Chocolate World, Chipotle, and Hersheypark Update: 1/31/14

Just as I mentioned on Sunday, the main entrance to Chocolate World’s Tour Ride was indeed closed off and re-routed. Elsewhere in the building, the T-Shirt/ Apparel area where KissWorks used to be has been relocated yet again to the Food Court where the Candy Cottage was. This has given the area between the Bake Shop and lobby  more room for people to walk between the areas. The video version of the Tour Ride was also moved here from its former spot behind the loading area.

The Construction wall within the lobby has been expanded across the Tour Ride entrance.

The Construction wall within the lobby has been expanded across the Tour Ride entrance.

At this point, it really gives you the sense that this is a pretty big undertaking.

At this point, it really gives you the sense that this is a pretty big undertaking.

Some utilitywork has gone up in the hallway.

Some utility-work has gone up in the hallway.

The Apparel area has been relocated to the Food Court.

The Apparel area has been relocated to the Food Court.

More walls have gone up over by the Bake Shop.

More walls have gone up over by the Bake Shop.

To get to the Tour Ride, you currently must go upstairs to the Dessert Studio...

To get to the Tour Ride, you currently must go upstairs to the Dessert Studio…

...wait in this switchback queue area (if there is a line).

…and wait in this switch-back queue area (if there is a line).

While waiting, you can take a look at the Create-Your-Own Candy Bar attraction.

While waiting, you can take a look at the Create-Your-Own Candy Bar attraction.

For those wondering what the Dessert Studio is, here is the menu for it. Ofcourse since the area is being used for something else, it isn't open right now.

For those wondering what the Dessert Studio is, here is the menu for it. Of course since the area is being used for something else, it isn’t open right now.

Next, you make a right through that door, enter a bland hallway, make a left, then re-connect with the former queue line.

Next, you make a right through that door, enter a bland hallway, make a left, then re-connect with the former queue line.

Looks like work on removing the former entrance is progressing.

Looks like work on removing the former entrance is progressing.

Upon exiting, you can view your ride photo on that tiny iPad (the area across from the Bake Shop is where you can buy them).

Upon exiting, you can view your ride photo on that tiny iPad (the area across from the Bake Shop is where you can buy them).

To exit, you just go back into that hallway, go down the stairs (don't forget you free sample!), make a right and exit next to the Bake Shop.

To exit, you just go back into that hallway, go down the stairs (don’t forget you free sample!), make a right and exit next to the Bake Shop.

If you don't feel like riding, don't worry. There's always Bench: The Ride!

If you don’t feel like riding, don’t worry. There’s always Bench: The Ride!

Over at Hersheypark, work still continues on the now confirmed Ticketing Services building going up in Tram Circle. Nothing really new to report about it, but as for the games building in The Hollow, it looks like workers are in the process of removing the roof and much of the side of the structure. Elsewhere in the park, a large crane is present by Great Bear, but that’s it.

Nothing really new happening with the ticketing building.

Nothing really new happening with the ticketing building.

Looks like some off-season rehab work.

Looks like some off-season rehab work.

Removal of the old games building looks to be half-done.

Removal of the old games building looks to be half-done.

Finally, it looks like work seems to be progressing to an end with the Chipotle Restaurant in town. There was quite a bit of talk about people saying that it would ruin the atmosphere of the town, but honestly, it looks just about the same as the Rite Aid a block down the street.

Chipotle is nearly finished. Shouldn't be too long until it is open.

Chipotle is nearly finished. Shouldn’t be too long until it is open.

Thanks for reading!

-Chris

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Way-To-Go-Wednesday 1/29/14: Knoebels Teases Us About 2015

This week’s Way-To-Go Wednesday news winner goes to Knoebels on their teasing posts regarding 2015. Last Thursday the park published a photo to its Facebook page announcing, “they sent the fourth generation of the Knoebel family in search of the next big thing and they have found it.” The image shows a file with the words “Top Secret” and “Project 2015” printed on it. It poses quite a few questions and answers just about none of them.

From the Knoebels Amusement Resort Facebook Page.

From the Knoebels Amusement Resort Facebook Page.

We are still several months away for Knoebels to be opening for the 2014 season and we are just starting to be hyped up for the following season. Whatever it is, it sounds like Project 2015 could be something significant in the park’s history. We still have questions on what it could be, where it could be going, and when will work start, so let’s hypothesize for a moment on this.

What could it Be?

We all know that Knoebels is big on preservation and saving old rides for future generations to enjoy for years to come. Every coaster that they own has some historic value (Phoenix was moved from a closed park, Twister was going to be Mister Twister at one point, Black Diamond came from Wildwood, Kosmo’s Kurves took the place of the rare High Speed Thrill Coaster with the same layout, and Flying Turns is a replica of the former wooden bobseld coasters of the past) so given what they have with the collection, they could either re-locate an existing used coaster and refurbish it or contact a manufacturer to build something new with the same layout of a previously built coaster design.

If Knoebels would go down the used coaster route, there have been talk of two Scharzkopf steel coasters that have gone up for sale; Teststrecke, which used to be Laser at Dorney Park, and Knightmare, a larger coaster that was located in Japan and is currently in England. Teststrecke is in the better shape of the two having been recently refurbished, but a good year and a half can be a nice amount of time to allow Knightmare to be refreshed.

With Flying Turns and Twister, Knoebels did receive some assistance from Great Coasters International (the Sunbury PA. company who have built Lightning Racer and Wildcat at Hersheypark) on construction, so asking them for assistance in building their next ride could be a possibility. There is also has been a rumor circulating, to go off of the Schwarzkopf rumors, that there is a company that could replicate the layouts of rides such as those and construct a newer version of them.

Even though there is a smaller possibility, Project 2015 could be something other than a coaster. There’s a possibility it could be anything from a water park, a collection of several classic new rides, a new kids area, or something never seen before.

Where Could it Be?

Knoebels has several other attractions surrounding the park. Towards the West behind the Phoenix, is where the Lumber Yard hardware store is located along with several cottages and vacation homes that the park rents out. These places are pretty popular with booking required with quite of an advanced notice. If this is true, the park might not want to touch any of these buildings unless they relocate them like what was done for Black Diamond.

On the North side of the park, the main entrance road to the parking lot sits within a few feet to the rides. On the other side is a steep mountain that the Scenic Skyway climbs. I would think that building over there would be somewhat of a safety hazard, but still, there isn’t really much flat land available for a coaster station.

In the East sits the main parking lot with parking spaces being mostly in the northern part and picnic pavilions in the lower part. This could be a possible location for a new attraction depending on its size as it could be easy to move a pavilion or two around. As for building in the parking lot, if the footprint is kept small to lessen the loss of spaces, I could see it possible.

The Southern section of Knoebels would be a difficult location to construct a new attraction because it is home to a few brand-new summer homes, the Pioneer Train, and the Campground, which covers much of the length of the park.

From Google Earth Maps.

From Google Earth.

When Could Work Start?

Given that teasers are starting to come out of the Knoebels Facebook page, it does sound like there is a chance that we could see an official announcement before opening day for 2014. The park has just recently posted something new yesterday to the excitement going mentioning a secret meeting. Usually to keep interest in their followers, most parks usually don’t keep doing something like this for very long unless it becomes a full-scale viral marketing campaign, like what was seen with Hersheypark for Skyrush.

Another possibility that we could see an announcement soon is that if construction were to begin in the middle of the season, it would raise suspicion, but then again that could also be a positive thing as it would get people talking.

Whether it is announced sooner or later, it seems that Knoebels is in for a good 2014 and 2015 season. Keystone Thrills will continue to carefully watch this and see what comes out of this.

-Chris

Update: A Sunday Afternoon at Chocolate World

Since my family was in-town this weekend, we went over to Hershey’s Chocolate World to do a candy (and frozen cocoa) run. While there, I found out that the entrance for the Tour Ride will be re-routed starting Monday and that the Jolly Rancher product character got a makeover to look like the one in the 4D show. One special event that was going on besides Fitness Month is that a photo booth was set up in the Food Court that was supposedly used in a recent television commercial for Kit Kat.

Construction down at Hersheypark’s Tram Circle is the same as last week, so there really isn’t anything new to report there.

I expect that the next update will show the Tour Ride entrance completely walled off and re-routed. As sad as it is to see it go, it should be interesting to see what the renovation has in-store for this classic attraction.

They had the KitKat Android set up next to the photo booth in the Food Court.

They had the Kit Kat Android set up next to the photo booth in the Food Court.

It proved to be pretty popular with people as it would just about always have a few people looking at it and taking a photo of themselves inside of it.

It proved to be pretty popular with people as it would just about always have a few people looking at it and taking a photo of themselves inside of it.

If you thought that there was a camera inside, you are mistaken. Nothing but a wooden bench! Pretty effective marketing tactic if you ask me!

If you thought that there was a camera inside, you are mistaken. Nothing but a wooden bench. Given that it was a prop, it makes sense. Pretty effective marketing tactic if you ask me!

This view should be different pretty soon.

This view should be different pretty soon.

Nothing new to see here, moving on...

Nothing new to see here, moving on…

Thanks for reading!

-Chris

Way To Go Wednesday (1/22/14): Dutch Wonderland’s Exploration Island

We’re going to try something new and do something that I would like to call Way-To-Go Wednesday. Each week, what we’ll do is showcase and discuss a positive story that has happened over the past week in the regional amusement industry. To start it off, I think this week goes to Dutch Wonderland for their announcement for Exploration Island.

There have been some rumors on this project for quite sometime and they pretty much started when the park’s Turnpike ride closed halfway through the season last year combined with the Botanical Garden. Talk has ranged from a Dinosaurs Alive walk-through (which is partly what it really is) to a Gravity Group wooden coaster.

Announced on Monday, Exploration Island will be a walk-through attraction where guests will be able to see lifelike dinosaurs in a themed environment, drive around the island on a new Turnpike layout and take the Gondola Cruise with new sights.

My Opinion:

I believe that unlike Cedar Fair’s Dinosaurs Alive, an attraction like this has a better fit in an amusement park that is more family centered. While Dorney Park may have Planet Snoopy, Dutch Wonderland caters to a more specific age demographic of children and families with children. Dorney’s demographic is more for families with pre-teens and teenagers given the numerous roller coasters and thrill rides, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a place for kids.

With the Turnpike moving over to the island, that leaves a big “what if?” for its former location. Given the spot’s size, it has potential to be a pretty decent size of land for expansion stretching from where Old 99 used to be, to the Potato Patch, to Kite Flight and towards the Railroad station (not counting the temporary show tent in that area). It is sure to be something to watch for in the next season or two.

DWMapRenovation_01

Dutch Wonderland’s 2013 park map modified to show the Former Turnpike area space and where Exploration Island will be located.

Hersheypark/Chocolate World Off-Season Update 1/17/2014

Howdy guys, its time for another off-season update!

Last week in the Facebook page, I posted the first off-season update for the winter and it confirmed that much of the retail area of Chocolate World was going to be renovated with a new appearance debuting for Spring. We also discovered that the former Group Sales building was in the process of being removed.

This week, we’ll revisit these locations to see what’s new and take a peek from Park Blvd to see if any work has begun on the new Tea Cups and Sweet Swing in the Hollow. Unfortunately given where it’s located, Cocoa Cruiser might be a tough one to follow. On to the photos!

Since last week, it seems that there is nothing left of the Group Sales building in Tram Circle.

Since last week, it seems that there is nothing left of the Group Sales building in Tram Circle.

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In addition to the removal, it looks like work on rebuilding has started.

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The base for the building at this point looks similar in size to the old one.

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The former shade arbors still exist, but the roof has been taken off.

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Since half of Tram Circle and Tudor Square is currently a construction area, we’re going to stay to the upper part to get updates for now.

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Much of the Candylane displays have been packed away for the season. Let’s check out Chocolate World.

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Just as I got there, finishing touches were just being added to the new graphics on the construction walls in the lobby.

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In the Food Court, the walls are just plain pieces of drywall.

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These are not the droids you’re looking for…

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The original entrance and exit has now re-opened from the looks of it. Here’s a side note; Chocolate World is hosting Zumba and some family activities during Saturdays and Sundays in the month of January (and Jan. 20th).

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Work is currently going on in the hallway corridor that links the lobby to the food court.

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I think this might actually get more people over to the BakeShop area of the building as I hardly ever see many people casually venturing over there (besides the Candybar attraction and Dessert Studio). The lobby never really had any directional signs before construction began.

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The Tour Ride’s queue is still pretty much the same as last week. I guess you could technically say that this is the entrance right now since the exit shares the same path starting here.

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Is it April yet?

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Let’s check out The Hollow from along Park Blvd.

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The older Hollow Games building is still standing and looks like nothing has happened here yet. Then again, the Tea Cups and Sweet Swing are pretty simple and probably won’t take all winter to build. We still have quite a bit of off-season to go, so be sure to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and the blog for the latest updates leading up to Springtime in the Park!

Keystone Thrills Announces Re-Launch in 2014

For 2014, Keystone Thrills will feature two new websites, freshly renovated discussion forums, and a brand-new Twitter page for our sixth year of activity. This relaunch campaign will give it not just a more organized forum to discuss Pennsylvania’s amusement parks and attractions, but also a fansite/fan-guide to Hersheypark that will provide trip advice for future visitors, and a place to look back into the park’s history. The other new website will serve as the hub of information, news updates, and photo galleries for the Keystone Thrills website.

The numerous new additions will completely update Keystone Thrills and continue its six-year history of providing the latest news, updates and place of discussion of Pennsylvania’s amusement parks and attractions.

The new Twitter page has already opened and can be followed here: https://twitter.com/KeystoneT

The refreshed discussion forums are set to re-open in mid-winter and the new websites are on-track to be ready by late winter to early spring, just in time to begin the 2014 theme park season. Be sure to follow this blog, our Twitter page, and Facebook page for the latest on news and updates.