World’s largest sports vacation destination to add one-of-a-kind thrill ride
EMERSON, Ga. — One of the most unique thrill rides is coming to the world’s largest sports vacation destination. The Polercoaster, created by “inventioneer” Bill Kitchen, designer of the SkyCoaster and SkyVenture, will be built at LakePoint Sporting Community. Located in Emerson, Ga., north of Atlanta, LakePoint Sporting Community is a 1,400+-acre development under construction that will feature state-of-the-art venues for 29 of America’s favorite youth sports and 5 million square feet of mixed-use development. Along with sports, LakePoint will include approximately 29 on-site hotels, restaurants, retail shops, office space and several other entertainment venues.
US Thrillrides has assembled a world-class team to build the attraction, including Celtic Engineering, Haskell Steel, and S&S~Sansei. According to the company, USTR will announce other Polercoaster sales in the next few weeks.
The Polercoaster is an incredible double engineering marvel that will provide visitors an opportunity to ride one of the tallest and most thrilling roller coasters in the United States, as well as visit the observation tower with retail, restaurant/bar and observation area at the top. Polercoaster is a full coaster experience in a small footprint, including multiple loops, barrel rolls and high G-force maneuvers, making it a ride like nothing on the market. The vertical nature of the Polercoaster creates an amazing visual “icon” for LakePoint with potential for exceptional lighting options.
“At over 325 feet tall, the planned Polercoaster at LakePoint will be the tallest coaster in the Southeast and one of the top-ten tallest coasters in the United States. We expect to deliver high thrills for more than 4 million annual visitors to LakePoint,” said US Thrill Rides President, Michael Kitchen. “We believe the Polercoaster will add an electrifying view and an exciting high thrill attraction to the LakePoint development.”
Since the November 1, 2012, groundbreaking ceremony, LakePoint has formed partnerships with some of the world’s most recognized brands including, The Coca-Cola Company, Bass Pro Shops and Greg Norman Golf Academy. Bass Pro Shops, America’s most popular outdoor store, will open a 104,000 square foot Bass Pro Shops Outpost store at LakePoint. In addition to being the exclusive beverage provider, the Coca-Cola Company will build its first Powerade Sports Safety and Hydration Lab at LakePoint. Greg Norman is building a first-class golf facility and Greg Norman Golf Academy within the LakePoint complex.
“We are thrilled to be bringing the most unique thrill ride attraction to our LakePoint Entertainment Village called BoomTown,” said LakePoint Co-CEO and Master Developer Neal Freeman. “BoomTown will be the gateway to the development with themed restaurants, a movie theater and now the Polercoaster. At LakePoint we are focused on partnering with brands and attractions we consider to be the gold standard in their industries, and we are excited we have done so by working with US Thrill Rides to acquire the unique Polercoaster.”
First phase of the LakePoint Sporting Community will open in 2014.
Highlights for the Third Quarter of 2013
- Record revenue of $538.4 million, an increase of $16.1 million, or 3%, compared to the third quarter of 2012.
- Record Adjusted EBITDA of $254.4 million, an increase of $22.8 million, or 10%, compared to the third quarter of 2012.
- Record net income of $120.2 million, an increase of $27.9 million, or 30%, compared to the third quarter of 2012.
- Free Cash Flow of $140.8 million, an increase of $18.3 million, or 15%, compared to the same period in 2012.
- Increased guidance for full year 2013 Adjusted EBITDA to be in the range of $432 million to $442 million.
- Declared a cash dividend of $0.20 per share (paid on October 1, 2013).
“The third quarter is an extremely important period for our Company as the summer travel season accounts for a significant portion of our full year revenue and earnings. Given that, I am pleased to announce record results in revenue, Adjusted EBITDA, and net income. Our performance was driven by strong results at our SeaWorld branded parks, continued benefits from our pricing and yield management efforts, and effective cost management,” Jim Atchison, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. said. “We remain on track to finish our third straight year of record revenues and earnings with significant free cash flow growth.”
For the complete report please visit the SeaWorld Entertainment website.
We continue to extend our deepest condolences to the Esparza family. This was a tragic accident that deeply affected our employees, especially since safety is our highest priority and at the heart of everything we do.
The Texas Giant re-opened in September after external and internal experts determined the coaster was safe to ride and that the accident was not caused by any mechanical failure. We added incremental and overlapping safety measures to the ride including re-designed lap-bar restraint pads and seat belts. We also added a test seat at the ride-line entrance so guests can determine if they properly fit in the restraint system. The Texas Giant continues to be a guest favorite.
Since the safety of our guests and employees is our number one priority, we invest the greatest amount of our resources into our safety and maintenance programs.
In addition to our daily maintenance inspections, all of our rides are inspected at least annually by corporate engineers, corporate safety personnel and third-party experts. All of our ride operations meet or exceed manufacturer and ASTM standards.
Below are some facts about the Texas Giant restraint system that we believe you will find helpful:
- The restraint system on the Texas Giant is a hydraulic system and makes no clicking noise. It is run by a highly-sophisticated, computerized system.
- Once in a locked position, the lap bar restraint cannot open unless released by the ride operator who controls the computerized system, and the restraint will only open while the train is in the loading station where there is power.
- The lap bar restraint cannot move from its original locked position during the ride since there is no source of power, and during the investigation, multiple external and internal experts determined the restraint did not release or move on the day of the accident.
- It is common for the ride operator to release the restraints in the loading station so guests can momentarily exit (to store personal belongings, etc.) or to put something in their pocket. The system is not designed to release one seat at a time, so if one seat is released, multiple restraint bars are released at the same time. After any release, all restraints are checked again by the ride loaders and by the ride operator at the control station before the train can leave the station. An example of this was evidenced in the video sent by one of our guests to the police department.
- The ride’s operating system will not allow the ride operator to release the train from the loading station unless every lap bar is in a locked position.
- The indicator lights next to the seats on the train are not part of the safety system, but exist solely for the convenience of the ride loaders. The lights at the control panel are the only lights used by the ride operator and the computerized operating system to assure all seat restraints are depressed and locked in place prior to the train leaving the station.
Our hearts remain heavy about this accident and our sincerest condolences go out to Ms. Esparza’s family.
Accidents in this industry are extremely rare and we safely provide 26 million guests with approximately 200 million rides every year. Nearly 25 million people have ridden the Texas Giant since it opened.
Safety is the foundation of our brand and we have every incentive from a reputational, moral and financial perspective to ensure our parks remain as safe as they possibly can be.
Six Flags Over Texas
Indiana Beach (originally known as Ideal beach) was founded in 1926 by Tom’s father, Earl Spackman. From his youth spent running a soft drink stand on opening day in 1926 to owning the facility and building it into the top tourist draw in the state of Indiana and one of the most popular vacation resorts in the entire Midwest, Tom dedicated his entire life to the amusement industry and the growth of his home community and state.
Tom became president of the amusement park in 1946, after the death of his father. Branching-out the appeal of Ideal Beach, Tom introduced the Beach’s first permanent rides in 1947. These included a Ferris Wheel, Merry-Go-Round and Roll-O-Plane.
For Tom’s vision to continue and grow, he knew more people had to come to Ideal Beach. Knowing the immediate area did not have enough population to support the growth, he had to figure out a way to attract more guests. He wanted people to know that they could come to Indiana to have fun and enjoy a vacation. To accomplish this, in 1950, he elected to change the name from Ideal Beach to Indiana Beach.
Throughout his life, Tom received much recognition and a great number of awards for his service to the amusement industry. Some of these included:
- National Association of Amusement Parks, Pools, & Beaches Harry J. Batt Trophy (1950) for most outstanding promotion made in the industry in 1950
- IAAPA Board of Directors Special Award for Promotion for promoting the state of Indiana through Indiana Beach’s slogan “…There’s more than corn in Indiana!” (1989)
- Indiana Tourism Vista Award (1994)
- Monticello Chamber of Commerce Lakes Award (1995)
- Sagamore of the Wabash Award (presented by Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon, 1999)
- Monticello Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year (2000)
- Monticello Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award (the 1st recipient of this award)
IAAPA Meritorious Service Award (2003)
- Honored by Indiana State Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 10, honoring contributions to the amusement industry and the community. (2003)
- Inducted into the Restaurant & Hospitality Association of Indiana Hall of Fame (2003)
- Recognized by the Mayor of Monticello, Indiana (Robert E. Fox) for his continued contributions to the community-at-large, to tourism, and for his inspired expansions of Indiana Beach Amusement Resort. The Mayor proclaimed June 19, 2005 as “Thomas E. Spackman Day” in the city of Monticello. (2005)
- Recognized by the Governor of Indiana (Mitch Daniels) as being a long-standing force in promoting travel to Indiana and for the role he has taken in developing Indiana as a one-of-a-kind destination for visitors. The Governor proclaimed June 19, 2005 as “Indiana Beach Day” in the state of Indiana. (2005)
- Recognized by Coca-Cola Enterprises for 80 years of partnership & success. (2005)
Arrangements are pending at Springer-Voorhis-Draper Funeral Home.
Boeing 737 adorned with beloved Disney-Pixar characters flies four Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington children to Disneyland Resort on inaugural flight
SEATTLE, Washington — The newest themed airplane in Alaska Airlines’ fleet flew into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport November 7, featuring one of America’s most beloved and rusty tow trucks.
Adorned with the familiar images of Disney-Pixar’s animated Cars characters Mater, Lightning McQueen, Guido and Luigi, the colorful Boeing 737-800 named “Adventure of Disneyland Resort” celebrates Alaska’s partnership with Walt Disney’s original theme park.
It is the fifth Disney-themed airplane born out of the successful partnership between Seattle-based Alaska Airlines and Disneyland Resort.
“Our Disney planes generate a lot of excitement among our passengers young and old wherever they fly,” said Jeff Butler, Alaska Airlines’ vice president of customer service-airports and cargo, and board member of Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington. “I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our strong partnership than to launch this flying invitation to visit Disneyland Resort’s newest attraction and Mater’s home in Cars Land.”
“Since our inception, we’ve granted life-affirming wishes to more than 5,300 children in Alaska and Washington and it’s only because of the partnerships that we have with companies like Alaska Airlines and Disney,” said Barry McConnell, president and CEO of Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington.
Since granting its first wish in 1986, Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington has granted 2,257 Disney wishes and sent 1,051 children and their families on wish trips via Alaska Airlines. Disney helps Make-A-Wish America® grant more than 5,000 wishes annually, making a trip to a Disney Park the most frequent wish requested by Make-A-Wish children.
Alaska Airlines has supported Make-A-Wish Alaska and Washington since 1986 and provides air transportation for about 225 Wish kids and their families to travel each year. Alaska invites members of its Mileage Plan to donate frequent-flier miles to Make-A-Wish through the Charity Miles program. To donate miles, visit www.alaskaair.com and click on the “Mileage Plan” and “Charity Miles” links.
The Adventure of Disneyland Resort aircraft received its new livery at Aviation Technical Services in Everett, Wash. A team of specialists from Associated Painters Inc. accomplished the complicated painting process, including a sponge-type application to re-create Mater’s rust-colored finish.
Travelers attending the Sea-Tac Airport event shared photos using #iflyAlaska and #Disneyland hashtags. A time-lapse video of the aircraft in various stages of the painting process is posted on Alaska Airlines’ www.youtube.com/alaskaairvids.
Alaska’s other Disney-themed planes are the “Spirit of Disneyland II,” launched in 2009; the “Spirit of Make-A-Wish,” which debuted in 2006; and “Magic of Disneyland,” which entered the fleet in 2005. Alaska’s first Disney plane, the “Spirit of Disneyland I,” joined the fleet in 2002 and was repainted in 2009.
New interactive platform provides 24/7 window into SeaWorld’s animal habitats
ORLANDO, Fla. — For nearly five decades SeaWorld® has connected guests to the natural world through innovative animal habitats and inspiring shows. With the launch of AnimalVision™, 24/7, on-habitat cameras stream footage to customized interactive websites, allowing visitors to create a connection right from the comfort of home at www.AnimalVision.com.
Fans can enjoy the antics of Antarctic penguins racing through the water or waddling around their icy habitat; see a school of stingrays gliding past their screen, or check out sea turtles, some of the ocean’s most graceful animals.
“AnimalVision allows our guests and fans to deepen their connection with animals. For some guests, being able to see these remarkable animals at the park and then continuing that voyage of exploration at home serves as a reminder about the important role we all play in helping these animals. For those planning a park visit, seeing our animals up-close will get families excited about visiting in person,” said Anne Fischer, director of interactive marketing for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
Animal habitat cameras have proven to be popular for SeaWorld and animal fans alike. In 2012 during a six-week partnership with Discovery Channel, fans across the country spent an astounding 1.5 million hours watching penguins in SeaWorld San Diego Penguin Encounter via a streaming camera feed.
Building on that success, AnimalVision provides animal camera fans with an interactive experience that goes beyond simply watching the animals demonstrating their natural behaviors. The new platform will feature:
- Video web portal designed to be viewed from any computer, smartphone or tablet
- The ability to take, share and save photos of their favorite video moment
- Live Twitter feeds share comments with other AnimalVision viewers and interactive “ask the experts” sessions with animal trainers and zoological staff
- Education and conservation information and facts about each featured species
- Downloadable games
- Additional animal species will be showcased in the near future
Each of the six cameras is high definition for the best viewing experience possible, including multiple viewpoints of the habitats. The cameras at SeaWorld Orlando’s newest attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, show four different species of penguins both in the water and up on the ice. At Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark in San Antonio, more than 200 stingrays and tropical fish including various species of angel, tang and butterfly fish are seen from shallow and deep underwater viewpoints. Turtle Reef at SeaWorld San Diego features more than 40 threatened green sea turtles ranging in age from four to 50 years old with a view of the 280,000-gallon aquarium they call home.
Find Out If Santa Thinks You’ve Been Naughty or Nice
GRAPEVINE, Texas — Scuba Diving Santa and his elf are back, and ready to take the plunge to entertain you amongst the fish and sharks in Sea Life Aquarium Grapevine’s 145,000-gallon tank. Find out whether Scuba Diving Santa thinks you’ve been naughty or nice this year. Scheduled dives occur at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, December 11 and 18 and Saturday, December 14 and 21.
Young Sea Life visitors will also be able write and mail a letter to Santa. Letters can be written from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, December 11 and 18 and Saturday, December 14 and 21.
Admission is $19 for adults, $15 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for kids 2 and under. To purchase special discounted tickets visit www.visitsealife.com/grapevine. In addition, as a special gift, all annual pass holders are invited to bring a friend for FREE on December 11, 14, 18 and 21.
Sea Life Aquarium Hours: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. — attraction remains open 90 minutes after last admission.
Holiday Hours: Christmas Eve 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Christmas noon to 6 p.m., New Years Eve 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and New Years Day 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Partnership challenges guests and employees to donate 300,000 boxes
Norcross, Georgia — Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE) recently kicked off its 2013 Shoebox Challenge with Operation Christmas Child. For the fourth year, HFE is challenging the communities it serves to donate more gift‐filled shoeboxes than ever before. To encourage community support, HFE properties across the country are offering complimentary park tickets for the 2014 season to churches that sign up for the challenge. Once churches sign up, they can earn even more free tickets by donating incrementally more shoeboxes.
Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational Christian organization providing worldwide spiritual and physical aid. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas project, has hand-delivered gift boxes in over 130 countries to more than 100 million children. For many, these are the first presents they’ve ever received.
“Christmas is a wonderful tradition at HFE and the Shoebox Challenge is a way we can share the joyous season with children around the world,” said Joel Manby, HFE’s president and CEO. “Not only is this an opportunity to connect with our local community but an opportunity to bring Christmas love and hope to families across the globe.”
The challenge began in September and leads into National Collection Week: November 18–25. Packing a shoebox is simple. Fill shoeboxes with school supplies, toys, necessity items, candy and a letter of encouragement. Then drop off the box at one of the 3,800 collection sites. Step-by-step shoebox packing instructions are available at www.samaritanspurse.org.
For more information about the Herschend Family Entertainment Shoebox Challenge and Operation Christmas Child, visit: shoebox.hfecorp.com.
Indoor exhibit space sold out; outdoor area largest ever
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Officials for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) announced IAAPA Attractions Expo 2013 will feature more square footage of exciting new product and service innovations for the global attractions industry than any of its Expos in the past 10 years. The conference and trade show will take place Nov. 18-22 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.
As of Oct. 31, 1,100 companies have signed up to showcase new ride concepts, delicious treats, the latest technologies, and much, much more in 135 product categories on more than 522,000 square feet of exhibit space — the size of approximately 13 football fields. The indoor space at the North/South Halls of the Orange County Convention Center is completely sold out; the outdoor exhibit space is the largest in the show’s history, but a few spaces are still available.
More than 110 companies (10 percent of the exhibitors) are lined up to make their debut at the Expo as first-time exhibitors.
“Wear your comfortable shoes,” advises IAAPA President and CEO, Paul Noland. “There are too many business-building ideas to count in the nine miles of aisles at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2013. Get ready to take full advantage of the new innovations, learning opportunities, and networking experiences the Expo has to offer.”
Additional information on how to attend or exhibit at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2013 is available at IAAPA.org. Attendees save 25 percent off the on-site registration fee if they register online by Nov. 2.
The 364-acre amusement and waterpark is changing the name and colors of the Flight Deck roller coaster to The Bat. The change will take effect for the 2014 season.
“There was a lot of passion and enthusiasm around this name change by our guests,” Kings Island’s vice-president and general manager Greg Scheid said. “They told us this is a name they wanted us to bring back. We listened and we’re excited our guests will again be able to fly The Bat at Kings Island in 2014.
“The name also fits the characteristics of the ride. Similar to a bat in flight, riders soar through the air, swooping, circling and diving unexpectedly as they enjoy this ride.”
The newly named Bat is similar to its predecessor as a suspended roller coaster with the tracks above the trains. When the coaster train turns a corner, the cars are designed to swing out to the side, sometimes swinging the riders parallel to the ground.
The new color scheme for The Bat will feature orange track with two shades of charcoal for the columns and structure. Black will be the featured color of the trains.
Designed by the Arrow Dynamics Company, The Bat was custom designed for Kings Island when it debuted as Top Gun in 1993. Riders soar over the tree tops and through a hilly wooden terrain and a series of sharp turns on this seventh generation steel roller coaster. The attraction celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2013, giving its 20-millionth ride in June.
The Bat is one of 14 roller coasters at Kings Island, including the new world record-breaking Banshee set to debut in 2014.