October 2020 issue

By | September 30, 2020

The October 2020 issue of Amusement Today
 is available for FREE via 
Digital Edition and/or downloadable PDF!

  • Preview of WWA40 Virtual
  • The Golden State’s first mountain coaster
  • The return of Las Vegas attractions
  • The 108th Wyoming State Fair
  • China’s Playa Maya Water Park
  • Zebec’s success remains a family business
  • ProParks benefit from Innovative Attraction Management merger
  • Woman of Influence: Cathy Lawson
  • Intamin co-founder Robert Spieldiener leaves legacy
  • Mobile Wallet system from Embed combines safety and efficiency
  • Central Florida conjures up safe, spooky fun
  • Six Flags rethinks Halloween in the COVID era with HallowFest
  • AIMS Safety Seminar goes virtual in 2021 …and more!

Gateway Ticketing Systems honored as one of the region’s fastest growing companies by Lehigh Valley Business

By | October 21, 2020

GILBERTSVILLE, Pa. — Gateway Ticketing Systems has been named the 22nd fastest growing company in 2020 by Lehigh Valley Business.

The Lehigh Valley Business Fastest Growing Companies awards program celebrates the Greater Lehigh Valley’s most dynamic companies who progressively contribute to the success of the region’s economic growth and stability. To qualify, companies had to meet selection criteria based on dollar growth and percentage growth over the past three years.

“As Gateway Ticketing Systems enters our 32nd year in the Greater Lehigh Valley providing ticketing and guest management solutions to visitor attractions around the world, it is a privilege to be recognized for our growth over the last few years. It is an honor to be awarded alongside so many other forward-looking companies,” says Michael Andre, President and CEO of Gateway Ticketing Systems. “Most importantly, we applaud our dedicated and passionate team with whom this growth would not be possible. It is with them that we celebrate our appreciation for this recognition.”

Gateway Ticketing Systems was honored by Lehigh Valley Business and the program sponsors during a virtual awards event held on Wednesday, October 14.

Universal Beijing Resort unveils remarkable theme park entertainment experiences within blockbuster resort

By | October 20, 2020

BEIJING — Universal Beijing Resort today unveiled jaw-dropping details of the multiple entertainment experiences available for guests at its expansive destination resort.

Universal Beijing Resort features the Universal Studios Beijing theme park, Universal CityWalk Beijing and two extraordinary hotels, The Universal Studios Grand Hotel and the NUO Resort Hotel. The widely anticipated resort has now revealed even more exciting details for guests. 

The Universal Beijing Resort experience is unique to China – representing a collection of Universal’s most popular attractions from around the world as well as specially themed experiences reflecting China’s rich cultural heritage.  An enchanting waterway connects all key locations.  Guests enter the dazzling CityWalk entertainment complex and approach the magnificent Universal Grand Hotel, which serves as gateway to the entire park.  Once inside, seven immersive and expansive, themed lands unfold around a central lagoon.

The seven spectacular themed lands include Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, Transformers Metrobase, Minion Land, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic World Isla Nublar, Hollywood and Waterworld.  These magnificent lands are at the heart of the guest experience, bringing some of popular films’ and pop culture’s most compelling stories and character to life.

Each land is a collection of immersive experiences, including themed rides and attractions, shows, entertainment, shops and restaurants with incredible food and beverages.  They are expansive and stretch beyond the limits of imagination.  Within them are dozens of blockbuster attractions and entertainment experiences, dozens of themed restaurants and food and beverage venues as well as many specialty merchandise and retail locations.  

“We and our local partners, including Beijing Tourism Group, are creating one of the most magnificent theme park destinations ever built – right here in Beijing,” said Mr. Tom Mehrmann, President and General Manager of Universal Beijing Resort.  “It is the fruit of co-creation, merging Universal’s decades of global theme park experience with our partner’s deep insights on China. Over 100,000 constructors, more than 500 designers and artists, and more than 500 suppliers and partners from around the world jointly made the project possible, and we can’t wait to unveil this dream destination to the world next year.”

Bringing the Movie World to Life and Creating the Immersion Beyond Imagination

Walking into the themed lands, guests will find themselves in unforgettable movie scenes, experience replicas of the movie world, enjoy wonderful adventures with customized storylines, and completely immerse themselves in multi-sensory stimulation and story-driven experiences.

Today, Universal released the exclusive details on some of the products being developed, including a few iconic landmarks and the most anticipated rides in these theme lands of Universal Studios Beijing, through inspiring conceptual images and videos.  Some highlights are:

  • In Transformers Metrobase, the first entire Transformers land in the world exclusively built in Universal Beijing Resort, guests can choose to become “guest agents” and fight together with Autobots on thrilling rides like the Decepticoaster, the biggest and most exciting roller coaster in the Resort or the Transformers: Battle for the AllSpark, one of the most popular rides in the land or visit the Energon Power Station to “replenish energy” like a bot.
  • Guests can explore The Valley of Peace of Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, inspired by DreamWorks Animation’s beloved film franchise.  Set in “Legendary China”, this is Universal’s first Kung Fu Panda-themed land.  The Valley of Peace is the small town where Po, the panda hero of this story, lives.  Guests can go on a Kung Fu adventure with Po, fighting against Tian Sha on a unique flume ride, Kung Fu Panda Journey of the Dragon Warrior.
  • Inspired by Illumination’s Despicable Me franchise, Minion Land elates and captivates guests, welcoming them into a spectacular, one-of-a-kind immersive experience that invites them to explore iconic locations from the blockbuster films like never before.  Throughout the land, guests can interact with the mischievous Minions themselves and, in the land’s signature attraction, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, guests join Gru, his daughters and the Minions for an unpredictable and utterly electrifying ride.  Guests are transformed into Minions and are launched into an unforgettable trip through Gru’s Super Villain laboratory.
  • Walking into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™, Hogwarts™ castle perfectly embodies this incredible world full of infinite possibilities.  Discover Dumbledore’s Office, Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom, Gryffindor Common Room, and the Room of Requirement.  The beloved Butterbeer™ is also available for guests to enjoy.  In addition, guests may experience an adventure like no other with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey™.  This can-not-miss ride will refresh guests’ understanding of immersive entertainment and allow guests fly with Harry on a journey though familiar scenes in the movie and experience a completely immersive journey into the wizarding world.
  • Welcome to Jurassic World Isla Nublar, inspired by Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s legendary blockbuster franchise.  Guests will explore this island of wonder and thrills where dinosaurs roam the Earth again.  Inside guests will find an authentic and magnificent world has been expertly brought to life in jaw-dropping detail.  Guests can explore this hidden world with four unique zones filled with interactive adventures.  With “Jurassic World Adventure”, the main ride of this area, guests will take the All-Terrain Luxury Automatic System (ATLAS) into the wilderness of Nublar Island and embark on an adventure in the turbulent world of dinosaurs, encountering Tyrannosaurus rex, Indominus rex and Velociraptor.

Encountering the Unique Entertainment Beyond Expectation 

With 24 shows and entertainment experiences, Universal Beijing Resort blurs the lines between stage and cinema in first-ever entertainment experiences utilizing live performers, interactive props and unique sets.  Universal Beijing Resort unveiled two unique shows today: Lights, Camera, Action! featured in Hollywood Boulevard and Waterworld Stunt Show.

Featuring world-renowned directors, Zhang Yimou and Steven Spielberg, Lights, Camera, Action! merges both Western and Eastern popular culture, leading guests into the behind-the-scenes glitz and glamour of film special effects.  In addition, Universal Studios Beijing will offer Waterworld Stunt Show in the first land dedicated to Waterworld. Guests will join in an immersive adventure and experience a thrilling water battle that gives them an up-close look at the stunt show of water motorboats, high-dives, gunfire, explosions, as well as a plane crash with great sensory stimulation.

A Place Born from Craftsmanship and Co-creation

Behind the blockbuster-sized entertainment of Universal Beijing Resort is the dedicated craftmanship of more than 500 artists from China and the world.

Artists have worked to create and perfect every single detail of the guest experience.  They have carefully combined Western and Eastern culture inspirations to create a world full of surprise and amazement. For example, just for one attraction, Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom, located in the center of Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, changes seasons continually through winter, spring, summer and fall.  To achieve this, artists created 58,000 hand-made blossoms which were then paired with 360-degree projection and other artistic technologies to achieve the magical transformation effect.  Another example is from Transformer Metrobase, which features an expanded and completely fictional story with China as the background.  In the creation of the storyline and the experience, international designers carefully studied Chinese culture, such as Flying Fairy, Armillary Sphere and water ink painting, skillfully integrating the inspiration and working closely together with their local counterparts during the design process.  John Gentile, Senior Director & Executive Producer of Universal Parks and Resorts, said: “This is a story of designers of different cultures and thinking working together to collaborate, impact and co-create.  Based on the co-creation and our persistence in detail, we have brought something spectacular to life and put our guests in the story.  I’m sure you will share in the amazement as you experience the park that has benefitted from the creative input of so many people and so much remarkable effort.  We are very proud to be part of this great journey.”

S&S Worldwide adds new experience for its portfolio of tower rides

By | October 20, 2020

ATTim Baldwin

LOGAN, Utah — If there are silver linings to find during the global pandemic, one would be the opportunity for creative people to think outside the box.

The engineers and management at S&S Worldwide knew this was an ideal time to offer something new, but also be cognizant of park operators’ financial challenges during the health crisis.

“With the devastation caused by the pandemic, I challenged our team to come up with an attraction that our customers could offer their guests,” said Tim Timco, president and CEO. “It had to be something that was exciting but didn’t break the bank. I think our guys knocked it out of the park. I am beyond excited to bring this attraction to the market.”

S&S is introducing Spin Shot. The new ride concept utilizes the famous tower rides that exist around the globe and brings a refresh to them. This offers parks the opportunity to present a new ride to its guests, while not having to invest in an entire ride structure.

Spin Shot replaces the former ride carriages on the Space Shot, Turbo Drop and Double Shot towers. By adding a new seating configuration made from the company’s popular 4D Free Spin Coasters, thrills are amped to a higher level. Currently, S&S has more than 150 towers in operation around the world. This new upgrade has no limitations in regard to the tower height. Seating around the tower can be 12 or 16 seats.

“We are so stoked about this ride. We have a lot of towers out in the world. I am pumped to show people the limitless ways this can enhance their existing tower,” said Paul Lattin, director of engineering. “Parks could even retheme and rename their towers to really hit on the new ride experience for their guests.” 

In contrast to the 4D Free Spin Coasters that flip freely and use magnetic plates to initiate flips, the Spin Shot is completely controlled mechanically to ensure a comfortable ride. But more importantly, it gives both operators and guests the ability to choose the right experience that is right for them.

“We realized [the pandemic] was going to be a pretty serious issue for the parks. We started looking at ways we could help and make something viable but exciting and compelling for the next couple of years and the immediate future,” Josh Hays, executive director of sales and marketing, told Amusement Today. “The park can have an infinite number of programs depending on how aggressive or nonaggressive they want to offer. There can be choices between stationary to multiple levels of insanity. We think it will be really fun, and it’s a reasonably priced upgrade.”

Ride experiences can differ from tower to tower, for special thrill events or from one ride cycle to the next.

The new refresh begins with the initial phase of the ride experience where the ride vehicle is being weighed. Riders are rotated into different positions. Once launched, the sightlines can change from being inverted staring down at the ground to looking skyward as riders flip.

“Can you imagine the comments people are going to make when they see this run!? This will be as much fun for people watching as it will be for the riders,” said Lars Lenders, European director of sales.

Executives estimate the ride can be ready as quickly as fall of 2021.

Stern Pinball enhances sales team

By | October 20, 2020

CHICAGO, Ill. Stern Pinball, Inc., a global lifestyle brand based on the iconic and outrageously fun modern American game of pinball, announced today the appointment of Edward (Eddie) Yates as Help Desk Customer Service Technical Support Engineer.

Eddie will report to the Director of Technical Support, Patrick Powers.  Stern added Eddie to strengthen its Service Department as pinball sales continue to grow at a rapid pace.  Eddie brings over a decade of technical experience, working as a Lead Service Technician for Abt Electronics and as a Lead Installer for Appliance Warehouse.  Eddie brings a strong understanding of technical skills in addition to having a high level of compassion for handling difficult business to consumer issues.

“Stern is committed to investing in customer service and technical support dedicated to keeping up with our rapidly growing business.  Eddie will fit right in with the Stern family, offering top notch technical experience with a proven history of exceptional customer service,” said Gary Stern, CEO of Stern Pinball.

Time for a ‘station’ break

By | October 20, 2020

While the dust has just settled on Quassy Amusement & Waterpark’s 2020 season, the maintenance staff at the Middlebury, Conn., lakeside property wasted no time in prepping for next year. Sections of the Saturation Station interactive modular water play area have been repainted (first two photos) and are ready to be reinstalled in Quassy’s Splash Away Bay waterpark. Saturation Station made its debut in 2003 as the first WaterColors ® installment worldwide by industry supplier SCS Interactive. Since then, the waterpark has witnessed four major expansion projects and today features 15 slides, a splash pad – and of course – the ever-popular Saturation Station. The modular water play area is shown on July 4, 2003, in the photo titled Saturation Station Overview. (Quassy photos)

Prospering during a pandemic Scary Strokes launches Embed’s Mobile Wallet

By | October 15, 2020

DALLAS — Transforming the business of fun since 2001, Embed, the worldwide leader of the cashless business management systems and solutions for the amusement, entertainment and leisure industries, is proud to partner with Scary Strokes, located in Waldorf, Maryland, to launch the award-winning Mobile Wallet.

Implementing Embed’s Mobile Wallet not only enabled Scary Strokes to effectively offer their guests safe, contactless gameplay and redemption options, but empowered guests to top-up their virtual game cards anytime, anywhere, without leaving the game; plus, guests will never lose their game cards because it is safely stored in the mobile wallet and protected by mobile encryption technology. 

For Scary Strokes, the customer database created by the Mobile Wallet (data includes customer contact information, the transaction data, consumer spending trends) enables Roth to develop his loyalty program and customer relationship offers and tactical promotions to drive return customer visits, thereby future-proofing his business.

Furthermore, the Embed Development team added a QR code system to the Mobile Wallet that enables operators, like Doug Roth, to scan customers who visit their venue (for registration, tracking and tracing purposes). The Mobile Wallet tracks what games the customer played and when. In the event that a customer tests positive for COVID, Doug Roth has the contact information at his fingertips to easily support tracking and tracing efforts (who played what games and when, and who played afterwards).

“When Embed introduced the Mobile Wallet, it seemed like a good opportunity for us to jump in and see what it was all about, and there’s nothing not to like about it. It’s clever and very convenient; there is no need to visit a kiosk or a staff member, guests can do everything from the comfort of their phone” said Doug Roth, President & CEO, Scary Strokes.

“2020 has tested our industry in ways that no one could have imagined. There is nothing I am prouder of than our powerful demonstration and commitment to our customers and industries recovery: Embed’s COVID-19 Relief Act, giving away our latest award-winning innovation, the Mobile Wallet for free to anyone (not just Embed customers) simply because contact-free, low-touch game play is what our industry most needs now. As promised in March, ‘make no mistake, we are going the social distance with you’ and here we are, adjusting to the new-normal, with customers all over the world, re-opening and prospering during the pandemic.” said Renee Welsh, CEO Solutions Group.

The newest ADG mountain coaster is now North America’s longest mountain coaster!

By | October 15, 2020

COHOES, N.Y. — ADG Mountainsides is proud to announce the opening of their latest mountain coaster at the US Olympic Venue in Lake Placid, New York. At 7,000 ft long, it takes the title of the longest mountain coaster in North America and travels alongside the 1980 Olympic bobsled track. The coaster opened for its first ride on Sunday, October 11 with the necessary COVID precautions in place.

One of the most noteworthy features of the ADG Mountain Coaster includes a timed audio system that allows visitors to experience what it was like to be an Olympic bobsledder during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid. “When you’re going up, it has audio playing in the mountain coaster, which is the first of its kind for any of the new mountain coasters. The soundtrack is narrated by John Morgan whose voice you will recognize from the popular movie ‘Cool Runnings’”  notes Elise Ruocco, Communications at ORDA.

Olympic inspired commentary accompanies riders as they zig and zag their way down the mountain through all the exciting twists and turns that were designed by the track engineers at ADG to replicate the historic bob sled track; with a few additional 360-degree turns were also included into the ride just for fun!

“The Coaster follows the alignment of the 1932 & 1980 Olympic Bobsled track as it descends the mountain. The views are amazing, and the curves get your heart pounding,” ORDA President & CEO Mike Pratt said in a press release.

With speeds up to 25 mph possible, and Olympic themed carts designed to seat two riders comfortably and match the look and feel of a bobsled, the driver controls how slow or fast their cart goes down the mountain. 

“The Cliffside Coaster is one of our latest and most thrilling additions to the Olympic Regional Development Authority venues, and part of our ongoing effort to modernize the entire Mt. Van Hoevenberg complex,” said Governor Cuomo of NYS, “This revitalization is transforming the complex into a year-round provider of excitement and entertainment for both athletes and families, which will attract more summer visitors and provide a critical boost to local businesses as we work to build back better.”

AIMS International adds exciting new educational content to 2021 Safety Seminar

By | October 14, 2020

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — AIMS International, the unmatched leader in amusement safety education, is pleased to announce two exciting changes to its 2021 Virtual Safety Seminar. New this year, Ellis & Associates will deliver the seminar’s aquatic curriculum, ensuring a comprehensive and innovative program providing the most current industry information and global trends.

Additionally, this year’s seminar will include 20-hours of inspection and maintenance education delivered entirely in Spanish. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a challenging 2020 season and limited budgets, AIMS International today also announced an early bird registration rate of $495, a savings of 25%.

“Understanding the challenges facing our industry this year, we felt it was important to not only go virtual with the 2021 event, but to offer a price that is sensitive to our attendee’s needs,” said AIMS International Executive Director MJ Brewer. “Our core mission at AIMS International is to provide safety education and we felt it was important to make the 2021 Safety Seminar as accessible as possible despite travel limitiations and budget challenges.”

Bill Kling of Ray Cammack Shows, Inc. said “I wanted to make sure I got signed up for the seminar early because I appreciate AIMS efforts to provide continuing safety education for the amusement industry even in these difficult times.”

Partnering with O’Design to produce the full seminar on the InEvent platform, the 2021 AIMS International Virtual Safety Seminar will deliver up to 160 hours of educational content across six tracks, Aquatics, Inspection, Maintenance, Operations, Safety and Spanish Language, taught by world-class speakers, veteran trainers and the industry’s top professionals. AIMS is also planning a live keynote address, lunch and learn sessions and networking opportunities.

Attendees can secure the early bird rate by registering today at aimsintl.org.

Polin Waterparks receives WWA Leading Edge Award for Europe’s largest indoor waterpark, Suntago Water World

By | October 14, 2020

TURKEY — Polin, a world leader in the design, production and installation of water parks and water-play attractions, was honored to receive the Leading Edge Award last week during the World Waterpark Association (WWA) Virtual Show last week. 

General Session for the WWA40 Virtual Show kicked off with a Welcome address from Rick Root, President of the World Waterpark Association. Then, Damien Latham, Chair of the World Waterpark Association Board of Directors and Andrew Chafatelli, Vice Chair of the World Waterpark Association Board of Directors announced the winners of this year’s Leading Edge Award on the second day of the WWA Virtual Show. Polin Waterparks has been recognized for its work on the Europe’s largest indoor waterpark named Suntago Water World at Park of Poland. That award was designed to recognize a park and supplier member who, through their combined efforts, brought a project, product, service or program to fruition, thereby creating industry innovation and leadership. WWA defines the honor as: “Awarded to individuals or parks for creativity in the development of new themes, facilities, programs, services or operational concepts in the water attractions industry; and to suppliers who have developed new concepts, products or services to the benefit of park members, their customers or the water attractions industry.”

Suntago Water World is a staggering 67,000 m2 waterpark that can hold up to 10,000 people for 365 days of the year. It offers 18 swimming pools with a total area of 3,500 square meters, 32 water slides totalling 3.2 kilometers in length (including Europe’s longest slide at 320 meters), 10 saunas and luxury spas, and a 40,000 square meter “tropical” garden complete with more than 700 real, imported palm trees and other plants from Malaysia, Florida and Costa Rica.It features more than a dozen of Polin’s signature waterslides. The colorful twisting tubes soar above the lush landscape of tropical plants and orchids inside the facility and includes 32 water slides totalling 3.2 kilometers in length (including Europe’s longest slide at 320 meters).

Polin Waterparks previously received WWA’s Leading Edge Award in 2014 as supplier partner of the Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark, in Pattaya, Thailand. CN Amazone features 10 themed-entertainment zones with more than 25 rides. The water park also boasts captivating live and multimedia entertainment that incorporates the latest in interactive smart-screen technology.

Since receiving that award, more recently, Polin Waterparks was acknowledged with a 2016 Leading Edge Award during WWA’s event in New Orleans for expertise in innovation. Specifically, last year’s award recognized Polin’s “innovation in waterslide manufacturing that allows for artistic theming, unique patterns and sound effects.”

The WWA’s Board of Directors selected Polin Waterparks for the exclusive honor based on the company’s unique, pioneering and exclusive waterslide-manufacturing technologies, such as closed-molded manufacturing technology, Natural Light Effects, Special Pattern Effects, Patterned Translucency, Slide’nRoll, Translucent Slide Parts and new design options that allow parks to offer customized theming, storytelling, spectator appeal and an interactive rider experience.

In 2017, Polin’s partner in receiving the award, the world-class Land of Legends Theme Park in Antalya, Turkey, is the first Turkish theme park – and first in the EMEA (Europe, Middle Eastand Africa) region of the world – to ever be honored with a Leading Edge Award. The Land of Legends features a long and varied list of attractions – from a five-star hotel to a dolphinarium, a wildlife park, a theme park and its “Legend of Aqua waterpark” that sets the park apart.  

Most recently, Polin has been awarded for its work on The Wave Coventry which is an indoor water park situated in Coventry in the West Midlands, United Kingdom. Accommodating six slides into such a tight space required extraordinarily delicate design skills. Polin Waterparks needed to incorporate the building’s unique considerations into its slide designs. 

Accesso: Reimagining the Guest Journey in the Age of COVID-19

By | October 14, 2020

As the tourism industry reopens amid COVID-19, we’ve seen the far-reaching impacts the pandemic carries for operations and their focus on reimagining the guest experience. Now more than ever, there is a need to re-think and adjust operations, balancing both safety and revenue generation as top priorities, while striving to provide the guest experience visitors came to know and love in a pre-pandemic world – a daunting task for any operator.

To help ease the burden facing many operators in the challenging time, accesso – an award-winning technology solutions provider you may already be familiar with – has created a free step-by-step guide to guide operators in the creation of a safe, but enjoyable, environment for  returning guests, while also giving them the tools they need to regain traction and customer trust as the industry moves into a new era.

The e-book outlines data-backed concepts for venues of all markets and sizes, showcasing how guest expectations have changed during the pandemic and how operators can adjust to meet (and exceed) those new expectations – all while building guest loyalty, driving revenue and delivering an exceptional guest experience through the power of technology such as virtual queuing, mobile F&B, contactless guest interactions and much more.