Category Archives: Attractions

Hogwarts Has Arrived In Hollywood!

Universal Studios Hollywood marked the opening of “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™” with legendary Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe, BAFTA and Grammy award-winning composer John Williams conducting the L.A. Philharmonic synchronized to a spectacularly choreographed three dimensional digital lighting projection on Hogwarts castle. A dynamic fireworks display followed to signal the much-anticipated arrival of this incredibly immersive land.

More than five years in the making, and inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” has been masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood. The land is faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle which serves as its iconic focal point.

From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the whimsical look and feel of the land, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” transports guests of all ages to the very places they read about in the stories or watched on the silver screen.

Upon entering the land through the archway, Hogsmeade bustles to life with the same vitality of a quaint local village: merchants hard at work, a train conductor welcoming new arrivals and a pub packed to the gills with hungry patrons, but with the added element of enthusiastic guests intent on experiencing them all, including the land’s signature ride, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey,” and the family outdoor coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™.”

An achievement in pioneering theme park ride technology, “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey” makes its U.S. debut at Universal Studios Hollywood in hyper-realistic 3D-HD designed to further immerse guests in an already engaging storyline. The multidimensional thrill ride features a groundbreaking robotics ride system, fused with elaborate filmed action sequences and immersive visceral effects. In this updated adaptation of the ride, guests sport Quidditch-inspired 3D goggles as they venture through journeys experienced by Harry and his friends, spiraling and pivoting 360-degrees along an elevated ride track on a whirlwind adventure of a lifetime.

Also within “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” the enchanting family coaster, “Flight of the Hippogriff™” opens as Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster.

“The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” resonates with immense detail, inviting guests to revel in Harry Potter’s world with the opportunity to enjoy authentic food and beverage at multiple locations, including Three Broomsticks™, and Hog’s Head pub, as well as the Magic Neep and Butterbeer™ carts.

A foray through the shops adds to the authenticity of the land with eight retail venues and locations, including Honeydukes™, Ollivanders™, Owl Post™, Zonko’s™ Joke Shop, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods™.

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Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio to Construct World’s First Ultra-Accessible Water Park

Morgan’s Wonderland recently broke ground for a multi-million-dollar expansion, Morgan’s Inspiration Island, the world’s first ultra-accessible splash park where guests of all ages and abilities can get wet and have fun together.

“In many ways, creating Morgan’s Inspiration Island feels a lot like it did when our team designed and built Morgan’s Wonderland with special-needs individuals in mind – it’s never been done before,” said Gordon Hartman, CEO of The Gordon Hartman Family Foundation.

“For the past two years, we’ve been working with water park consultants from Texas, Arizona, Florida and even Canada as well as local doctors and special-needs therapists. Now we’re ready to begin laying pipe, installing pumps and building facilities with a target completion of spring 2017. We believe this new attraction will be tremendously popular because even kids and adults in wheelchairs will be able to have splashy fun in the South Texas sun.”

Morgan’s Inspiration Island, which will be situated between Morgan’s Wonderland and the STAR (South Texas Area Regional) Soccer Complex, will overlook the theme park’s 8-acre catch-and-release fishing lake. Guests of both the splash park and theme park will enter through the Morgan’s Wonderland Welcome Center.

Six major elements will comprise the tropically themed paradise inspired by Hartman and his wife Maggie’s 22-year-old daughter, Morgan, who deals with both cognitive and physical challenges. “We decided to call our new attraction Morgan’s Inspiration Island because Morgan truly has been the catalyst for every project we’ve pursued to help the special-needs community,” Gordon Hartman noted.

Maggie Hartman added that “Morgan’s Inspiration Island – like Morgan’s Wonderland – will concentrate on inclusion and inspire guests with special needs to do things previously thought to be impossible. Those without disabilities and those with, including individuals in wheelchairs and guests with hearing and visual impairments, will be able to play alongside each other and gain a greater understanding of each other.”

The River Boat Adventure ride will twist and turn more than an eighth of a mile through a jungle setting with bird and animal sounds in the background. Five water play areas – Hang 10 Harbor, Rainbow Reef, Shipwreck Island, Castaway Bay and Calypso Cove – will offer a variety of splashy elements such as raintrees, falls, pools, geysers, jets, water cannons and tipping buckets. Just like Morgan’s Wonderland, every element will be wheelchair-accessible, and waterproof wristbands with RFID technology will be available so parents can go to a Location Station and easily ascertain the whereabouts of their children and other members of their party. Hartman paid special tribute to philanthropist Harvey E. Najim, chairman of the 2015 Morgan’s Wonderland Capital Campaign that’s raising funds for Morgan’s Inspiration Island as well as for a larger, multi-functional building to house The Academy at Morgan’s Wonderland, a school next to the theme park for students with special needs ages 12 to 24.

“We’ll never be able to adequately thank Harvey Najim for his passion when it comes to doing great things for people with disabilities and special needs,” Hartman said. “Harvey is truly a world champion when it comes to generosity. Those whose spirits will be lifted by Morgan’s Inspiration Island have Harvey to thank for his resolve in securing the funds to take a great idea and make it reality.”

Hartman noted that Morgan’s Inspiration Island is about a year-and-a-half away from opening, “but we have to start now because so much equipment must be installed underground before the splash park can take shape above ground. There’s also quite a bit of complexity involved. For example, we’ll have the capability of heating water in some areas so guests with sensitivity to cold can still splash and play.

“In addition, we’re working with university researchers to develop special waterproof wheelchairs. Our guests in expensive motorized wheelchairs can’t afford to get them wet, so we’re planning on having special Morgan’s Inspiration Island wheelchairs available along with spacious private areas where guests can be lifted out of their wheelchairs into our waterproof wheelchairs.”

Hartman further pointed out that the splash park has been designed with water conservation in mind. Water used in the various play elements will be continuously filtered and recirculated, and it will be stored in huge underground tanks when the park is not in operation.


On the road? Why not take us with you. Our websites are “mobile-friendly”. Visit our growing family of exit guides:  I-4 Exit GuideI-5 Exit GuideI-10 Exit GuideI-75 Exit Guide, and I-95 Exit Guide. Detailed exit service listings… discount lodging, camping, food, gas and more for every exit along the way!

 

Dixie Landin’ Family Theme Park – Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Located on 80 acres at I-10 and Highland Road in Baton Rouge, LA right next to Blue Bayou Water Park, Dixie Landin’ is an Amusement Park designed for the entire family!

Dixie Landin’ contains 26 rides, 10 games and much, much more. We have retail shops for you to pick up souvenir t-shirts, hats, cups and many more items to bring home. Dixie also has a large variety of food items.

One of the feature attractions is the “Ragin Cajun.” A giant steel looping roller coaster that drops from 14 stories up. Or maybe you are interested in the “Splinter,” our log flume ride with drops of 26 and 50 feet. The Giant Wheel stands 90 feet tall and gives you a birds eye view of the entire park.

The Kiddie Section features small rides for the young ones. This section features “The Delta Crop Dusters” a bi-plane ride that allows the kids to move the plane up and down. “Gasoline Alley” gives the kids a chance to drive mom and dad around in a Model T. And everyone’s favorite, The spectacular “Grand Carousel.”

Dixie Landin’ Amusement Park offers fun and excitement for the entire family. Many of our rides can be enjoyed as a family. The Iron Horse Train travels over 1/2 mile around the perimeter of the park. “Gilbeau’s Galaxi” is a family roller coaster. The “Giant Wheel” and The “Grand Carousel” can both be enjoyed as a family. There is something for everyone at Dixie Landin’.

“Sweet Magnolia” offers items such as ice cream, cotton candy, popcorn, funnel cakes, nachos, cookies and of course all of your favorite Coke products. “Dixie Dilly” offers a selection of items such as hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, chicken sandwiches and much more. They also offer items such as Frozen Coke, Dippin Dots and Fresh Lemonade on carts throughout the park. You won’t go home hungry!

Blue Bayou Water Park has over 20 water attractions like the High Water Slide, a triple 7 story serpentine slide. And there’s nothing like the twin 8 story speed slide, the Ragin’ Cajun! See the 6 story Mad Moccasin water slide which twists and turns in complete darkness. Come out and ride CONJA’, the world’s largest in-line water slide; and their newest water slide, Racers. This is the tallest and fastest water racer in the world! If you like action-packed water slides, we’ve got ’em!

EarthQuest Theme Park Plans to Double Size of Proposed Resort

Developers of EarthQuest, the proposed 500-acre family theme park north of Houston say they are in discussions to close on a new plot of land twice the size of the original plot.

Contour Development, the Los Angeles-based company proposing the project has not yet confirmed the exact location of the park, but they do say the East Montgomery County is the general area.

“We are working like crazy to get all the little pieces in place,” said Contour President Chris Brown. “This site is more than twice the size of the one we had before.”

EarthQuest theme park would be seven times larger than AstroWorld, with 50 attractions, including rides that simulate being inside a volcano, an ice cave, as well as roller coasters. The theme park will stress environmental stewardship and include a 12-acre water park made from a retreating glacier to an animal park that includes threatened species and a ride through a land with a fiery volcano and life-sized dinosaurs.

Seaworld – San Antonio, Texas

SeaWorld San Antonio is a 250-acre marine mammal park, oceanarium, and animal theme park, located in the Westover Hills district of San Antonio, Texas. It is the largest of the three parks in the SeaWorld chain, and the world’s largest marine-life theme park.

SeaWorld also has plenty of thrill rides.  The Great White is the park’s first roller coaster, and reached a height of 108 feet and a top speed of 50 mph. Steel Eel is advertised as “the first and only hypercoaster in Texas,” it reaches speeds close to 70 mph. Journey to Atlantis is the first ride of its kind in North America. Rio Loco is a river rapids ride.
Sesame Street Bay of Play is for the younger set, with interactive play areas, and the Shamu Express kiddie coaster.

If you’re looking for entertainment, SeaWorld has shows and exhibits that will fill your schedule. Here’s a partial list:

  • One Ocean (Shamu Stadium): A new show featuring interaction with whale trainers at the park’s Shamu Theater.
  • The Cannery Row Caper (Seal and Sea Lion Stadium): A comical “Who done it?” featuring sea lions Clyde and Seamore, who attempt to unravel the mystery of disappearing fish in a nearby cannery.
  • Cool Vibrations (Ski Stadium): A live-action boat and water-skiing stunt show that runs throughout the park’s summer months.
  • Azul, Lure of the Sea (Beluga Stadium): This show features professional high divers, aerialists, and synchronized swimmers performing with Pacific white-sided dolphins and beluga whales.
  • Lights, Camera, Imagination! 4-D (SeaStar Theatre): Combines the latest 4-D special effects technology with multi-sensory theater effects.
  • Aviary Habitats: Guests can view a variety of birds from pink flamingo, ducks and geese, among other birds from throughout the Americas.
  • Animal Connection Conservation Center: Get close to various types of animals along with Animal Ambassadors.
  • Dolphin Cove: The popular Atlantic bottlenose dolphins are on exhibit here. SeaWorld staff educates the public on their behaviors and lifestyle.
  • Penguin Encounter: Visitors step into the Antarctic wilderness on a moving walkway and view over 200 penguins in a variety of species.
  • Seal & Sea Lion Community: a variety of seals, sea lions, walruses and otters can be found here.
  • Sharks/The Coral Reef: Guests can view some of the world’s most exotic and fiercest sea creatures.
  • Alligator Alley: American alligators lounging around Ski Lake.
  • Flamingo Cove: Visitors can stop by and see flamingos by Shamu Stadium.

The brand new Aquatica San Antonio Waterpark recently opened. Experience the waterpark only SeaWorld could create, with 42,000 square feet of beaches, up-close stingray encounters, and a family raft ride that’s a first of its kind in North America!