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jedimaster1227 last won the day on December 28 2023

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About jedimaster1227

  • Birthday 12/27/1990


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    Tron Carter

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  1. Rounding out our time at Area 15, we stopped for a quick drink at the Asylum Bar + Arcade... AREA15 Signal Lager is an exclusive Mexican lager from Able Baker Brewing in Las Vegas and it is quite good! John is a friend I've known through TPR for years (he toured us around Las Vegas during our last visit) and it was great to see him at Area 15 this time around! Liftoff Bar & Ride was something I was eager to try at Area 15... Again, the view of those snowy peaks was a treat! Looking to one side of the Area 15 campus expansion we found the future year-round Halloween Horror Nights attraction construction well under way. Looking back at the Rio from Liftoff... The exterior of this hotel is so cool, regardless of when you look at it! We wouldn't be visiting Circus Circus or The Strat this time around... But it was neat to see The Strat and its attractions off in the distance. Spending time at The Mirage was a priority for us during this trip as it will soon become the new Hard Rock in Las Vegas. But first, something new! The Neon Museum Las Vegas was something we didn't have time to experience during our last visit but was on our must-do list this time around. While the experience is open during the day, I definitely think the appeal of the visit comes from seeing the neon do its thing after dusk. What time is the Bohemian Rhapsody fireworks spectacular? Just need to make sure I'm off of "Nights in White Satin: The Trip" in time to get a good spot! The signage graveyard includes pieces that still work, some that don't and some that don't have any neon left on them... But the collection is incredibly impressive. While the museum grounds aren't huge, there is a lot to see within the space. One of my favorite pieces in the collection. After the Neon Museum we moved over to Resorts World Las Vegas for some New York comfort food at Junior's. Losing Carnegie Deli at The Mirage was a shame but our meal at Junior's took a bit of the sting out. Speaking of The Mirage... Last time we were in Las Vegas we wanted to see The Beatles LOVE but it was dark for two weeks (leading us to see O instead). This time around, it was a major priority for us, especially with rumors at the time that the show would be closing in the near future. The theater in the round is different from the more traditional seating arrangements of Cirque shows like "O" and La Nouba. No photos or video are allowed during the show but I can say that it was a great time, and even if you're not an uber-Beatles fan, you'll still appreciate the combination of visual artistry and the band's most famous tunes. I do believe that the show is a little less "stunt" oriented than O or La Nouba, but we really we were glad to have the chance to see it before the end of the line. Shortly after our visit it was announced that The Beatles LOVE would close after a final performance on July 6th, 2024. There's still time to see it, whether for your first or final time--if you can, I definitely recommend checking it out. Don't mind me... I'm just staring at abandoned ride system infrastructure. The next morning I woke up bright and early to Trek for a bit of Lost Vegas. The Westgate Las Vegas was once the Las Vegas Hilton and it was home to the world's only "Star Trek: The Experience." This ticketing attraction built upon Las Vegas' desire to offer family attractions including rides and shows, offered an immersive trip to the Star Trek universe with experiences inspired by The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager. There was a simulator ride (Klingon Encounter), a 4D show (Borg Encounter), a bar and restaurant (Quark's), a museum of sorts plus shopping and roaming characters. The experience was operated by Paramount Parks (ultimately Cedar Fair) in late 2008 with the place to open in an alternate location but that plan never panned out. In the time since the closure of Star Trek: The Experience, the remnants of the old elements at the resort have slowly been removed. There isn't much left to see besides a futuristic gift shop and a preview center for timeshare sales... Tempting but not tempting enough. But if you know what you're looking for, you can find traces of what feels like a future era lost to the past. I couldn't subject myself to a timeshare pitch to take a closer look but this feels like the most "leftover" space remaining. Another gift shop space carries the same Star Trek-ish design. It is my understanding that all of these remaining spaces were outside of the ticketed portion of Star Trek: The Experience (along with the removed SpaceQuest Casino). This would be my first time on the Las Vegas Monorail and it may have been my last as it was recently announced that the monorail will likely be retired in the near future. This was as close as I got to The Sphere during this trip but the scale of it all is way more impressive when you see it up close. I swore I wouldn't do this during this trip... But my feet kept moving in this direction. In the time since my last trip to Vegas, the Manhattan Express/Big Apple Coaster had undergone a refurbishment including replaced track segments, new trains from Premier and a repaint. All aboard the Manhattan Express! The Premier trains and the updated track segments have made the ride a slightly more enjoyable experience... But the "comfort collars" do take a bit away from those gains. Seconds later my comfort collar injected itself into my neck. ] Our train got stuck in the station at the end of my first ride for over 20 minutes and we were offered a free re-ride. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment if the cost is free. I tried to get some better photos of the trains in motion... Going down! I went next to Luxor to see what traces of Lost Vegas I could find... There wasn't much. Enjoy this giant Dorito as a consolation prize. After not finding anything of note at Luxor, I drowned out my sorrows with an excessive number of purchases at Dominique Ansel…
  2. While not on my planned trips for 2023/2024, when my wife found out that Kelly Clarkson was doing a limited residency in Las Vegas, before I knew it, we had tickets booked. This would be my second visit to Las Vegas to date (my first-timer report can be found here) and for this reason, the focus was less on rides and attractions (though I did squeeze in a few) and more on shows, Area 15, experiences and an underlying search for "Lost Vegas" along the way. I have been fascinated with the ebbs and flows of Vegas' attempts to offer family experiences and as such, looking at the legacy resorts on and off of the Strip to see what they tried (and in most cases, ultimately removed) to appeal to travelers with younger guests became a goal to seek out. It is worth noting that the weekend of the concert (Friday and Saturday) was also shared with a little-known sporting event... We might have been the only people in town that came in for the weekend but not to end up here. We left on Saturday afternoon before the Sunday madness set in. We scored a fantastic rate for a recently refurbished room at the Rio. The hotel itself was fairly standard, as was the casino, but as I was leaving the resort to head to their Uber pick-up, I noticed the peculiar structures in the ceiling that distinctly looked like some kind of track. And I'd know a covered station anywhere... As it turns out, there was once an attraction called Masquerade in the Sky, a parade/show of sorts that guests and performers could ride along floats overhead the casino and throw beads from above. In ended its run in 2013 and the track is no longer in use. We arrived late in the evening, but not too late to venture out for a quick stop at The Golden Tiki. The Golden Tiki is filled with tiki decor throughout and features lots of fun surprises in each room. Not unlike Trader Sam's on either coast, this bar does feature some effects that are triggered when guests order specific drinks. Tiki flight for the win! The space is truly gorgeous! And yes, they have a real, working animatronic tiki bird perched above one side of the bar. Fire makes all tiki drinks better! I spy with my little eye, something Mary Blair! The next morning we made our way to our next stop with our drive revealing lots of preparations for the Super Bowl under way. I remember the Eiffel Tower being much larger the last time I saw it up close... While delicious and refreshing, we didn't have time to visit the Coca-Cola Store during this trip. We really enjoyed it last time! I went into this trip fairly confident I wouldn't be riding any coasters this time around, but I would end up being wrong. Unlike our previous visit where the dry heat had us drowning in sweat, this time around we were graced with beautifully cold weather throughout our weekend. A pleasant surprise was the panoramic view of snow-capped mountains not too far off in the distance. Our main objective for the day... Liftoff was something I was very excited to try. I can tell you I was VERY excited to finally get a chance to check out Area 15. We didn't have enough time during our last trip to stop by and especially after the Orlando location was announced, I was doubly eager to visit for myself. I think people often underestimate just how much there is in the current Area 15 complex, not to mention how much more is coming in the year ahead. I've seen VR simulators before but never ones where you can actually simulate the experience of bird-style flight first-hand. The Sanctuary Lounge is a visual focal point inside Area 15 and looks like such a neat venue in which to hang out. Asylum Bar & Arcade is a great place to get a drink and play some games. Omega Mart was the biggest draw for us, having loved experiential explore at your own pace offerings like teamLab Borderless in Japan or City Museum in St. Louis. This would also be our first Meow Wolf installation. Omega Mart starts off feeling very familiar but upon closer inspection, you'll notice little (and sometimes big) details that make everything feel "off." A majority of the products on the shelves of Omega Mart are purchasable... No, this image isn't corrupted. The meat counter is full of fresh options that feel otherworldly and nutritious. Pjork is the most kosher of meats. Without spoiling the "how," you are able to escape the confines of the Omega Mart storefront to unlock worlds of technological, supernatural and multi-dimensional intrigue... Each room offers different experiences, many of them are hands on and interactive and others are passive but lengthy in that you can stay to experience a variety of content if you give it time. Spaces throughout the experience can be as narrow as a tight crawl space (my claustrophobia kicked in at one point) to massive rooms such as this... And visual effects such as projection mapping transform those spaces as you visit them, so exploration and re-visitation is recommended. There is just so much to take in at Omega Mart. And nothing is as it seems here! There's an underlying story about a family who gets involved in an interdimensional produce business and that family's sinister intentions... Some rooms are just ridiculously cool to experience in person. Paying attention to detail as you move between spaces can... Yield some interesting visual payoffs. You can buy Happles from the Omega Mart store if you so wish. I watched this full video loop and I was absolutely engrossed. Familiar but different. Nothing is exactly as it appears in Omega Mart and there's lots to discover. I recommend giving yourself lots of time to take in the stories and explore. You never know what you'll find... There's a lot of spaces within Area 15 that just look ridiculously cool! And yes, the rails you see overhead are for a powered hang-gliding experience around the interior of the complex. Museum Fiasco was an absolute visual overload! Wink World is described as a "psychedelic art house" developed by Chris Wink, one of the founding members of Blue Man Group. I won't ruin the experience other than to say that as you progress from room to room, the effects and visuals (in sync with custom music) as mesmerizing to say the least. Very Tron-esque. While there are more scenes to be experienced, this earlier one was one of my favorites...
  3. The Walt Disney World Resort has confirmed that the current iteration of Test Track will close soon to begin work on the newest version... It was announced last September at the Destination D23 event at Walt Disney World that Test Track would again be updated by Imagineers, along with teams from Chevrolet, who are reaching back into history for inspiration from the original World of Motion and bringing that spirit of optimism to the next iteration of the Test Track attraction. The following new image was released at the time of the attraction's closure announcement: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/attractions/epcot/test-track/ On June 17, 2024, Test Track Presented by Chevrolet will temporarily close. Please check back for additional information. The following image was released during the Destination D23 event when the updates to Test Track were originally announced:
  4. Universal Orlando has released details about the two upcoming properties, Universal Stella Nova Resort and Universal Terra Luna Resort, opening early next year not far from Universal's Epic Universe theme park. Orlando, Fla. (April 11, 2024) – Today, Universal Orlando Resort reveals inspiring details about its two newest shining stars, Universal Stella Nova Resort, opening January 21, 2025, and Universal Terra Luna Resort, opening February 25, 2025. Brought to life by the award-winning Universal Creative team and co- owned and operated by Loews Hotels & Co, the alluring hotels place guests in the center of marvelous galaxies and diverse planetary elements for an experience unlike anywhere else in the universe – complete with tranquil sleeping accommodations, entertaining amenities for the whole family to enjoy, various cosmic- inspired dining options and so much more. Boasting a combined total of 1,500 luminous, ultramodern and surreal guest rooms, Stella Nova Resort and Terra Luna Resort provide even more options for guests to seamlessly experience all the jaw-dropping thrills of a Universal Orlando vacation at an affordable price point starting at $147 (per night, plus tax) based on a stay of four nights or more. Below is an overview of what guests will experience at these radiant hotels. OTHERWORLDLY THEMES AND ACCOMMODATIONS Universal Stella Nova Resort is a place where guests will take off for amazing adventures at the theme parks and touch down for relaxation and recharging in between the fun. Designed to reflect the infinite vastness of the universe – where galaxies spiral ever outward and unknown worlds revolve around unnamed stars – this hotel is highlighted in serene teals and calming purples to instantly put guests at ease. Universal Terra Luna Resort represents another world within Universal Orlando – inviting guests to explore the unknown and step onto planets that have yet to be discovered. Here, guests will find themselves in the midst of an extraordinary landing zone within an awe-inspiring solar system – accented with fresh surroundings and terrestrial greens and golds. Both properties offer 750 double-queen guest rooms that comfortably sleep up to four guests and feature spaceship-styled windows – making this the ultimate escape for guests looking to rest amongst stars and planets. COSMIC-INSPIRED FOOD & BEVERAGE OUTLETS Stella Nova Resort and Terra Luna Resort offer a variety of unique dining options for guests looking to have a meal or grab a quick snack in between visits to the parks, including: Cosmos Cafe and Market at Stella Nova Resort and Omega Cafe and Market at Terra Luna Resort – these quick service restaurants feature made-to-order American classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a selection of grab-and-go items. Galaxy Bar and Galaxy Grill at Stella Nova Resort and Moonrise Bar and Moonrise Grill at Terra Luna Resort – guests can enjoy burgers, quesadillas and salads at these walk-up service pool bars and grills. Plus, guests 21 and older can purchase cocktails, beer and wine (with a valid photo ID). Nova Bar at Stella Nova Resort and Luna Bar at Terra Luna Resort – each hotel’s lobby bar* will offer specialty cocktails curated with unique ingredients, along with the classics. STELLAR AMENITIES Stella Nova Resort and Terra Luna Resort are so much more than just places to sleep; each hotel offers a variety of incredible amenities for guests to kick back and enjoy dedicated resort days just as much as theme park days, including: Resort-style Pools – each hotel features a nearly 10,000 square foot pool with a relaxing hot tub, comfortable lounge and table-top seating in the pool area, a firepit and more. Plus, the whole family can enjoy the resorts’ recreational activities like poolside movies and outdoor games. Fitness Centers – guests can take advantage of complimentary, state-of-the-art fitness centers featuring a variety of strength and cardio equipment – and, locker rooms with showers available for use on arrival and departure days. Game Rooms – guests of all ages can enjoy a variety of standard arcade and video games in the hotels’ dedicated game rooms. Recreation Rooms – each hotel features approximately 1,000 square-feet of multi-purpose space for small gatherings. Universal Orlando Resort Stores – guests can purchase everything from sundries and necessities to Universal Orlando merchandise to commemorate their vacation. EXCLUSIVE THEME PARK BENEFITS Staying at any Universal Orlando Resort hotel is the best way to experience all that the destination has to offer with the inclusion of exclusive theme park benefits. Guests staying at Stella Nova Resort or Terra Luna Resort, or any of the other Universal Orlando hotels, can take advantage of Early Park Admission to Universal Volcano Bay and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida or The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal Islands of Adventure up to one hour before the park opens (valid theme park admission required), complimentary shuttle bus transportation to the theme parks and Universal CityWalk, resort-wide charging privileges, complimentary merchandise delivery and more. Stella Nova Resort and Terra Luna Resort are adjacent to Universal Epic Universe and just minutes away from the existing Universal Orlando theme parks. More details about Epic Universe, which will open at a later date in 2025, will be revealed in the months ahead. Guests can now book reservations or vacation packages at Stella Nova Resort and Terra Luna Resort. To learn more and to book a stellar getaway, visit www.UniversalOrlando.com/StellaTerraResorts. *Must be 21+ with valid photo ID to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages ### About Universal Orlando Resort Universal Orlando Resort is an award-winning theme park destination that welcomes all to truly be themselves while enjoying world-class attractions that redefine theme park experiences. Here, a multitude of authentically thrilling, exciting and spontaneous adventures await – each inviting guests to embark on whatever vacation they crave while igniting their full range of emotions like never before – from the awe of walking the streets of Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the rush of adrenaline that takes over when coming face-to-face with a Velociraptor in Jurassic Park to the wide-eyed joy of seeing an entire slice of cake atop a delectable milkshake at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen. The 700-acre resort is home to three exhilarating theme parks – Universal Studios Florida, Universal Islands of Adventure and Universal Volcano Bay – that boast some of the most innovative and immersive experiences ever created, with a fourth next-level theme park, Universal Epic Universe, on the way. Guests can also relish in exciting dining and entertainment at the Universal CityWalk entertainment complex and enjoy incredible accommodations and magnificent theming across eight hotels that offer something for every style and budget – Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel and Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside and Dockside Inn and Suites. Universal Orlando Resort is a part of Universal Destinations & Experiences, a unit of Comcast NBCUniversal. About Loews Hotels & Co Headquartered in New York City, Loews Hotels & Co is rooted in deep heritage and excellence in service. The hospitality company encompasses branded independent Loews Hotels and a solid mix of partner-brand hotels. Loews Hotels & Co owns and/or operates 25 hotels and resorts across the U.S. and Canada, including eight hotels at Universal Orlando in partnership with Comcast NBC Universal. The newly opened Loews Coral Gables Hotel offers premier hospitality just four blocks from the city’s iconic Miracle Mile. Loews Arlington Hotel and Arlington Convention Center will open in 2024 in the city’s sports and entertainment district. Located in major city centers and resort destinations from coast to coast, the Loews Hotels portfolio features properties grounded in family heritage and dedicated to delivering unscripted guest moments with a handcrafted approach. For reservations or more information about Loews Hotels, call 1-800-23-LOEWS or visit: www.loewshotels.com
  5. Evermore Park has officially announced their permanent closure... https://www.evermore.com/ End of an Era The Portal has Closed it is with Deep Sadness and Gratitude that we announce the closing of Evermore Park. The past decade has been filled with its share of trials and tribulations, but mostly Magic and Imagination. Our History Evermore started in the late 2000's when our Founder, his family and friends created a Home Haunted Adventure during the Halloween Season, where the public enjoyed an elaborate Ghost Pirate adventure in exchange for a donation to the Utah Food bank. Every year this event grew bringing thousands of visitors to their home. Then an idea came to create and develop a year round theatrical theme park with unique seasonal events. In 2014 the concept of Evermore Park had its debut at the Fan-X convention in Salt Lake City, Utah with an amazing two story booth designed as an Old World Tavern. The booth featured amazing set designs, lighting, music, actors, costumes, and a model of the grand vision of Evermore. Next came a popup event on the eventual park ground (we called it Pumpkin-Fest), where we presented an immersive and Magical Gothic Halloween experience. Design and Construction of the Park started in 2016 and opened in the fall of 2018. What Evermore Was To us Evermore park was an amazing place where Artists/Creatives from all walks of life came together to deliver a Magical Story and an escape from reality. We have seen many Miracles happen in Evermore Park with hundreds of thousands of people visiting throughout the years. Some visitors just came to stroll the village and enjoy the beautiful atmosphere and entertainment, while others visited the park in elaborate costumes developing their own characters and fully immersed themselves in the story and events. Many visited Evermore from all over the US and around the World bringing other unique personalities and perspectives to the park. Evermore Park captured the attention of the world being featured in many magazines, news publications, and featured videos. We won several lifestyle and themed industry awards including being selected by Time Magazine in 2019 as one of the top 50 places in the world to visit. Evermore was an inclusive, fun, and safe place for people to be themselves (or to play a character) and experience a moment of Imagination. The Magic Continues It's our hope that the magical moments at Evermore Park continue on through the memories of the all the people who made it such a special place. A local news station shared more details regarding the land owner and investor behind Evermore Park... Following the eviction of the park's original operators, it sounds like they intend to unveil plans for the property for the future. Brandon Fugal's portfolio of other projects includes a number of office venues and mixed-use shopping complexes... https://kslnewsradio.com/2093875/evermore-park-permanently-closes-new-attraction-planned/ Evermore Park has announced the closure of its operations. This comes after years of struggling to sustain its business model. The immersive fantasy adventure experience was located in Pleasant Grove, Utah, The park, founded in 2012, sought to welcome visitors to a medieval and Victorian world. They wanted to bring interactive experiences and themed attractions to Utah. However, despite efforts to engage guests with storylines, puzzles, and live performances, Evermore faced many financial difficulties. “[Evermore] has struggled over the years to make their business model work,” said Brandon Fugal, owner of Evermore Park Investments LLC, “between COVID and challenges with their operating model, they have defaulted and have been evicted from the property.” “In the wake of these challenges.” said Fugal, “I am confidentially working with a new enterprise that will be unveiling exciting new plans and dramatic improvements in the weeks to come.” This doesn’t mean that the park is going anywhere. Fugal plans to bring in a new tenant to revive the park and bring new life. “I would say anyone who follows what I do in the commercial real estate business knows that I don’t do anything halfway, and I have a track record for representing the most upscale projects in Utah, and this will be no different.” Although it seems like even though Evermore is “nevermore,” the future of the 12.75-acre, 27-building lot is bright.
  6. Cedar Fair's latest financial report references the depreciation of assets including the loss of a terminated project at Knott's Berry Farm... This is likely the first or closest-to-official confirmation shared to date regarding the cancellation of the Montezooma's Revenge coaster overhaul. https://www.sec.gov/ixviewer/ix.html?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/811532/000081153224000035/fun-20231231.htm
  7. After our amazing full day of activities at Aulani, it was time to pack up and move on to Honolulu for the wedding we were attending... But we couldn't leave without taking in just a little more of the resort! Ulu Cafe became a constant go-to for us during our visit for meals and snacks at all hours. The breakfast flatbread with portuguese sausage was awesome! I couldn't leave without trying that macadamia nut sticky bun and it was worth every bite! Same with the monkey bread I had been eying since the beginning of the trip! Aulani features several upcharge experiences including an opportunity to design your own Mickey Ears headband. The process was really fun to observe and the choices were numerous. Due to limited timing, we had to take our kit to go but the end result is pretty neat! I genuinely considered buying this for my office... Paradise. One more Ulu Cafe poke bowl before hitting the road... The path from Aulani to the Four Seasons (next door) in Ko Olina provides some amazing views. I'd definitely consider this excursion for a future visit. We ran out of time to give this the full experience but we had enough time to try about an hour of the Menehune Adventure Trail. This is kind of like the Midship Detective Agency on Disney Cruise Line or even "A Pirate's Adventures: Treasures of the Seven Seas" at Magic Kingom, but instead of using cards or RFID tags, you use a tablet to navigate the game. The experience triggers physical, audio and visual effects throughout the resort which was a fun added activity to enjoy onsite. This is free to experience as long as you are registered resort Guest. Varying types of cultural performances take place in the central lobby of Aulani. Some last minute rockwork detail I noticed as I was staring longingly, delaying my required leave. As a consolation for having to leave, our hotel in Honolulu was near a mall with a Mitsuwa Marketplace... The lover of Japan in me took solace that I could splurge in Japanese style groceries to drown out my sorrows for the trip nearing its end. They even have gashapon and claw machines! It felt like home to me. The rehearsal dinner for the wedding was at Honolulu Brew Works, so it felt wrong not to try the local brews. Our hotel was right around the corner from the famous Moana Surfrider, so I had to stop by to see it firsthand. It didn't make sense not to get some fresh loco moco from their kitchen since I was already there. We found another Starbucks Reserve! Yes, it was very busy... But yes... It was very much worth the wait for curry udon this good! We ended up at the Kaka'ako Farmers Market for some local foods... Fresh mochi! I indulged in some delicious crab rangoon spring rolls. And some great sushi! My wife enjoyed these hand-made everything bagels... For an authentic local experience I guess? Our final stop of the trip before heading to the airport was the Dole Plantation... We were very conflicted about whether or not this would be worth the visit having heard/read mixed reviews. The grounds are very pretty but the "attractions" are all kind of overstated/oversold in their value. This section of the "botanical gardens" was actually about 1/3 of the overall gardens that you paid extra to access... We were done in minutes and were left wondering what we actually paid for. True to advertising, you do get to see pineapples growing naturally here. Along with other fruits... The Pineapple Express felt like the best chance we had to make the value out of our visit... The operation was slow but we eventually got our chance to board after waiting about 45 minutes in queue. The train takes you through a large portion of the grounds of the Dole Plantation and you get to see lots of fruits and vegetables being grown in sections along the way. Pineapple fields forever... But as you roll along the tracks you start to notice that much of the advertised equipment, vehicles and machinery used to harvest these crops look like something out of a zombie movie... Some portions of the train ride are very pretty and others are pretty desolate. The train ride itself is only narrated for about half of the ride (a portion of which is just listening to a musical soundtrack you can buy in the gift shop). We were hoping for a live narration or at least a recorded host that spent time telling us about the grounds throughout the ride but what we got was lots of silence at times, staring out at post-apocalyptic sections of farmland with no explanation as to what we were supposed to be seeing. They grow cocoa here too. I mean... Do you even Dole Plantation if you don't have Dole Whip while you're there? My main gripe with the Dole Plantation is that there's not much to really experience... But for the crowds and the prices you wait as if there is. And one minor gripe, is that there's no small option to try fresh pineapple on the plantation. There are frozen fruit spears or you can buy a whole pineapple but there's no easy option for a quick traveler to taste the produce without wasting an entire fruit. The pineapple stick in my Dole Whip was the closest I got to trying the product. We made our way to the airport and headed towards Dallas where we would have a layover of 7.5 hours... So what did we do? We left the airport to see the first showing of Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania in IMAX at a nearby theater. It's one way to burn through a lengthy layover with a ton of luggage... I'll let you decide if it was a good idea. Our flight home from Dallas was quick and easy and it brought an end to our amazing vacation in Hawaii. Hawaii isn't a cheap destination (a week here cost us more than 2.5 weeks in Japan) and there is less to do when it comes to themed entertainment and attractions, but there is a natural beauty to the destination that makes it worth at least one visit in your lifetime... And yes, Aulani blew us away and I'd be lying if I said we weren't already thinking of more excuses for us to go back!
  8. LEGOLAND New York Resort has announced the addition of the Minifgure Skyflyer, a gondola attraction that is both a themed experience and a method of transportion between sections of the park. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/legoland-new-york-resort-soars-into-the-2024-season-by-partnering-with-local-ski-mountain-to-reveal-its-new-attraction-the-minifigure-skyflyer-302060732.html LEGOLAND® New York Resort is giving guests a fun way to groove while they move when visiting the Park this summer with the addition of its newest attraction: The Minifigure Skyflyer. Opening this summer, the new gondola-style ride – a first for LEGOLAND® Resorts – offers an interactive new way to travel between themed lands of the Park. In anticipation of the new ride, LEGOLAND New York Resort has partnered with Belleayre Mountain to give families an early taste of what's to come and bring the same party-in-the-sky experience to life via two specially-themed ski gondolas. Starting today through April (weather permitting), skiers can catch a lift on two special gondola pods on The Catskill Thunder Gondola wrapped in the image of the LEGOLAND New York Minifigure Skyflyer Pirate Party Pod as an immersive and fun-filled way to ride to the top of the ski mountain. Belleayre skiers who catch a ride on the LEGOLAND New York Minifigure Skyflyer gondola pods can scan a QR code and receive exclusive access to "Kids Go Free" tickets, with the purchase of an adult ticket, so families can return to LEGOLAND New York this summer and be one of the first to ride the real Minifigure Skyflyer. It's a Bird, It's a Plane! It's the Minifigure Skyflyer! LEGOLAND New York guests can expect a fully immersive, interactive experience on the Minifigure Skyflyer from queuing to disembarking. Prior to boarding, guests can help "charge" the cable car batteries through hand-powered cranks then follow the rainbow road before reaching the boarding platform's disco-themed dance floor. Complete with LEGO® brick disco ball lights, the dance floor invites families to show off their most imaginative dance moves to help the Minifigure Skyflyer truly fly! Before boarding, guests are greeted by the Resort's famous minifigures who tell the story of how they designed and built the new Minifigure Skyflyer – but they need guests' help to make it fly. Once in flight, families can use their imaginations to help "power" the ride through movement as they dance while traveling across the Park with the best views over MINILAND and more – all from the sky! Once aboard one of seven individually themed Party Pods, ranging from pirates to space to disco, it's time to partake in the in-flight interactivity features. Guests will learn how to speak like a pirate, talk in a space alien language or participate in a sing-along all while flying through the sky. All pods are ADA accessible and seat up to ten people. "There's a lot to enjoy at LEGOLAND New York, but it's a big Resort and our fans asked us for more ways to move easily from the upper and lower levels of the Park," said Divisional Director of LEGOLAND New York Stephanie Johnson. "We take our guests feedback seriously and the Minifigure Skyflyer gives them a way to do exactly that while igniting creativity, sparking imagination, and inspiring movement through disco and dance." Family flyers who enjoy the Belleayre gondola party pods are encouraged to snap, post and share their experience tagging @LEGOLAND.NewYork as you party through the sky. To learn more and buy tickets for the upcoming season, visit https://www.legoland.com/new-york/.
  9. Following our character breakfast at Makahiki it was time to enjoy a full day of resort fun at Aulani including characters, water activities and a bit of food. Quite the view. Hi Elissa! I love that Angel is a featured character at Aulani! Menehune Bridge is the resort's water play area which is a bit larger than you'll find at the other Disney resorts. Rainbow Reef is the resort's 3,800 square foot saltwater snorkeling lagoon, available to experience for an upcharge. Fans of Disney's Typhoon Lagoon will remember Shark Reef, which offered a similar snorkeling experience. Equipment is provided before you enter the water and then you can walk in. Fair warning: This water is exceptionally cold so the amount of time you'll want to stay in may vary depending on personal preference. If you take the time to look for more than just the fish in Rainbow Reef, you'll find some hidden creatures in the rockwork. We opted for our own snorkel masks which allowed us to see more clearly in all of our snorkeling activities. And yes, there are fish in here. The location of Rainbow Reef is quite picturesque. When we were done we figured we would enjoy the Aulani Resort Beach at Ko Olina Lagoon. A unique vantage point... Next up was the Waikolohe Stream, the resort's lazy river. It even goes through a cave with a few water and lighting elements (revealed at night). Aulani has two water slides (besides the small one on the side of Menehune Bridge). Tubestone Curl is a 1-2 seater tube slide and Volcanic Vertical being an enclosed body slide. Tubestone Curl is neatly embedded into the rockwork. Like with other rockwork across the resort, the queue for these slides reveals hidden creatures. You get some decent speed on this slide! These turns are surprisingly intense for a water slide! This is a fun and accessible body slide that is a more thrilling option to enjoy on property. This is the last time you see any kind of light before the slide gets pitch black. Back over at Rainbow Reef there's another experience to be had... This time (for an upcharge) we were able to feed the fish! Ka Maka Grotto features an infinity-edge looking out into the ocean. Another look at Menehune Bridge. Keiki Cove Splash Zone is a fun water play area for the younger kids. There are some pretty cool water jets in this play area. You can't deny this view is cool. I told you I'd be back to try the Mickey Spam Musubi. Rainbow Reef also has a dry viewing area where you can observe from above and below the water line. Goofy was out and about enjoying the pool day! We decided to treat ourselves to a couples massage at the Laniwai Spa and let me tell you it was the greatest spa experience we've ever had. Laniwai has the most immersive spa experience I've had the pleasure to enjoy, with the journey from check-in to your massage being absolutely mood-setting. There are loungers to enjoy while you wait for your massage to begin, but the real magic lays beyond that doorway. Not unlike the Rainforest Room in the Senses Spa on the Disney Cruise Line ships except outdoors, Kula Wai is a relaxation space with showers, jacuzzis and loungers. There's something very unique about Kula Wai's outdoor location compared to other spa relaxation areas. Next to Kula Wai's heated jacuzzi is a polar plunge pool and it hurts so good. There's a koi pond near the front of the interior of the resort. The Waikolohe Pool is the resort's largest and has multiple entryways. Pāpālua Shave Ice is the spot to get a cool treat to counteract the hot sun. And they have a great mix of flavors to choose from including several Hawaii flavors like Liliko'i and Haupia. For $6 (the Mickey ears are $1 extra) you get this massive serving of fresh shave ice with up to three flavors and it is awesome! Off the Hook is both a pool bar and another table service dining option at Aulani... And dare I say, the best dining value onsite. This Garlic Shrimp Flatbread was one of the best dishes I consumed over this entire trip. And the Crab BLT had one of the best crab-forward crab bakes I've ever had! I still can't get over this beach view of the sunset. We got lucky with an evening open house at Aunty's Beach House where we could meet Daisy Duck! Pu'u Kilo glows beautifully at night. Aulani really is something else and it is hard to describe just how special this place feels. Our last full day at the resort was magical...
  10. Such a great report! Seeing all of those Hard Rock/Freestyle rides certainly brings back memories.
  11. Last weekend and this weekend we stopped by SeaWorld Orlando to bring our son to see some animals, shows and yesterday, to meet Blippi. Progress on Penguin Trek is visible from a few places in the park—most clearly over at Pacific Point Reserve. The coaster has only two track pieces left to install, but plenty of thematic elements and construction still to complete before the ride is ready to open. From the temporary path leading to the Pacific Point Preserve you can see the bulk of the coaster's outdoor section, including of the ride's two launches as well as its unique brake run. It will be interesting to see the coaster flying by from this view in the future. Lots of work still to be done despite most track work being complete. One of the highest points of the coaster is this turnaround, which will have netting around the track since it comes so close to guest and animal areas. I expect some fun little pops of air on these two hills. Some nice B&M curves over here... A look at the initial exit from the former Antarctica dark ride building into the coaster's first launch. The re-entry into the coaster's show building/station looks quickly carved out, so I'd expect it to be refinished or for some rockwork to be added around it to make it look a little less hasty. From the other side of the park, Penguin Trek's turnaround is tall enough to be see on the park's skyline.
  12. We were up bright and early the next morning to traverse the island, heading first to the Kualoa Ranch. This insanely picturesque, privately owned section of the island is famously favorited as the hottest spot to film movies and shows with tropical, mountainous or forested backgrounds. The ranch's notable filmography includes films from the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World franchise (earning the ranch as second moniker as "Jurassic Valley"), 50 First Dates, George of the Jungle, Kong: Skull Island, LOST and many, many more. The Kualoa Ranch offers a variety of tours and experiences, including a horseback riding experience. While tempting as that was, we were here for something a little more rugged. It is important to note that none of the individual tour options cover ALL that there is to see at the Ranch, so if you're tight on time like we were, you have to choose the one that visits the landmarks and points of interest that matter to you, or plan to experience multiple tour types to maximize your access. Reservations are absolutely recommended and walk-up availability is not guaranteed. Today we'd be piloting UTVs across the grounds of the Kualoa Ranch, the best way to get a sense of adventure off-road while seeing some of the best locations across the property. Kualoa Ranch is expansive and has coastal sections with amazing views as well as inland valleys and forested areas where you couldn't feel farther from the ocean if you tried. Over the years, film/tv production has facilitated the creation of sets that, rather than demolition when production has ended, the Ranch has maintained and reutilized, both for future productions as well as for tours to visit. The money shot. Fans of Jurassic World will recognize this as the station for the Gyrosphere attraction. This bunker was featured in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom--a key location on Isla Nublar as the island is being engulfed in lava from the re-awakened volcano. Absolutely unreal. You do get a chance to exit your UTV for several stops along the tour. This was the partially-built Indominous Rex paddock used in the filming of Jurassic World. Movie magic and digital effects completed the rest to make a fully constructed housing for the villainous dinosaur hybrid who wreaked havoc on the film's namesake park. Iconic imagery from Kong: Skull Island can be found along the tour. Seriously stunning. Another bunker along the route... Notice the tour bus to the left and the open air bus to the right of the bunker. Both are different types of tour options to explore Kualoa Ranch. A breathtaking view which also serves as the perfect location for the finale shot of Jurassic World where the hero T-Rex roars over the remains of the park before the film cuts to the credits. We filmed a ton of footage and took so many more photos over the course of our time at Kualoa Ranch but this magical place is best experienced in person and I can't recommend it enough. Next we drove to the North Shore to experience CLIMB Works - Keana Farms for an amazing zip-lining tour across this side of the island. After our ascent to one of the highest points of Keana Farms, we were met with an opportunity to crack open fresh macadamia nuts with rocks by hand and it was all kinds of fun and tasty. The experience includes zip-lines, rope bridges, rappelling and even some climbing along the way. This was a very active (sometimes tiring) course so it is definitely recommended that you come prepared to work for the reward of getting across the course. Keana Farms is an active agricultural farm as well as a wind farm, so you get some really neat views along the way. You get all kinds of neat views along the way! Did I mention that you rappel several times along the way? The experience includes 8 dual lines (which was great for us as a couple being able to zip alongside each other), 2 rappels, 3 sky bridges, a floating staircase, an ATV ride and a few surprises (hope you have core strength in your body!). Proof it was me who endured all of this. The guides are awesome and ensure you have a safe, fun and funny trip along the way... They encouraged us on this one line to try experiencing it upside down, so this was my POV. That's me on the left, just hanging out. I mentioned earlier that LOST was filmed at Kualoa Ranch, and while that is true, the production spanned much of Honolulu (and at times, beyond). One such famous location was the "Others' Camp" which is actually a YMCA on the far end of the island. With permission from the operating staff, you are allowed to visit the grounds to see this notable location. It has been repainted from its recognizable orange color but the Dharma Initiative houses-turned Others' homes-turned Oceanic Flight 815-survivors' homes are still the ones you would have seen on the show. We made the long drive back to Aulani and checked in for our first official night at the resort. In case you're wondering what a room in Aulani looks like, here you go. Such a fun touch! Color me intrigued! After a very active day we decided to take in some stargazing with our outdoor dinner at Makahiki. The restaurant has a beautiful interior that really looks great at night. Some incredibly fresh ahi tuna for dinner. Leave it to Disney to help us celebrate in small but meaningful ways! Roasted Pineapple Cobbler with a Haupia Gelato for the win! And since it was Valentine's Day during our visit we picked up some special macarons from the resort to enjoy! On the walk back to our room we noticed this neat mural. Quite incredible. The next morning we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise over Aulani. And the view from our balcony... We returned to Makahiki that morning for breakfast complete with a serenade... And a first for us--Red Velvet Minnie Waffles (accompanied by more traditional Mickey Waffles)! Punaluu Sweet Bread French Toast was my treat for the morning. Part of the benefit of breakfast at Makahiki is that you get to meet several characters in their Aulani gear! Goofy's hard at work in the kitchen! And Max has taken up being a server for the day! We also saw Minnie and Pluto during our visit. And yes, fans of POG Juice can rejoice that they have it available for breakfast at Aulani... I might have had so much that they sent me out with a to-go cup for the road. Stitch caps this update off... But there was a lot more fun at Aulani still to come!
  13. Earlier this year I had the opportunity to visit Hawaii for the first time! While our main reason for going was a friend's wedding, we turned it into a trip to check off some bucket list items. Our first stop was The Big Island with the goal of visiting Volcanoes National Park and taking a night snorkel with manta rays... Landing at the airport on The Big Island was a surreal experience. The airport is small and almost entirely outdoors. You walk to and from the planes from the ground and your board/debark via small gangways. Funny enough, the first thought I had walking around the airport upon arrival was that this gave off old school SeaWorld Orlando vibes. If you know, you know. The EPCOT fan in me was highly amused by seeing wall carpet somewhere not at EPCOT. Our hotel, the Hilton Waikoloa Village is made up of several towers each about 10-20 minutes' walking distance apart (depending on your pace and if you have luggage in tow). To solve that, the resort has an automated tram/train that runs between the towers. I'd never seen anything like this outside of an airport or Walt Disney World, so naturally I was enamored. My first Mai Tai of the trip, but certainly not my last! While dinner wasn't anything unique (we ended up at the hotel's Italian restaurant due to the hour at which we were dining), this Calamansi Tart was authentic and delicious! Fair warning for those who haven't been to Hawaii before and are used to other tourism/resort destinations. Along our entire trip in Hawaii we found that most dining venues started to wind down operations between 7 pm and 9 pm. So if you plan to have a full day of activities, make sure you plan for where you could have dinner or else you might be enjoying limited fare at the bar or less exciting quick service or grab and go fare. The next day we got up ridiculously early to make the 1.5 hour drive from one side of The Big Island to the other to get to Volcanoes National Park. Thankfully the Waikoloa Village Starbucks was open and even better, it was a Starbucks Reserve location! We made it to Volcanoes National Park at 7:00 AM and had a half day allotted to see as much as possible before making the drive back to the other side of the island for our manta ray night snorkel. The National Park has awesome signage at the welcome station that helps you to plan for shorter visits or longer visits, prioritizing the main attractions in a reasonable order for visitors like us who wouldn't know where to start. Also recommended, speaking to National Park guides who can make recommendations on where to go and how best to get there. With our limited time, our first priority was seeing lava. While there was fortunately an eruption going on during our visit, it was unfortunately a very small one with very limited options for viewing. It was highly recommended that we return that night to see the caldera lit up from the lava, but with our existing snorkel commitment that wasn't an option. One guide recommended we follow the Crater Rim Trail as it would be the best spot that we could see the lava at this hour. The view from here is expansive for sure. LAVA! You don't see scenery like this every day! I wish we could have seen more lava but I was glad we at least saw this. And a lucky rainbow for good measure! For those of you interested in these kinds of things. Next we started our long trek down to walk near the caldera... Along the way you see a variety of unique landscapes and plant life that feel otherworldly. Mind the sinkholes. Very unique. Real lava rock found on the trail. There's a local superstition that you do not bring lava rock home with you from Hawaii as it will bring bad luck that can only be ended by returning what you took. As tempting as it is to bring home a unique souvenir, out of respect to the island and its culture, don't do it. Proof I was actually here! Like we're on another planet. After our two hour roundtrip hike to/from the caldera we moved next to the lava tube. While not as big as we expected, this was still a neat experience. Our last stop before heading out were the sulphur vents. And the look much better than they smell. The lengthy drive back had us crossing mountainous terrain and having to control the brakes hard to ensure that gravity didn't take control. But the views were unreal! Before our snorkel we had a little time to kill so we stopped by the Kona Brewing Co. Brewery & Pub. As it turned out this would be our final experience on The Big Island, as an unexpected storm filled with high winds, lightning and rain resulted in our night snorkel with manta rays being cancelled. We had some drinks at the Kona Brewery and made our way back to the hotel to get ready to fly to Honolulu the next day... It should be noted that the Hilton Waikoloa Village also has boating excursions that take you along the waterways of the resort. Just such a cool setup! Wouldn't be a visit to Hawaii without seeing some of these in the wild. The next morning's grab and go breakfast at the airport was fried rice with Portuguese sausage and a fried egg on top. And it was honestly delicious! Time to fly to Honolulu! So our first day at Aulani was kind of a cheat day... When we originally planned our trip to only be in Honolulu we booked two nights at Aulani (for three days at the resort) but when we added The Big Island to our itinerary, we also added another day in Honolulu. We couldn't add an additional night at Aulani on the front end so we ended up at the Marriott Vacation Club Ko Olina (which was an awesome resort on its own) but spent much of our day visiting the neighboring Aulani because we simply couldn't wait another day. I mean, could you blame us? We certainly didn't plan it this way, but our cheat day at Aulani also happened to be a day that they were taping performances for American Idol. Love it! Very cool! Everyone raves about these... I'd be back to try some later in the trip. I would definitely be back to try these! This was actually the second time I was present for a taping of American Idol, having been in the audience for a taping in Los Angeles in 2003. Ulu Cafe, the resort's quick service venue, would end up being our favorite dining option at Aulani. And this build-your-own poke bowl option would definitely be the reason! I might have had three of these throughout the course of our visit... I might have. Over at the Wailana Pool Bar we had tuna poke nachos... And crab rangoon! That was the end of our time at Aulani for the day but we'd move into our room at the resort the next day. It felt absolutely important for us to visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial during our time in Honolulu. Out of respect for those lost, their families and the experience I won't share any photos beyond these but I strongly recommend visiting if you're ever in Honolulu. This is a sobering reminder of a critical moment in history and the experience is well curated and honoring of those impacted. We returned to the Marriott Vacation Club Ko Olina for a restful evening but couldn't help but admire this sunset. Stunning. Any day that ends with pie (from Monkeypaw) is a good day!
  14. Six Flags and Cedar Fair have entered into an agreement to merge into a unified company under the "Six Flags" brand, comprised of 27 amusement parks, 15 water parks and 9 resort properties across 17 states, Canada and Mexico. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2024, following receipt of Six Flags shareholder approval, regulatory approvals, and satisfaction of customary closing conditions. https://investors.sixflags.com/news-and-events/press-releases/2023/11-02-2023-100020810 Cedar Fair (NYSE: FUN) and Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE: SIX) today announced that they have entered into a definitive merger agreement to combine in a merger of equals transaction. The combined company, with a pro forma enterprise value of approximately $8 billion based on both companies’ debt and equity values as of October 31, 2023, will be a leading amusement park operator in the highly competitive leisure space with an expanded and diversified footprint, a more robust operating model and a strong revenue and cash flow generation profile. Under the terms of the merger agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the Boards of Directors of both companies, Cedar Fair unitholders will receive one share of common stock in the new combined company for each unit owned, and Six Flags shareholders will receive 0.5800 (the “Six Flags Exchange Ratio”) shares of common stock in the new combined company for each share owned. Following the close of the transaction, Cedar Fair unitholders will own approximately 51.2%, and Six Flags shareholders will own approximately 48.8%, of the combined company’s fully diluted share capital on a pro forma basis. One business day prior to the close of the transaction, Six Flags will declare a special cash dividend composed of: (i) a fixed amount of $1.00 per outstanding Six Flags share, totaling approximately $85 million in the aggregate, plus, (ii) an amount per outstanding Six Flags share equal to (a) the aggregate per unit distributions declared or paid by Cedar Fair to unitholders with a record date following today’s date and prior to the close of the transaction, multiplied by (b) the Six Flags Exchange Ratio, which special dividend will be payable to Six Flags shareholders of record as of one business day prior to the close of the transaction, contingent on the closing of the transaction. “Our merger with Six Flags will bring together two of North America’s iconic amusement park companies to establish a highly diversified footprint and a more robust operating model to enhance park offerings and performance,” said Richard Zimmerman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cedar Fair. “Together, we will have an expanded and complementary portfolio of attractive assets and intellectual property to deliver engaging entertainment experiences for guests. The combination also creates an enhanced financial profile with strong cash flow generation to accelerate investments in our parks to delight our guests, driving increased levels of demand and in-park value and spending. I have great respect for the Six Flags team and look forward to joining forces as we embark on this next chapter together.” “The combination of Six Flags and Cedar Fair will redefine our guests’ amusement park experience as we combine the best of both companies,” added Selim Bassoul, President and Chief Executive Officer of Six Flags. “Six Flags and Cedar Fair share a strong cultural alignment, operating philosophy, and steadfast commitment to providing consumers with thrilling experiences. By combining our operational models and technology platforms, we expect to accelerate our transformation activities and unlock new potential for our parks. We are excited to unite the Cedar Fair and Six Flags teams to capitalize on the tremendous growth opportunities and operational efficiencies of our combined platform for the benefit of our guests, shareholders, employees, and other stakeholders.” Compelling Strategic and Financial Benefits A Successful Amusement Park Operator with Complementary Portfolio of Attractive Assets: The combined company will operate a portfolio of 27 amusement parks, 15 water parks and 9 resort properties across 17 states in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. The company’s complementary portfolio will include some of the most iconic parks in North America with significant brand equity and loyal, recurring guest bases within the highly competitive leisure space. The combined company will also have entertainment partnerships and a portfolio of beloved IP such as Looney Tunes, DC Comics and PEANUTS to develop engaging new attractions enabled by compelling characters, environments, and storytelling. Diversified Footprint and Guest Experiences: Cedar Fair and Six Flags have minimal market overlap of park operations, and the combined company’s complementary geographic footprint is expected to mitigate the impact of seasonality and reduce earnings volatility through a more balanced presence in year-round operating climates. The portfolio will include diversified experiences for guests including safaris and animal experiences, campgrounds, sports facilities and luxury lounges, enabling the combined company to better meet rising consumer demand for varied and engaging entertainment options. Enhanced Operating Platform to Improve Guest Experiences: By uniting Cedar Fair and Six Flags’ complementary operating capabilities, the combined company will benefit from a more robust operating platform for improved park offerings and more efficient systemwide performance. The companies expect to leverage Cedar Fair’s recent park investment experience to accelerate the transformation underway across Six Flags’ portfolio. Cedar Fair and Six Flags will seek to create a more engaging and immersive guest experience. The combined company will also offer expanded park access to season pass holders along with an enhanced, combined loyalty program featuring additional perks. Experienced and Proven Leadership Team: The senior leadership teams of Six Flags and Cedar Fair bring different and complementary skillsets and experience to the combined company, including decades of park operating experience as well as significant expertise integrating businesses and achieving synergy targets. Significant Cost Savings and Revenue Uplift Opportunity: Following the close of the transaction, Cedar Fair and Six Flags expect the combined company will benefit from the significant value created by total anticipated annual synergies of $200 million. Approximately $120 million of these synergies are expected to be related to identified administrative and operational cost savings, which the companies anticipate realizing within two years following transaction close. The companies also expect to leverage their complementary operating capabilities to deliver additional revenue uplift, generating approximately $80 million of incremental EBITDA that the companies anticipate realizing within three years of transaction close. Strong Financial Profile: Over the last 12 months, through the third quarter of fiscal 2023, Six Flags and Cedar Fair collectively entertained 48 million guests, and, as a combined company, would generate pro forma $3.4 billion1 in revenue, $1.2 billion1 in Adjusted EBITDA2, and $826 million1,3 of free cash flow4, reflecting run rate cost savings of $120 million and revenue uplift resulting in $80 million of incremental EBITDA. The transaction is expected to be accretive to earnings per share for Cedar Fair unitholders and Six Flags shareholders within the first 12 months following transaction close. The combined company is also expected to have a pro forma leverage ratio of approximately 3.7x net debt to Adjusted EBITDA, inclusive of synergies, with a path to reduce the leverage ratio to approximately 3.0x within two years of transaction close. Significant Free Cash Flow Generation and Enhanced Financial Flexibility: The combined company’s increased free cash flow will provide it with greater flexibility to invest in new rides and attractions, broader food and beverage selections, additional in-park offerings, and cross-park initiatives, such as consumer technology and enhanced guest services. The combined company’s resources are expected to be strategically deployed to grow attendance, increase per capita spending, and improve profitability, all while enhancing guests’ value and experience across the park portfolio. The combined company is committed to allocating capital to maximize shareholder returns once the company achieves its targeted net leverage ratio. Leadership, Corporate Governance and Headquarters The combined company will be led by a proven management team that reflects the strengths and capabilities of both organizations. Upon closing of the transaction, Richard Zimmerman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cedar Fair, will serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of the combined company and Selim Bassoul, President and Chief Executive Officer of Six Flags, will serve as Executive Chairman of the combined company’s Board of Directors. Brian Witherow, Chief Financial Officer of Cedar Fair, will serve as Chief Financial Officer of the combined company and Gary Mick, CFO of Six Flags, will serve as Chief Integration Officer of the combined company. Following closing of the transaction, the newly formed Board of Directors of the combined company will consist of 12 directors, six from the Cedar Fair Board and six from the Six Flags Board. Upon closing of the transaction, the combined company will operate under the name Six Flags and trade under the ticker symbol FUN on the NYSE and will be structured as a C Corporation. The combined company will be headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and will maintain significant finance and administrative operations in Sandusky, Ohio. Approvals and Closing The merger is expected to close in the first half of 2024, following receipt of Six Flags shareholder approval, regulatory approvals, and satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Approval by Cedar Fair unitholders is not required. Six Flags’ largest shareholder, which owns approximately 13.6% of Six Flags’ shares outstanding, has signed a voting and support agreement to vote in favor of the transaction. The transaction is not expected to trigger any change of control provision under Cedar Fair’s and Six Flags’ respective outstanding Notes. The companies expect to refinance their respective revolving credit facilities, and Six Flags expects to refinance the Six Flags Term Loan, ahead of transaction close. Cedar Fair and Six Flags Third Quarter 2023 Results In separate press releases today, Cedar Fair and Six Flags reported results for the third quarter of fiscal year 2023. The Cedar Fair release is available at https://ir.cedarfair.com and the Six Flags release can be found at https://investors.sixflags.com. Advisors Perella Weinberg Partners is serving as exclusive financial advisor and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP and Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP are serving as legal counsel to Cedar Fair. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC is serving as exclusive financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP is serving as legal counsel to Six Flags. Conference Call and Additional Materials Cedar Fair, L.P. (NYSE: FUN) and Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE: SIX) will host a conference call at 8:30 a.m. ET today to discuss the pending merger and review both companies’ third quarter 2023 results. Participants on the call will include Six Flags President and CEO Selim Bassoul, Cedar Fair President and CEO Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair Executive Vice President and CFO Brian Witherow, and Six Flags CFO Gary Mick. Investors and all other interested parties can access a live, listen-only audio webcast of the call on the Cedar Fair and Six Flags websites. Those unable to listen to the live webcast can access a recorded version of the call on either company’s investor website Past Events, shortly after the live call’s conclusion. A replay of the call will also be available by phone starting at approximately noon ET on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, until noon ET, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. To access the phone replay, please dial (866) 813-9403 or (929) 458-6194, followed by the Conference ID: 830378. About Cedar Fair Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world, is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio. Focused on its mission to make people happy by providing fun, immersive, and memorable experiences, the Company owns and operates 13 properties, consisting of 11 amusement parks, four separately gated outdoor water parks, and resort accommodations totaling more than 2,300 rooms and more than 600 luxury RV sites. Cedar Fair’s parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, Texas and Toronto, Ontario. This news release and prior releases are available under the News tab at http://ir.cedarfair.com
  15. Busch Gardens Williamsburg has announced that the iconic Loch Ness Monster coaster will live on with new track and an updated experience featuring an enhanced queue and storytelling elements! In the year 564, the mythical Loch Ness Monster is believed to have been first spotted in the Highlands of Scotland. Centuries later in 1978, the Loch Ness Monster came alive in Busch Gardens Williamsburg in the form of a coaster so original and iconic that it became a registered landmark. Now in 2024, the Loch Ness Monster will resurface with a fully restored experience loaded with all-new thrilling elements, dramatic storytelling and innovative effects, as it takes riders on its journey through the Scottish terrain across “Nessie’s” signature steel track, featuring over 900 feet of all-new track. The adventure begins with an enhanced queue experience featuring new storytelling elements, and the quest continues during the lift hill climb, guided by an all-new soundtrack created just for Loch Ness Monster. New in 2024, while braving the first drop, guests catch a glimpse of something monstrous lurking under the water. Next, after plummeting over 100 feet, riders race towards the first of two interlocking vertical loops, traveling up to 60 miles per hour. Thrill-seekers emerge into a spiraling tunnel, traversing a helix and coming face-to-face with the monster in a shadowy cave lair. Out of the darkness and into the daylight, the train descends into the second iconic loop and makes one final turn before returning to the station. After four and half decades of operation, the original Loch Ness Monster will close to the public on Tuesday, Oct. 31. For the first time in the park’s history, Busch Gardens Members will have exclusive “last to ride” access for one final weekend on November 4 and 5, in addition being the first to ride the reimagined Loch Ness Monster: The Legend Lives On when it opens in 2024. A Busch Gardens Membership is the best way to experience new attractions and fan favorites, offering unlimited visits and unbeatable benefits. Memberships are on sale now. “Loch Ness Monster has been a staple to our park since 1978, even being recognized as a registered landmark by the American Coaster Enthusiasts,” said Kevin Lembke, President of Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. “We are excited to continue Loch Ness Monster’s story in 2024 and beyond.” 2024 promises to be a monumental year filled with new reasons to visit in every season. The fun kicks off with a grand Mardi Gras celebration and ends with anniversaries for two of Busch Gardens’ signature events, Howl-O-Scream® and Christmas Town™. Plus, stay tuned in the coming months as we unveil an all-new summer event! The new year previews what is to come for Busch Gardens Williamsburg’s highly anticipated 50th anniversary in 2025, creating new and elevated experiences for guests while restoring and refreshing the timeless legacy of the world’s most beautiful theme park. For a full calendar of upcoming 2023 and 2024 events, visit https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/events/. Members enjoy exclusive benefits like unlimited admission and unbeatable benefits all year long, including free parking, free guest tickets, monthly rewards, savings on merchandise and exclusive events with a Busch Gardens Membership. Memberships start as low as $13.00 per month. For construction updates, first to ride opportunities and more information on Loch Ness Monster: The Legend Lives On, visit BuschGardens.com/Williamsburg and follow Busch Gardens on social media.
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