Theme park news roundup: The word of the day is giga-coaster

The new Intimidator 305 roller coaster has opened at Kings Dominion theme park in Richmond, VA. The coaster, named in honor of the late NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, has ride cars that look like Earnhardt’s famous black Chevy. Earnhardt’s daughter Taylor visited the park last week to open the ride.

The Intimidator 305 screams along at 92 miles per hour, thanks to a 300-foot drop at the start.

Kings Dominion says that makes it part of a new class of giga-coasters – “complete-circuit coasters with a height of 300 feet or taller.” You can now check “add a word to my vocabulary” off today’s to-do list. You’re welcome.

Universal requires 4-night stay for Harry Potter packages (Orlando, FL, USA)

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens June 18, and if you want to book Universal Orlando Resort’s vacation package to go see the wizard, you will be staying in Orlando until at least June 22.

Universal tells the Orlando Sentinel that the package was designed as a 4-night experience when it was introduced in February, but the minimum stay requirement was just set this week.

The Orlando vacation packages include a hotel stay, Universal Orlando tickets, breakfast at the new Three Broomsticks restaurant and early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.Coney Island Cyclone opens for 83rd season (New York City, NY, USA)

The landmark Cyclone roller coaster has re-opened for its 83rd season on Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York.

It costs $8 to ride the combination wooden and steel structure that cost $175,000 to build in 1927. Although the thrill ride is on the National Register of Historic Places, it is still listed among coaster enthusiasts as one of the best current roller coasters in the country – both for its great views of the Manahattan skyline and its 60 mph hairpin turns.

Nearby, the new Luna Park is set to open its 19 rides on the Coney Island shore on May 29.

Great Wolf Lodge tries for water-slide world record (USA)

3,651 miles. That’s the distance that bathing-suit clad visitors slid at 11 Great Wolf Lodge indoor water parks last weekend, in an attempt to set a Guinness World Record.

The Great Wolf Lodges each kept one water slide open for 24 hours and asked sliders to donate to the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. The charity event/publicity stunt resulted in 47,660 trips down the designated water slides.

Guinness is still verifying the information before making the world record – which will be in the category longest distance water sliding in 24 hours in multiple venues – official. Oddly enough, there’s no previous record-holder for this very specific, new category in the company’s record books.

SeaWorld’s Aquatic water park opens new water slide (Orlando, FL, USA)

Orlando water park Aquatica has opened its new slide, the Omaka Rocka. The tube slide deposits riders in funnels designed to mimic the sensation that skateboarders feel in the half-pipe.

This is the third year for Aquatica, SeaWorld’s venture into the water park scene. Omaka Rocka is the first addition to the park since it opened.

Future questioned at Freestyle Music Park (Myrtle Beach, SC, USA)

The troubled Freestyle Music Park is facing foreclosure. The Myrtle Beach, S.C., park – which opened as Hard Rock Park in 2008 then underwent a brand change for the 2009 season – missed a debt payment deadline last week.

The Sun News reports that the theme park’s owners have not been able to find new investors and are facing bankruptcy or foreclosure. Owners are saying it is “unlikely” that the park will open for the 2010 season.

Six Flags releases iPhone app (USA)

The Six Flags Fun Finder, a free app, is now available in the App Store. Beyond the usual park maps and event listings, that app integrates with Facebook to help you find the exact location of your friends within any Six Flags theme park. The app is free.