Europa-Park’s Rulantica water park has arrived
AT: Tim Baldwin
RUST, Germany — Europa-Park has established itself as a world-renowned destination. Having taken the Golden Ticket Award for Bedst Park for six years running and pushing toward an annual attendance figure of six million guests, Europa-Park is the largest theme park and hotelier in all of Germany.
With its soft opening in late November, Rulantica became the resort’s second gate. Dubbed an indoor “water world,” Rulantica elevates the indoor water park experience to a new thematic level.
“Construction was about 26 months,” said Roland Mack, founder of Europa-Park. “But for all the decisions — the size of the hotel, the size of the park, the theming — it has been about five years.”
As the largest single investment in Europa-Park history, Rulantica amazes with its nine settings.
Vinterhal features a gigantic glacier mountain with Syalgur, a frozen sea serpent, embedded in the ice. Some of most iconic work from ProSlide Technology of Ottawa, Canada, is seen in this section. Vinter Rytt is a Tornado Wave slide that sends passengers four at a time up an icy wall where they experience weightlessness. Syalgur Rytt is a Mammoth River, which also accommodates four passengers as it snakes through its elaborately decorated serpentine turns. Stormvind, a ProSlide CannonBowl, sends riders in double tubes into a whirlpool at high speed before dropping them back into a dark abyss. Två Falls is a second double rider slide that whooshes riders through an enclosed slide at exhilarating speeds. Isbrekker are two Shotgun Fall-type slides where riders freefall from 1.5 meters into deep water at the ride’s end.
Ragnakor is an area themed to a city on stilts. In features two major attractions, a Rally Racer from ProSlide called Odinrås and Dugdrob & Vildfål drop capsule slides from Aquarena (Jettingen, Germany). The latter sports two clear sections so that spectators below can see bodies plummet as the floor drops away. A self-service restaurant and cocktail bar feature both indoor and outdoor seating. Perhaps the most impressive area of Ragnakor is the exclusive cabana offerings, here decked out in the finest of themed aesthetics and noted with such names as Odin, Thor, Loki, etc. These elevated themed Nordic chateaus are the envy of all guests below.
Trølldal is a large play area geared to younger visitors. Shallow pools and play structures are whimsically themed and entertain kids with interactive elements. The area was supplied by Aquarena.
Skip Beach is an activity pool anchored by a shipwrecked steamboat. The area offers a water obstacle course, slides and themed structures that invite children to explore. Aquarena provided three slides from the ship and Bomar Soft Playgrounds (Tavares, Florida) created the customized floating lily pads and interactive elements.
For the older guests, Skog Lagoon is a notable favorite. Surrounded by tall evergreen trees, the tucked away lagoon is a peaceful oasis of waterfalls, whirlpools and bubble loungers. Surprising even park management with its popularity, the pool cocktail bar is consistently packed with those ready to enjoy a refreshment.
Lumåfals is a dramatically themed area which wows guests upon entry into Rulantica. Huge stalactites descend from the ceiling, which are even more astonishing at night. A restaurant sets an underwater tone with wavy blue recessed lighting and bubbling walls. A gift shop is in the area, as well as Surf Fjørd, a large, crowd-pleasing wave pool supplied by Murphy’s Waves (Glasgow, Scotland). Its backdrop is a massive video wall that features fish, mermaids and other figures continuously swimming several stories to the ceiling.
Surrounding and intertwining with many of these areas is Snorri’s Saga, a themed lazy river that sends visitors adrift through caverns, by waterfalls and through bubbling encounters. Within the tunnels, media content engages riders to look in all directions for characters who swim by and amuse with antics. Mack Media (overseen by Michael Mack) provided the content for this attraction, as well as the large video wall behind the wave pool.
Two more areas are outdoors. Frigg Tempel is a large heated outdoor pool featuring a swim-up bar for cocktails. Vildstrøm is a rapids river which offers two paths, one wilder and one milder. This “wild river” type attraction is a cross between a lazy river, body slide and rapids attraction. Riders careen and splash through the curves and bends of the river which has a change in elevation of a few feet. Entrance into the heated water begins inside the water park and then has passage to the outdoor current.
Simply listing the areas does not convey the scope of the Rulantica project. Ornate lobbies welcome arriving guests, and a two-floor registration ticketing area allows those staying at Krønosår, the resort’s newest and sixth hotel, to cross over a lake between the hotel and water park via a sky bridge to their own entrance area and early admission.
During development, the Rulantica team visited 26 water parks around the world. Of those, 24 featured palm trees and a tropical setting. Many others featured pirates. In the quest to create something spectacularly original, those commonplace themes were disregarded. The layout of the park changes in elevation offering different views and sightlines, making for a sense of exploration and discovery.
Guests use ID bracelets, not tickets, to gain entry. The bands open entrance gates and serve as the means for all financial transactions as Rulantica is a cash-free park. Upon the day’s conclusion, guests “check out” to sign for and resolve their purchases for the day. Once cleared, the wrist bracelet is placed in the turnstile which enables guests to exit.
Instead of large changing facilities, a unique concept of 200 “boutique” changing rooms in eight corridors lets individuals or families enter a small changing room and exit the other side, where large locker areas await. The cost is a mere euro to rent one of the 3,500 lockers for the day. When attendance demand or cleaning needs dictate, certain corridors can be closed off without interrupting the flow of guests into the park. Showers and restrooms are in the following halls. These halls lead to awe-inspiring views upon entrance into Rulantica.
“Every time I walk in, I find it overwhelming,” said Roland Mack.
Although Rulantica has space for expansion on a site covering 450,000 square meters (almost 5 million square feet), the indoor section already in place covers 32,600 square meters (more than 350,000 square feet). The shell-shaped building effectively uses wooden beams and glass for the roof offering natural light. The sound inside Rulantica is playful, but not noisily overbearing.
At the helm of Rulantica is Michael Kreft von Byern. A long-time representative of the executive board, he stepped into the role of director of Rulantica.
“To be part of the team for such a great project is a great honor for me,” said Kreft von Byern. “I worked on this since 1996 — from the first ideas, then being part of the planning team. Working on the complex permit process and the public hearings were the harder parts of this. Finally, to see all that we dreamt up to become true was the most rewarding part of it. It is a once-in-a-lifetime [opportunity] to open such a great resort and build a new team to operate it.”
Kreft von Byern credits Europa-Park’s philosophy of theming with unique details, a mix of attractions and good service quality as the formula for success as Rulantica moves forward. To keep the guest experience at a high level, attendance is limited. To ensure entrance, guests are encouraged to purchase tickets online in advance and receive the best price for doing so.
“We’ve been working on the project for about five years,” said Jeffrey Janovich, VP strategic accounts, ProSlide. “It was a challenge more in terms of working with the German regulations than doing an indoor park. We’ve done lots of indoor water parks, and we’ve brought that experience. In the end, it was well worth it with the quality of project they’ve developed. It’s been a proud moment for us to see it come to life with the level of quality the Mack family has put into this water park. When you see what they’ve done with Europa-Park in the last 40 years, I knew this was going to be not only world class, but a world-changing water park. It’s going to be timeless and impactful to the industry.”
The majority of the floor in Rulantica is etched tile. Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but also heated to add to the comfort of guests.
It is noteworthy to mention the complete change in ambience once darkness falls. The lighting within the facility is themed, yet simplistic, adding a mystical presence to the atmosphere. Principal lighting comes from the pools themselves.
“It’s even better at night than during the day,” said Roland Mack. “When I saw the colors coming together and the dimensions coming together and the theming — that was a big new demand for the famil y— I’m very happy with the outcome.”
The entire project was master planned well into the future. Management is deep into Phase 2 for Rulantica’s first expansion.
In addition to Kreft von Byern, Chip Cleary is senior consultant with Charles Botta serving as project director. Jeff Havlik of PGAV (St. Louis, Mo.) oversaw the master plan.
“We look forward to a long-term relationship with the Mack family and helping them continue to grow,” said Janovich. “They are so new to it. I think they are quickly realizing they have created something very special. It’s going to be very successful and they will see the need to continue to grow that business. There is going to be a strong demand for that park for many, many years.”
“This special mix of attractions and theming on this level with our Scandinavian storyline is unseen before in Europe,” said Kreft von Byern.
John Hinde’s impact
will last lifetimes
News of John Hinde’s passing broke just prior to the start of the 2020 AIMS Safety Seminar in Galveston and stayed a topic of conservation throughout the entire seminar social time.
For those who knew John, one common theme emerged: his love for this industry and for the people that make it happen.
While Hinde’s career in the industry dates back to 1968 and Cedar Point, it was his early work in AREA and later AIMS that carved out a niche for him promoting the safety side of the business.
Hinde was a steady force in growing AIMS both as an association and the annual Safety Seminar. In his latter years he worked hard to promote safety on the carnival/mobile side of the industry through his work with the Northwest Showmen’s Association Annual Safety Seminar.
He believed that anyone in this industry, in any capacity, could benefit from the educational opportunities the safety seminars offered. I know that first hand as I was invited to join the AIMS Board of Directors by John. Soon after, I attended my first AIMS Safety Seminar and during that seminar I sat in on close to a dozen classes. John was right, any class that one chooses to attend, the attendee will leave with more knowledge of that subject. He opened my eyes on safety, and I know he has done the same to countless others.
John loved baseball, his ice cream (think 31 Flavors), being around industry people and swapping stories, but most of all he loved seeing the smiles and hearing the screams from a refurbished wooden coaster or other amusement ride, doing what they were designed to do — provide safe fun to the guest.
Safe fun...that’s worth any park repeating every day as they ready the park for the guests to enjoy.
John Hinde’s impact will last many lifetimes.
See obituary and comments — page 41.
No need to pussyfoot here
This issue’s story is from a friend in park operations who agreed to let me share it if I changed the names.
Years ago, at a family-run amusement park with an RV facility, my friend Danna received a call from David, the security manager, requesting that she join him in his golf cart to visit the RV area.
David shuttled Danna to the rear of the RV facility, where a little trailer sat far from the others. He handed Danna his handkerchief just before the smell hit her.
“The elderly lady in this trailer has around 60 cats,” David said. “She’ll only open a window, not the door, afraid one might escape.”
Danna looked at him. “And you need me because?”
“I’m afraid of one lady with 60 cats in a teardrop trailer,” David replied.
Leasing in the RV park was very reasonable, and the “cat lady,” whose name was Abbie, had no other options for living arrangements. After Danna called animal control, Abbie agreed to give up all but two of her cats to a humane shelter.
Danna hired a cleaning service for the trailer and invited Abbie to accompany her on her morning park rounds. Abbie quickly became more outgoing — and a welcome face among the park’s employees.
Abbie meant well in taking in the stray cats. When she herself ran astray of the facility’s regulations, she found that, at a family-run amusement park, kindness is the golden rule.
Lottie Minick is a 45-year attractions industry veteran and co-owner of Dallas-based Minick Associates, a design firm founded by her late husband, Bob. Her monthly column features behind-the-scenes anecdotes of her own and from those who have worked in the business. Got a fun industry story? Email email@example.com.
Bob Childress, Childress Shows, Inc.
At age 12, Bob Childress started selling novelties at local stadiums and events. He never looked back. After serving in the U.S. Navy, Bob attended Clemson University, and while in college began a business where he sold souvenirs at fairs and sporting events. His interest in the carnival world prompted him to open Childress Shows in 1962 with three small rides; the show eventually grew to more than 40 rides. Bob is not one to rest on his laurels, and has also created a manufacturing business that produced the popular Giant Slide and Expo Wheel and later launched a circus empire. He is a one-of-a-kind industry talent and personality who has been presented with the well-deserved Industry Pioneer Award honor from the Outdoor Amusement Business Association.
Owner, Childress Shows, Inc., Childress Manufacturing Company, Hendricks Bros. Circus and Lewis and Clark Circus
Number of years in the industry:
Best thing about the industry:
You can be as big as you want to be or as small as you want to be.
Favorite amusement ride: Sky Wheel.
If I wasn’t working in the amusement industry, I would be …
I honestly don’t know … I have never done anything else!
Biggest challenge facing our industry:
The thing I like most about amusement/water park/carnival season is …
Time off in the winter!
The type of music I listen to most often is …
I listen to all types of music.
I typically celebrate my birthday by …
Being with my family.
When I look outside my front door, I see … Grass that needs cut!
The most I have ever spent on a meal is … $1,200 at a group dinner.
Favorite place to catch up on reading:
In my recliner.
Coolest circus act: The elephants.
All-time favorite sports team
Pick one: steak or lobster?
I’m more of a steak guy.
My first job was …
Selling novelties at football games when I was 12 years old.
If I could turn back time, I would … Make a few changes and do it all over again.
I never miss this show on TV …
America’s Got Talent.
My “catch phrase” is …
What looks good to you might not be good for you.
Twenty years ago, I was …
Planning to retire, but I haven’t done that yet.
When I say politics, you say …
Don’t go there!
It has to be Christmas.
JKJ/OABA to lead H-2B visa program
discussions during the IISF trade show
GIBSONTON, Fla. —James Judkins, president, JKJ Workforce, sent out a plea of help via email to members of the outdoor amusement industry in mid-January. Once again, there seems there will be issues regarding the H-2B visa program.
It has become a reoccuring problem for businesses not knowing the status of being able to employ workers through this program.
Judkins, along with Leon Sequiera will conduct two seminars during this year's International Independent Showmen's Association's week of events surrounding the International Independent Showmen's Foundation Super Trade Show and Extravaganza.
The seminars will be held from 12-2 p.m. and at 3-5 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 5. Judkins said that the two sessions will be similar, but they will not be identical.
The focus of the seminar will be "Beat the Cap."
"We will discuss EB-3 Visas (a permanent residence U.S. visa/Green Card for skilled, professional or other workers), preplayment plans and worker contracts," Judkins said.
Outdoor Amusement Business Association representatives Rocky Fox and John Ariale with Hursch Blackwell Strategies will lead the discussion between 2-3 p.m., on the political situation.
OABA schedule during 52nd IISF Trade Show
GIBSONTON, Fla. — The International Independent Showmen's Foundation (IISF) Trade Show and Extravaganza, Feb. 5-8, is a great time for showmen to come together. For that reason, the Outdoor Amusement business Association (OABA) schedules several events as well.
According to OABA President and CEO Greg Chiecko, the following are some of the week's highlights for the Florida week.
Wed., February 5th
•2-3 p.m. — OABA Update on H2B and future strategy, IISA Grounds, open to anyone.
•3:30-4:30 p.m. — OABA Reception Honoring 2020 Hall of Fame and Pioneer Recipients, IISA Carnival Museum, Second Floor.
Thurs., February 6th
•8-9:30 a.m. — OABA Board and Sponsor Breakfast, Sheraton Hotel, Invitation Only
•9:30 a.m.-12 p.m. — OABA Board Meeting, Sheraton Hotel, Invitation Only
•12-12:30 p.m. — MAI, OABA Duke Smith Memorial Education Fund Board & Scholarship Meeting, Sheraton Hotel, Invitation Only.
•7-10 p.m. — 4th Annual OABA TopGolf H-2B Advocacy Fundraiser, TopGolf Tampa, All welcome with paid registration.
Fri., February 7th
•6-9:30 pm — OABA's 55th Annual Meeting and Chair's Reception, Sheraton Hotel Ballroom
Roland Mack: Reflections on 70 years
In recent months, Roland Mack of Europa-Park turned 70 years old. Amusement Today sat down with the legend to discuss his past accomplishments as well as a look toward the future.
AT: Your family and the industry made quite the occasion of your 70th birthday. Was there a moment you particularly enjoyed?
RM: I think being able to show our water park to my guests on that special night and to do a great show in the water. I think a [few months] before that no one would have believed that on the 12th of October we’d be able to let people walk in and show the first impressions of the water park. All the family was with me and good friends. It was a beautiful night.
When the gates to Europa-Park opened in 1975, you would naturally hope the park would be successful. Could you have ever pictured all the many different themed countries, six hotels, 13 roller coasters and being voted Best Park in the World back then?
No, never. I was so tired. We had no left, no right, no other hands helping us. We had to do everything on our own. We were serving beer, selling tickets … my mother, my wife, the plumbers, the iron workers … they all helped that first weekend. We worked hard to fulfill the wishes of our guests. There were no complaints.
We were not [encouraged] to build a park at this location. The only chance to develop was to go step by step and learn every day.
Today if you want to open a park it needs to be a certain size. Back then people didn’t know parks, and we could start smaller. I feel so happy now that we do have land reserved and we do have new ideas.
I remember my friend Geoffrey Thompson who would come visit. He would say, ”Roland, it’s all about atmosphere,” and he was right.
You are known for your passion for the park. After more than four decades, what fuels the fire to keep that passion going?
It’s the demand for quality, to do things right. If you don’t do it right or look for the best you can get, you better leave it. In our industry, you have to have emotion, or you should leave it and go do something else. The foundation for every great idea is emotion.
It must be a tremendous source of pride to see your children take leadership roles in running the parks. Was it difficult to hand over those responsibilities?
It’s not easy, but it is also a long process. They’ve grown up in the park. As children, it was the biggest playground. I didn’t have to [ask] them to work for the company. It was their wish.
What is great luck for me is that they are so diversified. Michael, for example, burns for media. He burns for new ways of doing marketing and talking to the client. Thomas is very much [focused] on the food industry and service industry. He is also a very good musician. Anna has the talent from me and my father to build things. My father would be grateful to see one of his grandchildren involved in construction and building. She was my only child to build roller coasters.
The Mack family is known to its community and guests more than the usual operators of a theme park. How often do you get to interact with the daily guests?
I’m in the park every day. I walk through the park and look at construction, so I’m very close to the people. I love people, and you shouldn’t be in the business if you don’t love people.
When they come up to me, it is so respectful. When an 18-year-old comes up to me to take a picture with me, it makes me very happy. I had a family come up to me last week who wanted to take a picture with me, and they started crying. I had to cry also because if you see the reaction of the people — and they were so thankful — you understand every hour that you work for. It’s unbelievable. It makes me happy.
If you could go back 30 years, what is something you might do differently?
That’s a difficult question. Our life was very different 30 years ago. My father said we did more right than wrong. Sure, if we knew then we would get six million people you would buy more land. Maybe we would have opened a hotel earlier. But you have to have the right people on your side. Now you know so many things, but would it have fit into a time 30 years ago? I would say no.
After all the planning, what is the most satisfying part of getting Rulantica open?
I think when you stay inside you feel it is a quality product, a Mack product. That was always my fear with the situation of [being indoors] that we have to create an unbeatable atmosphere. With Europa-Park we had the trees and the river and hundreds of years to work with. With Rulantica, there was nothing. Now we have created a great atmosphere. Within 26 months! And we don’t have one person who is against this project.
When you turn 80, do you plan to be just as busy?
[laughs] I don’t think so. I would like to change. It’s very important in a family business that you give responsibility. My father gave me a lot of responsibility when I was 23. It is time for me to give responsibility so they can have their own opinion and make their own way. I will have to change the role. My park is my business, and my business is my hobby. I think it’s possible.
Zamperla opens agriculture entertainment center, Luna Farm
AT: Tim Baldwin
BOLOGNA, Italy — With the success of the rebirth of Luna Park in New York’s Coney Island in 2010, management at Zamperla have repeated the formula in Italy. Dubbed the world’s largest agri-food park, FICO Eately World opened in 2017 and features eateries and hands-on exhibits. Visitors can eat, shop for food or take cooking classes. In late November of 2019, Zamperla opened the doors to a new indoor entertainment center called Luna Farm at the location.
Team Park Project is the design company responsible for the layout plan. The interior of the facility encompasses 6,500 square meters (close to 70,000 square feet) of fun.
“The concept of this indoor park was defined in July 2018,” said Nicolas Trentin, marketing manager, Zamperla. “It then took approximately 10 months to design the park and seven months to realize it.”
The farm-themed amusement park features 15 attractions, all from Zamperla, adorned with animal and farming motifs. A monorail has families riding above the action inside vehicles shaped like hens. A Samba Balloon ride sports a honey pots-and-bumblebee overlay. Magic Bikes are decorated in a scarecrow theme. A Zamperla Jump Around is named Flying Pigs and places children in smiling, mud-splattered swine. The attractions find that sweet spot between whimsical and adorable.
Formula Farm is a Space Vortex model spinning coaster positioned in the center of the facility.
Zamperla’s high-tech division, Zamperla Plus (Z+), is tapped for augmented reality and interactive reality on select attractions. In addition to the 13 rides, two additional attractions, a VR BOX and the 4D Cimema, are located in the park arcade. Bumper cars have an additional arcade element as drivers of the bull-shaped vehicles drive over interactive projections.
Fuga Dal Milino (“Escape from the Mill”) is a funhouse style environment with numerous classic physical gags and walking surfaces. Labirintolo is a play structure that lets kids jump, climb and swing.
Close to the heart of the Zamperla group is the investment of the concept of inclusivity and accessibility. Attention has been given to making rides available to those with special needs.
“This is the first indoor themed park in Italy, so it is absolutely unique and innovative,” Trentin told Amusement Today. “The park is specifically targeted at children, and it is themed around an Italian farm where an eccentric character and his crazy animals run riot.”
Within the park, guests encounter various characters. The farmer Gianni is the mastermind behind all the wacky contraptions, but the animal mascots take the stage. Penelope the pig, Valentino the bull, Ricky the rooster and Martina the queen bee all come with their own personal backstory and personality. Dressed in fun and trendy clothes, the mascots are quick to engage with young visitors. When the characters put on a stage show, guests sit comfortably on sacks of straw.
Trentin stated that both the parents and children seem to be enthusiastic about Luna Farm’s overall entertainment offer. “Among the attractions which have immediately been met with approval are two prototype rides — Zamperla’s indoor spinning coaster and Zamperla’s interactive bumper cars,” he said. “The interactive painting wall next to the park entrance has proven to be a success with children literally rushing at it.”
The average length of stay seems to be approximately two to three hours. A full workforce employs 70 people, 50 of which are ride operators and guest service personnel. Party rooms are also available for rent. A gift shop with ubiquitous plush, a nursery, arena and a skill games area are all part of the venue.
While Luna Farm is a part of the FICO Eately World complex, known for its food, the entertainment center still offers snacks and dishes for those inside. A balance of park food with Italian cuisine is available.
“Luna Farm is much more than a collection of amusement rides for children,” said Trentin. “Young visitors and their families will enjoy here a unique experience where, by having fun, they will get to know the many values connected with food: the promotion of health and environmental sustainability and the protection of landscape and nature. All these values are linked to the culture of the Mediterranean Diet, on which the FICO Foundation bases its actions.”
“We are proud of our partnership with Mr Farinetti, founder of FICO Eataly World, particularly because it’s a completely Italian partnership,” says Alberto Zamperla, president of the Zamperla Group. “Eataly World is a top player in the food industry, and Zamperla is the world top player in the amusement ﬁeld. Isn’t it a perfect recipe?
“Moreover, we share with FICO Eataly World the same mission, i.e. promoting the Italian excellence in the world. The nature of this cutting-edge project has led us to take it seriously and invest in this collaboration accordingly. Luna Farm arrives at the second year of FICO as a natural evolution of a project that anticipates future trends: FICO offers innovative answers to the changing needs of consumers, where entertainment plays a key role,” he added.
The cost of the Luna Farm project was 11 million euros.
Knott’s Berry Farm to revive Bear-y Tales for 100th anniversary
AT: Dean Lamanna
BUENA PARK, Calif. — Knott’s Berry Farm will commemorate its 100th anniversary with the park’s largest celebration ever, paying tribute to the Knott family’s history and legacy of family fun. A highlight of the summerlong birthday party, which kicks off May 15 and runs through Aug. 30, will be the return of the park’s Bear-y Tales story in an all-new 4D interactive dark ride.
Called Knott’s Bear-y Tales: Return to the Fair, the ride is a continuation of the classic dark ride originally commissioned by the Knott clan and created in 1975 by legendary attraction designer and former Walt Disney Imagineer Rolly Crump. It will take guests on a journey through reimagined show scenes reminiscent of the earlier ride — including the Boysenberry Pie Factory, Frog Forest, Fortune Teller Camp, Thunder Cave and Weird Woods — and culminate in a celebration at the County Fair.
“The return of Knott’s Bear-y Tales is perfect for the 100th anniversary because it brings back one of the park’s most nostalgic and beloved attractions in an innovative 4D dark ride format,” said Jon Storbeck, park vice president and general manager. “It will delight an entirely new generation of fans.”
The new ride’s story, taking place 34 years after the first adventure, will follow Boysen Bear and Girlsen Bear as they travel to the Country Fair in hopes of winning the top prize for their famous boysenberry pies. The journey takes a dramatic turn with the appearance of Crafty Coyote and his mischievous pups, who are intent on stealing the pies for themselves. Guests will board ride vehicles equipped with“jelly blasters” to locate and recover the stolen pies, competing for the highest score while moving through whimsical environments.
The attraction will be located in the same second-floor space, above an arcade, occupied by the original Bear-y Tales dark ride. Bear-y Tales was replaced by the trendy, if kooky, Kingdom of the Dinosaurs dark ride in 1987. After the latter attraction closed in 2004, the space remained dormant until it was retrofitted in 2015 by Montreal-based ride manufacturer Triotech for Voyage to the Iron Reef, a 4D interactive dark ride.
Knott's closed Voyage to the Iron Reef Jan. 5, in order to begin collaborating with with Triotech on the Bear-y Tales retheming.
Before the park’s milestone anniversary celebration begins in earnest this summer, it will bring added theming and fun to several events taking place at the park currently and this spring.
The Knott’s Peanuts Celebration, running weekends now through March 1, invites guests to step into the iconic world of Charles M. Schulz comic strips as the characters take over the entire property with special activities, food offerings and a brand-new stage show, “Happiness Is.”
Returning March 20-April 19, the Knott’s Boysenberry Festival will roll out an array of boysenberry-inspired items from the Knott’s culinary team.
The ‘Resistance’ has arrived at Disneyland’s Galaxy’s Edge
More in store as park
heads toward 65th
anniversary in July
AT: Dean Lamanna
ANAHEIM — The Stormtroopers, and throngs of Star Wars fans eager to see (and flee) them, have descended on Disneyland.
Drawing raves from parkgoers and industry observers, and redefining the term “immersive attraction,” when it opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort (WDW) in early December (Amusement Today, January 2020), Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance made its U.S. west coast debut at Disneyland Jan. 17.
The 15-minute walkthrough / dark ride adventure inside the park’s new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge themed land finds guests caught in a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Realized through a symphonic combination of cutting-edge technologies, including zippy trackless ride vehicles, high-definition visuals and an army of animatronics — plus live actors — within intimate and cavernous sets, the journey begins aboard a full-size transport shuttle and then shifts to a nearby Star Destroyer, becoming a surprise-filled, increasingly jaw-dropping escape scenario incorporating varied motion.
R2-D2, now an independently roaming fixture at the Anaheim park’s Galaxy’s Edge, greeted AT and other invitees at the ride’s Jan. 16 media preview, which was attended by some of the key Rise of the Resistance creatives. Describing the ride as “immersive storytelling on a massive scale,” Bob Chapek, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, confidently stated that it is “the most advanced, action-packed attraction Disney has ever created.”
The excitement over Rise of the Resistance will not be dying down anytime soon. But Disneyland Resort is already ramping up work on other major attractions and improvements in the run-up to its 65th anniversary this July. Some highlights:
•Disneyland will roll out an all-new daytime parade, “Magic Happens,” on Feb 28. It features costumes, floats and music inspired by the animated features Coco, Frozen 2, Moana and Sleeping Beauty.
•The first phase of the resort’s Marvel-based Avengers Campus, including a web-slinging Spider-Man attraction, will open at Disney California Adventure this summer. The area also will have a Doctor Strange presentation, an eatery inspired by The Wasp and super-hero meet-and-greet opportunities.
•Snow White’s Scary Adventures, one of the park’s original dark rides, is getting a facelift reportedly costing nearly $500,000. The Fantasyland attraction will see upgrades in props and special effects as well as structural enhancements.
•Tomorrowland will unveil a new entrance this year, improving access and aesthetics. It will have a widened pathway lined with elliptical planters , flanked by Space Age-inspired spires.
Meanwhile, Tomorrowland's Star Tours — The Adventures Continue has been updated with references to Disney / Lucasfilm’s recent billion-dollar-grossing film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. New destinations added to the 33-year-old simulator attraction include Kef Bir and Exegol.
Efteling opens 4-D theater attraction, partners with Ardman
AT: Tim Baldwin
KAATSHEUVEL, Netherlands — Efteling, a theme park with roots in fairy tales, has introduced a new attraction centered around a fable. As fables typically do, the storyline involves a character learning a moral. Fables frequently feature animals as well. With this in mind, the new attraction is suitably named Fabula.
Guests entering the attraction receive the story in two parts. A pre-show sets the stage and the main show completes the journey. Both parts run eight minutes each.
Fabula has been in development for close to three years. Once the Efteling team embarked upon the project, the challenge was to decide what characters would tell the tale. As squirrels are frequently seen in the park, officials found that an easy choice as one of the main selections. The squirrel’s counterpart needed to be something very opposite, and the park team chose a bear. This character was not only supposed to be grumpy, but also rather self-centered, thereby creating the character that would learn the lesson by the end of the story.
As the tale unfolds, guests encounter one of Eftling’s established characters, Mr. Sandman. During the film, the squirrel wishes to share with the bear, but the bear doesn’t care about his surroundings or sharing with anyone. Mr. Sandman’s magical powers take the animals on a journey where the bear is transformed into other animals, both physically and emotionally.
Efteling turned to Aardman Animation, the creators of Shaun the Sheep and Wallace and Gromit films. Aardman was selected after considering options from five companies.
“Efteling approached us with an idea and the beginnings of a script and we pitched them ideas on that,” said Steve Harding-Hill, Aardman creative director. “We decided we would like to work together and elevate their idea to where we have it now. By the end of the film, the bear is quite a different ‘person.’”
“It was a great collaboration. Despite the English, [Aardman and Efteling] speak the same language,” said Peter Koppelmans, design coordinator, Efteling. “Their creative team and our design team worked really well together.”
Fabula replaces a long-running attraction, PandaDroom, which had been featured at the park for 17 years. Six weeks was needed to overhaul the theater and retheme the area. New projectors, screen and sound system gave the previous attraction a significant revamp, as well as the special effects incorporated into the theater and seating. Water, smell and wind enhance the film. The theater is heavily themed not only on the interior walls but also from above. Seating capacity for the theater is 350 people for each viewing. Five showings an hour have a theoretical capacity of 1,760 guests.
In all, the investment into Fabula was 3.5 million euros.
Incorporated into the attraction is a newly themed 275-seat restaurant, as well as retail opportunities, both of which follow the concept of the 4-D film. The three continents featured in the film helped determine menu selections. For even faster service, digital stations and a buzzer system help guests save time. The Efteling team has found creating plush toys of its characters helps the story resonate with the guests and in turn further sales. A play area has also been included in the Fabula attraction.
Music for the attraction’s 3-D film was created by composer Réne Merkelbach.
“It sounds like a massive, great big feature film score,” said Harding-Hill. “It’s very emotional and impactful.”
Fabula officially opened on December 6, 2019.
“We are delighted with our newest attraction,” said Fons Jurgens, CEO, Efteling. “Working with Aardman on the production of Fabula has allowed us to combine the latest in film and animation technology with a new hospitality concept. The attraction is completely in tune with this time.”
Disney’s Epcot premieres new cinematic adventures
Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — On January 17, along with the opening of the annual Epcot International Festival of the Arts, Epcot premiered three new film attractions. The new on-screen experiences, “Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along,” “Canada Far and Wide, and “Awesome Planet,” are all original works from the creative minds at Walt Disney Imagineering.
“Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along” rotates showings with “Impressions de France,” one of the few original, opening-day attractions at Epcot. The new film is billed as “a twist on a tale as old as time.” Guests are invited to sing along to the much-loved songs by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman from the well-known story of the animated and live action feature films. However, this telling is the “real” story, as the narrator, Angela Lansbury, states at the onset of the 15-minute film. The new story introduces the idea that Le Fou, the villain Gaston’s madcap sidekick, has a soft heart and penchant for matchmaking and is the real catalyst in getting Belle and the Beast together. The film is directed Don Hahn, who produced both previous feature film versions of the Disney classic.
“Canada Far and Wide” is a second update to the Canada pavilion’s “O Canada” Circle-Vision 360 film. In 2007 the film was updated with narration by Martin Short, and this time around it is narrated by award-winning Canadian actors Catherine O’Hara and Eugene Levy of Best in Show and “Schitt’s Creek” fame. The film has an updated score by Canadian composer Andrew Lockington and continues to feature one of the last remaining opening-day songs, "Canada (You're a Lifetime Journey)" along with beautiful and breathtaking views in 360-degree cinema from across the nation's diverse landscape (did you know Canada has a desert?).
“Awesome Planet” in the Land pavilion showcases Disney’s cinematic excellence in the vein of the company’s Disneynature collection of feature films. Here, with the assistance of Industrial Light & Magic known best for their Star Wars franchise, Disney has produced a short film that packs quite an emotional punch in its short, 10-minute run time, and delivers both a stirring warning and message of hope to the inhabitants of a planet facing many environmental challenges.
The three new films are just one more phase in the transformation of Epcot over next couple years. The 2020 Epcot International Festival of the Arts runs from Jan. 17 through Feb. 24 and showcases performing, visual, and culinary arts from around the globe with art displays, Disney Theatrical performances, workshops, seminars, and an array of palate and aesthetically pleasing culinary offerings.
The owners of Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York, have purchased a run-down corner of that amusement district, and the purveyors are currently planning on how to reinvigorate the area with new attractions — without stepping on any toes.
“We are seeing what will be the best fit,” Deno “D.J.” Vourderis told a reporter of The Brooklyn Paper. "Something that will complement our neighbors and not compete with them.”
The lot along W. 12th Street between Bowery Street and the Wonder Wheel will roughly double the size of Vourderis’s adult section of the amusement park and is slated to open during the 2021 season, according to the article.
The parcel was formerly operated by the aptly named 12th Street Amusement, which shuttered roughly two years ago, leaving the rides there to rot, according to Vourderis. He said that while many of the attraction have been destroyed, he’ll try to salvage what he can.
The Wonder Wheel premiered at Coney Island’s in 1920. It was renamed Deno’s Wonder Wheel after Deno Vourderis’s grandfather, also named Deno Vourderis, purchased the Wonder Wheel, along with the Spook-a-Rama ride in 1983.
The acquisition comes amid the Wonder Wheel’s 100th anniversary, which Vourderis said he will celebrate with special events all year long, including a big bash on Memorial Day Weekend.
Meanwhile, officials at Luna Park on Coney Island, revealed that it will kick off its 2020 season on April 4. This year marks Luna Park's 10th anniversary and guests will be welcomed with plenty of birthday themed offerings.
Opening day will debut the three new attractions at the park as well, which are a log flume ride, ropes course and a roller coaster.
As part of its largest expansion ever, this year Anakeesta, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is adding a new observation tower in downtown Gatlinburg that officials say will be the tallest point in the mountain city. The tower is part of a $6 million expansion project now underway with plans to be ready by this summer as activities celebrating the City of Gatlinburg's 75th anniversary are in full swing.
In addition to the tower, the current project promises to double Anakeesta’s dining capacity. A new Smokehouse and Brewery restaurant will seat close to 300 guests. Diners will be surrounded by fabulous mountain vistas from a glass-enclosed, climate-controlled indoor area or a spacious outdoor patio. The new restaurant also will serve local craft beers at an inside bar and a walk-up window.
Opening just two-and-a-half years ago in September 2017, the mountaintop destination has invested a total of $30 million, continually adding shopping, dining, and fun outdoor entertainment for families to explore nature.
The North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, announced last month that 2019 brought in a record attendance and hopes are 2020 will do the same. Officials said the zoo saw more than 917,309 visitors last year, 85,000 more compared to its 2018 attendance of 831,748.
Zoo officials boast the venue is the world's largest natural habitat zoo and is home to more than 1,800 animals and 52,000 plants.
In February 2019, the zoo announced that it will expand and build two new regions: Asia and Australia. The construction of the two new regions is expected to start early this year.
David Yates, the longtime CEO of Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Clearwater, Florida, announced last month that he plans to retire from his position on March 15. Credited with bringing international attention and prominence to the aquarium, Yates has been with the aquarium since 2006.
Yates' time at Clearwater was highlighted by the story of Winter, the dolphin whose remarkable story of survival has inspired thousands of news stories, documentaries, and most notably the Dolphin Tale feature films. Yates co-produced the films, which went on to be global box office hits.
When Yates became CEO in 2006, the aquarium's budget was $1.6 million. Fourteen years later, thanks in part to the success enjoyed during Yates' tenure, that budget is between $20-25 million.
Yates will oversee the grand opening of the Aquarium's $79 million expansion prior to his departure.
Frank Dame, who has served as the Aquarium's chief operating officer since 2008, was voted unanimously by the attraction's board to succeed Yates.
The Sacramento Zoo, Sacramento, California, made an announcement last month describing the zoo's latest addition, a new alligator exhibit. The new area, set to open in the spring, will feature six American alligators.
The alligators will inhabit an area at the front of the zoo where extensive renovations are taking place. The zoo's staff has been busy creating an area closely resembling wetlands where alligators naturally live. This has included bringing in tons of dirt to help level out spaces for the alligators to swim, bask, to be fed and for guest viewing.
The American alligator, also known as the "common alligator," is native to the southeastern U.S. Males measure up to 15 feet in length and can weigh up to 999 pounds..
Jungle Island in Miami, Florida, is starting a brand new tradition to kickoff 2020. It recently opened an outdoor ice skating rink with real ice and plans are to keep the one-acre-long rink open until March 2, giving guests the opportunity to work on their tans at the same time they are ice skating.
In addition, the park's popular Luminosa Festival of Lights was extended through Feb. 9. The lanterns, found hanging all over the property, are in the shapes of exotic animals, birds and flowers, marine life and iconic Miami destinations. Jungle Island partnered with some of the world's top Chinese Lantern Festival designers to bring the attraction to Miami.
A photo finish for Six Flags Magic Mountain’s latest coaster
Single-track West Coast
Racers, from Premier
Rides, has four launches
AT: Dean Lamanna
VALENCIA, Calif. — Six Flags Magic Mountain’s West Coast Racers took more than a few extra calendar days getting to the start line, revving to life in “time trials” with season pass holders in the final moments of 2019 — and just missing the height of holiday season for its big rollout.
But by the time the green flag was officially waved on Jan. 9, it was clear the park had a major winner.
Described as the world’s first single-track racing roller coaster with multiple launches, the sleek, 55-mph attraction, manufactured by Baltimore-based Premier Rides, is a one-of-a-kind installation. The ride incorporates a record four individual magnetic launches and runs three trains on a terrain-hugging, doubled-up 4,000-foot-long contiguous track that runs both side-by-side and intertwines with itself. The complex and clever design, which tops out at 67 feet, delivers a thrilling and satisfying experience that includes two complete racing laps, airtime hills, extreme high-banked turns, four inversions (three zero-G rolls and a zero-G stall) and a variety of acrobatic over / under near misses (14 track crossovers in all, plus a high-five maneuver similar to one on the park’s Rocky Mountain Construction marvel, Twisted Colossus).
In an inspired move, Six Flags Magic Mountain brought two world-famous brands together in partnering with West Coast Customs, headquartered in nearby Burbank, California. Utilizing unparalleled craftsmanship and expertise in creating the wild, high-end car modifications for which it has become famous on cable television (MTV’s Pimp My Ride, TLC / Discovery’s Street Customs), the company — working within technical specs provided by Premier — designed and built the sleek coaster cars for West Coast Racers.
Neal Thurman, president of Six Flags Magic Mountain, was clearly pleased with the attraction while discussing it with Amusement Today during a media preview. “We’ve added yet another unique, record-breaking coaster to our second-to-none collection of world-class attractions,” he said. “West Coast Racers absolutely delivers, living up to the park’s unprecedented thrill DNA.”
The ride brings to 19 the number of operating coasters in the park. Green Lantern: First Flight, installed in 2011 and the only Intamin ZacSpin coaster in the U.S., was taken out of commission last spring and will become the location of “future development,” per a Six Flags statement.
The timed-to-the-hilt racing element of West Coast Racers is enabled in part by a “pit stop” experience that occurs halfway through the three-minute ride in a temporary train holding area adjacent to, yet separate from, the loading platform. The mechanic’s garage-like space features a brief car-customization insider video narrated by West Coast Customs founder and CEO Ryan Friedlinghaus, who is as celebrated for his own TV appearances as his celebrity clientele. The pause here enables the next train on the loading platform to be loaded before both trains advance to the start line.
Friedlinghaus had a blast working with Six Flags on the attraction. “Throughout my career, I have always thought outside of the box, and I love being challenged to build things others can’t,” he said. “It was amazing to be part of every aspect of West Coast Racers, from designing the coaster cars to the overall look and feel of the entire ride. [The park] allowed us to be completely hands-on.”
On the record as being susceptible to motion sickness, Friedlinghaus himself had not ridden the coaster as of the Jan. 7 media event AT attended.
Thanks to what Thurman termed the coaster’s “broad appeal,” West Coast Racers is the centerpiece of a new 4.5-acre, Los Angeles / urban-themed area called The Underground, where guests experience a high-energy, graffiti-adorned street vibe along with new dining and retail locations. Twin Charged Tacos, Chicken Coupe, Snack Trax, Speed Shop and Six Gear are the eateries. The area also includes the park’s recently retracked, 2009-built Great Coasters Intl. wooden coaster, Apocalypse, and the refurbished, soon-to-reopen go-karts formerly known as Cyclone 500, renamed Pacific Speedway.
The Underground, located between the park’s DC Universe and Samurai Summit sections, occupies the area previously called Cyclone Bay. Its transformation, including the addition of West Coast Racers, took more than a year to complete.
Thurman told AT that fitting the coaster into the area and around and amid its existing structures, as well as a dry steambed that runs through the park, presented some design challenges. They included the ride’s utilization of the air space over the go-karts, which the park did not want to remove or relocate — resulting in a large portion of intricate support structure that had to be assembled at the manufacturing site in China to ensure its integrity once it was erected at the park.
The coaster’s loading station is situated inside a boxy, flat-black structure with branded signage that captures the look and feel of the actual West Coast Customs shop. The coaster’s trains, each of which consist of two cars with three rows of two seats, are outfitted with lap bars and soft over-the-shoulder restraints and feature front cars with an exceptionally cool sports car design.
“This truly is an authentic West Coast Customs experience from the moment you get in line for the ride until you get off the coaster,” Friedlinghaus said. “Hope fans love it!"
American Dream timeline
1996 — Mills Corporation had a modest proposal for a 2.1 million-square-foot Meadowlands shopping center, to be built on 206 acres of wetlands in Carlstadt, New Jersey. The site contains industrial contaminants.
2001 — Acting New Jersey Governor Donald DiFrancesco proposes building the Meadowlands Mills entertainment complex on already-developed land in East Rutherford, near the Meadowlands Arena.
2002 — New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns the 700-acre Meadowlands Sports Complex, asked for proposals to redevelop 162 acres into a multi-use complex with dining, entertainment, shopping, hotel, office, exposition, recreation, parking and transportation.
2003 — Meadowlands Xanadu is what Mills/Mack-Cali Realty Corp., (the developer chosen by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority,) chooses to call its pleasure dome. (Note: Triple Five was one of the two rejected developers at the time).
2006 — Colony Capital Acquisitions announced plans to take over Xanadu from the financially-troubled Mills/Mack-Cali, which went bankrupt the next year. (The Meadowlands project had dragged on for so long that the fundamental configuration of the complex changed.)
2007 — A proposed London Eye-type observation wheel was introduced that would give sightseers a commanding view of the area surrounding it: New Jersey Turnpike, Route 3, and Newark Liberty Airport.
2008 — A bad year for Xanadu. The public complained about the exterior façade’s appearance. In fact, that year everyone was experiencing a bad economy. (Facility was 80% built, 80% leased.)
2009 — Bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers stalls construction.
2010 — Colony and Dune Capital succumb to heavy debt. The bank lenders take over the project.
2011 — The Triple Five Group re-enters the project, with a takeover of operations. They rename the place “American Dream Meadowlands” and promise an exterior appearance update, along with the addition of an amusement park and water park. Time is spent on what needed to be done to succeed in the metro New York market. Early 2014 opening date is announced to coincide with NFL Super Bowl, then late 2015, then late 2016, then 2018.
2013 — Triple Five officially takes over and construction begins on American Dream.
2016 — After a series of hand-offs, financing issues, construction delays and legal challenges, construction stopped again
2017 — Construction resumed after new financing had been secured via Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
2018 — Triple Five promised in August that American Dream would open “next spring.”
2019 — First the developers said in March that the opening would be pushed back to late summer. Then in May, they announced the opening would be in the fall.
•October 25 — Phase One, a small portion of the super-mall and amusement center, Nickelodeon Universe and The Rink opened.
•November 27 — Phase Two, The DreamWorks Water Park was scheduled to open, but hasn't. No reason was offered for the delay. A soft opening is planned in February.
•December 5 — Phase Three, SNOW American Dream opened. It is a real-snow, year-round, indoor ski and snowboard center with a 16-story slope.
2020 — March. 350 shopping venues and 100 dining places are expected to debut. Merlin Entertainments’ SEA Life Aquarium and LEGOland Discovery Center are expected to also be in operation. No opening date given for the relocation of The New Jersey Hall of Fame and an 18-hole, indoor, Angry Birds-themed miniature golf course.
2021 — KidZania, USA children’s play area scheduled to open.
After 17 years, game-changer American Dream Mall opens at last
AT: B. Derek Shaw
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — “It was my immense pleasure to be present for the opening of this historic project that will bring joy and entertainment for millions of families in the years to come,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. “American Dream was 17 years in the making, and now it is no longer a dream, but a reality that we can all enjoy.”
With those and other remarks, Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park and The Rink, an NHL-size ice skating and hockey facility, opened to guests after a long, 17-year journey. These two attractions are just a part of what will make up the 55% entertainment and 45% retail mix at the 3-million-square foot, $5.7 billion dollar shopping and entertainment complex, American Dream Mall on a nearly 90-acre tract in the Meadowlands.
Preceding the remarks by the governor and Don Ghermezian, CEO of Triple Five Development, the 95-member Mustang Marching Band from Clifton High School, Clifton, New Jersey marched through the 8.5-acre park with Sponge Bob Square Pants leading the procession.
Opening weekend was sold out all three days to friends and family of the owners and workers involved in one aspect or another of the massive project.
The colorful park, with a transparent roof in some sections, houses 22 rides that appeal to all ages in the family, from toddlers to teenagers, even parents as well.
Amusement Today spoke with then Director of Attractions Jeff Davis about Nickelodeon Universe on opening day.
What is going through your mind as the facility is opening?
“Relief! I’m an operator so I love operating. I was hired a little over a year ago, so I’ve been in the planning stages, in office, in meetings, in blueprints, so as a ride guy, I want to see guests coming in, enjoying themselves, making memories. So I’m just happy we’re open.
What will make this facility outshine others around the globe?
I think the first is that we are working with a great partner with Nickelodeon, world class. You can see just in the theming in this environment that we partnered with Nickelodeon on. To me, that’s what it is. We didn’t just put world class rides in here; we put world class theming in here. Visually the park is gorgeous. It looks great during the day. It takes [you to] another level at night. It’s going to blow people away.
What “firsts” will visitors see at Nickelodeon Universe?
They’re going to see the steepest drop in a roller coaster, with Shellraiser at 122.5 degrees. They are going to see the world’s tallest ropes course at nine stories tall. They’re going to see the tallest indoor drop tower. Every path you go down, there’s something even better than what you just saw.
What were some of the special logistics and challenges of installing the roller coasters and other rides?
Fitting 22 attractions in this space and not being constrained by it. Creativity, not only with what we had, but working with our manufacturers and challenging them to make sure we just put as much as we could in here, but not feel cramped and overcrowded. I think that’s the biggest fete that occurred.
Tell me about any unique rides at Nickelodeon Universe.
We have Kraang Prime Pandemonium, a Zamperla pendulum ride that goes all the way to the ceiling, 360 degrees. We have the drop tower that pops through the roof of the building, still inside. When you are at the top, we have glass walls where you will be able to look at the skyline before we drop you down.
How difficult has it been to staff up the amusement operations?
The human resources team we have partnered with has done an amazing job reaching out to the community, having job fairs, reaching out to local high schools and universities, work force development boards. Actually, we’ve had a ton of interest of people wanting to work here, probably because this facility is so unique. Probably also because this amusement park is being tied with Nickelodeon, I think there is a very fun aspect to it. We’ve been really pleased with the people we have hired so far.
An indoor amusement facility this large is something new to New Jersey. Were there any regulatory challenges from the state that you had to meet?
There’s lots of entertainment in New Jersey, but I think for what we are offering here, there’s nothing like it here, especially again tied with Nickelodeon. We partnered very well with the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. They’re interested like we are — safe operations. There are requirements that have to be met. We understand those requirements. We want the same thing. It was a good partnership.
How large of a radius do you expect to draw from?
Worldwide. We’re across from the greatest tourist attraction in the world, New York City. We certainly think that once people know about us and the word starts getting out, these visitors leave today, tell their neighbors, put it on Instagram and all their social media, we think that people are going to be really excited to come here. We also know that our locals are going to be very important to us. We want to be a good community partner, for not only jobs but for visitors as well. When people start planning their vacations for New York City, we are going to be one of the stops.
What does the arrival of American Dream mean for Triple Five, New Jersey and the New York metro area, and the future of “retailtainment?”
We’re going to be the example. The Ghermezian family are visionaries. They saw this coming well before anyone else did, that retail was going to need something else. That’s why this facility has more entertainment than retail from a square footage standpoint. I think it’s important to offer people things that are going to entertain. People want experiences. Not only the rides. We’re going to have the waterpark, we’re going to have a ski hill, we’re going to have other tenants that are here offering things as well. It’s vital. It’s going to be a boost for not only New Jersey, but for any entertainment venue that is looking to do retail as well.”
Nickelodeon Universe is home to four roller coasters, two manufactured by Gerstlauer Amusement Rides GmbH, TMNT Shellraiser (TMNT= Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle) and Shredder. Both are intertwined in the same footprint, creating a bee hive of activity. The former has a launch, then later in the ride a vertical lift offering quick views of the Big Apple before the dive loop and the rest of the ride. The latter is the world’s tallest and longest spinning coaster. Sandy’s Blasting Bronco (Intamin) is a short loop coaster with two launches: forward and backward in a small footprint. Finally the Slime Streak (Chance Rides) is a family coaster sans inversions, with a good drop and the typical elements found in other coasters.
Billed as the world’s largest adventure course, the 92-foot-tall Sky Trail is designed for those 36 to 64 inches in the lower portion and older adventurers, 48 inches and above without supervision, in the upper section. The attraction has a look based on the 1990s game show, Legends of the Hidden Temple that aired on Nickelodeon. The project was a joint collaboration between RCI Adventure Products, RCI licensed distributor Ride Entertainment and developer of American Dream, Triple Five Group. “It is only fitting that American Dream opens one decade after Ride Entertainment and RCI Adventure Products team up for their first project,” said Adam Sandy, president — business development, Ride Entertainment. “From the jaw-dropping height to the ability to freefall down to the ground to the beautiful views of the New York skyline, this course has it all.”
“To finally see the Sky Trail be fully realized and open to the public is highly rewarding and signifies a job well done by everyone involved,” commented Jon Weston, chief sales officer for RCI. “We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.”
Phase Two of the project, The DreamWorks Water Park was slated to open November 27, however it has not opened as of press time. When it opens, the eight-acre, glass-domed park will contain more than 40 water slides and a Madagascar rainforest tower with 15 water slides, using ProSlide Technology, Inc. equipment.
Included in the package is the HydroMagnetic Rocket, billed as the world’s tallest and the longest indoor water coaster, while the 142-foot-tall Thrillagascar with dueling speed slides intends to claim the title of world’s tallest indoor body slides. Names for many of the attractions are using DreamWorks’ intellectual property. Also in the water park is a Kung Fu Panda Zone water play complex, a pair of the world’s tallest indoor near-vertical SuperLoop slides, a six-story Tornado funnel and a 1.5-acre wave pool.
On December 5, Big SNOW American Dream opened to the public, which is Phase Three of the rollout. The 180,000-square-foot complex is North America’s first real-snow, year-round, indoor ski and snowboard center, complete with a 16-story slope. SNOW Operating, a Montvale, New Jersey, operation runs this aspect of the entertainment complex. The four acres of snow-covered slopes — equal to the size of 11 hockey rinks — has a 160-foot vertical drop, a graduated degree of pitch ranging from 0% at the base to 26% at its steepest point and 1,000 feet of length for skiers. Guests will get to the top of the slopes using four surface and aerial lifts.
Other guest experiences include introductory lessons, private coaching, children’s programs, snow play, corporate team building, private events and more.
The temperature inside Big SNOW is kept at a constant 28-degrees ensuring a consistent and optimal snow condition year-round. The center’s slopes are filled with more than 5,500 tons of snow and shaped to an average snow depth of 2 feet throughout. Specially-designed radiant cooling in the floor and snow melt systems both maintain the snow texture and reduce environmental impact at the center, Big SNOW said in a press release.
“We could not be more excited to be bringing Big SNOW to the public,” said Hugh Reynolds, vice president of marketing and sales, SNOW Operating. “Big SNOW is a game changer for skiing and snowboarding in the United States. Our goal is to introduce more than a quarter million new skiers and snowboarders to the sports in the next year.”
More than 350 shopping venues and 100 dining places are expected to debut this March. That is also when Merlin Entertainments’ SEA Life Aquarium and LEGOland Discovery Center are expected to be in operation. Another one of the dozen entertainment venues soon to be part of the mix is The New Jersey Hall of Fame. No date has been announced for that opening or the 18-hole, indoor, Angry Birds-themed miniature golf course. In 2021, KidZania USA children’s play area will open.
Triple Five Worldwide Group of Companies has developed, owns and manages the world’s first, second and third largest tourism, retail and entertainment complexes of its kind; West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, Mall of America, Bloomington, Minnesota and American Dream, East Rutherford, New Jersey. The family-owned company is based in Edmontin.
IRT nears completion of American Dream project
East Rutherford, N.J. — International Ride Training (IRT), in mid-January, was nearing the end of their work on the new Nickelodeon Universe amusement park and Dreamworks Water Park inside the huge American Dream mall, a shopping and entertainment complex constructed in the Meadowlands Sports Complex.
IRT had been hired by the mall owners, Triple Five Group, to not only train and certify ride operators and instructors, but also to write the safety and training manuals.
Nickelodeon Universe opened at the end of October, but the November opening of the water park has been postponed. No alternative date has been set yet.
The project has been unique to IRT because it is inside a mall and because this is the first time the company has had a client to use the aquatic program from start to finish, said IRT Partner Erik Beard.
"We have had other water park clients that have used the program in some form, but this is the first full-blown water park client that has gone through the entire program from beginning to end," Beard said.
Beard said the training and certification portion of this project has been completed even though the water park has not opened.
"We always wait a little after the parks open to finish writing the manuals," Beard said. "That way, once the park is operating, we can go back in and tweak anything that is needed."
Nickelodeon Universe is offering 22 rides and a few additional attractions. An NHL-regulation-sized ice rink opened along with the amusement park. In December, the Big Snow American dream ski slope and snow facility opened.
Retail shops and restaurants are set to open in March. There are to be about 450 retail shops.
Cirque du Soleil gives the Luxor
Las Vegas a ‘R.U.N’ for its money
Live action thriller
takes resort stage,
and Strip, by storm
AT: Dean Lamanna
LAS VEGAS — Making its debut just before Thanksgiving at Luxor Las Vegas hotel and casino, “R.U.N” (actually short for “Are you in?”), a special effects-and-stunt-filled show, represents Cirque du Soleil’s first effort to mount a live action thriller.
Though no stranger to producing popular Strip spectaculars, the entertainment innovator expands and exploits the storytelling capabilities of the stage (and other parts of the Luxor’s 1,500-seat theater) with its latest local presentation — combining Hollywood talent with extreme performance physicality and an array of eye-popping pyrotechnics. It reportedly cost $62 million to produce.
The new show is not your parents’ Cirque du Soleil. It is a Vegas-set gangland tale unfolding in chapters and told by gritty characters — a living, breathing graphic novel that delivers nonstop tire-peeling, fist-flinging, double-crossing drama. Fast-paced car chases and martial arts-style combat mix and alternate with state-of-the-art multimedia elements to convey the narrative and enhance the action.
“Even though I’ve done action thrillers and heavy voiceover-type stylized films, doing something for the stage is completely different,” said the show’s writer, feature film director and screenwriter Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, From Dusk till Dawn). “R.U.N’ is just full-on, full-tilt action, stunts — no acrobatics like other Cirque shows. It’s a new type of show with a storyline that you can follow, with voiceover by multiple characters in an action thriller setting that’s immersive. It starts on a movie screen, and then the characters spill out onto the stage to where you feel like you’re in an action film.”
“It’s super-jam-packed with action,” emphasized Michael Schwandt, the show’s director, “and at the root of it is a chase. There’s a pursuit that’s happening. And as with many pursuits, there’s conflict involved. There’s a love aspect to the conflict. But at the end of day, it’s super-explosive….”
Both creatives also want audiences to care about the characters. The story involves a bride and groom whose wedding is crashed by rival gangs who are trying to steal a particular piece of jewelry worn by the bride. Out of this mayhem, the chase, which also incorporates daringly piloted electric motorbikes and jump ramps along with flames, profanity and bursts of violence, ensues. Video backdrops during the pursuit feature settings such as the High Roller observation wheel, The Neon Museum and other Vegas landmarks.
The action is underscored with a dynamic soundtrack by former Marilyn Manson lead guitarist Tyler Bates, who composed the music for the films Atomic Blonde and John Wick.
The performance schedule and ticket information for “R.U.N” are available online.
SeaWorld San Diego’s new dive coaster
readying for summer
SAN DIEGO — Within weeks of announcing the name of its under-construction floorless dive coaster, Emperor, last November, SeaWorld San Diego lifted the highest piece of track into place on the Bolliger & Mabillard-manufactured attraction.
Climbing to 153 feet with their feet dangling, riders on Emperor will be suspended at a 45-degree angle at the coaster’s crown before plunging down a 143-foot vertical drop and accelerating to more than 60 mph. Elements include inversions, a barrel roll, an Immelmann loop, a hammerhead turn and flat spin along nearly 2,500 feet of track.
Each of the cars will hold 18 riders in three six-person rows. This is the first seating configuration of its type on a dive coaster in North America.
In a related development, the park has a new conservation partner, Denver-based Penguins Intl., to raise awareness of the aquatic birds. A portion of the proceeds from sales of penguin merchandise at the Emperor retail store will be donated to the organization to help advance its conservation, education and research programs.
Named for the world’s largest penguin, the new coaster will mimic the species’ amazing underwater diving ability. Emperor penguins can dive to a depth of 1,800 feet.
“There will be no other coaster experience like this in California,” said Marilyn Hannes, park president. “Emperor will both thrill our coaster enthusiasts and also serve as an attraction that educates guests about the importance of animal and conservation issues.”
In other SeaWorld San Diego news, the park closed the motion simulator portion of its Wild Arctic! attraction on Jan. 10. The displays of beluga whales and other arctic animals accompanying the ride film experience, which opened in 1997, can still be enjoyed during the development of a new ride at the site scheduled to debut next year.
Emperor is due to open this summer.
Huss Sky Tower opens of at Changsha OCT Window of the World
Bremen, Germany — Huss Park Attractions GmbH announced the opening of a Sky Tower attraction at Changsha OCT Window of the World in China.
Opened in October, the addition of the new ride continues the German company’s long-term relationship with OCT, with the Changsha park already operating a popular King Kong ride, a Huss family ride.
The largest theme park in central China, Changsha OCT Window of the World was established in 1997 and features numerous miniatures of world-famous tourist attractions, historic sites and architecture. The new 120-meter-high Sky Tower provides the venue with a modern landmark attraction and a panoramic experience for park guests.
Taking passengers to a maximum height of 80 meters, the Sky Tower cabin accommodates up to 70 passengers, with no age restrictions and accommodates guests with disabilities as well as those requiring wheelchairs. The 12-meter-diameter, air-conditioned cabin features an audio system and rotates as it gently ascends and descends, providing a full 360-degree viewing opportunity for riders of the surrounding area. On reaching its maximum height, the gondola completes a full circle of the tower structure before beginning its descent. The tower boasts an hourly capacity of approximately 1,400 guests.
“We are very happy to have opened the Sky Tower at Changsha OCT Window of the World which provides the park with a stunning new landmark attraction suitable for all guests,” said Mirko J. Schulze, CEO of Huss.
Apex Entertainment’s location in Albany, New York, was openend in November 2019.
The location is Apex's third installed with Embed’s 100 smartTOUCH tap readers, five kiosks, and two prizes workstation. Embed’s integrated business platform enables Apex to achieve greater operational efficiency while reducing costs.
“We’ve worked with Embed since the beginning, and when we talk about Embed, it’s not just another vendor that we work with,” said Joey Slawinski, Apex Entertainment's director of operations. “It’s a partnership that we want to grow with and be able to have 10 more locations with. So far, we’ve seen great success in everything from A to Z.”
The Encounter Skate Park in Duluth, Minn., has served as a popular hangout for skaters in the community for 18 years. That fun came to a halt on New Years Eve in 2017 when a pipe burst in the building, causing a disastrous flood.
"It literally decimated the entire building. and so the entire building got shut down, all three levels were flooded, the skate park was a water park," said director Mark Pavola.
Thanks to good insurance and help from volunteers, the Head of the Lakes Youth for Christ was able to completely renovate the building.
"For a 100-plus year old building, it's really in great shape now, so we're very thankful. A horrible thing like a flood became quite a blessing," Pavola said.
Work on the skate park took exactly two years, with a grand reopening this past New Years Eve.
As the new year began, work was being done on the 30,000-square-foot center MAX Family Entertainment Center located on 29 acres of property in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
The Maximum Entertainment Group — owned by a father-and-son team of Johnny Murdaugh, Sr. and Johnny Murdaugh, Jr. — held a groundbreaking for the $3.5 million facility in 2018. Initial hopes were to open the center by the fourth quarter of 2018, but construction delays caused by the weather and project scope have pushed its opening back. But the opening is nearing.
"It is about 90-percent complete," Johnny Murdaugh Sr. said. "It is moving."
The building itself for the most part is complete. Areas for a trampoline park, rock climb, three-level basketball, balance beam, free play, dodge ball, wipe out, a ninja course, soft play, a 24-person laser tag arena, an escape room, four lanes of mini-bowl and bumper cars have all been prepared and are now ready to receive the necessary equipment.
Laserforce, a major supplier of laser tag equipment, suggests that the trend for 2020 in the industry will be for more installations into multi-attraction locations.
“Bowling centers that are looking to include an additional stream of revenue should look closely at their lane capacity and make a determination that if [it] removed lanes and added laser tag, what additional revenue could be generated?” said Jason Wallace of Laserforce.
Wallace said that the trend through 2020 is in the living arena features. These features allow players to interact with their environment. Players can effectively play against the arena in addition to team or individual-based games. Targets, portals and beacons are examples of living arena elements.
“We also note that existing Laserforce customers are upgrading to our Gen8 system due to its versatility, photographic appeal and customizable options. We have shipped more than 1,300 Laserforce Gen8 battlesuits since its release in September 2018, making this now our fastest selling system. We see this trend continuing.”
Michael Worley has plans to bring his Prehistoric Putt mini-golf theme to Lincoln, Nebraska. In July, he bought a 10,000-square-foot former warehouse and has been working on remodeling it into a second Prehistoric Putt that he hopes to have open by April 1.
In January 2017, Worley opened Prehistoric Putt, a dinosaur-themed, indoor miniature golf in Omaha. In September of that year, Medieval Putt opened in Elkhorn. In June of 2018, Worley branched out across the river into Council Bluffs, Iowa, with Pirate Putt.
The forthcoming Lincoln Prehistoric Putt building will have two 18-hole putt-putt courses and will have a similar look and theme to the Prehistoric Putt in Omaha, but the similarities will end there.
“Besides the dinosaur theme, it will be completely different,” Worley said, with a different layout and different obstacles.
The 46,485-square-foot Urban Air Adventure Park coming to Augusta, Georgia, is slowly taking shape. The facility will feature trampolines, rock climbing, playgrounds, a roller coaster, battle beam, dodgeball, a ropes course and cafe.
Urban Air is moving into a building-space formerly occupierd by an H.H. Gregg. There will be rooms to accommodate birthday parties and large groups.
The estimated $1.5 million facility is aiming for a late spring opening.
About 300 people attended an unveiling and tip-off ceremony at the newly minted Cedar Point Sports Center on Cleveland Road in Sandusky, Ohio.
Breaking ground in July 2018, the $42 million indoor complex sits beside its sister site Sports Force Parks at Cedar Point Sports Center.
From travel teams to community members, with a heavy focus on youth participation, people can compete in several sports inside a 145,000-square-foot playing area. The zone can cater to basketball, volleyball, wrestling, soccer, gymnastics, dancing, cheerleading and pickleball.
Guests can also partake in many other on-site activities, ranging from climbing obstacle courses to exercising on a one-eighth-mile-long track.
CEC Entertainment and Semnox partner for RFID
IRVING, Texas — CEC Entertainment, Inc. the proprieter of the popular Chuck E. Cheese chain of restaurants and Semnox, an RFID-based venue management solution provider, have declared their five-year partnership a success.
With what started as a testing of an RFID-based debit card system in 2014, the partnership has yielded mutually beneficial and successful outcomes for both organizations. Chuck E Cheese has successfully implemented Play Pass, the technology solution that replaced the token based game room to an RFID enabled entertainment destination at all of its more than 500 U.S. corporate locations and are in the process of rolling out the solution to the domestic and international franchises.
“Partnering with Semnox to roll out our RFID technology upgrade for our concept was one of the best decisions we have made at CEC in the last five years,” said Roger Cardinale, president of CEC Entertainment.
“We were concerned initially because Semnox was a smaller organization, but they exceeded our expectations in every way possible. Our operations team views Semnox as part of our organization, that is the best endorsement any vendor could hope for.”
“It is a proud moment for the company to have not only won the business of CEC but having retained them as a very highly referenceable client,” said Kiran Karanki, CEO of Semnox.
“I believe the relationship has been mutually rewarding with continuous innovation driven by both companies. We are thankful to the CEC team for having placed faith in us. We look forward to many more years of continued association.”
Embed and Round1
fuel day of fun for
the Boys and Girls Club
DALLAS, Texas — Embed partnered with Round1 Grapevine to host children from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, a non-profit organization serving over 23,000 youths annually with life-changing programs that promote academic success, healthy lifestyles, and positive citizenship.
“Fuel Your Fun Day” was held on January 6 and treated 100 kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County to unlimited game play, bowling, karaoke, food, goodie bags and giveaways. These children come from all communities and walks of life. Embed sponsored a day of fun for them for an exciting and rewarding activity.
“When we have corporations come to us and say, “We want to do something for your kids,” it makes us happy because that’s why we’re here. Opportunities where we can take our kids to events and expose them to fun and reward them with something really exciting is great for them” said Daphne Barlow Stigliano, CEO, Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County.
A pair of rides at Pa Farm Show raises over $50,000 in funds
AT: B. Derek Shaw
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The 23-acre indoor Pennsylvania Farm Show is not known for amusement rides, however, the two that are brought in each year raise thousands of scholarship dollars for both the Pennsylvania State Showmen’s Association (PSSA) and the Pennsylvania Farm Show Foundation. These dollars for scholars, split equally between each organization, are obtained from rides given to children, their parents, grandparents and others.
In the family living section of the Main Hall, a 1946 Allen Herschel art-deco-styled carousel was provided by SwikaS Amusements, Scott Township, Pa. In the Giant Foods Expo Hall, a Hampton farm tractor flat ride was supplied by Powers & Thomas Midway Entertainment, Wilmington, N.C. Both rides are donated by their respective owners for the duration of the event. The farm show provides the space and electricity. More than 80 volunteers from the PSSA sold the ride tickets and operated the equipment, all for a $3.00 donation — money that goes directly back to both scholarship programs. The final total was presented at the end of January during the annual showmen/fair convention in Hershey, Pa.
“Every year we give more and more. Last year we did $24,000 for scholarships,” [the PSSA portion] said Lisa Bartlebaugh, part owner of Bartlebaugh Amusements and past president of the organization. Asked about crowd reaction, Bartlebaugh said, “Very good. More and more supporters and a lot, of course, depends on weather and how they [attendees] come in. Every year is a good, prosperous adventure for us.”
This is the 16th time the carousel has been turning “dollars for scholars” while the tractor flat ride made its sixth appearance this year. Since 2005, the program has generated over a half million dollars in scholarship funding split between both organizations. It should be noted that the proceeds raised by the PSSA each year that are given to the Farm Show Foundation are the single largest amount of scholarship monies the foundation scholarship fund receives.
Two of Pennsylvania’s dozen and a half amusement parks participated again with a booth: the DelGrosso Family of Companies (amusement park, pasta sauce manufacturing operation and fundraiser program) and Knoebels Amusement Resort. This is the fifth time DelGrosso’s has participated, while Knoebels has been there eight years.
“We are here to pass out coupons for DelGrosso’s spaghetti sauce, as well as coupons for the amusement park. We also have one of our sister companies, Marianna’s Fundraisers, where we are displaying our product and giving out information on that for non-profit organizations to raise some funds. We’re spreading information and hopefully getting some people to visit us in Tipton, Pa.,” said Elliott Geist, Director of Operations for DelGrosso’s Park & Laguna Splash Water Park.
Knoebels was represented by Erik Beagle, admissions manager who was on hand to discuss group planning and fundraising opportunities with show booth visitors. Beagle was pleased with the crowd response. “We’re having a great turnout this year. We’re really excited [and have received] a lot of great feedback about our fundraising opportunities and our group planning opportunities for the park.” Staffers were handing out “Scratch & Win” game cards good for discounted tickets, discounted camping fees or free all day ride passes. “I’m really excited for our opening in 2020 on April 25th,“ said Beagle.
The Pennsylvania Farm Show is billed as the nation’s largest indoor agricultural event, featuring 6,000 animals, 12,000 competitive exhibits, and 300 commercial exhibitors within one million square feet of space on 23 acres with 11 halls and 3 arenas. Estimated attendance is over a half million people during the eight-day run which takes place early each January.
Cincinnati embraces the cold with Snow Banks at the Banks
AT: B. Derek Shaw
CINCINNATI — Every Friday night, Saturday and Sunday throughout January Snow Banks at The Banks turned four blocks of downtown Cincinnati into a winter wonderland for thousands of visitors. Highlights of the first-time 12-day event included Academy-Award winning snow effects, amusement and snow-related rides, music, food, drinks and more. This new attraction was managed by Game Day Communications, a media and marketing agency, for the retailers at The Banks, a multi-use entertainment district in the heart of the Queen City.
For a nominal $5.00 admission fee, attendees could go tubing down a 30-foot-high, 50-foot-long hill, snow sledding on a street that was closed to traffic, horse carriage rides, hockey skill challenges, an ice bar with s’mores and ice sculpture carvings. Also acoustic performances and numerous bars were open including a beer garden. A snow blizzard took place every 30 minutes for patrons to enjoy — and snap a snow selfie. A liability waiver was secured from everyone who entered the area.
Touted as “The Greatest Show in Cincinnati Snow,” the event featured a dozen live snow features created by Academy Award winning special effects expert, Dieter Sturm. “We’ve made it snow for “Superman” and “Transformers” as well as Academy Award winning films such as “Green Book.” We blanketed Key West and Louisiana with snow, and now we can’t wait for a month of fun and flurry at The Banks in Cincinnati,” said Sturm prior to the start. Crews took 300 pound blocks of ice using movie-grade snow-making trucks to shave it into the consistency of snow.
Added to this array of winter-time activities were two amusement rides. Right in the middle of the fun was the 150-foot SkyStar mobile observation wheel, giving passengers a breathtaking view of downtown Cincinnati, Roebling Suspension Bridge, both shores of the Ohio River and surrounding area. Owned by SkyView Partners, the Mondial World of Rides MCS 45-36 giant wheel has been in Cincinnati since August 2018. Previously it was in Louisville, Kentucky, and Norfolk, Virginia. Each of the 36 gondolas has a capacity of six people and four full revolutions during the 12-minute ride cycle. At night over one million Maxtron LED lights illuminate the wheel.
“It was two and a half years in the making,” said Todd Schneider, managing partner, SkyStar Wheel. This was due to modifying the ride to meet U.S. standards, including adding climate control to each vehicle. The wheel will run in Cincinnati through March 1. At that time, a 12-man crew will spend a week disassembling it, then travel across the country 10 days and spend another week reassembling it. The next stop for the wheel is Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. It opens there on April 4, the actual 150th birthday of the 1,017-acre park created largely on sand dunes in 1870 and attracts 24 million visitors a year. It will operate there through March 2021. SkyView Partners will bring a larger, permanent wheel to Cincinnati, later this summer. Currently they are working on permitting and the necessary approvals along with the final manufacturer selection.
Carol Ann’s Carousel, is owned by Cincinnati Parks and located in nearby Smale Riverfront Park. The three-row carousel with 44 Cincinnati-inspired menagerie figures, was a gift from the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Foundation/US Bank. Manufactured by The Carousel Works, Mansfield, Ohio, it opened in May 2015. The “Spring in Ault Park” ladybug, The Carew Tower Gorilla, Cincinnati Bengals Tiger, Great American Tower skyscraper giraffe and The Cincinnati Zoo Baby Elephant are just a few of the animals that tie in with the local culture. There’s even Trigger, Roy Rogers' golden palomino, that plays tribute to the TV cowboys hometown. Two handicapped accessible chariots are riverboat themed. Cincinnati artist Jonathan Queen painted Cincinnati scenes on the rounding boards.
Both attractions were available for a small additional fee.
Amusement Today spoke with Jackie Reau, CEO of Game Day Communications about Snow Banks at The Banks.
How did the concept come about?
“We knew we wanted to host an event at The Banks in January between football and baseball seasons, so we started researching winter festivals. Snow Banks at The Banks is based on winter festivals you might find in Minnesota along with the feel of a ski resort.
Where did the start-up funding come from?
The funding has come from a variety of sources: The Banks Community Authority program budget, sponsorships, wristband sales and beer sales.
How has reaction been to your inaugural year event?
We had more than 5,000 guests over the first weekend despite inclement weather. Families and friends were enjoying the snow attractions and patronizing the bars and restaurants at The Banks.
We always learn a lot about our events when faced with weather issues. We had rain on the first two days, so we learned how to best adjust the snow attractions and marketing messages. On the first Sunday, the weather was ideal and Snow Banks had a terrific crowd of families and friends.
The beauty of Snow Banks is that it is an inside/outside event. The bars and restaurants at The Banks have created signature drinks and menu items along with attractions like a s’mores bar and acoustic music.
We have also been able to enhance the footprint of the event with six-foot snow banks, snow shovel racing and frozen yoga.
At the end of the day, Snow Banks is an event to market The Banks as a destination in January. Our media relations program yielded more than $1 million in earned media coverage in less than a month.”
There was support from a number of partners and sponsors to help build the Snow Banks at The Banks attractions. This included: Frisch’s Big Boy for the 50’ snow tube ramp, AC Hotel and its rooftop igloo experience, Cincinnati Auto Expo presented the horse carriage rides, Frontgate Furniture provided the fire pits and furniture, The Cincinnati Reds provided space for ice sculpture carving and frozen yoga, The Cincinnati Cyclones offered hockey equipment for a hockey skills challenge for kids and Cumulus Radio provided promotional support and hosting sing-a-longs on Friday evenings.
Kissel Entertainment inks 5-year deal with Kentucky State Fair
AT: B. Derek Shaw
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Kentucky State Fair has a new midway provider — Kissel Entertainment, LLC. The five-year contract runs through 2024. The company was selected after RFP’s were solicited and reviewed last year by the Office of Procurement Services, Commonwealth of Kentucky.
“Kissel provided the best-evaluated bid, satisfying both technical and financial expectations,” said Ian Cox, Kentucky State Fair spokesperson. “We believe that Kissel Entertainment is bringing a unique touch in its industry, providing a positive customer experience the moment you enter ThrillVille (the Kentucky State Fair carnival ride area). Kissel brings more than 45 years of industry experience with a down-to-earth approach and personable interactions, which our fairgoers expect.”
“Our company is thrilled to have been chosen as the midway provider for the 2020 – 2024 Kentucky State Fair,” said R. A. Kissel, president of Kissel Entertainment. “We met or exceeded all requirements of the RFP and look forward to providing a best-in-class midway experience to all attendees of this year’s State Fair. Our goal is to provide a safe and fun midway that goes above and beyond public expectations at each and every event we produce." Kissel concluded, "We look forward to bringing our first-class rides, games and food to the Kentucky State Fair."
The carnival provider was able to schedule dates just before and right after the Kentucky State Fair without any loss or disruption of those locations.
Kissel Entertainment is a four-generation operator in the carnival industry, providing rides, games and food for fairs and carnivals in Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Ohio and Georgia. The Okeana, Ohio based show helped pioneer the Kentucky Ride Safety Inspection Program.
The Kentucky State Fair takes place at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville (on the same grounds as the 63-acre Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay). More than 600,000 fairgoers annually fill the 520 acres. NAME had been the midway provider.
“We have had the pleasure of working with the Kentucky State Fair for 19 years and we will certainly miss working with them in 2020. That being said, we are very excited to be able to continue on with so many other great events across North America,” said Lynda Franc, NAME's corporate marketing director.
The 116th edition of the fair takes place August 20-30.
Showman of the Year awarded to
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Northwestern Showmen's Club (NWSC) presented the club's Showman of the Year award to Greg Stewart, who retired as general manager and fair board president of the Central Washington Fair, Yakima, at the end of 2019.
The NWSC honored Stewart during the association's Banquet and Ball, which was held January 18, at the Benton Hotel in Portland.
Stewart had been with the Yakima fair for 48 years. He supported the industry in many ways, especially by being a member of various associations including the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE), Western Fairs Association (WFA), Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA), International Association of Auditorium Managers (IAAM), the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association and the NWSC.
He announced his retirement in spring 2019, but didn't step down until the end of the year.
The start of the new decade brought the loss of another carnival operator in North America. Davis Amusement Cascadia, Clackamas, Oregon, has ceased operations as of January 1. Michael Davis, CEO, said in an e-mail interview with the East Oregonian newspaper, “After 80 years and five generations of family business, our company has reached a point where we are no longer able to overcome the high costs of doing business in today’s world,” he said. “Like many other family-owned businesses, we have struggled in recent years with the increases in trucking, insurance, minimum wage and labor.”
Costs have gone up, many times disproportionate to price and revenue increases. Davis said there was a ceiling on how much they could charge the public before it became “counter-productive” in driving business away. The show played spots up and down the west coast from Arizona to the Canadian border.
Davis Shows Northwest, Inc., also in Clackamas, Oregon, is run by brother Pat Davis and his wife Geraldine. That operation remains intact, playing dates primarily in Oregon and Washington, with some in Idaho and Nevada.
Michele Richards was recently chosen as the new CEO of the Orange County Fair & Event Center, Costa Mesa, California. Richards has served as Interim CEO since last October. Prior to that, she served as the vice president of business development for more than seven years. She started as an organizational development consultant to the fair for 11 years.
“Michele is extremely knowledgeable and exudes enthusiasm for OC Fair & Event Center and the communities we serve,” said board chair Sandra Cervantes. “Michele is very well-prepared for this role. We are excited about the future.”
Richards brings more than 30 years of leadership experience in a variety of fields including advertising/marketing, organizational development, sales and human resources, including more than 15 years managing her own consulting practice.
“I believe that what we do here is special and important and I am honored to be entrusted to serve this amazing organization,” said Richards. “To lead such a talented and passionate staff is the opportunity of a lifetime.”
The 130th annual fair takes place for 23 days between July 17 to Aug. 16 with RCS (Ray Cammack Shows) providing the ride midway.
St. Joseph County Grange Fair, Centreville, Michigan, recently announced Skerbeck Entertainment Group is the new carnival/midway vendor. The 170-year-old, family-owned, Fennville, Michigan, company will bring more than 28 rides to the fair this September. Highlights of the new line-up include Top Gun, Music Express, Supernova360, Sea Ray, Giant Ferris Wheel, Grand Carousel, Wacky Shack, Bumper Cars, Children’s Carousel, Lil’ Scrambler, Up Up and Away and Tea Cups.
An improvement for fair-goers will be good-all-day, unlimited ride wristbands available each day of the fair. Skerbeck will also offer ‘Mega Bands’ that allows customers to purchase one semi-permanent wristband to wear all week of the fair.
NAME had previously held the contract for numerous years. The fair runs September 20 – 26.
The Dixie Classic Fair is sporting a new name starting in 2020: the Carolina Classic Fair. With a changing attitude toward confederate flags and statues, the local community initiated this idea starting in 2015. The word Dixie was known as a confederate battle term. Winston-Salem city council members voted 6-2 last August to change the name after 135 years. The members feel the new name is a more inclusive one for the more than 292,000 people who annually attend. Prior to 1963 there were two fairs each servicing the city: The Carolina Fair and the Dixie Classic Fair. The new name combines both names recognizing the heritage and history of the entire community.
The James E. Strates Shows will again handle the midway as they have done since 1963. The second largest agricultural fair in North Carolina takes place Oct. 2 – 11.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is now up to 108 fairs again with the Kempton Fair returning this year. A change starting in 2021 is the Reading Fair will now be known as The Berks County Fair.
For its 150th birthday on April 4, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is getting a traveling observation wheel. The day kicks off a year-long celebration with various activities and events — starting with free rides all day. The 150-foot, SkyView Wheel, direct from its 18 month engagement in downtown Cincinnati (see story, page 28), will operate in the Music Concourse Pavilion through March 2021. Owned by SkyView Partners, the Mondial World of Rides MCS 45-36 LED illuminated observation wheel will be located in the middle of the 1,017-acre park near the California Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden. The 12-minute ride will cost $18 or $12 for seniors and children under 13.
When fog is not an issue, riders will be able to see the Pacific Ocean to the west, the mouth of San Francisco Bay in the north, downtown San Francisco in the east, and phenomenal views of the park all around. The top of the Golden Gate Bridge, over the cluster of trees that marks the Presidio, may also be within sight.
El Paso set to welcome four new waterparks in summer 2020
AT: Jeffrey Seifert
EL PASO, Texas — The city of El Paso will open four new water parks this summer. The water parks, also known as regional aquatic facilities, were funded by a $473 million Quality of Life Bond Program that was designed to keep residents and companies from moving out of the city.
Each of the four water parks has a unique theme and a unique set of attractions. Two of the facilities are replacing existing city pools that had outlived their usefulness and had already been closed for a number of years.
The water parks were designed by the architectural firm Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, Inc., which has 10 offices scattered throughout Texas and New Mexico, including El Paso. The company, first established in Lubbock, Texas, in 1945, has experience working with municipal governments and has designed numerous family aquatic centers and parks. The investment for the four water parks was approximately $50 million.
As of now, the water parks are mostly complete. Full-time staff is in place and the city is in the process of hiring seasonal workers. All four water parks are expected to open on Saturday, May 23, in time for the Memorial Day holiday. Once open, they will operate daily at 11 a.m. through Sept. 7; evening closure times vary. The city started selling season passes and flex-day tickets (good for any day at any park) prior to the Christmas holiday. Advance tickets were only $6 for youths and seniors and $8 for an adult. Season passes averaged $45 per individual or $130 for a family pass of up to five members.
Although unique in design, the facilities share many common attributes. Each water park is designed with heated pools, spacious plazas and event spaces with built-in sound and lighting systems. All four parks are equipped with a bathhouse for changing. Each park has a variety of body slides, a current river (lazy river), leisure pools, and activity pool with a climbing wall and water basketball, toddler pool, water spray ground, plenty of lounge chairs for relaxing, private cabanas for rent, party rooms and kiddie playgrounds. None of the waterslide attractions or current rivers require the use of tubes. All four parks can accommodate everyone regardless of abilities with accessible parking and zero-depth entry pools. Guests with restricted mobility will have like experiences or viewing access to all attractions.
Each park also offers a food stand with concession staples such as hot dogs, burgers, pizzas, snacks and beverages. Each park will feature a signature sweet treat. Outside food and drink is not permitted, but guests may bring in water bottles to fill at the water stations.
Camp Cohen, on the city’s north side near El Paso Community College, is designed to resemble a base camp for sporty adventure. The water park has camp-themed flags at the entry area, a lap pool for endurance swimming, three body slides — Thunder Run, Lightning Bolt and Monsoon Plunge, water obstacle courses and a themed play structure at the leisure pool.
Chapoteo, which means “splash” in Spanish is a fiesta-themed water park filled with brilliant colors and festive designs. This park is located in the southeast corner near Hacienda Park. It features string lights, a Mexican fountain, sandblasted Papel Picado flags on the hardscape, custom signage, a bell tower and Mexican lantern light fixtures on the building for a fun fiesta ambiance. It also has a lap pool and features two twisting enclosed body slides off the Calavera Plunge tower. Chapateo replaces the 56-year-old Lionel Forti Pool that was forced to close in the summer of 2016 due to structural issues.
Lost Kingdom is set among the ancient ruins of the lost Mayan Kingdom. Unique to this park is a pair of bowl slides called Sun Temple and Moon Temple. Themed elements include fire bowls at the main entry, a sandblasted concrete Mayan calendar surrounded by stone columns and Mayan architectural elements on the building. The park is located in Central El Paso, not too far from the El Paso Zoo.
Oasis, as the name implies, appears to be a water spot in the middle of a rocky desert landscape. Oasis is home to Flash Flood, El Paso’s only wave rider. Unlike the other three parks, this one does not have a lap pool, but it does feature a large leisure pool, current channel, large water playground and a pair of body slides. Oasis is located on the far east side of the city near the Eastside Regional Park. When complete, Eastside Regional Park — also part of the Quality of Life Project — will include ball diamonds, soccer fields, handball courts, volleyball courts, a dog park, playground, skatepark, BMX park, amphitheater, community gardens, walking trails, and pavilions.
“We’re catching up to what the national trend has been over the past years. Being able to provide this to the community is really important to us. This is a vision that the city manager had for our community and we’re executing it, it’s really exciting,” said Sam Rodriguez, the city engineer for El Paso. “These water parks are going to revamp and modernize our aquatics program, [These facilities] will provide our community with exceptional recreational opportunities...and serve people of all ages.”
The addition of these water parks brings to El Paso four new resort-style parks to enhance what is already an impressive aquatics program suitable for a city in a hot, dry climate. The city parks department manages three outdoor pools, 10 indoor aquatic centers and eight spray parks. The parks department offers Learn-To-Swim programs; lifeguard certification courses; aquatics fitness programs including hydro spinning, water aerobics, water polo and splash ball; and the department sponsors a competitive summer swim league.
A nighttime experience for adults added to Epic Waters
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — On June 24, Epic Waters indoor water park launched Boards 'N Brews, an after-hour experience for adults.
Boards 'N Brews takes place every Friday and Saturday night from 9:30 p.m. to midnight for guests 18 years of age or older. It’s an opportunity for college students, young adults and the young-at-heart to experience a Southern California atmosphere with DJs or live music, summer-like weather indoors, specialty drinks and appetizers to appeal to late night socializing. While visitors enjoy craft beers and tasty bar food, they will also be entertained by the thrills and spills of flowboarders in action. Guests can enjoy special menu items such as Epic Wings, Texas Poutine, the German Pretzel, the Epic Burger and more.
There is no cover charge, however, access to the FlowRider requires a $15 wristband ($10 for season pass holders). In keeping with the water park beach theme and warm indoor climate, beach attire is suggested.
“Boards ‘N Brews is a great opportunity to get acquainted with flowboarding in a fun, laid-back setting, while enjoying delicious food, music, our great patio and cool views of the nighttime landscape around the park,” said Richard Coleman, CEO of American Resort Management, the water park’s operator. “Our goal with Boards ‘N Brews is to bring a new form of entertainment to North Texas while also introducing more people to this high adrenaline sport. It’s easy to get into if you have a place to participate and practice, like Epic Waters.”
The FlowRider is the world’s first and most famous surf simulating machine and there are more than 220 FlowRiders installed all over the globe. Epic Waters is home to a FlowRider Double (a two-lane attraction), making it the largest FlowRider in North Texas. Flowriders of all skill levels, including novice, are welcome to participate in Boards ‘N Brews — Epic Waters team members with flowboarding experience will be on hand to teach basic skills to beginners.
Since opening in January of 2018, Epic Waters has attracted guests from around the world, earned awards and recognition from the World Waterpark Association, and been singled out for inclusion in Travel Channel’s "8 Of the Most Incredible Indoor Waterparks” list, USA Today’s “10 Best Dallas Waterparks” list, and the “Best of Dallas 2018 Critic's Pick” list from the Dallas Observer.
— Jeffrey Seifert
The city council of Waco, Texas, approved a lease abatement agreement with Hawaiian Falls Waco allowing the park to expand. The lease abatement is for seven years or until the lease payments reach $500,000, whichever comes first, as long as the park invests at least that much in new attractions. The park’s annual lease payment for 2017 and 2018 was the greater of five percent of gross revenues or $75,000. It paid $101,000 in 2017 and $75,000 in 2018.
In a complex ownership arrangement, the city of Waco owns the land and structures, Store Master Funding, LLC, leases the park and contracts with ProParks Management to operate the park. The Waco parks department monitors operation of the park.ProPark plans to build a new water play structure with 12 water slides. It is expected to be in place when the new season starts in May.
The 10,000-square-foot play structure will support 12 new slides of varying lengths and intensities. Multiple levels are outfitted with interactive elements such as water guns, tipping buckets and other activities giving guests something to do at each level.
“I think it’s a wise use of our funds to make sure that we are thinking strategically about the breadth of our tourism industry, and making sure that Hawaiian Falls is a premier water park for the entire region is important,” Councilman Dillon Meek said.
In addition to Waco, the park draws from the nearby communities of Hillsboro, Temple and Killeen.
On Jan. 16, Splash Lagoon Indoor Water Park, Erie, Pennsylvania, brought indoor surfing to Erie. Part of a $3.5 million expansion project, the dual FlowRider was built to accommodate two simultaneous riders. The FlowRider is housed in a new section of the water park adjacent to the existing Wild Waters Wave Pool. The new section also includes a large balcony overlooking the FlowRider with seating for guests interested in watching the action taking place below. Also included is a new food service area and a bar.
Along with the FlowRider section the park's Treasure Island arcade was expanded by 2,500 square feet allowing room for approximately 40 new arcade games and additional seating for birthday parties and groups.
The city of Trafford, England, a metropolitan borough of Greater Manchester, will decide in March whether or not to proceed with plans for an indoor tropical water park and spa. The £175 million ($229 million) proposal would provide residents with a 28-acre wellbeing resort that would combine water slides and wave pools with a relaxing luxury spa experience.
The proposal for Therme Manchester includes a 700,000-square-foot resort building, a 43,000-square-foot public square, a 38,000-square-foot lake and up to 1,500 car parking spaces.
The resort area will provide family entertainment, featuring a wave pool, relaxation areas, steam rooms, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and food and drink outlets.
The Trafford City Council will meet to determine if the plans submitted by Therme Group will be granted planning permission. If passed, construction would begin within a few months. Therme Group is known for its high-quality, sustainable, luxury resorts.
Encarnación, the capital city of Paraguay, has broken ground on an ambitious theme and water park that aims to make the city the epicenter of tourism in the region. Tirolandia Acqua Park will offer more than 30 attractions spanning a 74-acre site. The park will feature several aquatic environments, natural green spaces, a luxury hotel complex, and a resort for pets. The water park will feature a wave pool, lazy river, action river, multiple slide towers and a play structure. Dino Park, a dinosaur-themed area, will allow children to seemingly go back to the past and live with dinosaurs in their natural environment.
Tatiana Espínola, a spokesman and majority shareholder, said that this project is intended to provide families with the greatest attractions and revolutionize the area of
tourist destinations in the region.
The Tirol Eco Resort hotel will feature 178 rooms and apartments, plus an event hall for 2,000 people, sports courts, restaurants and bars.
Located in central South America, Paraguay has no access to ocean beaches. Hanging out at the beach — a quintessential Latin American pastime — usually requires an expensive international flight.
That changed within the last decade with the completion of the controversial Yacyretá Dam. The city of Encarnación has become a popular tourist destination with wide sandy beaches along a lake-like area of the Parana River. A recently completed waterfront boardwalk along with waterfront walkways, restaurants and bars have brought in droves of beach-seeking domestic tourists.
Some residents of Bicester, England, are trying to halt plans for a Great Wolf Lodge in the city. Despite being one of the fastest-growing towns in Oxfordshire county, many residents of the city, located between London and Birmingham, are trying to curtail its growth.
Great Wolf Resorts, looking to expand into Europe, said that after undertaking meticulous research, it felt a strong connection with the Bicester community, not only because it has great links to motorways and is a reasonable distance from London, Birmingham and Oxford, but the family-friendliness of the community was also a significant draw.
The development of this flagship resort is an important step as Great Wolf Resorts looks for further expansion in the U.K. and mainland Europe.
Opponents to the resort are adamant that such a large-scale project would be inappropriate for the area, does not respect the countryside and could cause irreversible damage to the village.
Merlin building Legoland resort brand in China brick by brick
New parks planned
in Shanghai, Sichuan
over next two years
AT: Dean Lamanna
SHANGHAI — Merlin Entertainments is expanding its successful Legoland resort concept into China in a big way, with Legoland properties announced for Shanghai and Sichuan by the end of 2023 and beyond.
For Legoland Shanghai Resort, to be located in the city’s Jinshan District and expected to be one of the largest Legoland properties, the Poole, U.K.-based attractions company has entered into a development agreement with the Shanghai Jinshan District Government, entertainment entity CMC, Inc., and investment company Kirkbi. The terms call for the parties to form a joint venture company funding the £500 million project, which will include a 250-room hotel and Chinese cultural elements. It is expected to open after 2023.
About 55 million people live within a two-hour radius of the Jinshan District in southwest Shanghai. The region comprising Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui has an estimated population of 220 million.
“I’m delighted that we are able to realize the development of a Legoland resort in Shanghai, one of the most vibrant cities in the world,” said Nick Varney, Merlin’s CEO. “A gateway city with modern consumers, Shanghai is already the home for many Merlin brands, and it has been our ambition for some time to build a full-scale theme park that offers the people of Shanghai and visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in a unique Legoland experience.”
“We are excited about the opportunity to give Chinese families even more opportunities to experience the benefits of Lego play and have fun together,” said Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, executive chairman of Billund, Denmark-based The Lego Group. “We have been pleased with the positive response the Lego brand has received in China.”
The news followed by just several weeks Merlin’s announcement that it was partnering with Global Zhongjun Cultural Tourism Development Co., Ltd., to build and operate a Legoland resort in western China’s Sichuan Province. The project is scheduled to open by the end the of 2023.
Under the terms of the agreement, Global Zhongjun will fund the construction of Legoland Sichuan Resort, as well as the required infrastructure and adjacent commercial developments, while Merlin will partner in the resort development and operate it under a management contract.
The Sichuan project includes two Lego-branded hotels comprising 500 rooms. It will be located within the Tianfu New Area in the city of Meishan, approximately 60 km south of Chengdu city center. About 30 million residents live within two hours of the site.
China is a strategic growth market for The Lego Group, which has distributed products in the country for more than 25 years. The company opened a regional hub office in Shanghai in 2014 and a manufacturing facility in Jiaxing in 2016. By the end of 2019, it had expanded to more than 140 stores in 35 cities.
Merlin operates 13 attractions in China, including Legoland Discovery Centers, Madame Tussauds wax museums, Sea Life aquariums, and The Dungeons, Little Big City and Peppa Pig World of Play locations.
Leading industry creative Garner Holt continues to give back
REDLANDS, Calif. — Garner Holt, founder of Garner Holt Productions, Inc. (GHP), a top designer and supplier of animatronics to the international attractions industry, is deepening the community generosity for which he is known.
The award-winning animatronics wizard has established The Garner Holt Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The foundation extends the aims of Education through Imagination, LLC — a GHP company division created two years ago to offer student education outreach and career direction through access to the company’s creative and manufacturing processes.
Education through Imagination is administered by a team of educators and industry professionals dedicated to producing world-class educational programs and resources, providing students with a solid, college-and-career-ready foundation in creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Emphasis is placed on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (a.k.a. STEM / STEAM).
In a statement, Holt said the purpose of the foundation is “to help us further our goals in supporting the youth of our communities in the area of career education, with a focus on innovative STEM and STEAM learning.”
Having hosted thousands of young visitors at GHP’s facilities, “We want to make sure all the youth of our communities have access to the exciting hands-on training we have created,” Holt noted, adding that GHP will continue working with K-16 educational institutions in the area and provide career educational programs through them.
The foundation has a board of directors that includes Holt himself. It will also support Garner’s Garage, an under-construction, 8,000-square-foot facility in Redlands offerings classes, seminars and workshops in robotics, automation, laser cutting, 3D printing and more.
For information on GHP and its educational outreach efforts, including its innovative AniMakerspace classroom concept, which captures and encapsulates the company’s creative culture, visit garnerholt.com.
Glenda Cassata Cook
Bob's Space Racers
Daytona Beach, Fla.
A view from the top…
Bob's Space Racers was founded in 1970 by Bob Cassata in Daytona Beach, Florida. The company has positioned itself to be one of the top games companies, providing games and management services for the arcade, park and trailer industries throughout the world. New games are created and manufactured every year.
Glenda Cassata Cook, Bob Cassata's daughter, has been with the company her entire life. She is now the CEO and her husband, Jack Cook, is president.
Accomplishments and affiliations…
•Member, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions
Cook loves making people smile
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Glenda Cassata Cook recalls just one time when she thought she wanted to leave the family business that is Bob's Space Racers.
"I was about 15 years old," she said. "I decided I wanted to be a florist. I had a friend that was working in a flower shop and I wanted to work in one, too."
She found a job in a local shop in her hometown of Daytona Beach, Florida. She said her father, Bob Cassata, wasn't very happy, because he wanted her to stay in the family business.
"He didn't like it one bit," she said.
As it turned out, neither did she. It was during the Christmas holidays and business at the flower shop was booming. She liked the decorating and floral arranging, being creative and working hard, which didn't bother her because she was used to that. But, having her work station inside a cooler was something she didn't expect.
"I had a work bench in the cooler and that is where I would put the arrangements together," she said. "Anyway, it turned out to be a good lesson for me."
She never left the family business again.
And not only has she never left, she can look back and realize how fortunate she has been. She has been able to work with her family and she has been able to grow as the business has grown. She took over designing from her mother, Joyce, at age 21 or 22 years old. She has designed and created games. She has been in the brain-storming sessions of many games.
And, now, she is CEO of the company.
Cook can remember when her dad made their first game. He had been working construction during the day, but, at night, he would go to the boardwalk and work the games.
"He loved it down there," she said.
Their first game was built in a burned-out trailer frame on their driveway, as other games that followed would be as well. They put two games on the trailer, a bowling game on one side and a balloon dart on the other.
During the summer, her family, including her dad, her mom and her sister, Karen, would load up the game and hit the road for New Jersey playing fairs in the area.
"I worked on the balloon dart game," she said. "Back then, we didn't have a machine to blow up the balloons. I did that. I got a lot of lung exercise back then."
Cook also remembers all the extended family around to help and pitch in. There were her paternal grandparents, Anna and Tony Cassata, and her grandfather's brother, Charlie Cassata, along with his wife, Margie. There was her Uncle Tony and Aunt Sheila Cassata.
They were all around to help out and some traveled to New Jersey to do so. In addition, Cook said since her father was originally from New Jersey, they had family there as well.
"My grandparents would bring us a great big dinner so we could all sit down and have dinner together," she said.
New Jersey also is where they met Jack Mendes who would end up going to Florida and providing his skills to Bob's Space Racers from the first.
"Our first big game was a water race game, rockets to the moon that was named Bob's Space Racers," Cook said.
It was in 1969 that the U.S. landed the Apollo Lunar Module on the moon, definitely an inspiration for the game.
"My mom came home one day and said she had a new project for us," Cook said. "She had bought models of the space rocket that went to the moon."
The family spent several weeks putting those little models together. Cook said she had to listen to her mother for those weeks telling them not to sit so close to the glue.
"She would occasionally come by us and take her finger on our forehead and push us away from the glue," she said.
Cook married Jack Cook and they have two sons, J.R. Cook who lives in Cypress, Texas, and Dylan Cook, who works in the factory doing graphic arts. J.R. Cook and his wife have an interstate lighting company and three daughters.
Of all the games Cook has created, the one she likes the best is Stinky Feet.
"I designed that game in about 24 hours after I found out about my first grandchild," she said. "Jack and I were driving back from being on the road and J.R. called and told me I was going to be a grandma. I was so excited. I just sat there and started drawing out that game. By the time we had gotten back, I had a black and white drawing of it."
So why did Stinky Feet come to mind?
The answer is simple. To prove to her they had taken a bath, her sons would say, "Smell my feet."
"They were always sticking their feet in my face," she said.
Cook said Bob's Space Racers continues to be super busy. One trend she is seeing is the growth of Family Entertainment Centers (FEC).
"I see them coming on very strong," she said. "There are a lot of big box store buildings sitting empty. The rents are cheap and people are putting in these great big beautiful FECs. They are thinking outside the box and making them for the entire family. They are providing good food and are a good value for the dollar. They are really changing it up."
Cook said she knows that Bob's Space Racers has grown to be in thousands of locations around the world, but she doesn't really think about that often. When she thinks of Bob's Space Racers, she thinks of family.
The average number of years workers have worked there is 20. The artist who worked on that first big game for them was John Roseboom. His son, Eddie Roseboom, works for them now.
Cook feels the amusement industry has been a perfect fit for her.
Her work conditions have at least been warmer.
"I love people," she said. "I love creating things that make people smile."
Six Flags stock tumbles on China challenges
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Six Flags Entertainment Corp. (NYSE: SIX) saw its stock drop as much as 19% in early January — reportedly its lowest intraday level since October 2014 — as its development partner in China, Riverside Investment Group, continued to face “severe challenges due to the macroeconomic environment and the declining real estate market” in the country, the company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Riverside defaulted on required licensing payments to Six Flags, threatening the development of Six Flags-branded park projects in Haiyan, in Zhejiang province and in the Bishan district of Chongqing. Additionally, the company reported that attendance at its North American parks slipped in the last quarter “due to softer than expected season pass and membership sales, primarily during the holiday sales periods.” Six Flags shares were down 19% in 2019.
Ominco, JOS form Asian market partnership
BASINGSTOKE, U.K. — Omnico, a software platform provider of multi-channel commerce solutions to leading brands in theme parks, resorts, hospitality, retail and casinos worldwide, has partnered with systems integrator, solutions provider and technology consultancy JOS for its expansion into the Asian market. JOS is now the official reseller for the full suite of Omnico solutions and products, including business and artificial intelligence applications, in China, Malaysia and Singapore. JOS will use its 60-year history in the region’s technology sector to expand the client base for Omnico’s transaction platform and mobile and digital products. The platform allows consumers to purchase across multiple mobile and digital channels, including tablet, point-of-sale and kiosks.
Sin City’s Circus Circus, Rio properties sold
LAS VEGAS — Two attractions-rich Las Vegas hotel properties have changed hands since last fall. MGM Resorts Intl. (NYSE: MGM) agreed to sell Circus Circus Las Vegas for $825 million to an affiliate of Treasure Island owner Phil Ruffin. Among arcades and other recreational offerings, the property is home to the five-acre Adventuredome indoor amusement park. Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment Corp. (NASDAQ: CZR) has sold the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, home to Kiss by Monster Mini Golf and VooDoo Zipline, to a company affiliated with Dreamscape Companies for $516.3 million. Dreamscape acquires, repositions and/or develops hospitality and entertainment assets. In connection with the latter sale, a Caesars subsidiary entered into a lease with Dreamscape under which Caesars will continue to operate the property for a minimum of two years and pay annualized rent of $45 million.
•Toronto-based Cineplex, Inc., has entered into a definitive agreement with Cineworld Group, plc, in which Cineworld will acquire all issued and outstanding common shares of Cineplex. The proposed transaction, valued at about $2.8 million, will create one of the world’s largest cinema companies.
•Imax Corp. of New York enjoyed its highest-grossing year at the global box office in 2019, with more than $1.035 billion earned. The record-breaking performance surpassed the company’s previous high of $1.032 billion in 2018.
•Based on an estimated attendance of 41,100 for its next presentation in November, IAAPA Expo places fifth among the top 10 conventions and trade shows set for the Orange County Convention Center this year, according to the Orlando Business Journal.
•PortAventura World in Catalonia, Spain, is installing a photovoltaic power plant that will comprise 22,000 modules covering 100,000 square meters and supply the entire resort. The plant is expected to go online this spring.
John Hinde, industry safety expert, passes
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — John Hinde, a veteran of the amusement industry, passed away on Dec. 30, at his Florida home.
Hinde was born on June 14, 1948, in Sandusky, Ohio. He started his amusement industry career in 1968 at Cedar Point in his hometown.
Friends and colleagues hearing about his passing were saddened, but his legacy of kindness and his immense support of safety endeavors within the industry will live on.
Hinde became instrumental in industry safety as early as 1972. His first AIMS meeting, then known as American Recreational Equipment Association, Inc. (AREA), was held that year. He continued his volunteer work for AIMS throughout the years and guided and aided other industry safety programs. He traveled extensively, teaching courses at safety seminars, all on a volunteer basis.
David Bromilow, Mobaro's director of parks and attractions and a member of AIMS international board of directors, told attendees at the 2020 AIMS Safety Seminar held Jan. 12-17 in Galveston, Texas, that he met Hinde in the mid-1980s while working on a ride inspection project for the California Fairs group. The two traveled together for the next 10 years, inspecting rides, taking rides down, building coasters and writing procedures. They worked with large amusement and theme parks and carnivals alike.
Bromilow shared many memories about Hinde. He described him as being gracious, kind, and an extremely generous man who always thought of others before himself.
"John gave over 50 years to the amusement park and carnival industry as a ride inspector, a builder, a teacher and educator, a manager and friend of AIMS, a friend of the industry, a dedicated family man and a great friend of mine," Bromilow said.
Patty Sullivan, the head of Eli Bridge Company who also has spent many years volunteering for AIMS, said about Hinde: "First, he always made you feel that he was glad to see you and you were appreciated and important to him. It didn't matter whether you were a show owner, a manufacturer or a front-line ride person, he treated everyone with friendliness and respect. He was a gentleman to be emulated."
Dick Chance, Chance Rides, said although Hinde had been a huge supporter of safety in the industry and did much to promote it, that perhaps "his biggest contribution was just helping people. He was one of the kindest and nicest guys. He would help anyone."
Bev Burback, who, along with her husband, Ron Burback, owns Funtastic Shows in Portland, Ore., had known Hinde for many years, as well. She organizes the Northwestern Showmen's Club annual safety seminar and, she was been thankful for his help.
"He was so for safety," she said. "I am very fortunate to have a lot of great help with the seminar. But John was very instrumental. Safety was a passion for him. And he was just one of those real nice guys. He had such a nice personality. He will be missed."
Ron Burback described Hinde as a premier ride inspector.
"He inspected our rides for many, many years," he said. "He not only knew how to operate the rides, he also knew how to build them. He completely rebuilt our wooden roller coaster [Classic Coaster] at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup."
Hinde had been inspecting rides at the Washington State Fair for more than 25 years.
In an article in Puyallup's News Tribune, spokesperson Stacy Van Horne said, "As for us at the fair, we can say John was the sweetest man. No one knew coasters like him. No one had that passion. He always had a smile, always wanted to share his knowledge, and he absolutely loved the Washington State Fair. He will truly be missed.”
Hinde is survived by his wife, Barb, his daughter, Linda, and granddaughter, Courtney. His wishes were that no ceremony or service take place upon his death, and his family granted him that wish.
Connie E. Hayden, owner,
Rock River Rides
ROCK FALLS, Ill. — Connie E. Hayden, a longtime carnival owner and operator, passed away Nov. 8. He was 71.
Hayden was born in Sterling, Illinois, July 1, 1948, the son of Leroy and Grace (Zigler) Hayden. He married Val Hayden in 1995 in Sterling. A member of the Showmen’s League of America, he was a second-generation owner and operator of Rock River Rides since 1955.
Hayden is survived by his wife, Val, of Rock Falls; two daughters, Mary DeHaan of Oregon and Charlie Hayden of Sterling; one son, Chad Hayden of Sterling; two sisters, Carole Lewis and Barbara Lamb, both of Rock Falls; and seven grandchildren — Luke Carber, Cash Carber, Beau Carber, Alli Carber, Ryanne DeHaan, Breanna DeHaan and Devin DeHaan.
Marilyn Portemont, owner,
Johnny’s United Shows
ANDALUSIA, Ala. — Marilyn T. Portemont, a former owner of Johnny’s United Shows, died Dec. 8. She was 95.
During World War II, Portemont worked for General Motors, where she made parts for fighter plane engines. She married her husband, Johnny, after he completed his Marine Corps service in 1946.
After traveling with two shows that year, the Portemonts purchased rides and started their own show, covering the southeastern U.S. They joined many organizations, including the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the Showmen’s League of America (for which Marilyn served as president in 1968).
Portemont, who received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Outdoor Amusement Business Assn. in 2017, is survived by four children and eight grandchildren.
Ralph S. Alberts Co., Inc., of Montoursville, Pennsylvania, has expanded its customer service department with the addition of Mikayla Bower. A 2019 graduate of St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, with a bachelor’s degree in business management, she joins the company after serving as a customer service representative at a Williamsport, Pennsylvania-area regional bank. Bower will be working with Andrew Vogelsong at the company, which provides seating, foam/PUR safety padding and theming to ride manufacturers and amusement parks worldwide.
After 48 years of service, Jeff Gramke, one of the two men who designed The Beast, the legendary wooden roller coaster at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, has retired as the park’s manager of facilities, engineering and construction. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati with a degree in civil engineering, Gramke began his career at Kings Island in 1971 in a mapping role during its construction. When the park opened in 1972, he was invited to stay on as part of the surveying team working with the park’s chief engineer, Al Collins. Gramke moved into project management and was involved in every ride, building and pathway installed at the park. In 1976, Gramke and Collins were tasked with designing The Beast after the Philadelphia Toboggan Company’s John Allen, who had designed the park’s Racer coaster, turned down the job in order to retire.
Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. has appointed Dan Hanrahan as its independent board chairman. Hanrahan has served on the Sandusky, Ohio-based park operator’s board of directors since 2012, most recently as chair of the Compensation Committee. Currently serving as a director and member of the Audit Committee for Lindblad Expedition Holdings, he has more than 30 years of senior executive experience in the consumer packaged goods, retail, travel and hospitality industries, including serving as president and CEO of both Celebrity Cruise Lines and Regis Corp.
Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky, has promoted Jessi O’Daniel to the new position of vice president of guest experience. She will oversee six departments: guest services, press relations, social media, entertainment, park services / grounds and public safety. O’Daniel began her career with the park in 2014 as a seasonal team member in guest services. While attending classes at the University of Louisville, she continued to work every summer at the park — exhibiting exceptional leadership abilities that led her to the supervisor and senior supervisor levels. In 2017, O’Daniel became full-time senior manager of guest services and last year was promoted to director of guest relations. Recently, the International Association of the Amusement Parks and Attractions named her a member of the organization’s Young Professionals Committee.
Newport Beach, California-based Palace Entertainment, part of Madrid-headquartered international leisure park operator Parques Reunidos, has brought John Reilly onboard as COO — a position that finds him overseeing a diverse portfolio of U.S. parks, including Kennywood in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania, and Raging Waters in San Dimas, California. Reilly has more than three decades of extensive experience in the theme park industry, including top leadership of Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia, and SeaWorld San Diego. Most recently, Reilly, a graduate of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, held the position of COO at SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.
Land of Fun: the story of Funland, Rehoboth Beach
REVIEW: B. Derek Shaw
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – Since 1962, Funland, a one-city-block amusement park sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and bungalows on Brooklyn and Delaware Avenues, has been a staple to that seaside community. Actually, the amusement area has been around since 1939, then known as Sports Center. However from 1962 until now is the focus of a book recently self-published by Chris Lindsley entitled Land of Fun. For 58 seasons the operation has been and continues to be operated by members of the Fasnacht family.
Lindsley offers a unique first-hand perspective as he was an employee for six seasons in the early 1980s. This old-fashioned amusement park retains time honored values of family fun at reasonable prices, putting people and their community above profits. All coming without worrying about who gets credit in a park run by fourth-generation family members.
During the first 25 years of operation, Funland did not raise their ride prices. Today there is just a modest increase, far less than what it could be. The park operates by the mantra, “Today’s fun at yesterday’s prices.”
“We keep our prices reasonable so more people can enjoy it,” said Al Fasnacht, co-owner, at a recent presentation in Hershey, Pa., where the family resides when not at their shore operation.
This one-acre park offers 20 rides and 17 games and is known for one of the best dark rides in the country, the Haunted Mansion. Since real estate is at a premium, the ride, built in 1979, operates on a specially constructed second floor above the bumper car ride, using an overhead track system.
The book captures the fun, flavor and spirit of the park, the family and the generations of patrons who come back year after year. Readers will learn about the devastating storm weeks before the Fasnacht’s purchased the property, the time the seven-day-a-week park closed for a day and the generous hospitality the Fasnacht’s continue to provide their employees as well as the community. They will also learn that Al handles trash and recycling collection during the day, seven days a week. Every night for 90 minutes he operates rides in kiddie land giving ride operators needed breaks. Three ladies sitting on a bench watching Al in his clean-up mode said to a staff member, “He did a really good job. He deserves a raise!” relates Al. He and all the staff lead by example. Employees are trained in a multitude of capacities, offering different assignment rotations each day for each person.
At 91, Al and his younger brother Don are second generation family members, while there are eight third-generation and 13 fourth-generation members that operate this early May to late September seasonal operation. Even the fifth generation, mostly pre-teens, perform small tasks at the park when in operation. All in all, more than 30 family members are part of the day-to-day operation. Statistics show that 30% of family businesses survive to second generation, 12% to third generation and only 3% to fourth generation.
The book is a fascinating read into a family-run amusement park with many guest authors providing their Funland experiences as well. Al summed up Funland’s success. “We’ve been blessed.”
announces tiered admission prices
Sevenum, The Netherlands — Beginning with the 2020 summer season, Toverland Theme Park is introducing variable admission prices. There will be four different price categories based on when guests opt to visit the theme park.
Toverland’s new admission prices are split into four categories: Bronze ($25), Silver ($29), Gold ($30) and Platinum ($32).
“These new prices are based on our opening times and associated park offerings,” explained Jean Gelissen, Jr., Toverland's general director. “This means that visitors need a Platinum ticket to visit our midsummer evenings and Halloween nights because we’re open from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. during these events and we also provide extra shows and entertainment.”
Online tickets with a fixed date will be given significant discounts.
AIMS Safety Seminar breaks records, offers new leadership track
AT: Pam Sherborne
GALVESTON, Texas — Attendance at the 2020 AIMS International Safety Seminar saw an increase over the 2019 totals with 450 registrants, setting a record during the organization's third year at the Galveston (Texas) Convention Center, Jan. 12-17.
In 2019, the seminar drew about 415, which was the record at that time.
"It was huge," said AIMS Executive Director Mary Jane Brewer. "This was our biggest and perhaps our best seminar. We are so fortunate to have so many quality instructors that volunteer their time to us.
"We also had a record number of exhibiting sponsor companies this year," she said, "We are so happy that they not only want to sponsor us but to be with us as well."
There was a record number of attendees testing this year with 300.
Highlights this year included the keynote address by Matt Heller, founder of Performance Optimist Consulting. He spoke on the importance of leadership and how a good leader can influence and encourage others to be the same.
"He talked about how to achieve this and related it to safety," Brewer said.
In addition, Brewer said Heller led a new leadership track this year.
Another new feature at this year's AIMS seminar was the mobile app offered to attendees. Brewer said attendees were able to set up their schedules and then view them on the app.
"We had an activity area where attendees could post pictures and activities," Brewer said. "The app also gave us the opportunity to recognize our sponsors."
This year's seminar was the first as executive director for Brewer.
"There definitely was a learning curve," she said. "I am so thankful to Holly Coston (seminar manager). She is so good at what she does. She is really the glue that holds this together."
Brewer said they had the help of a new AIMS staff member, Darlene Reese-Sittig, who has the title of the certification and curriculum manager. She comes to AIMS from Six Flags, Inc., where she was an operations instructor.
Plans are to create a curriculum committee this year. That committee's job will be to look at the trends and make sure AIMS is addressing those trends.
"We want to make sure we are on the forefront," Brewer said.
One of the areas Brewer said they already have plans to expand is the adventure parks such as zip lines, climbing walls, trampolines and obstacle courses.
The AIMS Safety Seminar has both sit-down and hands-on classes geared toward attendees at any level. Attendees customize their course work based on their needs and their employer's needs.
The organization offers certifications including: Maintenance Technician, Levels I, II, and III; Operations Technician, Levels I, II, and III; Aquatics Operations Technician, Level I; Associate Ride Inspector, Level I; Ride Inspector, Level I and Professional Ride Inspector - Level III.
Level I Maintenance, Operations and Associate Ride Inspector certification tests also are offered in Spanish.
NAARSO testing also is offered during the week.
The hands-on portions of the seminar this year were held at Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Pleasure Pier, the latter was where the Thursday evening outing took place.
A sampling of some of the 2020 classes include: Active Shooter and Workplace Violence; ADA Recreation (amusement parks and water parks); Advanced Water Chemistry; Aerial Passenger Ropeway; Amusement Park Railroad; Amusement Park Security; Arc Flash Awareness; Block System Troubleshooting; Budgeting for Your FEC; Chain Manufacturing Technique, Inspections and Maintenance and Crisis Management Lessons Learned.
Others are: Crisis Management for FECs; Developing A Seasonal Supervisor Training Program; Disability and ride eligibility update; Emergency Planning Carnival; Old Rides New Tricks: How and When Advanced Engineering Analysis; OSHA, Lockout, Tagout; OSHA, Hazardous Communication; Power Transmissions; Preopening Inspections of an Aquatics Facility; Pumps and Plumbing Maintenance; Relating To Our Guests; Rigging Safety; Roller Coaster Wheel Safety and Inspection.
How security seals can benefit amusement inspection industry
AT: Dean Lamanna
PLAINVIEW, N.Y. — The fun supplied by amusement parks is contingent, of course, on all rides being operable and safe. Amusement inspectors are tasked with seeing that rides meet all applicable safety regulations to ensure every guest has a safe experience — and security seals can perform a crucial role in the inspection process.
According to American Casting & Mfg. Corp., a family-owned producer of security seals for more than a century, the amusement inspection industry can benefit from the use of security seals in several key ways.
•Protecting ride storage units: Many amusement rides travel the country for county fairs and special events — meaning the equipment gets repacked and transported on a regular basis. In order to ensure that ride parts are secured in travel, a security regime should be in place to prevent theft and tampering; for something as large and intricate as amusement rides, the best security precautions should be taken in the process. Relying on high-security seals, such as cable or bolt seals, to secure trailers, railcars and containers is an ideal way to ensure all the proper parts arrive on time and unharmed.
•Tagging inspected rides: After rides are set up and ready to be inspected for any operational or safety issues, there should be an identifiable way to determine which equipment installations are inspected and safe and which ones have not been inspected or are not yet deemed safe to ride. Security seals can facilitate this with a color-coded security regime using plastic seals or wire seals. As these seals primarily are a marker of progress, they need not be of high strength; instead, seals used for this purpose should be easily removable in case of a sudden shutdown or ride issue.
•Identifying tampered ride parts: An important part of setting up an amusement ride is securing the ride’s functional pieces. If there are special levers, latches or doors that must be secured completely to ensure full ride functionality and security, security seals are an ideal way to prevent tampering. Most security seals have a tamper-evident feature that provides a clear and immediate sign of any tampering. This can be a key to keeping rides safe consistently, as an inspector will be able to identify and rectify the issue quickly.
Keeping riders and guests safe is the main duty and goal of every amusement ride inspector. Security seals can be an efficient and ultimately valuable tool for inspectors — benefiting the amusement industry and the greater public.
HERSHEY, Pa. — Pennsylvania's Hersheypark has signed with software provider Mobaro to digitize the safety, maintenance and operations routines for the upcoming season.
Founded in 1906 as a leisure park for the employees of the Hershey Chocolate Company, Hersheypark is currently one of the largest theme parks in the U.S. Comprising amusement rides, water park rides and a zoo department, the park welcomes more than 3.3 million visitors a year.
With an operation of this scale, the volume of existing procedures for inspections within safety and maintenance is considerable. This was part of the park's motivation when selecting Mobaro.
"We have been looking to go to a paperless inspection system for several years now to enhance our current inspection process," said Craig A. Glover, Hersheypark's ride maintenance manager. "After talking to Mobaro about the functions we wanted, we quickly realized that they could incorporate everything we want with their current platform. We tested the system on a couple rides in 2019 and are excited to go live with the full system on our over 70 attractions in the 2020 season."
Since 2017, Mobaro has been focusing on gaining traction on the U.S. market with its industry-specific software.
"It is needless to say that we are honored to have one of the biggest parks in the U.S. put their faith in our platform and partnership," stated Jens Holm-Møller, CCO of Mobaro. "We can only applaud the team on their ambition for rolling out full scale for the upcoming season. They come very well-prepared for this operation and we look forward to seeing the solution prove its worth in this park.
"In general, we are seeing increased interest from North American attractions, and I am confident that Mobaro can be a truly valuable game changer for maintenance teams across the continent.”
The Mobaro platform is built around the needs of the attractions industry, with a focus on analyzing real-life procedures and designing effective software for it.
State of Ohio
ride safety law
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A bipartisan bill initiated after a fatal ride accident at the Ohio State Fair in 2017 was signed into law by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in November.
Tyler Jarrell, 18, was killed and seven others were injured when the Fire Ball ride at the fair failed structurally during operation.
House Bill 189, alternately known as Tyler’s Law, was advanced by Ohio Reps. John Patterson (D-Jefferson) and Louis Blessing (R-Colerain Township) to prevent similar tragedies through increased amusement safety and inspection standards, as well as increased inspector qualifications and ride owner responsibilities. It became effective immediately with the governor’s signature.
Among the aims of HB 189 is improved communication between state inspectors, ride manufacturers, ride owners and the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture (ODA) in assessing ride inspections and repairs. Key elements of the new law:
•An enhanced classification system to identify rides that may need more comprehensive or internal inspection.
•Forwarding of safety and maintenance communications from the ride manufacturer to ODA.
•Tracking previous locations of temporary amusement rides prior to their operation in Ohio.
•Photographic documentation of major repairs before and after they are completed.
The law also adds a professional engineer as a non-voting member to the ODA Advisory Council on Amusement Ride Safety.