Eleventh annual World’s Largest Swimming Lesson set for Thursday, June 18, 2020

By | February 27, 2020

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Registration for the 2020 World’s Largest Swimming Lesson (#WLSL2020) is officially open. This year’s event will take place Thursday, June 18, 2020. Organizers are urging aquatic facilities of all types to utilize the global, one-day event to increase awareness about the importance of learning to swim in their local communities. 

The worldwide event provides kids and parents exposure to life-saving water safety skills while building awareness about the vital importance of teaching children to swim and undistracted adult supervision to help prevent drowning.

The World’s Largest Swimming Lesson will take place on six continents over 24 hours on Thursday, June 18, 2020, as a platform for the aquatics industry to use one voice to send a clear message about the crucial importance of teaching kids to swim. Individual host locations and aquatics providers can conduct the 30-minute lesson any time of day they choose on the 18th.

Per the World Health Organization, drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional injury-related death, accounting for 7 percent of all injury-related deaths worldwide. In the U.S., drowning remains the leading cause of injury-related death for children ages 1 to 4, and the second leading cause for children under 14.

However, there is reason to hope. Since the WLSL event launched in 2010, the Swimming Lessons Save Lives message has been shared with more than two billion people in the U.S. alone. Facilities of all kinds are encouraged to join TEAM WLSL in their mission to prevent childhood drowning through education. Register at https://www.wlsl.org/WLSL/host_an_event.aspx

COVID 19 (coronavirus) Information from the IAFE

By | February 27, 2020

Everyone is vitally aware of the COVID 19 (coronavirus), which is of very serious concern across the globe. We do not intend to supplant any information you are and should be receiving via the WHO and CDC or the health authorities governing your jurisdiction. We do want to make you aware that as an Association, we are closely monitoring the situation, not only through regular updates from WHO and CDC, but also in communication with other associations and events.

Until such time as we announce a dedicated resource and information portal on our website for the COVID 19 situation, we would recommend the following steps:

  1. Be alert and closely monitor the key sources of information, WHO and CDC. Anyone can subscribe to the CDC information at their special page (see below).
  2. Insurance: If you already have event cancellation insurance, visit with your agent to verify that communicable disease was already covered. If you do not already have event cancellation insurance, then any policy you would procure would exclude coronavirus.
  3. Pandemic planning is similar to emergency planning, but with more specifics. Your existing emergency plan may have components essential to a pandemic plan (i.e. business continuity in case your staff/volunteers cannot leave home to come to work, additional cleaning protocols, special messaging for stakeholders, etc.). Spending time now to work on a pandemic plan would be advised.

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is the most reliable source of information and news in the United States. 
Their website resources and news page are constantly updated.

Main Portal Page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html
Specific sections within the page address planning and guidance applicable to fairs and events

SeaWorld Orlando places final track piece for Ice Breaker

By | February 27, 2020

BALTIMORE, Md. — The message from SeaWorld Orlando was music to the ears of coaster enthusiasts across the country: “Ice Breaker is on track to launch this Spring… literally.” With those words, the final track section and the first train were installed early this week at SeaWorld Orlando.  Not only is Ice Breaker SeaWorld Orlando’s first ever launch coaster but it also features Florida’s steepest beyond-vertical drop.  This new attraction will feature four airtime filled launches that accelerate riders both forwards and backwards.  Thrill seekers will love being propelled — in reverse — up the nearly 10-story spike where they experience Florida’s steepest beyond-vertical drop — at an angle of 100 degrees!

The final track piece completes the coaster course along which riders will travel more than 2,700 feet at speeds of more than 50mph.

Brian Andrelczyk, Vice President of Design and Engineering described Ice Breaker, stating “it can run not one, but two trains through the use of a unique, high-speed horizontal track switch” Brian contuned “The fun is just getting started … The launch track itself is special because we have an airtime hill on either side, so you’re going to get airtime on every hit of that launch – that totals to 16 hits of airtime throughout the entire layout! It’s going to be a really exciting ride keeping you out of your seat almost as much as you’re in it.”

Jim Seay, President of Premier Rides commented, “We are extremely proud to reach this important milestone.  The ride looks spectacular and the installation has been a great team effort. We are honored to be a part of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment’s formula for success by supplying this one-of-a-kind, record-breaking coaster that is sure to be a must-see attraction this spring!”

Ice Breaker is named after the icy Arctic summits and the ride queue offers an interactive educational experience, a reflection of SeaWorld’s partnership with Alaska SeaLife Center—which specializes in rescue, rehabilitation, education and research—a perfect alignment with SeaWorld’s own conservation activities and educational mission.   This partnership will help educate riders about the Arctic and its inhabitants.

“The Alaska SeaLife Center is excited to grow our partnership with SeaWorld. For many years, SeaWorld has been a stalwart supporter of the Center, and particularly our Wildlife Response program,” said Tara L. Riemer, President and CEO of Alaska SeaLife Center. “We are grateful for SeaWorld’s contributions of funding and staff over the years to further our mission. This new collaboration will continue efforts to highlight Arctic rescue and conservation stories.”

The opening of Ice Breaker will be the perfect addition to SeaWorld’s ever-growing ride portfolio and will become a must-do experience in Orlando.

Pioneer Vending scores monster increase with Intercard technology

By | February 26, 2020

ST. LOUIS — Pioneer Vending of Cincinnati, a leading route operator since 1909, recently installed its first Intercard cashless system at the Hueston Woods Family Resort in Ohio. Pioneer owner Luke Adams reports that, after changing over from tokens to the new system, revenue jumped 400% in the first week.

“The first couple of weeks we saw a monster increase,” says Adams. “[Our Intercard rep] Todd said, ‘I would love for that to continue but odds are it’s going to slow down a little bit.’And he was right. We’ve averaged out to 130%.”

Adams is also thrilled that his Intercard system has reduced repair and service time. “Our route collector really enjoys it because it went from an hour and a half process of going from game to game, getting tokens and then putting those back in the changer,” says Adams. “He’s in and out now in 30 minutes and that’s including getting product put back into the self-merchandisers and stuff.”

Pioneer’s system is built around the iTeller Element, a self-service kiosk designed for the route operator and FEC arcades with fewer than 30 games. The iTeller Element incorporates the key features of Intercard’s reliable and durable iTeller into a smaller footprint and adds faster hardware and the new NEMS network-monitoring software.

Pioneer, which operates more than 3400 games in the Mid-West, is now considering adding Intercard technology to additional locations.

Sumba’s CEO to speak during IATP EU on Tour 2020

By | February 26, 2020

MANCHESTER, U.K. and BARCELONA, Spain —The International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP) has announced their seminar series for the 2020 IATP EU on Tour. On April 22, 2020 (Manchester, UK) and April 24, 2020 (Barcelona, Spain), trampoline and adventure park owners and operators can attend “How Good Is Your Defense: Can Your Daily Operations and Inspection Practices Reduce Liability” as part of the educational lineup.

A well-planned and well-executed set of inspection routines can make your park a ‘best in class’ operation when it comes to managing risk. Digital solutions are transforming the way safety is managed and underwriters are embracing the concept of a ‘defensible’ alternative to the old paper checklists and reports. With the exponential growth in the trampoline and adventure park industry, regulations requiring parks to adhere to industry design, manufacture, operation, maintenance, and inspection standards are being adopted to ensure that compliance is no longer an option when it comes to operating a park. 

Attendees will learn that by implementing a sound operations and risk management program in their park, they are not only working towards making the industry safer but, if done correctly, they can increase their defensibility if a claim arises. Our panel will share the importance of having a maintenance and safety checklist system that is properly structured for identifying risk hazards yet allows you to get inspections done in less time, that are easily accessible and verifiable.

Our panel of presenters includes: Jason Proffitt, CEO of SUMBA, an emerging developer of a cutting-edge park operations and risk management platform for entertainment center maintenance and inspections; Tim Forshaw, Managing Director of Tower Insurance, an insurance and risk management consultancy broker for amusement and adventure parks; and, Alun Gwatkin, Managing Partner of Phoenix Loss Adjusters, liability specialists focused on claims handling and investigation service to insurer and insured clients. Also joining the group will be a local park owner/operator who will share insights on their best practices.

For more information on the IATP EU on Tour, which will be stopping in Amsterdam on April 20th, Manchester on April 22nd, and Barcelona on April 24th, visit the IATP website at www.iatptrampolineparkevents.com for more information.

New magic show, 3-D Fireworks, ‘Yacht Rock’ party among Quassy events

By | February 25, 2020

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. — Step right up and see the magic and comedy show this season at Quassy Amusement & Waterpark’s Carousel Theatre here.

“We’ll be doing a new show with a circus theme this year,” Jim Sisti, the park’s resident magician revealed as he and his wife, Sandy, were preparing the production to mark their 18th consecutive season at the lakeside property.

The Beacon Falls, Conn., couple are digging deep into their bag of tricks to present an innovative five-act show when Quassy opens on Saturday, April 25.

As in the past, the Magic & Comedy of Jim & Sandy Sisti will incorporate audience participation.

“It’s always been vital to use children in the show,” Jim pointed out, as the entertainment duo brings youngsters onstage to assist with a number of routines.

Without letting – in this case – the rabbit out of the hat, Jim said the circus theme will allow the use of some colorful props, including what he calls a “flash production” at the beginning of the show, which sets the audience up.

“We’ll be using a palanquin illusion, which is pretty spectacular, as the opening act,” the veteran magician added.

Mixed in will be an audience participation piece, a vanishing elephant act, and a grand finale titled the Mismade Lady Illusion.

The Magic & Comedy of Jim & Sandy Sisti will be staged weekend afternoons during the early part of Quassy’s season. The magic show will not be presented on selected dates when special events occupy the stage. During the height of the summer season the Sistis will perform afternoon shows Tuesday through Sunday with additional evening performances on Friday and Saturday. No performances are slated for Mondays.

‘3-D’ Fireworks Return
Quassy popular “3-D” Fireworks return on July 4 with special viewing glasses sold to benefit Give Kids The World Village in Kissimmee, Fla. The 10:15 p.m. fireworks shoot will be over Lake Quassapaug from barges located off Quassy Beach.

Presenting partners in the community service event are Price Chopper supermarkets, TD Bank, Shaker Auto Group, Pepsi, and Prime Publishers.

Give Kids The World Village (GKTW) is an 84-acre, nonprofit “storybook” resort in Central Florida where children with critical illnesses and their families are treated to weeklong, cost-free vacations.

“We have long supported Give Kids The World and their incredible initiative, so this year the park decided to make them the beneficiary of our fireworks show,” Quassy President Eric Anderson noted. In 2019 Quassy hosted a Coasting For Kids event which raised more $5,500 for the GKTW.

Yacht Rock Party
Another highlight of the summer season will be a “Yacht Rock” Quassy After Dark Beach Party on Friday, July 31, featuring the sounds of Connecticut band Anchor Management.

From the mid 1970s to the mid ’80s, popular music had a definitive sound. Memorable lyrics, smooth harmonies, and pure musicianship dominated the airwaves with artists like Christopher Cross, Boz Skaggs, Hall and Oates, and Michael McDonald – to name a few. This infectious, smooth sound has now become known as Yacht Rock.

Anchor Management’s evening show will include costumes, prize giveaways and sing-alongs with music from that genre. Information about the ticketed event is available on the park website and through Quassy’s e-news.

Following is Quassy’s 2020 special events listing:

  • April 25 & 26 – $45 Carload Weekend as Quassy opens for its 112th season! Up to 10 persons safely seated in one car receive an all-day ride wristband for only $45, parking included. Park hours 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • April 26 – Annual Egg Hunt For Prizes at 3 p.m. in the great lawn area of the park
  • May 2 & 3 – $45 Carload Weekend.
  • May 3 – Dance Day at the Carousel Theatre stage with local and area dance schools and studios performing. Start time 11 a.m.
  • May 9 – Qpon Day with special online pre-sale $13.99 all-day ride wristbands. Use promo code QPON20 at www.quassy.com to purchase.
  • May 10 – Preschoolers Day! Children ages 5 and under will receive a free all-day ride wristband when an adult family member purchases a wristband.
  • May 17 – Family Day With Girl Scouts & Boy Scouts. Call for details: 203-758-2913.
  • May 17 – Martial Arts Day at the Carousel Theatre stage. Local and area martial arts/karate schools will perform starting at 11 a.m.
  • May 31 – Ironman Triathlon. Offsite parking with shuttle bus service to the park until mid-afternoon.
  • June 8  – Homeschool Day with special program, including lunch and educational programs, for homeschoolers. Pre-sale ticket required for this event.
  • June 13 – 16th Annual School Music Festival at the Carousel Theatre Stage. School bands, orchestras and choruses perform.
  • June 19 – Wings & Things with buffet dinner featuring three kinds of chicken wings and other great summer fare. Evening ride and waterpark wristband included. Use promo code Junewings20 at www.quassy.com to purchase.
  • June 20 – Annual Dance Day at the Carousel Theatre with local and area dance schools and studios starting at 11 a.m.
  • Magic Shows – Jim & Sandy Sisti return with their magic comedy shows for the 18th consecutive at the Carousel Theatre stage. Afternoon shows Sunday and Tuesday-Saturday with additional early evening performances Friday and Saturday during the summer season. No Monday shows and days the stage is used for special events.
  • July 4 – 3-D Fireworks at 10:15 p.m. over Lake Quassapaug. Purchase special viewing glasses during the afternoon and evening with proceeds benefitting Give Kids The World Village. Note: No after 5 p.m. carload special offered on July 4.
  • July 16 – Wings & Things with buffet dinner featuring three kinds of chicken wings and other great summer fare. Evening ride and waterpark wristband included. Use promo code Julywings20 at www.quassy.com to buy tickets.
  • July 31 – Quassy After Dark Presents: Yacht Rock Party featuring Anchor Management. 7:30 p.m. at Quassy Beach. Pre-sale online tickets are two for $5 using promo code QAD2020.
  • August 13 – Wings & Things with buffet dinner featuring three kinds of chicken wings and other great summer fare. Evening ride and waterpark wristband included. Use promo code Augustwings20 at www.quassy.com to buy tickets.
  • August 22 – Annual Christian Dance Day at the Carousel Theatre stage. Program starts at 1 p.m. with prais
  • Sept. 5 & 6 – 24th Annual Constitution State Feis (Irish dance competition), presented by the Horgan Academy of Irish Dance.
  • Sept. 7 – $50 Carload Labor Day Special. Up to 10 persons safely seated in one car receive an all-day ride and waterpark pass for only $50. Park hours 11 a.m. to 5 p.m on Labor Day.
  • Sept. 26 & 27 – 29th Annual OKTOBERFEST in the Fieldside Pavilion with live music, food and seasonal beer. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Note: Events, park operating hours subject to change without notice.

SeaWorld unveils ‘Emperor’ car for the first time and provides media with ride details

By | February 25, 2020

SeaWorld San Diego provided a behind-the-scenes sneak peek at some of the exciting features of the park’s new dive coaster, Emperor, and unveiled one of the ride cars for the first time. 

Emperor is a floorless dive coaster and will, in fact, be the tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster on the West Coast, as well as the only floorless dive coaster. Named for the world’s largest penguin, Emperor will mimic this species’ amazing underwater diving ability. Fun fact: emperors can dive to a depth of 1,800 feet. Riders on the Emperor coaster will climb to 153 feet,  where they will be suspended on a 45-degree angle at the crown of the ride before plunging down a 143-foot facedown vertical drop accelerating to more than 60 miles per hour.

The coaster will feature two floorless trains each holding 18 riders in three, six-person rows. The graphics on the nose plates of the coaster are purple/blue and yellow, an homage to the bright coloration of an emperor penguin. SeaWorld San Diego is the only place in the western hemisphere with an emperor colony and was the first zoological facility in the world to breed the species. While cueing up to ride Emperor, riders can learn important and inspiring conservation information about penguins in general, with a special focus on emperors. 

This exciting new attraction will also highlight an important new animal-conservation partnership between SeaWorld and Penguins International, an organization dedicated to penguin conservation and research that will focus on penguin awareness and the conservation needs of this special aquatic bird. The partnership will include collaboration on educational elements that will be integrated into the attraction experience to educate guests on everything from penguin behavior and the effects of climate change on their habitats, to the work that SeaWorld and Penguins International are doing to help the species.

The partnership with SeaWorld will help advance Penguin International’s conservation programs. A portion of the proceeds from sales of penguin merchandise will also be donated to Penguins International to support their important conservation, education and research efforts.

Built by Bolliger & Mabillard, Emperor is next to Journey to Atlantis on the east side of the park. 

Valleyfair earns iROC Audit Excellence Award for second year

By | February 25, 2020

SHAKOPEE, Minn. — Valleyfair has won the International Ride Operator Certification Audit Excellence Award for the second year in a row. International Ride Training (IRT) announced the 2019 iROC Audit Excellence Award winners, and Valleyfair ranked among the top five parks.

The ride operators at these parks demonstrated the highest level of performance in safety, professionalism, and engagement during their 2019 unannounced iROC certification audits. “These five iROC-certified parks showed clear dedication to both guest safety and service,” Patty Beazley of IRT said.

“Winning this award for the second consecutive year is testament to Valleyfair’s commitment to ensuring the safety of our guests,” Raul Rehnborg, Valleyfair’s General Manager, said, “We are proud of our Ride Operations team and their commitment to operational excellence.”

All Valleyfair ride operators complete a day of classroom training, certification, and hands-on training before advancing to the park. Valleyfair’s ride operations team credits guest interaction and service to this season’s high scores.

iROC certified parks submit to unannounced certification audits from IRT auditors who gauge ride operator performance on over thirty criteria each ride cycle to ensure that operators are performing at a level commensurate with their training.

“These parks should be models for the entire industry. The passion and the teamwork at these properties is evident in their front-line operator’s attention to safe ride operation for every guest, every cycle,” Erik Beard of IRT said.

2019 IROC Audit Excellence Award winners include Valleyfair: Shakopee, Minnesota, Cedar Point: Sandusky, Ohio, Michigan’s Adventure: Muskegon, Michigan, The Park at OWA: Foley, Alabama, Morey’s Piers: Wildwood, New Jersey. Valleyfair won the iROC Audit Excellence Award in 2019 for its 2018 season.

LEGOLAND California Resort Names Kurt Stocks new general manager

By | February 25, 2020

CARLSBAD, Calif. LEGOLAND California Resort names Kurt Stocks new General Manager of the family theme park built for kids. Stocks joins LEGOLAND California from LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort where he served in the same position. Stocks succeeds Peter Ronchetti, who recently retired after serving 11 successful years at LEGOLAND California Resort where he led the openings of many exciting attractions including the LEGO Chima Water Park, LEGOLAND Hotel and LEGOLAND Castle Hotel. 

Now taking the reins, with more than 15 years of experience in Sales, Operations and General Management fields, Stocks brings a wealth of knowledge and leadership to the team at LEGOLAND California Resort. Under his leadership at LEGOLAND Malaysia, Stocks lead strategic development efforts for the Resort which included the opening of SEA LIFE Malaysia in April 2019, one of the biggest milestones for the resort to date.

A native of Australia, Stocks began his career as a professional rugby player before transitioning into a career in the health and fitness industry where he rose to the role of Managing Director at Fitness First Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur.

He has relocated to the San Diego area with his wife, Melissa, and their three children, Archie (6), Ayda (3) and Spencer (1).  The family is excited for their new adventures in the U.S., and they look forward to taking advantage of all the wonderful outdoor activities their new home has to offer. For his first big milestone as General Manager, Stocks will lead the charge for the opening of the Resort’s largest expansion to date, The LEGO® MOVIE™ World opening on March 27, 2020.

The Trump Administration weighs release of additional visas per provisions OABA advocated for in the FY20 Appropriations Bill

By | February 24, 2020

In the FY20 Appropriations Conference Report, OABA advocated for a provision that granted DHS authority to release up to an additional 64,716 H-2B visas in FY2020 if the demand exceeds the current supply of 66,000.  This is the same language that we have operated under in the last three fiscal years.  In FY17 and FY18, the Administration released 15,000 extra visas and in FY19, the cap was increased by 30,000.  

Since the provision’s enactment into law, we have advocated for at least 30,000 extra visas and have pushed for the Administration to release the full amount of nearly 65,000.  Today, we learned about reports that the Trump administration is considering plans to allow up to 45,000 additional seasonal guest workers to return to the U.S. this summer – the highest number since the president took office.  We are awaiting final details on numbers and procedures for the allocation of the additional visas; however, we anticipate that the Administration will likely include Returning Worker Provisions again this year and it is our understanding that new “waste, fraud, abuse, and integrity” measures are being considered according to statements by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Wolf.  Additionally, the Secretary has indicated that the Department will most likely divide the visa numbers between Q3 and Q4 to make it more equitable for businesses who need visas at the end of the year. 

As more details are announced, we will keep you updated.