Six Flags Adds Five More Parks to US Portfolio

By | May 23, 2018

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Six Flags EntertainmentCorporation (NYSE:SIX), the world’s largest regional theme park company, today announced it has entered into a purchase agreement with affiliates of Premier Parks, LLC to acquire the lease rights to operate five parks owned by EPR Properties (NYSE:EPR). The parks have previously been operated by Premier Parks, LLC of Oklahoma City. These latest acquisitions will expand the company’s portfolio of North American parks to twenty-five.

“Today’s announcement represents another milestone in our strategic North-American growth initiative to seek out park acquisitions that expand our addressable market,” said Six Flags Chairman, CEO, and President, Jim Reid-Anderson. “These are all fantastic properties that complement our existing portfolio and provide tremendous added value and cross-visitation opportunities for our extensive Membership and Season Pass base.”

The parks joining the Six Flags family are:

  • Wet n’ Wild Splashtown, Houston’s largest waterpark, with more than 48 lush acres and a wide selection of thrilling waterslides and attractions, along with two children’s areas;
  • Wet n’ Wild Phoenix, the largest waterpark in Arizona (located in the Adobe Dam Recreation Area), featuring 35 acres of high-speed slides and two pools, and also offering a Wet n’ Wild Jr. section with kid-friendly versions of some of the park’s most thrilling attractions;
  • Darien Lake near Buffalo, NY, a beautiful resort property located on approximately 1,000 acres that includes a theme park, waterpark, campground, hotel, and a 21,000-seat amphitheater;
  • Frontier City, an iconic part of the Oklahoma City landscape, is steeped in tradition. The park features a western theme and offers an extensive lineup of exciting rides, attractions, and shows geared to every member of the family; and
  • White Water Bay, near Frontier City, a tropical oasis with more than 25 acres of waterslides, interactive water play areas, and pools.

Six Flags is the largest regional theme park operator in the world and upon closing of the transactions, will be the largest waterpark operator in North America. With the addition of these five properties that entertained approximately two million guests in 2017, there will be an additional 20 million guests within a 100-mile radius of a Six Flags park, significantly expanding the company’s national footprint.

“We are thrilled to welcome these outstanding properties and employees into our family of parks and look forward to sharing the thrill of Six Flags with guests of all ages in these key markets,” added Reid-Anderson.

Closing of the transactions contemplated by the agreement is expected to occur in June, 2018 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Former Topgolf CEO Ken May joins Urban Air Adventure Park as executive chairman

By | May 22, 2018

DALLAS, Texas — Urban Air Adventure Park announced today that it has hired Ken May to lead U.S. operations and strategic growth for the active entertainment brand called one of fastest growing franchises in the world by Entrepreneur Magazine. During May’s four year tenure he helped lead Topgolf through 24 venue openings and a quadrupling of the company’s workforce. May earned the #61 spot on the highest rated CEOs list on Glassdoor.com. Prior to Topgolf, he enjoyed a three-decade career that included high level roles as CEO of FedEx Kinko’s, President of Krispy Kreme and Chairman of the March of Dimes National Board of Trustees.

“We are beyond excited to tap into Ken’s vast knowledge of the entertainment industry allowing us to accelerate our progress with a focused strategy to grow our infrastructure,” stated CEO Michael Browning. “Under his leadership, Topgolf became a disrupter in our marketplace. Their model of bringing kids and adults together to create an experience that makes socializing a sport for everyone is a paradigm. Like Topgolf, Urban Air believes a great time starts with active play.”

Ken May brings his enthusiasm to the Urban Air headquarters in Dallas, Texas starting his position immediately. Currently, there are 209 parks open and under construction nationwide with an average of five new franchisees signing leases per month. At this rate, the company expects some estimated 23 million guests to visit the parks by the end of the year – a milestone that exceeds expectations.

“This company is growing exponentially. They are at an important inflection point in its growth. I hope to be able to bring the skills I learned at Topgolf, Krispy Kreme and FedEx to help enhance the innovation and operational excellence that will be needed for a company on the move like Urban Air Adventure Park,” stated Ken May.

Urban Air Adventure Park is a full-service family entertainment center which includes an exclusive Urban Warrior Course™, Warrior Battle Beam, The TUBES Indoor Playground, Indoor Ropes Course, Climbing Walls, Urban Air Pro Zone Performance Trampolines and the highly anticipated Sky Rider Indoor Coaster. Urban Air is an innovative approach to family-fun and offer birthday parties for all ages, weekly events and open play for guests of all ages.

Extraordinary bluegrass entertainment, tasty barbeque headline Dollywood’s annual festival May 25-June 10

By | May 22, 2018

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Dollywood’s Season of Showstoppers really heats up during Barbeque & Bluegrass presented by BUSH’S®, thanks to a stellar lineup of bluegrass music’s best artists as well as expertly-prepared barbeque from Dollywood’s Golden Ticket Award-winning foods team.

The opening weekend of the festival kicks off with The Gibson Brothers (May 25) and the “Queen of Bluegrass” Rhonda Vincent & The Rage (May 26-27).  Dailey & Vincent (May 29-30), Molly Tuttle (May 31) and The Seldom Scene (June 5) are among the headliners during the festival. Seven-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Vocal Group of the Year Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver (June 7) also makes an appearance during the event.

“When I decided this would be the Season of Showstoppers,” Dolly Parton began, “I couldn’t wait to see what kind of talent our folks would be able to round up to perform during my Barbeque & Bluegrass festival. Well, I’ll tell you they definitely did me proud, because it’s quite the lineup. It’s always a real treat to have these performers with us, folks like Doyle Lawson and my good friend Rhonda Vincent. All these performers are the best in the business.

“Plus our foods team—which won a pretty big award last year—is cooking up some great barbeque to go along with all that good music. You know how much I love their ribs! I suggest everyone sit down with a big plate of them and take in those beautiful bluegrass sounds.”

Lawson, a regular during this festival, counts Dollywood among the best places to perform. “Just as Dolly is an exciting entertainer, Dollywood is an exciting place to entertain! Great venue, great audience,” he said.

An impressive calendar of bluegrass talent performs throughout the festival with more than 350 individual concerts—all included with park admission—scheduled during the festival. Groups like The Grascals (May 28), Blue Highway (June 2), Flatt Lonesome (June 3), and Darin and Brooke Aldridge (June 10) play in Celebrity Theater, while the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys (May 25), Phil Leadbetter’s Bluegrass All-Stars (June 9) and America’s Got Talent semi-finalists Mountain Faith (May 30) play at Showstreet Palace Theater. For a complete lineup of concert performances and show times, please visit Dollywood.com or view the Dollywood App.

Darin and Brooke Aldridge make their first trip to perform at Dollywood and eagerly anticipate performing at the place they’ve grown up visiting for years.

“We are so excited to make our very first appearance at Dollywood this June,” Brooke Aldridge said. “It’s been a theme park we’ve always loved and attended since we were kids. The shows there are always stellar, and we can’t wait to showcase our musical talents in Dollywood’s family-friendly environment.”

Fresh off Amusement Today’s 2017 Golden Ticket Award for Best Theme Park Food, Dollywood’s foods team offers dining options that create a sweet harmony with the music from the finest in bluegrass. Traditional items, including hickory-smoked ribs, slow-smoked pulled pork and beef brisket, highlight the menu, while a number of new favorites make their debut.

Dollywood chefs took advantage of the park’s new partnership with BUSH’S® Beans to create several tantalizing new recipes, including Cowboy Kettle Beans. BBQ pork nachos, pork belly mac & cheese, and the BBQ bowl—featuring pulled pork atop Dollywood’s famous BIG SKILLET potatoes—are new this year. Chicken and waffles funnel cake, Dollywood’s twist on chicken & waffles, appears for the first time as well. Grilled watermelon salad and a bacon-wrapped hot dog on a pretzel roll also are new in 2018.

Plans revealed to build Europe’s tallest observation wheel on Newcastle Quayside and create 550 jobs with £100m investment

By | May 21, 2018

Developers have announced plans to build Europe’s tallest observation wheel on Newcastle Quayside in a project that would see more than £100m invested in the city and up to 550 jobs created.

Standing 140 metres high, the observation wheel – dubbed ‘The Whey Aye’ in celebration of its location – will be five metres taller than the London Eye.

The wheel will also have a world-record breaking 10,000 sq m LED digital screen as its centre piece, which will be used to communicate information about local culture and events as well as social media content and advertising.

Such is the nature and scale of the project, it is has already gained endorsements from Newcastle and England football legend, Alan Shearer, and prominent North East businessman and co-founder of accountancy software company The Sage Group, Graham Wylie.

It is proposed that the wheel is built at the east end of the Quayside on the location of the former Spillers’ Flour Mill, which was demolished in 2011 and has lain vacant since.

The plans include a pedestrianised experience featuring premium bars and restaurants and a world-leading 9,000 sq m visitor attraction called the Giants of the North Experience. Featuring cutting-edge virtual mixed reality and interactive technology, the attraction will hail the achievements of the region’s famous creative and sporting individuals, and the collective giants of North East industry including ship builders and the mining community.

Along with the Giants of the North Experience, the plans will deliver a family entertainment centre and a multi-purpose play and sports complex, with covered five-a-side pitches and tennis courts, as well as a state-of-the-art virtual golf club.

The plans were announced by the World Wheel Company which has built and operated giant observation wheels and family entertainment centres around the world. These include 120 metre and 90 metre wheels in Suzhou, China, and Tbilisi, Georgia, respectively, and more than 20 family entertainment centres across the globe.

Senator Donna Campbell and Representative Kyle Biedermann recognize Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts as a Texas treasure

By | May 21, 2018

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas — Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and Representative Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) in conjunction with the Texas Historical Commission (THC) presents Schlitterbahn Waterparks & Resorts as a Texas Treasure Business Award winner. The Texas Treasure Business Award program pays tribute to businesses that have provided employment opportunities and support to the state’s economy for 50 years or more.

WHO: Senator Donna Campbell, Representative Kyle Biedermann, Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, THC, and local officials.

WHAT: Recognition of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts as a Texas Treasure Business Award recipient.

WHEN: May 23, 2018 at 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: The Resort at Schlitterbahn, 305 West Austin Street, New Braunfels, TX 78130

BACKGROUND: Created in 2005 and coordinated through the THC, the Texas Treasure Business Award program recognizes well-established Texas businesses and their exceptional historical contributions to the state’s economic growth and prosperity.

IAAPA Breaks Ground on New International Headquarters

By | May 18, 2018

The next chapter of IAAPA’s history officially began Thursday, May 17, when the association broke ground on its new global headquarters in Orlando, Florida. During a special groundbreaking ceremony, local IAAPA members, community partners, and the association’s team gathered to celebrate and share IAAPA’s story in Central Florida. Our new headquarters, located in the epicenter of the attractions industry, will allow us to better serve you — our valued members.

We’re excited to share details that will truly make our new headquarters a unique and welcoming environment to connect and engage members from around the world. Scheduled to be complete by summer 2019, our 22,000-square-foot facility will be located on seven acres of land and surrounded by beautiful Florida waterways — an ideal location to host committee meetings and industry gatherings throughout the year.

The headquarters will include dedicated member space with meeting rooms, special event capabilities, and a lounge. We will also have a library dedicated to the association’s archives, along with many thematic elements and displays reflecting the diversity of members around the world. The headquarters is designed to be your place to engage with the IAAPA team and fellow industry colleagues for continued interaction between all of us.

IAAPA is proud to call Central Florida home. As we celebrate our 100th anniversary this year, we are excited to now have our global headquarters located in the heart of the attractions industry. Our relocation is the perfect step to continue to position IAAPA for an exciting future.

Thank you for your continued support of the association and for helping us build the future. We look forward to continuing to serve you and hope to see you here in Orlando very soon.

Foodies rejoice: Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival begins next Friday

By | May 18, 2018

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. —– Mark your calendars. Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival is just around the corner.  Daily operations at Busch Gardens begin Friday, May 18, and the festival starts a week later on May 25 and runs through July 1.

Park guests can sample a variety of food and beverages not normally served in the park. Enjoy authentic tastes from around the world at 16 themed kiosks while strolling through the world’s most beautiful theme park. Get up close and personal as chefs lead interactive and informative cooking demonstrations.

Food enthusiasts can meet celebrity chef, Aarti Sequeira, during one-time only appearance on Sunday, June 3. She is the host of the Food Network show, Aarti Party and the travel show, Hidden Eats. Sequiera will share one of her signature dishes at the Food & Wine Festival and will be available to sign books during her visit.

The Food & Wine Festival takes taste to a whole new level this year with flavors from around the world including special foods, wines, beers and tequila tastings.

  1. Cuba – roasted pork Cuban sandwich, fried plantains, flan and a Cuba Libre cocktail.
  2. Japan – lettuce wraps, chicken dumplings, sushi and green tea ice cream.
  3. Brazil – grilled beef, pineapple, Brazilian sausage and a rum cocktail.
  4. South Korea – grilled marinated beef, spicy barbecue ribs and kimchi.
  5. Enthusiasts can sample beer flights and pork schnitzel sliders in the Brauhaus.

Individual sampling portions and beverage tastings are available for purchase inside the park. For more information, including complete kiosk menus, visit www.buschgardens.com/foodandwine.

There’s also a star-studded concert lineup during the festival this year. Starting with country music hit-maker Scotty McCreery on June 9, the park’s Royal Palace Theatre will also play host to country music headliner Hunter Hayes on June 16; and multi-platinum selling pop artist Andy Grammer on June 30. The concerts are included with park admission.

The 2-Park Summer Fun Card offer is the optimal way for consumers to enjoy events this season at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.  This online-only promotion — available now through May 24 allows guests to experience unlimited visits to both parks through Sept. 9 for only $85. To access the limited-time offer, visit https://buschgardens.com/williamsburg/tickets/fun-cards/.

Summer kicks off earlier than ever with annual Summer Nights Celebration

By | May 18, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. — As the sun goes down, the night comes alive at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s Summer Nights. New this year, the event starts earlier than ever on May 25. The event features extended hours, endless energy and world-class coasters that light up the night.

“We are excited to bring back our Summer Nights annual event this year earlier than ever, just in time for Memorial Day and the end of the school year,” said Stewart Clark, President and General Manager at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. “Summer Nights is full of fun for everyone with longer hours, unique entertainment, and some of the best thrill rides in a whole new light.”

Starting Memorial Day weekend, guests can enjoy the all the excitement of Summer Nights with any park admission, and keep the party going late through August 5. And with an annual pass starting at $14 per month through the park’s EZPay program, with no down payment, a family can get unlimited visits to Busch Gardens all year, for a monthly payment less than the cost of a night out to the movies.

Party Zones

Summer Nights will feature three uniquely themed party zones at the Bird Gardens, Cheetah Hunt Plaza, and Stanleyville areas of the park. Guests can dance into the night at each location and indulge in spectacular summer-inspired culinary offerings in every party zone.

NEW! Backyard BBQ

Guests can celebrate summer at the newest party zone, Backyard BBQ, which is taking over the Bird Gardens, this year. The party will feature live, local music and classic American fare with a twist including chicken waffle sandwich with blackberry pepper jelly, St. Louis ribs with Cherry Coke® BBQ sauce and smoked beef brisket sliders with Jack Daniel’s® and Coke® BBQ sauce peach slaw. Guest can sip on beverages such as old fashioned lemonade, bourbon cream root beer and special “dreamsicle floatinis.”

¡Fiesta Festa!

Cheetah Hunt Plaza transforms into the ¡Fiesta Festa! party zone, complete with lively entertainment and a flavor-packed menu, including steak chimichurri with yucca fries, beef empanadas and tostones and seasoned pork sliders with avocado puree. The party zone will also feature both Tequila and Margarita bars, and several additional drink options including Moscow mules, frozen sangria and wine selections.

Vibin’ Village

The Vibin’ Village party zone takes over the Stanleyville area with endless fun and unique culinary creations including traditional hummus topped withcurry-roasted cauliflower and pita chips, chilled shrimp with watermelon and tamarind glaze, and special funnel cake with strawberry and kiwi sauces, as well as international and domestic beer selections.

NEW! Florida’s Best Thrill Rides, Brighter than Ever

Florida’s most thrilling coasters will light up the night in a whole new way this summer. The excitement of Falcon’s Fury, Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra and spin coaster Cobra’s Curse™, will be brighter than ever with spectacular lights and sounds as they fly through the night

Don’t forget, beer is back at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay! For the duration of Summer Nights, guests age 21 and older can enjoy two complimentary beer samples from the Garden Gate Café each time they visit the park. Throughout the summer, new featured brews will provide the perfect accompaniment to take on the night. Valid identification is required for age verification.

Experience all the thrills this summer with Busch Gardens’ annual pass, starting at only $14 per month, or the Busch Gardens Fun Card – Pay for a day, come back the rest of the year. For more information, visit buschgardenstampa.com.

Legendary Pictures’ iconic horror film Trick ‘R Treat to terrify Halloween rule-breakers in all-new mazes at Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights

By | May 17, 2018

Universal City, CA, Orlando, FL (May 16, 2018) – Beginning September 14, Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort will bring Legendary Pictures’ cult Halloween classic Trick ‘r Treat to life in all-new Halloween Horror Nights mazes that dare guests to live by the rules or suffer the consequences. 
 
Based on the critically-acclaimed and fan-favorite movie directed by Michael Dougherty, the “Trick ‘r Treat” maze will transport guests to Warren Valley, Ohio on Halloween night to celebrate the holiday’s dark traditions. Recreating some of the anthology’s most iconic scenes, the disturbing new maze invites brave thrill-seekers to become entwined within the secrets of this sleepy suburban town.
 
Guests will experience some of the film’s most grisly scenes and encounter hauntingly familiar characters. They will meander through Mr. Kreeg’s infamous house, watch as college students viciously transform into bloodthirsty werewolves and dismember the town, as well as come face-to-face with Sam – the spirit of Halloween – who readies to punish those who break the holiday’s tradition. 
 
Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” is the ultimate Halloween event. For more than 25 years, guests from around the world have visited “Halloween Horror Nights” in Hollywood and Orlando to become victims inside their own horror film. Multiple movie-quality mazes based on iconic horror television shows, films and original stories come to life season after season. And, the streets of each coast’s event are transformed into highly-themed scare zones where menacing scare-actors lunge from every darkened corner.
 
Additional details about Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” will be revealed soon. Select tickets and vacation packages for Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights are on sale now. For more information about “Halloween Horror Nights” at either Universal Studios Hollywood or Universal Orlando Resort, visitwww.HalloweenHorrorNights.com.

The Countdown to the Extinction of “Jurassic Park—The Ride” at Universal Studios Hollywood Starts Now

By | May 11, 2018

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — The countdown to the extinction of “Jurassic Park—The Ride” begins as Universal Studios Hollywood excavates the site in preparation for the 2019 arrival of “Jurassic World Ride,” inspired by Universal Pictures’ blockbuster film franchise.

“Jurassic Park—The Ride” will officially become extinct on September 3, 2018.

In 1996, Universal Studios Hollywood redefined theme park thrill rides with the unprecedented introduction of “Jurassic Park—The Ride,” based on three-time Academy Award winner Steven Spielberg’s epic film.  Hailed as a technological achievement of triumph and wizardry, the ride featured newly debuted principles of hydraulic physics, mechanics and space-age robotics.  Working in partnership with scientists, palaeontologists and aerospace engineers, Universal Creative—the team that develops Universal theme park rides—brought to life one of the most compelling rides ever created. Life-sized and lifelike animatronic dinosaurs, some towering over five-stories high, freely roamed the earth at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Twenty-two years later—and after sending millions of guests back to the Jurassic era for menacing face-to-face encounters with such predators as Stegosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Dilophosaurus, Velociraptors and the Tyrannosaurus rex—“Jurassic Park—The Ride” will become extinct in preparation for a new, next-generation experience that’s even more immersive and technologically advanced.  The new ride will pay homage to Jurassic Park and will reimagine this landmark film franchise for theme park guests.  The Jurassic Cove restaurant and Jurassic Outfitters retail store also will close with the attraction and reopen with the new experience in 2019.

“The one thing that the history of evolution has taught us is that life finds a way” was famously uttered by Jurassic Park’s Dr. Ian Malcom.  In the spirit of this pledge, Universal Studios Hollywood is rallying guests and fans to visit The Entertainment Capital of L.A. as it celebrates this epic ride and prepares for the arrival of the “Jurassic World Ride.”

Plus, in honor of the blockbuster action-adventure that brought dinosaurs out of extinction a quarter century ago, Universal Studios Hollywood in partnership with Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment will host the Jurassic Park 25th Anniversary Celebration on Friday, May 11; Saturday, May 12 and Sunday, May 13. To learn more and to purchase tickets to this highly coveted event, please visit www.UniversalStudiosHollywood.com/JP25.