Intercard and Pinnacle Entertainment Group team up to serve FECs world-wide

By | May 15, 2019

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Intercard and Pinnacle Entertainment Group have teamed up to serve the arcade and FEC market by providing each other’s clients with the best in cashless technology and arcade consulting services. Both companies are well-known in the industry, have customers around the globe and even share a connection to the city of St. Louis.

The two companies have worked together informally since 1990, when Pinnacle’s president George McAuliffe was vice-president of operations at Edison Brothers Entertainment in St. Louis, running 135 arcades including those at Dave and Buster’s locations. Ray Sherrod, founder of St Louis-based Intercard, invited McAuliffe to test his new debit card technology at Edison’s arcades.

“We had already been exposed to the concept of play cards and I saw the potential in it,” says McAuliffe. “We bought our first Intercard system in 1998 and it’s been very friendly with [Ray’s son] Scott over the years. We’re fortunate to come together in this business.”

“Intercard is of course, a leader in their field. We like to think we’re a leader in what we do. And so we are combining our talents together on behalf of our clients and the industry in general,” said McAuliffe. 

“Intercard’s strength is our technology and Pinnacle’s strength is its knowledge in operating family entertainment centers and using our technology,” says Scott Sherrod, CEO of Intercard. “That and our combined decades of experience in the industry adds a tremendous amount of value for our mutual customers.”

Efteling launches new 3D film in collaboration with multi award-winning UK studio Aardman

By | May 14, 2019

Efteling – the fairytale theme park in the South of Holland – has announced that 4D theatre attraction PandaDroom will re-open with a new restaurant, a new 3D film and a new name; Fabula. PandaDroom was first opened in 2002 in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF NL), to celebrate Efteling’s 50th anniversary, showing a film about the fragile nature of Mother Earth.

In 2019, the attraction is being re-named Fabula. Fabula will comprise a new 3D film in a 4D theatre, featuring 4D effects, such as water, smell and wind effects. The new film is created in collaboration with award-winning studio Aardman – also known as the producers of much-loved British shows Wallace & Gromit, Chicken Run and Shaun the Sheep. The film will be created with the aim of providing an improved and updated experience for visitors.

Fons Jurgens, CEO at Efteling says: “We, at Efteling, are delighted to be working with one of the best animation studios in the world. Working with Aardman on the production of Fabulahas allowed us to combine the latest in film and animation technology with a humorous and dynamic film that also teaches important moral lessons.”

Heather Wright, Executive Director of Partner Content at Aardman comments: “This is Aardman’s first major piece of original content for the theme park environment, bringing our unique skills of storytelling with brand new characters to a fresh audience. We have relished the challenge of combining humour, emotion and drama with 4D effects in this exciting experience.

The impassioned collaboration of the creative and technical teams from Aardman and Efteling has been critical in delivering a project we are all proud of. We hope fans of Aardman and Efteling alike, will love Fabula as much as we do.”

The bear that would not share
During the pre and main shows of the attraction, lasting eight minutes each, visitors will watch the story of a grumpy young bear who does not get on well with other animals. As such, Klaas Vaak (Mr Sandman) decides to teach the bear some important life lessons by taking him on a magical tour of different habitats around the world. An inquisitive squirrel unexpectedly becomes scooped up in the adventure. The bear eventually gains a little perspective and learns how to be respectful towards other animals. The film will be funny, exciting and suitable for all ages to enjoy.

The renovated attraction will again be centred on the theme of nature with a pre-show, a main show and a play area where guests can play and eat in the theme of savanna, ocean and jungle. In addition to the pre-show and the main show, the restaurant and the souvenir shop will also be renovated to enhance the guest experience. The restaurant will have more seats and a new menu with fresh and responsible meat, fish and vegan dishes that match international cuisine. The investment for the development of Fabula amounts to 3.5 million euros. The collaboration with WWF NL will end with the re-opening of Fabula at the end of 2019.

Often imitated, but never duplicated … Registration is open for the networking event of the year!

By | May 13, 2019

The 2019 Golden Ticket Awards is the most entertaining way to see behind the scenes of several aspects of the amusement industry and to recognize the Best of the Best! Connect with insiders and colleagues while gathering new insights and perspectives.

The Golden Ticket Awards registration is open only to industry professionals. A weekend awaits of incomparable opportunities. Make plans to attend this don’t-miss event. Registration is now open.

The star attraction of the event is the awards ceremony itself. New for 2019 are some fresh new categories, which will be combined with favorites from the past two decades. What will take Best New Ride, Best Innovation, Best Wooden Coaster and Best New Show? What Legends will be recognized? Attendees will be the first to see and hear the winners revealed.

The hosts joining Amusement Today in presenting the 2019 Golden Ticket Awards are Silverwood Theme Park and Rocky Mountain Construction. These two venues will showcase their strengths and specialties with food and entertainment, while at the same time offering opportunities to see best practices in various aspects of the industry.

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is a beautiful setting for an end-of-summer getaway. The Coeur d’Alene Resort serves as the host hotel and boasts magnificent views overlooking a stunning alpine lake in a quaint, friendly downtown lakeside atmosphere. It is a world renowned destination known for its signature golf course, romance and fun.

See you at the Golden Tickets!

Wiegand.maelzer GmbH becomes wiegand.waterrides GmbH

By | May 13, 2019

After over 12 years of successful, international and cooperative development of wiegand.maelzer GmbH, Mr. Rainer Maelzer has decided to leave the company by the end of May 2019. 

With his extensive experience and professionalism, Rainer Maelzer succeeded in expanding the market position of wiegand.maelzer from a European manufacturer of waterslides to a global player. He has contributed significantly to the development and expansion of some well-known European water parks, for example the Therme Erding. In the past 5 years, wiegand.maelzer GmbH has also established itself as one of the leading suppliers for cruise ships. Today, wiegand.maelzer GmbH has customers all over the world and is considered to be one of the most innovative companies in the water park industry. Receiving of 4 prestigious awards and the highly coveted THEA Award for the SlideWheel last year has proven the success.  

The longtime business partner and managing director Hendrik Wiegand has taken over the management. He is supported by the existing team and the authorized signatory Thomas Schmitt, who has 27 years of industry experience. Wiegand.waterrides GmbH would be the new name of the company. At the IAAPA Expo Asia, the company will showcase fresh design and new innovative product ideas. 

For our customers, partners and service providers everything remains the same. The team of wiegand.maelzer GmbH is available at the same location, with the same service-oriented, professional and reliable, team members. The stainless steel and FRP products are still manufactured by the production company Josef Wiegand GmbH & Co.KG, and also the experienced project managers continue to be available for the projects. The goal to deliver high quality products and to provide the accustomed exceptional services from our strong team continues.  

In order to further advance the company’s success and better meet the demands of the market Wiegand.waterrides GmbH is planning to collaborate with WhiteWater West Industries Ltd.

In April, the sale of the worldwide SlideWheel license to WhiteWater has already been successfully signed.

Dollywood officially opens largest expansion in park history

By | May 13, 2019

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Dollywood again solidified its place among the nation’s premier family destinations as Dolly Parton today officially opened Wildwood Grove, the largest expansion in park history. Parton opened the fascinating new land to visitors ready to enjoy its 11 thrilling new experiences. During an early morning media event, Parton shared the inspiration and dreams that led to the creation of Wildwood Grove, calling the area the new standard for Dollywood.

At $37 million, Wildwood Grove is Dollywood theme park’s largest capital investment ever and is the first new area added to Dollywood since Wilderness Pass in 2008. The biggest adventure in Dollywood’s history provides guests of all sizes unique experiences to enjoy together as a family.

“When I was a little girl growing up in the hills of the Smoky Mountains, I’d often let my imagination just run away—something I still do now—dreaming these big dreams about what it’d be like to venture off with a family of bears in to the woods or how fun it would be to hitch a ride with the butterflies and dragonflies,” Parton said. “All us kids would splash and play in the creeks and ponds around home and have these daydreams about the world around us, and that’s what’s so special about Wildwood Grove. We’ve been able to create a new area to allow families to experience some of those exact dreams we all had when we were little.

“Wildwood Grove is so special to me because so many of the same daydreams and imaginations from my childhood have now found a perfect place at my Dollywood. I hope families will enjoy laughing, playing and exploring together in this great new place that truly does feel like home for me.”

The Dollywood Company President Craig Ross explained the significance of the newest addition to the storied theme park.

“Without doubt, this is one of the most exciting days in the history of our company,” Ross explained. “It is rare in our industry that a park adds a completely new land in its entirety, and as we continue to grow and set attendance records, we needed to add more area to give guests more room to spread out and explore. Additionally, we were able to take many of Dolly’s childhood dreams and create experiences that are uniquely Smoky Mountain-themed and really help tell the story of this beautiful area.

“I know our guests will be thrilled with the great diversity of attractions they will be able to enjoy when they visit Wildwood Grove. We’re extremely proud of the fact that there are experiences here that every member of the family will love and enjoy.”

After stepping into Wildwood Grove, imagination takes flight, delivering explorers on a journey of discovery in this breathtaking area. Remarkable sights await visitors throughout the land. In the distance, the breathtaking Wildwood Tree catches the eye as lively butterflies shimmer in the daylight. Families laugh and play, taking rides inside giant acorns at Treetop Tower and aboard a thrilling “leaf boat” on the Great Tree Swing. 

Even the bears are friendly in Wildwood Grove, as they let guests meander with them through their own natural habitat at the Black Bear Trail. If smaller guests need a quick break, Hidden Hollow contains a 4,000 sq. ft. climate-controlled area with climbing structures, slides and games where kids and their parents can enjoy play time full of exploration.

Nearby, families scream with delight as they take a ride with Tennessee’s state symbol—the mockingbird—in an experience they control themselves at The Mad Mockingbird. Others dip and dart through geysers while suspended from dragonflies on the area’s signature ride attraction, Dragonflier.

At the heart of it all is The Wildwood Tree. This focal point is a beacon for all, drawing families to watch the butterflies play in its leafy canopy, while encouraging others to splash and play in the winding creek that flows at its base. As the daylight fades, families can bask in a colorful kaleidoscope of summer fun as the area glows to life. 

Wildwood Grove also features new merchandise and dining options for park guests. Till & Harvest, which is expected to open around Memorial Day, provides the perfect blend of Smoky Mountain flavors and fresh Mexican cuisine. The menu features a variety of build-your-own style entrees such as burritos, bowls, salads and nachos all filled with wood-fired meats, fresh vegetables and flavorful sauces. Along with the Smoky Mountain Mexican flavors, Till & Harvest also provides a spacious open-air patio for families to enjoy the sights and sounds of Wildwood Grove while they enjoy their meal.

Mountain Grove Merchants is the one-stop-shop for guests looking for the perfect gift or souvenir to celebrate their adventure in Wildwood Grove.

Nearly $1 million has been invested in Wildwood Grove’s landscaping, with more than 400 trees and 2,300 shrubs creating a beautiful, yet decidedly natural atmosphere to enjoy. As the landscaping continues to mature, the visual appeal of the area will only increase. 

Each day of exploration in Wildwood Grove is an experience families don’t want to miss. These merry memory making moments are certain to become a treasured part of every family’s visit.

Wildwood Grove facts:

  • The Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening during a unique nighttime experience which begins June 15. Each season of the year features a spectacular new experience for guests. The Wildwood Tree features nearly 650 lighted butterflies (orange, blue, yellow, pink and multi-colored) and almost 9000 leaves.
  • Dragonflier— This thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove. (Vekoma 453m suspended coaster) (1486 ft. in length)
  • Black Bear Trail— Riders hop on the back of these friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat. (Metallbau Emmeln Pony Trek)
  • Great Tree Swing— Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree. (Zamperla Galleon)
  • Treetop Tower— This family tower gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly 40 feet in the air. Riders, seated inside giant acorns, spin around the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the grove floor. (Zamperla Samba Tower)
  • The Mad Mockingbird— Tennessee’s state bird—the mockingbird—gives visitors a lift as it flies in a high speed circle around a tall tree. Riders control their ride experience by moving a sail as the birds rush above the ground. (Larson Flying Scooter)
  • Frogs & Fireflies— Adventurous guests can hop aboard one of these friendly frogs as they chase each other in a spirited race around the lily pad. (Zamperla Jump Around)
  • Hidden Hollow- This 4,000 sq. ft., climate-controlled area allows families to explore and play in an indoor environment.
  • Wildwood Creek features pop jets, splashing pools and more wet play activities, while the dry play area at Wildwood Creek features “music instruments” for guests to enjoy.
  • Three new costume characters call Wildwood Grove home. Flit and Flutter serve as Wildwood Grove’s ambassadors and Benjamin Bear loves to make new friends. Characters will have scheduled opportunities to meet guests each day.

Discovery Cove announces birth of spotted eagle ray pups

By | May 9, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. — As families around the world prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day, Discovery Cove is thrilled to announce the birth of two spotted eagle rays, a threatened marine species which is a part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Born April 2nd, the pups are receiving around-the-clock, world-class veterinary care from Discovery Cove’s team.Spotted eagle rays are in the fish family, recognizable for their flat, wide bodies and unique spotted coloration. Like fingerprints, each spotted eagle ray has its own one of a kind pattern. This is the first birth for proud parents Nerina and Apollo.  

“The exciting birth of these eagle ray pups demonstrates our company’s commitment to conservation and species survival efforts,” said Kyle Miller, President of Discovery Cove Orlando. “I’m very proud of our animal care specialists and veterinary team for developing leading-edge reproductive health expertise, technologies and capabilities. We are helping to save this species from extinction and look forward to seeing these pups grow and thrive at Discovery Cove.”  

Immediately following the pups’ birth, the Discovery Cove veterinary and zoological teams performed a successful neonatal wellness exam, all part of the general health care all animals receive in keeping with Discovery Cove’s high standards of care.

“The work done by zoological facilities like Discovery Cove is critical for the protection of Spotted Eagle Rays and other animal populations worldwide,” said Dr. Candice Dorsey, Senior VP of Conservation, Management and Welfare Sciences at the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). AZA administers over 500 Species Survival Plan® programs, including one for Spotted Eagle Rays. “Like coral reefs and many other ocean dwellers, Spotted Eagle Rays are a threatened species. AZA-accredited facilities like Discovery Cove are working cooperatively through the SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program to help save rays from extinction. Discovery Cove is to be commended for its investment in and contribution to research, education, and conservation efforts that help protect and rescue species at risk and their habitats.”

AZA’s Species Survival Program oversees the population management of select species to maintain healthy and genetically diverse animal populations within the zoo community and to enhance conservation of the species in the wild. AZA conservation partners that are involved in SSP programs engage in cooperative population management and conservation efforts that include research, public education, reintroduction and field conservation projects.

IAAPA announces David Mandt as Chief Engagement Officer and Executive Vice President

By | May 9, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. — IAAPA, the global association for the attractions industry, announced the promotion of David Mandt to executive vice president (EVP) and chief engagement officer (CENO). The newly created position is responsible for association member engagement, and global marketing, communications, and education.

Most recently, Mandt has served the association as senior vice president, marketing and communications. During that time, he oversaw the marketing strategy and plans for the association’s annual global Expos; developed the association’s year-long 100th anniversary celebration; facilitated the strategy and plan for all areas of communication including media relations, crisis communications, and executive communications; and provided staff leadership during a three-year, member-driven association-wide rebrand. 

As executive vice president and chief engagement officer, Mandt will oversee member engagement and the global headquarters teams for marketing, communications, and education. He will be the team liaison to the Governance and Strategic Planning committees and will supervise the board and committee manager to support the work of the IAAPA board of directors and the committees around the world while also working closely with the association’s regional teams in support of their goals. 

“David is a dedicated and passionate leader. We knew he was the right person to support the association’s strategic plan while leading all governance and legal affairs along with the membership and marketing teams,” said Hal McEvoy, president and CEO, IAAPA. “David’s vast industry knowledge and experience, relationships with members around the world, and proven leadership skills will continue to serve and support our global members.”

Mandt is a 38-year attractions industry veteran, who began his career in 1981 as a ticketing and parking host at Paramount’s Carowinds theme park in Charlotte, North Carolina. He remained in the attractions industry with Paramount Parks for 25 years. During that time, he held many senior leadership positions at Paramount’s Kings Island, Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton – Las Vegas and Paramount’s Carowinds and later as vice president, advertising and corporate communications for Paramount Parks before joining IAAPA in 2006. 

Mandt has spoken about the role and importance of crisis communications at events and conferences around the world, and in 2014 was named an honorary lifetime member of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) for his commitment and dedication to the attractions industry.  
Reporting directly to McEvoy, Mandt assumed the role of CENO and EVP May 6 and works at IAAPA’s global headquarters in Orlando.

Ready. Set. Swing. Finnegan’s Flyer sends riders over the edge at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

By | May 9, 2019

WILLIAMSBURG, Va — A high-flying thrill ride debuted at Busch Gardens Williamsburg with the grand opening of Finnegan’s Flyer, an exhilarating Screamin’ Swing attraction located in the park’s Ireland village adjacent the park’s Loch Ness Monster roller coaster.

Dignitaries including Virginia Senator Tommy Norment; Vicki Cimino, Executive Director and CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Council; John McGlennon of the County Board of Supervisors; Scott Stevens, James City County Administrator and park guests were on hand for the official ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening of this much anticipated thrill ride.

Finnegan’s Flyer takes 32 riders to staggering heights of more than 80 feet, with speeds reaching 45 mph. Two pendulum-like arms fly progressively higher over the park with each swing, providing incredible aerial views of the park. The dueling arms swing back-and-forth, the ground plummeting into view with each swing.

“Once again Busch Gardens has designed a ride that pushes the thrill ride envelope,” said Kevin Lembke, park president at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. “We’re committed to providing new and unique experiences year after year. We design these rides for our fans and strive to make each one a unique experience you can only get at Busch Gardens.”

“We love the name and how it naturally fits into our Ireland village. It visually grabs your attention,” said Suzy Cheely, senior leader of design and engineering at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. “This ride is huge. The swings go back and forth, increasing in height, until they go beyond 90 degrees. As you swing back and forth, you catch some airtime, which is similar to a roller coaster. That may be unexpected, so people may be getting more of a thrill than they think,” added Cheely.

Mary Jane Brewer named Executive Director of AIMS International

By | May 9, 2019

Nashville, Tenn. — The board of Directors of AIMS International is pleased to announce the appointment of Mary Jane (MJ) Brewer as the next Executive Director. She will succeed Karen Oertley who announced her retirement last November. Brewer brings more than 20 years of industry experience to AIMS International and will assume overall responsibility for day-to-day management and operation of the association effective June 1, 2019. Based in Jacksonville, FL, she will report to the board of directors.

“Karen and her team have put AIMS International in a healthy position, growing programs and services to an all-time level, and we are grateful for her work,” said Franceen Gonzales, President of AIMS International Board of Directors. “MJ brings a wealth of industry knowledge in safety education, inspection, and aquatics and comes in at the perfect time to continue that momentum. On behalf of the entire board of directors, we are thrilled to have her join AIMS as executive director.”

In accepting this position, Brewer commented, “I am more than honored and am excited beyond words about the opportunity to serve the amusement industry in this way. I look forward to working with our board to build on the platform that Karen and the AIMS staff have worked so hard to create and to bring safety education and training to even more members of the amusement industry.”

Most recently, Brewer worked as Vice President of Operations for USTTC (US Technical Training Center) and is an Inspection Specialist for Recreation Engineering, Inc. She has also worked as Corporate Safety Specialist for Publix and as Sr. Vice President of Organizational Development, Training and Safety for PARC Management, LLC. Earlier work in the amusement industry included stints at Busch Gardens’ Adventure Island, the World Waterpark Association, and Alfa Smart Parks/ Palace Entertainment. She has served on several industry related industry committees including WWA and IAAPA and is a voting member of ASTM’s F-24 Amusement Rides & Devices committee. She is a Certified Pool Operator and holds inspector and operations certifications from AIMS and NAARSO.

HB 233 to be considered by full Texas House

By | May 2, 2019

HB 233 by Rep. Matt Krause will be heard on the House floor this week, and this vote will be crucial for the establishment of a uniform and predictable school start date in Texas. We need your help to make sure this legislation passes! Call your state representative and let them know that you support HB 233.

What Should I Say When I Call?
The important thing is to let them know that you support a uniform and predictable school start date and the bill HB 233, as well as your reasons why. These reasons may include a personal example or one of the following talking points:

  • A uniform and predictable school start date allows families to plan ahead and guarantees a full three months of summer for students across Texas.
  • The personal enrichment that students get during the summer – whether from working a job, attending a summer camp, or simply having more time to explore their own interests outside of a classroom – can help combat any fears of a “summer slide” while creating a more well-rounded educational experience.
  • Military families can experience a huge headache if they’re forced to move post during the beginning or end of the school year, since school calendars vary from ISD to ISD.
  • The state would see an economic boom during the month of August as more families and tourists pour money into small businesses and vacation destinations within our state that would otherwise be forced to close up shop early.

Only Have a Moment to Spare?
No worries! This will take you to a quick form – just plug in some information to match to your legislator and we’ll handle the rest.

Additionally, you can use the “Click to Tweet” button to auto-generate a tweet in favor of HB 233. Please lend your voice to help pass this bill!