many of the ride components have been completely replaced or updated, plus its site and foundation is QUITE extensive as we will soon see.  Still lots of things going on in the park, including Steel Hawk so we will take a look quickly at them.

An update on the photo blog from November, the expansion of Baltic Bazaar/Scandi Shops is being finished, from what it looks like these expansions will be mostly storage space, but still something desperatly needed.  ALSO, though there is no photo here the lights from Plaza Gifts (old Scandi Skees) have been removed from the towers, whether this means the lights are gone, or that they are being removed to repaint the towers (which are still the original green color) is yet to be seen.  I hope they will finally be repainting the towers and replacing the lights!  We shall see.

Here is Viking Voyager, which is getting some work this off season, not as much as originally thought, but about 100% more then its seen in years.  (which is next to none).  As one who worked on Voyager for 2 seasons I can speak from absolute experience that ambassadors will be thrilled that the evacuation walkways are BEING REPLACED BY GALVANIZED STEEL ONES! For those that have never worked Voyager, the originals were wood, which if they weren't painted (which usually they weren't) they would get slimy and VERY slick.  Some of us almost fell on our you know where MANY times because of this. So thrilled to see that.  Also you can see here the lift rollers are being replaced.  There is also some footer work going on too below the ride, but that doesn't photograph well.

 A closer look at new walkways.

So now we have Steel Hawk.  As some will notice the original "Henrietta Building" (originally the photo booth for park entrance/exit, in later years the Grand Prix ticket booth) has been torn down.  The keel is still there though and from what I have heard should be getting repainted.  You can see the first piece of the Steel Hawk tower in place with the 2nd piece to the side.  This is its final paint job.  Very Cedar Fairish.

Though we have no close up photos of the Steel Hawk foundation as of yet, its definitely impressive in stats.  The concrete structure to support this 301 foot tower, is over 7 feet deep and features 1 foot wide steel rebar.  The base of the structure weighs 30 tons (ELI is 25 tons to compare).  It was for this reason that the crane to lift it in place was not at its full height for the first piece placement.  Now if you drive by the park you will see the crane dwarfing the rest of the park towering over 320 feet in the air.

 Close up look at the base of Steel Hawk.

 And the 2nd piece of the tower close up.  We are being told that next week, weather permitting, the park is hoping to have two pieces of tower up a day.

 Vittle Griddle is getting a LOT of exterior work this year, it appears that almost its entire exterior is being entirely replaced.  Nice to see that it is being rebuilt correctly themed, and appearing identical to its original themed structure.

 Americana Station train bridge, (europa is to the right, Blue Bronco to the left).  It looks VERY nice in person and is a definite improvement over its weathered original.

 Moulin Rouge exterior is also getting extensive work, with all of its wood work trim being sanded down or replaced (in most cases it appears replaced), the roof line has had all of its paint removed, to be repainted as well.  It should look much nicer this season. 

 Ok yes this is Congo Clearing/Gorilla Grill... and Big Game Hunt and the Zulu Bathroom have also received the same roof treatment.  That is a steel corrugated roof.  Am I thrilled about it? No, not really.  I would have much preferred a replacement roof exactly like the original wood.  Obviously, so would have others at the park too.  This was actually a discussion we had with Wayne back in August, and we knew about the roof issue back then, but I think when I heard about steel roof in Africa, I decided to ignore it, and not think about it.

Wayne stated he had looked into replacing the roofs of these three structures in the same manner they were designed and originally built, but found the cost to be prohibitively expensive.  So the options were no roof at all, (which considering the state the original 40 year old roofs were in probably would have happened), or this.  So, though I may not like it thematically and asthetically I can... understand the decision.  After all if I was in the same situation I would have probably had to have to make the same decision.

So here is Sea Dragon, the reason the photo is here is what is NOT in the photo.  Yep, Trees.  In this case I heartedly agree with the decision to remove the trees lining the Viking Voyager Pond, having had to clean those Voyager pump screens of leaves in the fall MANY MANY times.  There are still some trees left though so it will not be completely barren.

Out in parking lot E, we have the motor for Steel Hawk, this will sit at the top of the ride, and will be part of the mechanism that actually spins the cars below.

Pully Wheels (Sheaves) for actually raising and lowering the cars on Steel Hawk.  These will be completely replaced by the time they are put in the park.

Up by the adminstraction building are the actual cars for Steel Hawk.

One last comment... and update to the park that may not be OHHH! AHHH!! WOW! to some but to us symbolizes and very 180 direction change in thought.  (or demonstrates some thought period).  For those that have parked in C lot at the park .. you may remember that there were cinder block/parking lot wheel stops that lined C lot, in fact they were the only thing (supposedly) keeping cars from exiting from C lot to the exit lane.  In many cases cars just ran over them, and they were shoved here and there looking terrible.  Well good news, the wheel stops (what was left of them) have been REPLACED by a more permanent curb.  Will this stop cars from driving over said curb? Probably not, but it looks much NICER and was always a huge complaint from Jeff. 

So this is the end for now, for those that just so happen to be driving by the park over the next few weeks (yes we all know die hard fans love to find reasons to be around Worlds of Fun Avenue...) you should be able to see Steel Hawk rising in thr air very soon, Snowmagedon not withstanding.  We will be back atleast one more time before the beginning of the season to bring you updates to the park so keep watching!