April 2021 issue

By | March 26, 2021

The April 2021 issue of Amusement Today
 is available for FREE via 
Digital Edition and/or downloadable PDF!

  • Amusement Today begins 25th year of publishing
  • Wiegand’s opens CoasterKart in Tennessee
  • Genting SkyWorlds nears opening
  • Herschend now the majority partner of Kentucky Kingdom
  • Fun Spot America serves up Mardi Gras
  • S&S supplies trio of 4D Free Spin coasters, drop towers
  • Austin’s completes major indoor expansion
  • Southwest Florida & Lee County Fair enjoys record-breaking days
  • Central Florida Fair sees ‘satisfactory’ turnout despite pandemic
  • South German resort town opening Therme Lindau Spa
  • California parks, attractions finally receive guidance for reopening
  • PAPA spring meeting is held virtually
  • Powers Midway gets first A.R.M. portable Sky Hawk ride
  • GKTW Village celebrates its 35th anniversary
  • Dollywood enhances roller coasters, creates space in off-season
  • International Ride Training hosts annual Ride Camp
  • AIMS Safety Award winner announced

Fun-N-Games manages reopening surge with Intercard technology

By | April 16, 2021

ST. LOUIS — When Gary Ellis, owner of Fun-n-Games Arcade in Moneta, Virginia, switched to an Intercard cashless technology system in October 2019, the immediate benefit of changing from coins to cashless was a big boost in revenue. “The first couple of months we saw as much as an 80% increase,” says Ellis, who reports a sustained increase of 60% during the first year of use. He also says customers spend more money per transaction with cards than with quarters because he can offer bonuses and specials.

Going cashless also helped Ellis handle a surge of pent-up customer demand when he reopened Fun-in-Games in March 2021 after a shutdown due to COVID-19. Even with state-mandated occupancy restrictions, Ellis was swamped with customers who were anxious to get out and have fun in the arcade again. Prior to the switch to cashless, Ellis’ staff might have been overwhelmed clearing coin jams and keeping machines stocked with redemption tickets.

“We were not expecting this strong of a surge this early,” says Ellis, who recently had one of his best weekends ever. “There’s no way we could have done that much business on quarters,” he says, “It would have made a very tough day to try and pull that off on quarters and tickets.”

Ellis says he decided to switch to cashless because “it seemed to be the trend of the future.” He chose Intercard on the recommendation of other arcade owners and because of its reputation for excellent customer support. “Anytime we call we always get a technician on the line,” Ellis says of his experience with Intercard customer service. “That’s better than ‘leave a message and I’ll call you back, your call is very important.’”  

Kings Island Camp Cedar nears completion

By | April 16, 2021

MASON, Ohio —  As construction continues on the $27 million Kings Island Camp Cedar, Warren County is already seeing economic benefits. Through the hiring of subcontractors and suppliers locally and through Ohio, $12 million has been directly invested in the region. 

Opening in June, the luxury outdoor resort will generate property tax for Deerfield Township and Warren County. Overnight guests will further drive funds into locally owned businesses as well as generating significant sales tax revenue for local government. Further, the project will create upwards of 100 new jobs, and is currently hiring for all positions.

The new luxury outdoor resort is located on what was previously 50 acres of vacant land, less than a mile from Kings Island’s front gates. The hybrid resort and camping destination, is projected to welcome more than 200,000 guests annually, including Kings Island visitors, families and vacationers to a unique, memorable getaway with modern-day cottages and full-service RV sites.

“This significant investment in Warren County will create jobs and generate revenue for the local community,” said Lydia Mihalik, Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency. “Research tells us that people are planning travel for late spring or summer, especially by car. Kings Island Camp Cedar will be a new attraction for Ohioans, and people from across the region, to enjoy safely with their families.”

Kings Island Camp Cedar is owned by Small Brothers, LLC and Terra Firma Associates. Through a unique partnership and licensing agreement, Kings Island Camp Cedar will be managed by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, owner of the Kings Island amusement park. Cleveland Construction serves as the general contractor, McHarris Architects as the project architect and The Kleingers Group as the project’s civil engineer.

Co-owner, Richard Haglage of Terra Firma Associates noted that the close relationship between the resort, local government and the community has helped the project’s progress flow smoothly. “We are very appreciative of the efforts by all the partners we’ve worked with throughout the course of this project. It has been a true partnership, and all of us are excited to see the positive impact the finished product will have in this community.”

Prior to 2020, Warren County averaged more than 12 million tourism-related visitors each year, many of whom came from Midwest markets outside of a 150-mile radius. The County’s top industry, tourism generated visitor spending of more than $1.2 billion in 2019, while also supporting nearly 13,000 jobs in the area. The new luxury outdoor recreational resort is expected to cater to visitors of Kings Island, The Western & Southern Open, the WCCVB’s Warren County Sports Park, and other popular Southwest Ohio destinations.

“We are thrilled to welcome what will be a very special destination outdoor resort, which will greatly enhance and complement Ohio’s largest playground,” said Phillip S. Smith, president and chief executive officer, Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Tourism is Warren County’s biggest industry, but we’ve suffered greatly from the effects of the pandemic. Kings Island Camp Cedar is an exciting new addition to the tourism mix in and will be incredibly important to our area, drawing visitor spending and welcoming families back to a safe, and family-friendly environment.” 

Kings Island Camp Cedar is now taking reservations for the 2021 season with 73 beautifully appointed cottages and 184 full-service RV spaces, and 100 additional cottages planned. Resort guests will be able to take advantage of outdoor entertainment including recreational and adult exclusive pools, ponds, walking trail and unique dining options. Plus, they will find camping must-haves including bathhouses, laundry facility, firepits, grills and picnic tables. For those visiting Kings Island, there will be a number of exclusive resort perks like Stay and Play packages.

Upscale Amenities

  • Hornbeam Lodge is home to a signature indoor/outdoor Ironwood Grill & Tap, Coyote Creek Camp Store, The Dry Bean – Coffee and Gelato, encased in an exposed beam grand lobby with welcome center, fireplace and overstuffed furniture.
  • Belize Street outdoor cantina will offer a casual, food truck-inspired fare from The Fresh Tortilla and Route 66, ice cream and sweat treats from Urban Cow, and cool beverages at the outdoor bar, Beach Box.
  • Expansive outdoor pools include Deerfield Springs, a family activity pool with waterfall backdrop, and Kingfisher Landing, a separate adult-exclusive pool. Both will offer poolside service and cabana facilities.

To make a reservation or learn more, go to visitcampcedar.com.

Area15 nominated for USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Immersive Art Experience

By | April 16, 2021

Art in Motion

LAS VEGAS — Selected by a panel of experts, AREA15, the dynamic, new art, events and entertainment district located minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, has been nominated for Best Immersive Art Experience for the USA TODAY 2021 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards. 

10Best Readers’ Choice Awards highlight the best of the best in contests covering categories such as destinations, food and drink, hotels and art museums. Nominees for all categories are chosen editorially by a panel of relevant experts. 

“AREA15 was born in Las Vegas as a platform of innovation, creativity and wonder,” said Winston Fisher, chief executive officer, AREA15. “It is an honor to be nominated alongside the best immersive art experiences in the country.” Now through Monday, April 26, readers can vote for the candidate of their choice once a day at https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-immersive-art-experience/.

Fun Spot America hires Carlos S. Salazar as regional director of food & beverage

By | April 16, 2021

ORLANDO – Fun Spot America Theme Parks is excited to announce Carlos S. Salazar as Regional Director of Food and Beverage. Salazar brings more than 33 years in the Amusement and Hospitality Food & Beverage industry. He began his career in 1988 at Palace Entertainment as a seasonal Food & Beverage Supervisor. From there he became a Food & Beverage Manager in 2001 and was later promoted to Corporate Director of Food & Beverage in 2010.

Fun Spot America Senior Vice President of Food and Beverage, Albert Cabuco says “Carlos is a seasoned Food and Beverage professional whose dedication and loyalty is beyond reproach!” Salazar will assist Cabuco in implementing necessary changes and new Food and Beverage concepts in both the Orlando and Kissimmee parks.

Fun Spot’s growing Food & Beverage team is implementing new concepts throughout the parks with the hope to attract foodies from all over. Beginning this summer, guests can feast on new menus featuring items such as Fried Chicken Sandwiches and HUGE Nachos. Be on the lookout for additional information on these and other exciting new offerings coming soon.

The shows will safely go on at Busch Gardens: award-winning “Turn It Up” ice skating show and new “Cirque Electric” show to open on Friday, May 28

By | April 16, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — As Busch Gardens continues toprioritize the health and safety of its guests, ambassadors and animals in its care, soon guests will be able to enjoy indoor world-class entertainment beginning Friday, May 28. From “Turn It Up!”, the park’s award-winning ice-skating production to an all-NEW acrobatic show, “Cirque Electric,” modified operations in the park’s theaters will make it possible for guests to once again enjoy incredible shows as they explore Busch Gardens’ 300 acres of exhilarating rollercoasters and fascinating animal habitats.

In addition to the park’s already strict health and safety measures, which include enhanced cleaning and sanitization, temperature checks, and face covering requirements, many modifications will be in place at Busch Gardens’ theaters upon reopening, including:

  • Significantly limited capacity inside the parks’ expansive theaters to accommodate plenty of space between parties.
  • Staggered entering and exiting procedures to keep guests physically distant.
  • Protective Face Coverings required by all guests, ambassadors and performers at all times, covering the nose and mouth.
  • No eating or drinking permitted inside the theaters.
  • Hand sanitizing stations available at the entrance and exit points of the theater.
  • Extensive sanitation of all seats conducted between shows.

“Bringing more live entertainment safely back to the park is another huge step in returning to world class entertainment at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay,” said Neal Thurman, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Park President. “Since our reopening in June, our park teams have been incredibly innovative and adaptable with bringing our productions to life in new ways and we’re thrilled to expand our offering to include new programs in addition to fan-favorite shows.”

Just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, guests will be able to enjoy the following productions on select days beginning Friday, May 28:

Turn It Up!
Thursday – Monday, multiple shows per day

The Moroccan Palace Theater will once again be home to Busch Gardens’ spectacular, year-round ice-skating shows, including “Turn It Up!” With contemporary performances, dazzling aerial moments and eclectic pop music, it’s no wonder this production has earned a spot on “USA TODAY’S 10Best” Readers’ Choice Awards.

ALL NEW: Cirque Electric
Friday – Monday, multiple shows per day

For awe-inspiring feats that spark the imagination, the dynamic performance of “Cirque Electric,” an all-new acrobatic stunt show exclusively produced for Busch Gardens, will soon thrill guests at the Stanleyville Theater. From the daring airborne aerialist to stunning displays of balance and strength and a fascinating act on wheels that cannot be missed, guests will be dazzled by world-class performers.

Best Way to Play – Busch Gardens Fun Card and Annual Passes
Enjoy each show again and again with a Busch Gardens Fun Card, where guests can pay for a day and play all year!* For the price of a single-day ticket to Busch Gardens, the Fun Card allows access throughout the year, so you can visit again and again, and experience great events like the Food & Wine Festival, Summer Nights, Christmas Town and more!

For the best value and benefits, guests can upgrade to a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Annual Pass to enjoy the perks they want most throughout 2021. Annual Pass Members* receive 12 months of visits with the best benefits ever, including FREE parking, up to 6 free guest tickets, and up to 50-percent savings on merchandise, Quick Queue, and more!

Guests can visit www.BuschGardensTampa.com for more information, reservations and tickets. Fans can stay up to date with park events, attractions and more by following Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Expanded Health and Safety Measures:
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is committed to the health and safety of our guests, employees, and the animals in our care. The park has worked diligently with state and local health experts, outside consultants and attraction industry leaders to enhance our already strict health, safety, and cleanliness standards. These protocols and guidelines will be modified based on evolving industry standards and methodologies, public health, and governmental directives, and advancing scientific knowledge on the transmissibility of COVID-19.

For detailed information about the measures that guests can expect when visiting the park, including key operational changes, visitbuschgardens.com/tampa/safety

Innovation is all around with Polin Waterparks

By | April 15, 2021

Global market leader in design, engineering, manufacturing, and installation of waterslides and water play attractions, Polin Waterparks continues to gain momentum as a leader in the industry with its regular annual investments and activities. Polin is one of the few Research & Development (R&D) Centers in Turkey and is the first R&D Center in its industry..

Polin has believed strongly in the strength of innovation from its very first day. The company continues to take giant steps to promote innovation in its aim to implement feasible and sustainable new ideas with high added value. In doing so, Polin expects to shine a light on the future of the waterparks/theme parks industries and the field of recreation. Its latest developing in which to pursue this goal: launching an open innovation platform called INNOKIND. This platform will invite contributions from with a passion for innovation.

The INNOKIND open innovation platform — a first in the amusement and recreation industries — is open to everyone from industrial professionals to academicians, from students to park visitors, and from suppliers to investors. In other words, everyone who is interested in innovation is welcome to contribute. These innovative ideas can be submitted to the platform and will be awarded by Polin Waterparks after evaluation by a jury of professionals and academicians.

Şöhret Pakiş, Director of Marketing & Communications, Polin Waterparks, said: “As the Polin Family, we are excited and proud to hold a global platform that is open for participation by all innovation seekers. We hope this platform will generate an abundance of fresh, innovative ideas for both our industry and the world.”

The primary goal of the INNOKIND Open Innovation Platform is to develop exemplary innovative projects for the industry. The platform will also: bring together creative ideas and projects; contribute to the collaboration between universities and industry by means of involving university students in the business world; and create a value-added economic benefit by way of the end result in products and services. Polin Waterparks invites everyone seeking innovation and wishing to realize their innovative ideas to submit them to the INNOKIND Open Innovation Platform. Together, we will shape the future.

Rebuild the World at Planet Legoland, opening Friday

By | April 15, 2021

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — LEGOLAND Florida Resort is excited to introduce a world with no rules just pure creativity… PLANET LEGOLAND opening April 16, 2021! This new immersive build experience encourages children and their parents to unleash their imaginations by building, unbuilding and rebuilding the world of their dreams with, of course, LEGO bricks. 

“During the past 12 months, we’ve all learned how resilient and creative our children are. They can play out stories, discover details and feel the sense of accomplishment when they build and play with LEGO,” said LEGOLAND Florida Resort President Rex Jackson. “With PLANET LEGOLAND, there are no rules, just unlimited creativity, empowering children to make the world a brighter place.” 

As guests enter, they will encounter a six-foot wide LEGO globe, built out of more than 200,000 bricks, awaiting their creations. The first step is to select from one of four different themed stations where guests will create their masterpieces. A LEGO model of a castle spaceship sits atop the building table inspired by Dragons, Knights and Princesses; a LEGO pirate ship with a lightbulb mast inspires those building at the Vehicles station; a LEGO surfing dragon leads creativity at the station for Ninjas; and a LEGO racing tortoise poses for inspiration at the station for Creatures and Animals. A DUPLO station is also available for those younger guests with smaller hands. The stations are designed to encourage guests to explore their individual passions as they build, unbuild and rebuild creations using their imagination. Once built, guests are encouraged to take a selfie with their model and share it using #RebuildTheWorld for all to see. Final step is to place individual models on the globe and once each child places their model, they have helped rebuild the world!

As the LEGO globe at PLANET LEGOLAND spans six-feet, guests will maintain that same distance when building in this new experience and all safety guidelines such as face masks, the use of hand sanitizer and reduced capacity will be managed. All bricks in the space will be “quarantined” for 72 hours after being sanitized, and the build stations will be cleaned several times a day. 

LEGOLAND will host a sneak peek for Annual Passholders with an Exclusive Preview Event on April 15. 

PLANET LEGOLAND is coming to other LEGOLAND Resorts across the globe this spring and summer including LEGOLAND Billund Resort, LEGOLAND California Resort, LEGOLAND Deutschland Resort, LEGOLAND Japan Resort, LEGOLAND Malaysia Resort and LEGOLAND Windsor Resort. For more information, visit: LEGOLAND.com/Florida.

Eldridge Park announces 2021 season highlights

By | April 15, 2021

Eldridge Park will open for the season on Friday, May 28th with all rides and attractions starting at 5pm. A new Tilt-A-Whirl ride is expected to be ready for the opening and plans are in place to break ground on a Nine-hole Disc Golf course this Spring. Eldridge Park will be open Friday 5-9, Saturday 12-9 and Sunday 12-8 and Thursdays later in June.

“We are looking forward to an exciting new year with some great additions to the park and some new events while staying within the pandemic safety guidelines of capacity, sanitation procedures and social distancing” said EPCPS President Bob Kramarik.  “Unfortunately, the New York State capacity guidelines won’t allow us to present the Fireworks celebration this year”.

Some other changes include combining the Creamery and Lakeside Cafe for this year and a few new community events being planned. The Saturday night concert series schedule will be released soon and plans are in place for monthly car shows.

The Dance Hall, and Corporate Pavilion are available for party rentals by calling 607-732-8440 or visiting www.eldridgepark.org.

Silver Dollar City new Street Fest 2021

By | April 13, 2021

BRANSON, Mo. — Internationally awarded as a showcase of the spirit of adventure, Silver Dollar City takes new and unusual entertainment to the streets with the premiere of Street Fest, April 15-May 2, 2021, Thursdays-Sundays. One of the more creative additions is the “Tasting Passport,” designed for noshing one’s way through a self-selected tour of the park’s eateries.

“Food is simply one of our things,” said Sam Hedrick, Food Director at the 1880s-style theme park located in Branson, Missouri, noting that Silver Dollar City has been awarded for presentation and quality of food items unlike most any theme park in the land. “We have worked hard for decades to always be on the cutting edge of flavors, trends, traditional favorites and home-style selections – the Tasting Passport grants guests a variety of sampling, all for a reasonable price,” Hedrick said.

Here is how it works: Guests choose between an option of $30 for five tasting items, or $10 more for five tasting items plus a refillable souvenir mug. The menu extends through 20 selected eateries, each with a variety of options. For example, Tater Patch has specialty chicken skewers or fried, loaded Tater Tumblers stuffed with Chorizo & Avocado, or Garlic Parmesan & Red Pepper Sauce. Lady Liberty has chicken tender bowls like Poutine, Chipotle with Black Beans & Corn or Parmesan. Dockside Grill offers Mac & Cheese of BLT, Chile, Sweet Corn or Tex Mex. The new Rivertown Smokehouse is serving up Fried Spare Ribs. How about a plate of Carnitas Ravioli Nachos? Top it all off with sweet treat Belgian Waffles with a choice of S’mores, Snickers Bar or the fancy, colorful kid-friendly Unicorn. (Note: Expect to be full at day’s end!)

For the street and outdoor stage entertainment, one could easily consider the play bill a tad quirky with Living Floral Trees, the international Disa Stilt Walker, teeterboard performers, trick roller skaters, bike stunt people, precision card thrower, a professor who teaches the “Theremin” electromagnetic music-making devise, musicians and steel drums, a one-man walking band, unicyclist, juggler and more.

Silver Dollar City leadership says the challenges of the last year have pushed them to be even more creative. Street Fest’s unique offering displays that out-of-the-box thinking that has made the park famous. Currently, celebrating a 60th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee, Silver Dollar City is the “#1 Amusement Park in America” as honored by readers & editors of USA Today 10Best. Additionally, Silver Dollar City has 40 rides & attractions, 10 world-class festivals and special events, concerts, a massive cave and, dedicated as the “Home of American Craftsmanship” by the US Congress, a demonstrating artisan colony 100 strong.

Knott’s Berry Farm announces grand reopening for May 21

By | April 13, 2021

BUENA PARK, Calif. — It’s official: Knott’s Berry Farm is reopening its gates next month as the theme park safely resumes regular operations with limited capacity and new reservation requirements. The park will reopen to season passholders May 6, with plans for a grand reopening to the general public on May 21 for a summer‐long, Knott’s 100th Anniversary Celebration. “The Knott’s Family Reunion” looks to reunite family and friends in a safe and fun environment after a year‐long closure due to COVID‐19.

New and unforgettable experiences await in honor of the park’s 100 years of history and family fun for all. During the 100th anniversary celebration, guests can experience the brand‐new Knott’s Bear‐y Tales: Return to the Fair, a 4‐D interactive dark ride that pays tribute to the classic attraction from 35 years ago. Guests also will have the opportunity to meet Knott’s all‐new lovable costumed characters and enjoy special evening entertainment as Knott’s Summer Nights returns with live music, DJs and one‐of‐a‐kind food and drink specialties. In addition, the theme park is planning a nightly ceremony featuring multiple attractions lighting up the evening and culminating in a special moment with the redesigned illuminated K‐ tower. Guests also will find festive new park décor, including special photo settings that pay homage to favorite attractions from the past and commemorative merchandise celebrating the park’s vast history. These are just a few of the many special surprises that can only come from your friends at Knott’s.

The anniversary celebration runs through September 6, 2021. In accordance with current state guidelines, capacity will be limited and available to California residents only with reservations required for both single‐day visits and Season Passholders. Ticket sales and reservations will be available starting April 26.

All 2020 and 2021 season passes purchased through May 5, 2021, will be valid through May 5, 2022. Knott’s Season Passes are now available starting at $101 or six easy payments of $13.50 after an initial payment. Gold Passes are $135 or six easy payments of just $17.00 after an initial payment. Information regarding Soak City Waterpark will be coming soon. These offers end on June 20, 2021. Applicable taxes and fees apply. Payment plans are only available at knotts.com.

The safety and health of our guests remain our top priority. Knott’s Berry Farm continues to follow state, county and local health guidelines. There are several continued safety measures and operational changes established to ensure guests’ safety. Our current approach is listed on our park website. For more information on the park’s latest updates, please visit knotts.com.

For more information about this year’s milestone celebration, reopening, “Knott’s Bear‐y Tales: Return to the Fair,” and Knott’s Season Passes, please visit knotts.com. Join the conversation at Knott’s this year using #Knotts100 #KnottsGrandReopening or #KnottsFamilyReunion.