Kennywood becomes Certified Autism Center

By | April 17, 2019

WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. — Kennywood is making a commitment to ensure all visitors, even those with sensory needs or on the autism spectrum, have an amazing experience. As part of this commitment, the amusement park recently earned the Certified Autism Center designation, which is awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations that have completed a training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with autism and other sensory needs.

“When we looked at ways to improve guest service over the offseason, becoming a Certified Autism Center was at the top of our to-do list,” says park General Manager Jerome Gibas. “Our mission at Kennywood is to provide the finest in family fun and entertainment, and ensuring we’re on the front lines in understanding and serving our guests who are on the autism spectrum is critical to achieving that mission.”

Parents with children on the autism spectrum often find new experiences and traveling to new destinations a challenge due to sensory needs, dietary restrictions and safety concerns. For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children with special needs have limited travel options and created programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry.

“We want to ensure leaders in the industry, like Kennywood, are fully prepared to welcome guests with all needs. Ongoing training and certification ensure they are committed to serving these guests and have the knowledge and programs to do so,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “We’re excited about what this means for families in Pennsylvania and all over the US!”

In addition to training and certification, Kennywood will complete an onsite review by IBCCES and provide additional communication, resources, and adjustments for families with special needs. Currently, ride admission passes are available onsite for guests with disabilities, which will make rides more accessible. Sensory bags are also available for guests, which include ear plugs, a fidget toy, squishy ball, and coloring books and crayons. While an officially designated quiet space is not yet available within the park, Kennywood is identifying lower-traffic areas for families to visit when in need of a break from the normal activity of the amusement park. Families can for more information on Kennywood’s efforts to serve guests on the autism spectrum.

Rather than relying on the growing number of organizations promoting “autism-friendly” options that can vary widely, more parents are now seeking out destinations that have completed research-based training and professional review. IBCCES also created, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center requirements.

Icon named Best New Visitor Attraction at Blackpool Civic Trust Awards

By | April 16, 2019

ICON, Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s newest ride and the UK’s first ever double launch rollercoaster, has been named Best New Visitor Attraction at the Blackpool Civic Trust Awards.

ICON opened to the public in May 2018 and since then has launched hundreds of thousands of guests on an exhilarating journey across the South side of Blackpool Pleasure Beach.  The ride, which was manufactured by Mack Rides in Germany, represents a £16.25M investment.

The Blackpool Civic Trust was formed in February 1975 to encourage and support the town of Blackpool and its people. It’s objectives and aims are to stimulate a sense of Civic Pride to promote high standards of planning and architecture and to secure the preservation, protection and improvement of features of historical or public interest.

The Trust keeps an eye on Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas maintaining an interest in areas relevant to Blackpool’s status as a premier resort.

Amanda Thompson OBE, Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach and patron of the Blackpool Civic Trust, comments, “The Civic Trust is a group which is very close to my heart as my father was the original Chairman when it was established in 1975.  We are delighted that ICON has been recognised as the Best New Visitor Attraction.  It truly is the most ambitious project we have undertaken at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and has already thrilled hundreds of thousands of excited riders in it’s first year.”

Universal Orlando Resort releases first-ever look at magical creatures that await in Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

By | April 15, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. — Starting today through April 19, Universal Orlando Resort is giving guests a first-ever look at the magical creatures they’ll encounter inside the most highly themed, immersive coaster experience yet – Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

The epic new addition to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be an immersive experience unlike any other, combining a new level of storytelling and innovative coaster technology with elaborate environments – including an actual forest with more than 1,200 live trees – to bring an all-new wizarding world adventure to life. Guests will embark on a journey with Hagrid – one of the most beloved characters in the Harry Potter films – into the Forbidden Forest to discover some of the wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures.

Every day through April 19, guests can visit the Universal Orlando Blog at 11 a.m. EDT to get a first look at the creatures – from familiar fan-favorites in the Harry Potter film series to a creature that’s never been seen in the films – and where they can be found in the new experience. 

The week begins with a “massive” fan-favorite whose barks are worse than his bites.

When it opens on June 13, 2019, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will join the lineup of award-winning entertainment experiences in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort and bring an all-new adventure inspired by J.K. Rowling’s beloved stories to life. Guests will join Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class and fly deep into the Forbidden Forest aboard magical motorbikes to brave the mysteries and thrills beyond the grounds of Hogwarts castle. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will be located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park celebrates grand opening of the Glenwood Gondola

By | April 12, 2019

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo.  There’s a new gondola in the Roaring Fork Valley, and Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is ready to celebrate its completion. The Glenwood Gondola, which replaces the park’s former Iron Mountain Tramway, has been under construction since October 29, 2018. On Saturday, April 20, the mountain-top theme park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is rolling out the red carpet to introduce its newest attraction.  

A ribbon-cutting ceremony kicks off the festivities at 10 a.m. Paying homage to the grand opening of the Iron Mountain Tramway in 2003, owners Steve and Jeanne Beckley have invited two of the people who played important roles in that ceremony to come back for repeat performances. KMTS news and sports director Ron Milhorn will once again be the emcee for the event. Melissa Miller Matis will sing the same two songs she sang when she was 15, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “A Moment Like This.”  

After the Beckleys take the first ride, the Glenwood Gondola opens for the public. The park saved the original tram cabin number one, which is located at the base for photo opportunities. Cake will be served on the stage in the plaza area beginning at 11 a.m. Silk’s Saloon Olde Tyme Photos will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well.  

“Everyone at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park is really looking forward to the grand opening,” park general manager Nancy Heard explained. “Even though the park has been open for a few weeks with 17 gondola cabins, this is really the big kick-off for us. We have a lot of great things planned for this summer, so this is just the first of many fun events coming up, including our 20th anniversary celebration on May 18 and 15 Music on the Mountain concerts throughout the summer.”

To thank the community for its patience while the park was closed, free annual gondola passes were offered to residents from Basalt to Glenwood and from Eagle to Parachute. More than 17,000 people signed up, a much larger number than anticipated.  

Heard added, “Wow, the response was just incredible! We had to make a special order of the plastic cards used for the passes to accommodate so many people. We continue to be humbled by the loyalty and enthusiastic support of our community.”

At $38 per annual gondola pass, that’s a $650,000 goodwill gesture to encourage locals to come up and see what’s new and to bring back those who may have stopped attending the Music on the Mountain concerts because of the lines to get up and down the mountain.  

With the increased capacity of the Glenwood Gondola, that should no longer be an issue. In the past, the majority of customer complaints were related to getting up and down the mountain. The new gondola is designed to be much more customer-friendly. It features 44 detachable cabins that move continuously, so the ride is faster and smoother than the former Iron Mountain Tramway. It’s also less susceptible to weather-related closures.  

“When you combine the gondola, the capital improvements made throughout the park and compensation to keep our year-round, full-time employees on the payroll during the closure, this multi-million-dollar investment in the park is the largest since its inception,” Steve Beckley said. “Jeanne and I are really pleased with the dedication our managers and staff members have shown to improving our customer experience. We can’t wait to hear what our guests have to say.”

The park’s year-round attractions are open—the Alpine Coaster, Haunted Mine Drop, both walking cave tours, the laser tag arena and 4D Motion Theater. An inclusive Funday Pass costs $47 for adults and $42 for kids 3 to 13 until May 10, when all attractions will be open. A ride on the Glenwood Gondola is $19 for adults and $14 for kids, and the Gondola/Cave Tour combo is $32 for adults and $27 for kids. Annual Gondola Pass Holders can upgrade to a Funday Pass for $28 or to an Annual Thrill Pass for $90 per adult and $78 per child.

The Lookout Grille is open with a variety of new options on the menu, including a line of panini sandwiches and more vegetarian choices. The General Store gift shop is open and also has a lot of new items, including locally made cave-themed chocolates, handmade artisan soaps and lotions, and fresh designs on t-shirts and hoodies, with more on the way.

Dreamwood Park wins Golden Pony Award

By | April 12, 2019

LONDON — Scruffy Dog Creative Services would like to congratulate Dreamwood Park Russia on their Golden Pony Award, won in early March, in Moscow.

Scruffy Dog Creative is proud to have worked on this award winning park, delivering the masterplanning, concept design, development, schematic design and detail design, along with the other creative partners.

The Golden Pony Awards are hosted by Facto Edizioni, publishers of Games & Parks Industry magazine in cooperation with the Raapa, Russian Association of Amusement parks and attractions.

Dreamwood Park, is located within Mriya Resort located in Yalta, Republic of Crimea, Russia, won the award for the professional commitment that is behind the creation of this park in terms of design, theming, choice of attractions, in order to give life to a unique and inspiring experience.

Luisa Dal Bianco, the president of Facto Edizioni and of the jury of the awards, said “ Dreamwood is the first real theme park in Russia. It offers an enchanting journey along 4 nature areas built around a central thematic tree of adventure – Water, Mountains, Wind and Forest – which inform a variety of family attractions including themed costers, water rides, extreme rope course, and a goldminers’ station, all exclusively projected and built by leading manufacturers from Germany and England.”

Rockin’ Jump retrofits with glow-in-the-dark attractions

By | April 12, 2019

A new Neon Ninja Course and Neon Dodgeball Court were recently debuted at Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park in Vacaville, California.

Rockin’ Jump Vacaville opened in 2016 as a premier trampoline park offering an array of entertainment options to area residents in search of active fun. The park offers guests an open jump trampoline court, a slam dunk trampoline zone, air bag, battle beam, climbing wall and now a glow-in-the-dark ninja course and dodgeball court.

A few years after opening, the Rockin’ Jump Vacaville team decided it was time to upgrade their venue and contacted Best American Trampoline Parks, who manufactured, installed and helped design the trampoline park. 
The timing of their request for innovative attractions that would elevate their entertainment center to the next level couldn’t have been better. Best American recently released a new line of neon attractions and materials that illuminate when exposed to black lights.

Best American’s Neon Collection currently includes Neon Ninja Courses that feature a steel truss system powder coated in an array of neon colors, as well as a choice of neon ninja elements that illuminate under black lights. Best American’s Neon Collection also features a selection of fully customizable Neon Climbing Walls, Neon Air Bags and Neon materials that can be incorporated onto their Trampoline Courts. 

Rockin’ Jump Vacaville incorporated a Neon Ninja Course with a neon orange truss system and neon green ninja elements that produce a vibrant glow when exposed to black lights. There is an air bag beneath the course with neon graphics that illuminate under black light as well. The trampoline park also upgraded their existing dodgeball court with new neon yellow trampoline pad covers and trampoline beds with neon yellow stripes that glow under black lights.

Accommodating the space for the new ninja course was achieved by removing the second dodgeball court. Best American managed the removal of the second dodgeball court, installation of the new ninja course and implemented new neon pad covers and beds for the remaining dodgeball court. The entire process took less than four days to complete and the park remained open during the entire process.

Rockin’ Jump Vacaville expressed their excitement about the new ninja course and indicated that the addition of the glow-in-the-dark elements and attractions has resulted in a positive response from guests of all ages who are thrilled about the park’s update. 

“There is a lot of excitement surrounding the addition of our ninja course. Guests of all ages are really looking forward to challenging themselves on the new ninja course. The feedback and responses we’ve received about the new attraction have been great for our marketing and social media. The fact that it glows in the dark adds a whole other level of excitement and intrigue.” – Todd Carlson, co-owner of Rockin’ Jump Vacaville

Amusement Industry denounced inaccurate stereotypes in AT&T commercial; inaccurate ad targeting industry does not meet AT&T core values

By | April 11, 2019

WINTER PARK, Fla. — Shocked, angered and saddened are the first reactions to a new AT&T advertisement that has been running on broadcast television and on social media. The ad promotes the worst stereotypes of an industry that provides safe family entertainment throughout the United States and around the world, and clearly conflicts with AT&T’s stated claim that its corporate values promote: “Doing the right thing.”

“The staged scene purports to show a carnival amusement ride, and suggests that our industry employs careless workers, operates decrepit rides, is unconcerned about ride safety and simply leaves town if someone is injured,” said Greg Chiecko, president of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association. “Experts who have viewed the ride say it was intentionally doctored by the ad producers to make it appear to be unsafe.

“AT&T executives and the advertising agency that created this ad owe an apology to the hard-working men and women who make up our industry and provide safe family entertainment throughout the United States to tens of millions of people each year,” said Chiecko. “Ride safety is our industry’s highest priority. Amusement rides meet tough international standards and ride safety is heavily regulated. The ride shown in the AT&T ad would never have passed one of the many state inspections our rides receive each year, and would not have been allowed to operate in the condition shown.

“AT&T’s corporate values say that ‘when we make a mistake, we have the character and courage to make it right and learn from it,’” said Chiecko. “Many of our members are AT&T customers and the company owes them an apology and a promise to pull this offensive inaccurate ad.   

“OABA represents more than 2,500 members, 200 carnivals, 15 circuses and hundreds of traveling food/game concessionaires in the United States,” said Chiecko. “The vast majority of our members are small, family businesses with many in their second and third generation of ownership. Other organizations associated with our industry have also expressed their concern and dismay at this type of misleading negative advertising.”

New Universal Citywalk restaurant, Bigfire, brings fireside dining experience directly to guests

By | April 10, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. — This summer, Universal Orlando Resort will debut its next original concept dining experience – Bigfire – an all-new, full-service restaurant that will bring a specially created menu and a highly-themed environment directly to guests at Universal CityWalk – and take open fire cooking to a whole new level.

Bigfire will feature unique theming designed to make guests feel as though they have stepped into a grand lakeside lodge, creating an atmosphere reminiscent of summers spent by the water. The two-story venue will feature warm modern surroundings, from a cozy fireplace to cast iron and wood design elements mixed with nostalgic camp lanterns and oversized plaid blankets. As guests step onto the outside patio, they will be greeted with twinkling lights, comfortable seating and lawn games for the entire family to enjoy. And guests will be able to enjoy one of the most popular fireside treats– s’mores – which they will be able to prepare themselves right at their table.

At the heart of the venue will be a custom wood fire grill that will allow guests to see their meal being prepared from anywhere in the restaurant. And for the first time at Universal Orlando, each dish will be expertly paired with the perfect type of wood to bring out the smoky goodness in each bite. From Cherrywood to Pecanwood and more, the pairings will add bold flavors to the American classic dishes and unique entrees, including a signature bison burger, coffee, chili and cocoa rubbed top sirloin, delectable freshwater trout, mouth-watering smoked salads and more.

Bigfire will be another example of what happens when the Universal Creative team that designs world-class theme park attractions partners with Universal’s award-winning culinary team to create incredible dining experiences for guests. When it opens, Bigfire will become the next highly-themed, original concept restaurant at CityWalk, and join other popular experiences such as The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, NBC Sports Grill & Brew, The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, VIVO Italian Kitchen and more. The restaurant will be located between VIVO Italian Kitchen and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville on the edge of the lagoon – offering incredible views of Universal CityWalk.

Ralph S. Alberts Company adds Thomas Schmidt

By | April 9, 2019

The Ralph Alberts Company is pleased to announce the strategic addition of Thomas Schmidt to its leadership team.


As of Monday, April 8th , Schmidt will assume a senior role as Director of Sales & Marketing for Ralph S. Alberts (RSA).  His primary responsibility will be to expand the company’s long-standing industry relationships as RSA enhances its operation to include additional products and services.

Schmidt joins RSA from Forever Media Inc, where he served as a Regional Director of Sales.  Tom’s career in Sales and Media spans more than 25 years, serving as a Sales Account Executive for more than 10 of those years with a significant focus on customer relationship management through the alignment of internal processes. Prior to that, Tom served at the Executive level with oversight of broadcast facilities in San Diego, Cincinnati and Detroit. His responsibilities included increasing consumer engagement through the development of on-air content, event promotions and marketing strategies.

“I couldn’t be more excited to add Tom to our Team,” said Seth Alberts, vice-president of RSA. “The experience and interpersonal skills he brings to our company will only further benefit our customers.  We’ve spent the last year focusing on internal capacity and throughput, reducing our lead times by more than 70%.  Now, we have the perfect ingredient to not only help us fill that capacity, but better serve the Amusement industry and our customer base as a whole!”

International tastes for every palate at the Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival

By | April 9, 2019

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — Busch Gardens Williamsburg offers a delectable culinary tour around the world with its seventh annual Food & Wine Festival.  Guests can enjoy authentic international tastes at 19 themed food and beverage kiosks featuring specialty entrées and desserts and more than 100 craft beers, wines, specialty cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.The Food & Wine Festival will take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, May 17 – June 30, and Memorial Day Monday. The festival is included with park admission.  Festival entrées, beverages and desserts are available for an additional fee.

“With its assortment of tasty international creations, our Food & Wine Festival has established Busch Gardens Williamsburg as a leading culinary destination in the region,” said culinary operations Senior Leader Franz Kitenko.  “This annual festival provides tastes for every palate in one convenient location.”The Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival offers park guests the opportunity to sample a variety of food and beverages not normally served in the park.

This year’s event includes four new food kiosks and new beverage bars featuring specialty drinks, cocktails and wine with a focus around beautiful gardens:

Offerings include Fried Shrimp Tacos, Carne Asada Tacos and Chorizo Empanadas.

Menu features Jerk Chicken Sliders, Gamba Fritters and Pineapple Rum Upside-Down Cake, as well as an assortment of drinks.

Menu includes a Chicken Adobo dish, as well as Siopao, a steamed pork bun with sweet soy glaze.

Offerings include Creamy Mushroom Risotto and Caprese, as well as a selection of drinks.

Cocktails include Watermelon Mojito and Mint Julep. Rosemary Lemon Moscato and specialty Lavender Lemonade also are available.

A large selection of craft beers will be on tap at this new location.

Offerings include Bloody Mary and Summer Wind cocktails, as well as a specialty smoothie.

Cocktails include traditional Red Sangria, Citrus Moscato Sangria and Strawberry Rose Sangria.

In addition to the delicious international flavors, special offerings like craft brewery talks, wine, tequila and scotch tastings* also will be offered.  And to make it easy, Food & Wine Festival Food & Beverage Samplers* can be purchased for festival-goers to get it all.  Tastings and samplers require an additional fee.*

New to the Food & Wine Festival this year, in a further commitment to protecting animals and habitats worldwide, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is replacing polystyrene foam with products made from 100 percent recycled material in all 12 of its parks, including Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.  The parks have removed polystyrene foam dinnerware products, including bowls, plates and trays, from all of their dining operations. 

“Guests can expect to see the new products in our dining facilities, as well as at our Food & Wine Festival,” Kitenko added.