With 14 rides, including eight roller coasters, the proposed Orlando Thrill Park hopes to cater to enthusiasts underserved by Florida's theme parks.
Photo gallery: View the 14 proposed Orlando Thrill Park rides
Scheduled to open in summer 2013, the proposed amusement park would include rides from several manufacturers, including Intamin, Vekoma, Chance Morgan, Mack, S&S Power, U.S. ThrillRides and Mondial, according to Chuck Bell, spokesman for the Orlando Thrill Park.
Plans for the 77-acre park call for an assortment of towering thrill rides and every variety of roller coaster -- including hydraulic launched, inverted, flying, motorbike and 4th dimension coasters -- with room set aside for future development. View a photo gallery of the 14 rides proposed for Orlando Thrill Park.
Located on International Drive across the I-4 corridor from Universal Studios Florida, Orlando Thrill Park would be a 5-mile drive from SeaWorld Orlando and about 10 miles from Walt Disney World.
Developers hope to secure financing in the coming months and submit plans for city approval by summer 2011, Bell said. Neighbors have raised concerns about noise and traffic.
During a pair of interviews, Bell stressed that the preliminary plans were subject to change and that the detailed park layout and proposed ride mix would continue to evolve with the project.
Bell pointed to two parks as inspiration for Orlando Thrill Park: Cedar Point in Ohio and Six Flags Magic Mountain in California, which have been dueling for a decade over the title of "Roller Coaster Capital of the World."
But with half as many coasters as Cedar Point and Magic Mountain, OTP's ride inventory would likely look a lot like Knott's Berry Farm in California -- without the Wild West theme, Bell acknowledged. Indeed, eight of the 14 rides envisioned for Orlando Thrill Park can be found at Cedar Point, Magic Mountain and/or Knott's.
Orlando Thrill Park hopes to fill a void created by the absence of any Six Flags or Cedar Fair amusement parks in Florida. Indeed, the Orlando-area parks -- Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens -- are dominated by theme rather than thrills.
"We're not trying to out-Disney Disney," Bell said. "We know we can't do that."
The hope, he said, would be to steal a day from tourists on weeklong vacations to Orlando and draw locals from throughout Florida. Bell anticipates Orlando Thrill Park could attract 2 million annual visitors out of the roughly 50 million (nearly 47 million last year, says the local tourist bureau) who come to the Orlando area every year. The project includes plans for a 3,300-space multi-story parking structure.
Florida certainly has its share of top-notch coasters: the SheiKra floorless dive machine at Busch Gardens Tampa, the Manta flying coaster at SeaWorld Orlando, the Incredible Hulk launched coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure and Expedition Everest at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
But only one central Florida park would compete with Orlando Thrill Park's eight proposed coasters: Busch Gardens Tampa, which also claims eight. SeaWorld has only four coasters. and Universal boasts only seven coasters between its two parks. And it’s the same for Disney, which counts a mere seven coasters among its four parks. (All counts are according to Roller Coaster Database)
Orlando Thrill Park would have no themed environments, no costumed characters, no dark rides and few if any shows, Bell said. Instead, it would be all about the biggest, tallest, fastest, longest, steepest and greatest thrills.
No price tag has been pinned to the new park, but by my estimate the ride inventory alone would top $100 million. Bell said he hopes OTP would serve as a proving ground for the latest and greatest from the amusement industry, showcasing one-of-a-kind, prototype, record-breaking, envelope-pushing, adrenaline-based extreme rides.
"To us they're just giant Tinkertoys," Bell said. "After a while, we'll just sell the old rides and add new prototypes."