Amusement Industry Moving Aggressively to Enhance Ride Inspections

By | October 18, 2017

WINTER PARK, Fla. — Government regulators and the amusement industry are moving quickly to improve inspections and testing of major amusement rides after a fatal accident at the Ohio State Fair. The accident identified a hidden problem that was not detected even though the operator and independent inspectors followed current inspection protocols.

Investigators from the Consumer Product Safety Commission concluded that, “Excessive corrosion inside the gondola support beam was the cause of the accident,” and that, “a visual inspection after the ride is in place would not detect corrosion thinning of internal walls.”

“Safety is our number one priority,” said Rob Vivona, whose family has operated Amusements of America since 1939.

“The Ohio incident could have occurred at any venue worldwide,” said Bob Johnson, president of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association. “That is why our industry, IAAPA, many state ride inspection authorities and amusement ride safety organizations, such as the National Association of Amusement Ride Safety Officials (NAARSO), AIMS International, ASTM International, an organization that establishes safety standards worldwide, and the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission met this month to discuss this important issue.”

“We would expect to see new inspection and testing protocols, new safety and design standards and new state requirements to look for this hidden, and until recently, unidentified ride safety issue,” Johnson said. “OABA supports the CPSC recommendations for new performance requirements to prevent water pooling or condensation in critical components that could result in corrosion, and means to facilitate visual inspection of the interior of structural beams and criteria to assess corrosion and action to be taken based on the condition of the material.

“Amusement rides are one of the best known, most popular and safest forms of family entertainment,” Johnson said. “Our entire industry and the government agencies we work with are committed to addressing the issues raised in Ohio.”

Amusement Today’s Gary Slade honored by World Waterpark Association

By | October 18, 2017

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — During the 37th Annual World Waterpark Association Symposium and Trade Show in West Palm Beach, FL, today, Amusement Today publisher and editor Gary Slade was presented with the WWA Commitment to Excellence Award.

Also receiving the honor were Joann Cortéz, director of communication for Hyland Hills Park and Recreation District (Water World) in Federal Heights, CO, and Jim Basala, CEO of Lake County Parks (Deep River Waterpark) in Crown Point, IN. Congratulations to all!

ADG wins WWA’s Leading Edge Award for Twin Tides dual entry wave pool water ride attraction

By | October 18, 2017

COHOES, N.Y. —  Aquatic Development Group (ADG) is proud to announce for the third year in a row, the receipt of the World Waterpark Association’s (WWA) Leading Edge Award. This year, ADG has received the award for their innovative take on the traditional wave pool, Twin Tides.  The award was presented today during the General Opening Session at this year’s WWA Show in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Twin Tides is a dual entry wave pool that employs a unique wave system configuration which allows for continuous wave action across the pool, eliminating dead space and doubling capacity. It is the first-of-its-kind in the market. 

ADG’s first Twin Tides
 opened in 2016 at Splash Cove in Shawnee, KS.  The second reiteration was designed as a crescent shaped version and premiered this past spring at the new H2OBX Waterpark in Powell’s Point, NC. 

“Incorporating the Twin Tides water ride into our mix of attractions at H2OBX was a differentiating factor that set us apart from other waterparks in North America,” said Brian Czarnecki , VP Marketing H2OBX. “It drew in the crowds and kept guests of all ages splashing in the water all day long. With the ability to double the waves and capacity levels, we were able to accommodate the multitude of guests that sought out this ride.”

The Twin Tides Ride is powered by ADG’s Wavetek wave generation system and produces up to four different kinds of recreational waves patterns, from gentle rollers to high-action diamond waves. With a footprint of only 7,000 sqft, this dual-entry wave pool creates double the ride capacity of a standard waterpark wave pool, while at the same time allows for maximization of the surrounding space for additional capacity at both ends.

“We designed the Twin Tides Ride to respond to the need for parks to continue to differentiate with new and innovative attractions that create excitement and cater to the overall park experience,” said Jim Dunn, ADG Executive VP. “Instead of adding yet another slide, our Water Rides give parks the opportunity to create an entirely new destination experience that expands capacity and optimizes throughout.”

As a leading designer and builder of water parks and attractions in North America, ADG draws on their decades of experience when it comes to creating their new line of Premier Water Ride Attractions. Unique in their approach and delivery, ADG’s Water Rides are sold as all-inclusive, turn-key attractions that enable park owners to have a complete understanding of the entire project scope and costs from the onset. Focusing on both the in-water and out-of-water guest experience, their rides further differentiate in that they showcase detailed layouts highlighting opportunities to maximize site capacity and incorporate areas for F&B and retail to generate incremental revenue.

Aquatic Development Group’s President and CEO, Ken Ellis, is inducted into the World Waterpark Hall Of Fame

By | October 18, 2017

COHOES, N.Y. — Aquatic Development Group (ADG) is proud to announce the WWA’s most recent inductee to the Hall of Fame, Ken Ellis. This prestigious honor is awarded to individuals who have had a substantial impact and contribution to our industry and Ken Ellis certainly fits that bill. 

Even as a young child Ken Ellis always knew that he wanted to be involved in the waterpark industry. In high school Ken began working part-time for his dad, Herb Ellis. In 1987 he began selling wave systems and waterpark design/build projects, many of which are still operating today. Then in 1997, Ellis progressed to President and CEO of Aquatic Development Group, a position in which he has now served for more than 20 years.

Ellis is also the owner of several waterparks and resort properties including Camelback Resort, H2OBX Waterpark, and Kartrite Hotel & Indoor Waterpark which is currently under construction.

Whether it’s through his work with ADG or his ownership of so many successful waterpark properties, Ellis has established himself as an accomplished strategist, developer and marketer in all things water related. His vision and expertise in the aquatic industry has contributed to the success of some of the most highly attended indoor and outdoor waterparks in the U.S. and the attractions and equipment that his company designs and manufactures can be found in over 4,000 facilities across the globe.

“I am honored to have been inducted into the World Waterpark Hall of Fame, standing amongst many other influential patrons in the waterpark industry, “ said Ellis.

Ellis is especially proud that he and his father will share a place in the WWA Hall of Fame. Herb Ellis was one of the original inductees when the World Waterpark Association was founded.

Goddard Group to celebrate 15th anniversary at IAAPA 2017

By | October 12, 2017

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Goddard Group, world leaders in the design and creation of themed entertainment attractions and experiences, will celebrate its 15th Anniversary in conjunction with IAAPA 2017 in Orlando, Florida. Concurrently, Goddard Group has unveiled the latest details on the company’s roster, including six immersive projects currently under-construction around the globe. In addition, during the past year the company has also been involved in presenting unprecedented immersive live theater presentations in New York.

“We’ve enjoyed quite a ride these past 15 years!” says Gary Goddard, Chairman/CEO of Goddard Group. “This has been a banner year for us so far, but our sights are really set on 2018 and beyond, when our next generation of highly immersive parks and attractions will be coming online. Between the exciting new experiences we are creating in China, Indonesia, and the Middle East, along with everything else happening around the world, there’s quite a bit to be enthusiastic about.”

He adds, “It’s extremely gratifying that we’ve achieved what we set out to do 15 years ago. It’s also quite humbling for me that at this point in my career, my team and I continue to have the opportunity to create our largest and most exciting projects yet. For that, we’re all very grateful.”

“The Kingdom of Poseidon,” Harbin, China

In its 15th year, Goddard Group is very pleased with the opening of the massive new indoor theme park, waterpark, and aquarium entitled “The Kingdom of Poseidon,” in Harbin, China, which the company designed for its client, the Malaysia-based KW Zone Group. The new destination attraction, which includes a family hotel and a themed RD&E district, is a one-of-a-kind experience that started off with a smashing debut. Says Taylor Jeffs, Goddard Group’s Creative Director, “Our goal was to create something entirely different with ‘Kingdom of Poseidon,’ by providing new ways to involve park guests in the mysteries, adventures, myths, sagas, and legends about the seas – stories which have been with us since mankind’s earliest days of civilization. Man’s connection with the world’s oceans are communicated at the park through a series of exciting and heart-felt emotional attractions.”

Chimelong’s “Forest Kindgom” in Qinyun, China

Of Goddard Group’s upcoming slate, the most sizeable project is Chimelong Group’s “Forest Kingdom” theme park, a major new destination resort and theme park that is being built in Qinyun, China. Sure to instantly become a world class attraction, the new “Forest Kingdom” park is a follow up to Chimelong’s wildly successful “Ocean Kingdom” theme park in Zhuhai, China, which debuted in 2014, and hosted a record-breaking 8.4 million visitors in 2016. Goddard Group executives expect the new “Forest Kingdom” to be a “fantastic next step for Chimelong’s continued growth. We are honored to be working with Chairman Su and his dedicated team,” Mr. Goddard said.

“Polar Ocean World” in Shanghai

Further north in China, Haichang’s “Shanghai Polar Ocean World” theme park, also designed by Goddard Group, recently celebrated a major milestone. The facility construction was topped off, putting the 300,000 square meter project on-track for its targeted August 2018 debut. The park promises to bring a new kind of immersive entertainment world to visitors, and is sure to become the ideal complement to Disney’s destination theme park, also located there.

“Shanghai Bund Movie Studio and Theme Park” in Hengdian, China

In the Chinese city of Hengdian, another kind of entertainment attraction also designed by Goddard Group is aiming for a 2018 premiere as well. Hengdian Movie Studios, famed in China for its massive backlot of standing sets, including vintage period Chinese villages and towns, and also including a near full-scale standing set of the Forbidden City, will now present its largest new standing set, entitled “The Shanghai Bund Movie World.” When that new standing set comes online, it will serve dual functions – both as a working film and television production facility, featuring a massive recreation of the pre-WWII Shanghai Bund, as well as a movie-themed theme park that treats guests to an authentic, behind-the-scenes look at how China’s most popular media content is created.

A new project for “Lotte World,” South Korea

In South Korea, Goddard Group was recently announced as the designer of Lotte’s new theme park, currently undergoing site preparation in the city of Busan. In addition, Lotte’s flagship park in Seoul, “Lotte World,” has seen a surge in attendance over the last few years, following the addition of eight new Goddard Group-designed attractions.

The Cirque Du Soleil “Project X”

Furthest out on the horizon is perhaps Goddard Group’s mostly highly-anticipated project – the inaugural collaboration between the company and Cirque du Soleil of an unprecedented, Cirque-themed park set to open near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, in 2020. While only scarce details about this project have been released to date, both partners promise the park will mark the next step in the evolution of theme parks and water parks.

“In & Of Itself” and “The Encounter” – Live Theatre in NYC

In the world of New York City theater, Gary Goddard Entertainment Live (GGE LIVE), the company’s Live Entertainment Division led by Tony Award winning producers Gary Goddard and Forbes Candlish, has recently produced two highly successful and immersive theatrical presentations: “In And Of Itself” (Off Broadway) and “The Encounter” (On Broadway), both of which have astounded audiences during this past year. Both shows were designated New York Times Critic Picks. “The Encounter” was called “One of the most fully immersive theater pieces ever created,” by Ben Brantley of the Times, while Alexis Soloski of the Times has said of “In & Of Itself,” “Derek DelGaudio sets himself apart from the abracadabra crowd. Beautiful! Tender! Astonishing!”

“In & Of Itself,” in fact, has been so successful that it just announced its 4th extension in New York – the play is now set to continue through May 6, 2018.  Says Forbes Candlish, GGE LIVE’s Supervising Producer, “For over 30 years we have been producing shows on and off Broadway, and during that time, we have always been interested in pushing the envelope and breaking the fourth wall. As the medium of live theater keeps moving in the direction of immersion for the audience, we plan to remain at the forefront of this movement. We believe this is the future of live entertainment.”

In addition to their on-going current work, Gary Goddard and Goddard Group’s legacy of success can be seen in the many milestone anniversaries currently taking place around the world during 2017 – anniversaries of acclaimed, high-profile projects he and his team designed and/or produced in the past.

Diggerland USA debuts mischievous Night of the Living Machines experience

By | October 4, 2017

WEST BERLIN, N.J. – Every autumn, Diggerland USA kicks off the changing of seasons with Diggerfest, a gleesome fall extravaganza for the family filled with pumpkins, corn mazes and of course, heavy machinery. When the sun goes down this month, the facility will transform into a mystifying Halloween adventure, just spooky enough for the little ones to enjoy.

This year, America’s only construction-themed adventure park has added a hair-raising hayride into the unknown to their list of fall festivities dubbed Night of the Living Machines. The four-date experience is scheduled to take place select Friday and Saturday evenings in October from 6PM-10PM.

Night of the Living Machines is a free event for all annual members. General admission pricing applies to guests without memberships and may be purchased online. Park-goers have the leisure of driving, riding and operating Diggerland’s various attractions, in addition to everything the facility has to offer after dark.

Cedar Fair Announces Planned Leadership Succession

By | October 4, 2017

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that Richard Zimmerman, its president and chief operating officer, will succeed Matt Ouimet as chief executive officer effective January 1, 2018.  On the same date, Ouimet will take the newly created role of executive chairman of the board of directors and Debra Smithart-Oglesby will become lead independent director. As part of this process, Zimmerman will also be added to the board of directors during the 2018 annual meeting period.  These changes are designed to ensure continuity in leadership as the Company pursues its ongoing strategy of investing in broadening entertainment offerings and new attractions to create greater excitement for guests, and positioning itself to produce strong results for many years to come.

“I have very much appreciated the opportunity to serve as the CEO of Cedar Fair and I am proud of what our team has accomplished,” said Ouimet.  “The market value of Cedar Fair has increased by more than $2.6B during my time at the company.  This performance provides us with a solid foundation to build upon and a positive outlook for the future.  Richard is a perfect choice to succeed me as CEO and I look forward to continuing to partner with him as the executive chairman going forward.”

Zimmerman, age 57, has more than 30 years of experience in the hospitality and leisure entertainment industry.  He became president of Cedar Fair in 2016, having been named COO in 2011 after serving as an executive vice president since 2007.   He also served as vice president and general manager of the Kings Dominion amusement park beginning in 1998.  Prior to entering the amusement park industry, Zimmerman served in various financial and strategic planning roles with Paramount Communications, Inc.

“Richard has the skills and experience required to lead the company forward,” Ouimet stated.  “He has been a great thought partner to me and has made major contributions to our strong performance, including being a key driver behind such successful initiatives as Fast Lane, season passes and our all-season dining and beverage programs.”

“Having the opportunity to lead Cedar Fair is a distinct yet humbling honor,” said Zimmerman.  “We are fortunate to have an exceptional organization with a deep and talented leadership team.  We are also fortunate to be a leader in an industry that continues to have the potential to grow and expand.   I look forward to the opportunity to continue broadening our offerings to better serve our guests, as well as providing long-term value for our investors.”

In conjunction with Ouimet’s move to executive chairman of the board of directors, the Company also noted effective January 1, 2018, Eric Affeldt will transition from his role as chairman of the board but will continue to serve as a director. Since joining the board in 2010 and assuming the chairman role in 2012, Affeldt has overseen improvements in Cedar Fair’s corporate strategy and governance standards, increased board diversity, improved alignment of executive compensation with unitholder interests, and supported enhanced investor relations.  He also led the development of the senior leadership succession plan the Company is announcing today.

“We are fortunate to have someone with Debra’s skills and board experience to take on the role of lead independent director,” said Affeldt.  “Debra has been a valuable voice in all of our deliberations and will be an even greater asset in her new role as lead independent director.”

Tom Mehrmann named President and General Manager for Universal Beijing Theme Park and Resort

By | October 4, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. — Universal Parks & Resorts has named Tom Mehrmann as president and general manager for Universal Beijing Theme Park and Resort, a world-class entertainment destination now under construction in Beijing.

Mr. Mehrmann will play a lead role in the continued development of Universal Beijing. Once the destination is complete, he will oversee its opening and ongoing daily operations.  He will report to Page Thompson, president and chief operating officer –International, Universal Parks & Resorts.

Mr. Mehrmann comes to Universal Parks & Resorts from the Ocean Park Corporation, the Hong Kong marine life and animal theme park, where he served as chief executive officer for 13 years.  In addition to managing day-to-day operations there, he led a redevelopment of the theme park that resulted in record-breaking attendance and annual revenue growth.  Prior to his time at Ocean Park, Mr. Mehrmann held a series of positions at Knotts Berry Farm, Six Flags and other themed entertainment companies.

“Tom will bring tremendous industry knowledge, business acumen and international experience to our project,” said Mr. Thompson.  “He has exactly what we and our partners need to help create a world-class theme park entertainment destination.”

Universal Beijing is being built in partnership with the Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Co., Ltd., a consortium of five Beijing state-owned enterprises, and Universal Parks & Resorts.  Universal Beijing will initially occupy a 147-hectare (approximately 363-acre) site located in the Tongzhou District of Beijing.  The theme park will be accompanied by a Universal CityWalk entertainment complex and two hotels, including a first-ever Universal themed hotel.  The theme park will include all-new attractions designed especially for China as well as some of Universal’s most popular themed entertainment experiences from around the world.

Eastern States Exposition breaks attendance record; 1,525,553 attend the 2017 Big E

By | October 2, 2017

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A record number of visitors attended The Big E, in West Springfield, Mass., breaking the Fair’s all-time high attendance figure, with a final tally of 1,525,553. The previous record, of 1,498,605, was set in 2014. October 1 attendance was 137,208, also a new record for the final Sunday of the 17-day Fair.

During the Fair’s run, the all-time highest single day attendance record was also broken when 171,897 visitors attended Saturday, Sept. 23. Three additional daily attendance records were set: Sept. 21, 85,019; Sept. 28, 89,905; and Sept. 29, 109,871.

Eugene J. Cassidy, president and chief executive officer of the Exposition, said, “I am humbled to see the incredible support of Eastern States Exposition by our loyal fair patrons. The 2017, 101st edition of The Big E broke records again, recording for the first time in history over 1.5 million guests. Patrons of New England’s Great State Fair braved days of punishing temperatures that pushed the heat index to above 100 degrees, they endured a 55 degree drop in temperature accompanied by rain, and yet they came in great numbers to participate in, enjoy and support this organization and all it stands for.”

Great gates thus far at the Easter States Exposition

By | September 28, 2017

WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Big E – Eastern States Exposition – has set two attendance records thus far during the fair’s 2017 run.

On Saturday, Sept. 23, 171,897 passed through the gates, the highest all-time single day attendance. Thursday, Sept. 21,  saw 85,019 visitors, a record for that day.

The 2017 edition of The Big E concludes Sunday.

North American Amusement Midway Entertainment provides the midway.