I was considering heading out to Funtown tonight, but decided against it when I saw the iffy weather forecast. When I was checking the park website for any weather updates, I found this bit of news that went under the radar. For 2019, they replaced the old air dome of the Astrosphere with a concrete one.
I'm intrigued to see how that impacts the ride experience (if at all) since the light show really makes this ride unique.
Funtown Splashtown USA contracts with Dome Technology for Astrosphere project
Funtown Splashtown USA is updating one of its icon attractions, the Astrosphere. The park is switching from an airform dome to a reinforced-concrete dome that will house a Scrambler ride that includes a lasers, light, and sound show.
For the past 43 seasons, the Astrosphere has been inflated constantly by fan, and the airform is approaching the end of its lifespan. Park owners have employed air domes for this ride since 1976, requiring that the airform and ride be taken down for the off season, then reassembled come spring.
“This has always been one of the most labor-intensive attractions to get ready and winterize each season,” said Funtown Splashtown USA senior vice president Bill Cormier.
“Once a concrete dome is up, it’s up. I don’t have to worry about hurricanes and wind storms and losing power,” said Cormier. “What I’m looking forward to is a building that’s going to be hard as a rock. It’s going to save me work, it’s going to be turnkey—in the spring I’ll turn on the light, do a little dusting, and we’ll be ready to go.”
Conditioning the Astrosphere has also been difficult historically, with weather dictating temperatures inside, including highs in the summer that exceed those outside—"not good for equipment and not good for team members,” Cormier said. The concrete shell will moderate temperatures and provide a backdrop for new laser shows and other special effects.
The project will also include cosmetic improvements to the area around the ride. When asked if the Astrosphere’s song, ‘Fire On High’ by ELO: Electric Light Orchestra will be changed for something else, Cormier stated, “No. And we are keeping the entrance and exit tunnels. This ride is loved by so many of our guests, we want to maintain the experience.”
This is Dome Technology’s first project with an amusement park. The project is expected to be completed in time for the park’s Opening Weekend in May 2019.
I stopped by Funtown for a few hours today after work. Funtown's twilight ticket is an absolute steal. They will sell the last three hours for just $11!
There have been two changes for 2019. The first was the new concrete dome for the Astrosphere. Unfortunately, the loading is still glacial, but it allows the park to now use crisper projections. The sheer number of creepy faces they projected during the ride gets an A+ from me.
The other change is that lap belts were added to Dragon's Descent. This is a change that has been hitting most S&S towers this year. It does slow loading slightly, but the ride experience is unchanged. And I noticed it does have a benefit for the smaller riders. It used to have a 52" height requirement. I noticed they amended the height to 48".
I'd love to hear more info about the Astrosphere changes. Here in upstate New York, I grew up near Seabreeze Amusement Park. Their Gyrosphere was cloned to make the Astrosphere. The Gyrosphere was removed in the 1990s but is a treasured memory for many of us. I visited Funtown 3 years ago to ride Astrosphere and was thrilled to see the yellow and white dome, to wait in the pressurization tunnel, to see the perimeter lights and disco ball inside the dome and, most of all, to experience the ride to the tune of "Fire on High," complete with rocket liftoff. While I'll miss the old dome, I'm hopeful that the new projections will feel closer the the Gyrosphere than the most recent light show.
Even with the concrete dome, they still station riders in the hall like it did with the air-filled dome. For the most part, the ride is identical to how it was 3 years ago with some upgrades to the projections.
Canobie Coaster wrote:Even with the concrete dome, they still station riders in the hall like it did with the air-filled dome. For the most part, the ride is identical to how it was 3 years ago with some upgrades to the projections.
Three years ago there were no projections, just lights. I'm hoping to see the alien face at least.
Some interesting tidbits were revealed at the ACE Great Nor'Easter event:
- Excalibur is having some track work done by Gravity Group on the two roughest parts of the ride. The bottom of the first drop is being smoothed and the fourth turn (after turnaround 1) is being reprofiled to have increased banking.
- The park is running a promotion where one lucky guest will win a free season pass and get the chance to rename one of the cars on Excalibur. You must enter by the end of March. https://woobox.com/iwg4a9
- The park is replacing their gas-powered bumper boats with electric ones. These boats will also be equipped with water guns as well.
- The park is having a Coasting for Kids event on June 6, which is the same day Story Land plans to hold their Coasting for Kids as well. I sort of wish these were on different days so I could support both parks. Edit- I just saw Funtown changed it to June 7!
Great to see them making improvements to their dry-park section, its quickly become outdated and in need of some serious TLC. Hopefully in the coming years they can start to update their flat ride packages and improve some of the general infrastructure that has fallen behind.
I agree with that, there is certainly plenty of places that they could put it. It would be nice to see them relocate/remove that kiddie train in the back of the park behind the Casino for a new thrill flat. That is a pretty quiet part of the park and would help the flow of traffic in that corner for sure.
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