Talley Amusements to provide rides at the Ohio State Fair from 2019 through 2022

By | September 17, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio Expositions Commission has completed the more than six-month process to select a ride provider for the Ohio State Fair. Today, the commission named Talley Amusements from Fort Worth, Texas, as the carnival ride provider for a four-year contract beginning in 2019.

“Talley Amusements is a rising star in the amusement business,” explained Ohio State Fair General Manager Virgil Strickler. “Talley’s commitment to safety, ride maintenance and quality, and professionalism contributed to the company receiving the highest score in our robust selection process.”

A Request for Proposal (RFP) was distributed to carnival companies throughout the country in February, with proposals received from five companies: Amusements of America, Belle City Amusements, Kissell Entertainment, Reithoffer Shows and Talley Amusements.

A selection team comprised of the executive officers of the Ohio Expositions Commission, as well as four Ohio Expo Center & State Fair staff members, completed a comprehensive process evaluating proposals based on a number of criteria including:

  • Quality of rides, games, shows and other concessions
  • Current operation/management philosophies and polices
  • Past experience and previous performance for the last three years (including daily timeliness of ride, game and attraction opening; frequency which rides and shows are not operating; ride, game and show general appearance; lot cleanliness; personnel cleanliness; proper posting of information and signage)
  • Safety (including current safety policies and procedures as well as a review of all general liability claims and loss run outlining serious injuries or accidents)


The top three finalists, Talley Amusements, Amusements of America and Reithoffer Shows, were invited to Columbus to make presentations before the selection team in May. Members of the team then visited each carnival finalist while in operation at a fair in order to view and evaluate rides, record-keeping and operational procedures.

“Talley Amusements is honored to be the next amusement provider at the Ohio State Fair,” said Tom Talley, President of Talley Amusements. “We look forward to putting our 200-plus years of combined experience to work, delivering the safest and best-possible entertainment experience, adding another successful chapter to the proud Ohio State Fair tradition. Our commitment to the people of Ohio and the State Fair is to provide a destination experience, while continuing to set establishing industry best-practices for safety and quality.”

Talley Amusements has provided rides at many fairs and festivals, including the Iowa State Fair, State Fair of Texas and Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

Amusements of America, owned and operated by the Vivona family, provided rides at the Ohio State Fair the previous 26 years, with the most recent contract concluding with the 2018 Ohio State Fair.

“For more than a quarter of a century Amusements of America has been a great supporter of the Ohio State Fair, from contributing to youth scholarships by purchasing animals in the Sale of Champions Livestock Auction to enhancing the experience at the Ohio State Fair by providing rides and games,” explained Strickler. “We greatly value the Vivona family’s lasting partnership and support.”

Movie Park Germany celebrates 20 years of Halloween Horror Festival

By | September 13, 2018

BOTTROP-KIRCHELLEN — This year the greatest Halloween event in Europe will not only be sporting a new name. A wide range of innovations will be making a Festival of the multiple award-winning Halloween Horror Fest, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. In addition to two new themes and live music acts, one new horror attraction in particular promises to be the ultimate horror experience. “With Constantin Film as our new partner and the Wrong Turn licence, we are especially pleased to have achieved a milestone in the horror genre here at Germany’s largest film and amusement park. This classic fits in perfectly with the backdrop of the Horrorwood Studios and will be an integral part of the event for the next three years”, explains project manager Manuel Prossotowicz.

As in the first film of the Wrong Turn series, a supposed shortcut will prove disastrous for Movie Park guests. They will get lost in the forests of West Virginia and become the prey of bloodthirsty cannibals. The plot of the film, portrayed in 22 different scenes, is implemented with the usual love for detail by the Mülheim-based company DEKOWERK & IDEEWERK. In addition to the well-known highlights from the first part of the film, there are also some adaptations and new sequences that seamlessly integrate the story line of Wrong Turn into the gigantic backdrops of the former “ICE AGE Adventures”. The story begins with the shady petrol station, leads past a ten-metre-high waterfall and ends at the secluded shack of the fearsome forest dwellers.

The new indoor horror attraction boasts two special features at the same time. One is the unconventional route. “It’s not about insidious corners, as it is usually the case in our horror labyrinths, which don’t reveal what terrible fate lies ahead, but through the original fairway of the former attraction”, reveals Managing Director Thorsten Backhaus. Huge rocks pile up along the way, dangers lurk everywhere behind the trees – the cannibal forest dwellers are waiting for their supper. A nerve-wracking hunt through the forests of West Virginia begins.

Second, the daring tourists visiting the national park will receive a very special prop for their journey: a solar-powered safety lamp shows them the way through the dark night. “But surprises are inevitable”, reveals Prossotowicz. This is the first time the film park has worked together with the Dutch company Haunted Lantern, which has been using this system very successfully since 2016 at British theme park Alton Towers.

For the musical and media content production of the new horror attraction, Movie Park Germany is once again making use of the many years of expertise of IMAscore and IMAmedia. The Paderborn music experts are also responsible for the musical background for the new scare zone “Fear Pier” and the sound design of the new “Acid Rain” theme area.

DJ Max Bering and Irish folk band Lappländer will be providing even more musical highlights. “The live music acts are another novelty that will help us properly celebrate our anniversary”, Backhaus comments. Famous DJ Max Bering from Bochum has already performed DJ sets alongside greats such as Felix Jaehn, Tiesto and Robin Schulz. Max is not only an integral part of the Parookaville Festival, but the successful release of his single “Life” also had a tremendous impact on the international music scene. On the four days of advance sales, Oberhausen-based band Lappländer will also be on stage performing high-tempo Irish songs and their own Nordic tunes.

The “Acid Rain” theme area will thus become not only the central party zone, but also the contact point for fans of exceptional culinary delights. Ratingen-based event and catering company Caab Event will be offering very special flavour experiences with its Halloween-specific specialities.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary, the creative Halloween team led by project manager Manuel Prossotowicz has also put a number of visions into practice in terms of decoration and ambience. Park guests will now enter into the world of horror, the “scare zones”, by passing through large entrance gates. The individual areas can thus be better separated from each other, and the gates directly alert the guests to the horror that lies before them. In addition, there will be even more decorative elements throughout the park than last year. In addition to the Hostel horror attraction, “confuser of the senses” Stephan Nölle will also be performing for a second year, presenting his new hypnosis show in the Western Saloon. As the casting director of Horrorwood Studios, he will be guiding guests into the (nightmare) world of well-known horror films.

Last year the Halloween Horror Fest(ival) at Movie Park Germany was named Best Amusement Park Event 2017. This year more than 280 monsters will be wreaking havoc on the streets of the park on 17 action days from 6th October to 4th November. A total of eight horror labyrinths and four scare zones will make even the bravest guests’ blood run cold.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay announces new multi-launch thrill coaster “Tigris”

By | September 13, 2018

TAMPA, Fla. Today, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay continues to solidify its position as Florida’s thrill leader with the announcement of Tigris, a new triple-launch steel coaster andFlorida’s tallest launch coaster, roaring to the park next spring, 2019.

An innovative experience, Tigris will catapult riders through an exhilarating array of looping twists with forward and backward motion, breath-taking drops, a 150-foot skyward surge, and an inverted heartline roll, all at more than 60 miles per hour. Tigris will race riders along more than 1,800 feet of steel track designed to mimic the awe-inspiring agility of the world’s largest and most powerful cat –the tiger.

“Tigris will be a strong addition to our family of world-class thrill rides. With three intensely exciting launch points, this ride is unlike anything we have in our coaster collection,” said Stewart Clark, president and general manager of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. “This new attraction is a testament to our continuing investment in the park, and bringing new and innovative experiences to our guests.”
To further solidify Busch Gardens’ reign as Florida’s thrill ride leader, more news is on the horizon – a second new thrill ride will be coming to the Gwazi area of the park in 2020.

The two new thrill rides will join a top-rated list of favorites for coaster enthusiasts, including Cheetah Hunt, the park’s longest coaster, SheiKra, a 200-foot tall floorless dive coaster, Falcon’s Fury, a 335-foot freestanding drop tower, Montu, an inverted coaster, Kumba, and Cobra’s Curse, to name a few.

For the best way to experience the new Tigris, all of Busch Gardens thrill rides, as well as more than a dozen seasonal events throughout the year, the Annual Pass offers unlimited admission for 12 months, free parking and special benefits, starting at only $14 per month.

Taking its name from that of the world’s largest cat species, Panthera tigris, the new Tigris attraction is being constructed in the Stanleyville area of the theme park adjacent to Jungala®, which houses the park’s endangered Bengal tigers.  Additionally, Busch Gardens is home to Malayan tigers – a subspecies that has fewer than 500 individuals remaining in the wild. The park’s resident cats are an integral part of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.
More than 100,000 tigers stalked the grasslands and forests of Asia just 100 years ago. Now, every remaining subspecies of this big cat are endangered, and fewer than 4,000 total tigers remain in the wild. Threats to tiger populations include poaching, human encroachment on vital tiger habitat, deforestation and loss of vital prey species.

The Tigris queue will include educational content about the plight of tigers in the wild and what conservationists – including the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund – are doing to help save them. In addition, the purchase of any merchandise in the Tigris gift shop will help make a difference, with 5% of the sales price donated to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to protect tigers and their habitat.

OABA President Robert Johnson Announces his Retirement in 2019

By | September 13, 2018

Last month our President, Bob Johnson, announced to the OABA Board and staff that he plans to retire in February 2019, after having served this trade association exceptionally well for almost 25 years.  While Bob and his wife Alex are looking forward to visiting with family on the West Coast, traveling and pursuing their retirement dreams, Bob will not completely “sail off into the sunset”, as he is passionate about the great families that comprise our membership and the  amusement industry where he has worked for 41 years, and I have asked him to assist us in the transition.

When Bob informally told OABA of his plans last year, after our Strategic Planning Committee session, OABA formed an Organization Committee, comprised of our Executive Board and several Trustees, led by OABA past Chair E. J. Dean.  This Committee has already developed a timeline and has begun its highly confidential search for a well-qualified successor.  Our goal is to announce and introduce the new President to the membership at the February Annual Meeting.  OABA is grateful to other trade associations for helping us in our search by placing our recruitment advertising in communications to their members.  They have also retained the human resource firm of Strickland Associates in Winter Park, Florida, to assist us with our search.

Please join OABA and its Board in congratulating Bob for over two decades of leadership to the OABA and his many career accomplishments with this national trade association as our CEO.

Amusement Today’s annual Golden Ticket Awards presented at 2018 host park, Silver Dollar City

By | September 8, 2018

BRANSON, MO., Sept.8, 2018 – The spotlight was shining bright on the amusement industry this evening in an awards show hosted by Silver Dollar City, where the winners of Amusement Today’s 2018 Golden Ticket Awards were announced.

The Golden Ticket Awards are presented annually to honor the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today. The prestigious survey asks experienced amusement park voters around the country and world to rate the “bests” in 23 categories.

While the poll reveals continual fan favorites, each year there are surprises. The “Best New Ride of 2018” for amusement parks and water parks are always interesting categories to keep an eye on with Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, and Aquatica in Orlando, Fla., taking top honors for their news rides this year. There is an annual good-natured back and forth in the category of “Best Food” between Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pa., and Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., with Knoebels re-gaining the title for 2018. In the category of “Best Wooden Roller Coaster,” several popular coasters have been at the top of the list, and this year the designation goes to Knoebels Amusement Resort for its wooden wonder, the Phoenix.

The list of 2018 winners are …

Best Amusement Park Europa-Park, Rust, Germany
Best Water Park Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
Best Children’s Park Idlewild & SoakZone, Ligonier, Pa.
Best Marine Life Park SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Seaside Park Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Best Wooden Coaster Phoenix at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
Best Steel Coaster Fury 325, Carowinds, Charlotte, N.C.
Best Kids’ Area Kings Island, Kings Mills, Ohio
Friendliest Park Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Cleanest Park Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Halloween Event Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Landscaping Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.
Best Christmas Event Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Food Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
Best Shows Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Water Ride Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Best Water Park Ride Wildebeest at Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Dark Ride Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Orlando, Fla.
Best New Ride of 2018 – Amusement Park Steel Vengeance, Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
Best New Ride of 2018 – Water Park Ray Rush at Aquatica in Orlando, Fla.
Best Carousel Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
Best Indoor Roller Coaster Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction Noah’s Ark at Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa.

Personally chosen by Gary Slade, publisher and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today, this year’s Publisher’s Pick Awards were presented in the following categories:

  • Innovation of the Year – Chance Rides, Wichita, Kan., for its green initiatives  specifically involving the all-electric C.P. Huntington train.  This attraction has changed the way the industry is evolving in terms of environment reliability, operator satisfaction and guest experience.
  • Turnstile Award – Silver Dollar City, Branson, Mo., for its commitment to excellence, willingness to push themselves and take risks. These characteristics are proof in the park’s Time Traveler attraction introduced this year, which has helped create jobs, increase attendance and define a new area of the park.

For the 14th consecutive year, Amusement Today recognized college students who plan to pursue a career in the amusement industry and are employed by the host park of Silver Dollar City.  These individuals exemplify the spirit and integrity of the amusement industry by promoting the cornerstones of safety, service, courtesy and cleanliness at the highest level, while consistently exceeding job expectations.  This is an annual designation by Amusement Today to promote education in the field of hospitality and amusement.   

Amusement Today newspaper was founded in 1997 and covers international amusement and water park news and trends.  In its 21-year history, it is a five-time winner of various awards from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.  For a detailed outline of the 2018 winners and survey results, please log on to www.goldenticketawards.com.

Bill Leuhrs, a founder of Luehrs’ Ideal Rides, Inc., passes at 78

By | August 31, 2018

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — William Francis (Bill) Luehrs, age 78, of Highlands Ranch, Colo. passed Saturday, August 18th. Luehrs was the oldest son of the late Hub and Winnie Luehrs, the founders of Luehrs’ Ideal Rides Inc., a company that began in 1957 in Milwaukee, Wisc.  Bill grew up on the show along with his siblings, twins Jon (deceased) and Jean and younger sister Lorelei. His sisters and brother-in-law’s Jean and Joe Clair, Lorelei and Andy Schoendienst, all third generation, along with their children own and operate the show today, now based in Belleville, Illinois.  Bill spent his teenage years working on the show. In the 1970’s he returned with his family, wife Maggie, daughters – Mary Chris, Lisa and Annie to Luehrs’ Ideal Rides and owned and operated games. In 1980 Luehrs went on to own a McDonald’s restaurant franchise in south Florida.

Morris Vivona, Sr., founder of Amusements of America, passes at 97

By | August 29, 2018

TENNANT, N.J. — Morris Vivona, Sr. 97, was the eldest of the five Vivona brothers who built Amusements of America. He remained the oldest active showman in the country until his death on August 26. In 1939, Mr. Vivona founded Amusements of America with the purchase of the Ferris wheel from the New York World’s Fair. He has remained active with its everyday functions as Chairman of the Board. In addition, he served as past president of the National and New York Showman’s Associations, served as director of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association, was the eldest member and former director of Miami Showman’s Association and president of the St. Louis Showman’s Association.

In 1995, Amusements of America was named the World’s Largest Traveling Amusement Park by the Guinness Book of World Records, of which he was very proud. Vivona was the recipient of many awards including the International Independent Showman’s Association Hall of Fame, the Friend of the Fairs Award from the State of South Carolina, and was named Man of the Year by the Miami Showman’s Association.

He was still working shows at the time of his passing, looking forward to playing Bloomsburg, Pa. a spot Amusements of America is playing for the first time this year.

Betson Specialty Coin to Host 9th Annual Northwest Amusement Showcase

By | August 28, 2018

CARLSTADT, N.J. — Betson Specialty Coin will host the 9th Annual Northwest Amusement Showcase for industry professionals. The event is free for industry friends and family and will include a day packed with great products, seminars, door prizes as well as lunch and dinner.

Attendees will have a chance to preview some of the hottest new games available. The industry’s leading manufacturers and vendors are bringing equipment and merchandise to the showcase, which will be held at the Hilton Vancouver from 11 a.m. and until 6 p.m.

More information will be released shortly about seminars, financial programs and specials that will be available!

When: Saturday October 13th, 2018
Showcase will run from 11AM – 6PM

Where: Hilton Vancouver
301 W 6TH ST
Vancouver, WA 98660

Contact: Sydney Waters – swaters@betson.com

RSVP Here Today!

Attendees can Book via Our Group Rate.*

*Room must be booked my 9/21 to use group rate

Cedar Fair to Open New Hotel at Canada’s Wonderland near Toronto

By | August 28, 2018

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and immersive entertainment, has signed a pair of hotel services agreements with a Hyatt affiliate for a dual-branded Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotel on the site of its Canada’s Wonderland amusement park near Toronto in Vaughan, Ontario. The dual-branded hotel will offer 203 rooms – both spacious guestrooms and apartment-style suites – in a high-tech contemporary environment. Construction is expected to begin in the first half of 2019, with an opening date planned for late 2020.

Cedar Fair president and CEO Richard Zimmerman said, “The new dual-branded Hyatt Place and Hyatt House hotel will continue Cedar Fair’s significant investment in Canada’s Wonderland, one of the portfolio’s largest and most successful parks. We expect strong attendance growth there, driven by the introduction of a new record-breaking roller coaster, Yukon Striker, and addition of an immersive holiday event, WinterFest, both launching in 2019. This development will mark the next evolution in the park’s diverse offerings, providing park guests, business travelers and tourists with convenient accommodations in a growing area. The Hyatt Place and Hyatt House are respected brands worldwide and we look forward to working with the Hyatt team to ensure exceptional guest satisfaction.”

The eight-story dual-branded hotel will be located on a 16-acre parcel of the park’s land adjacent to Ontario Highway 400, 15 miles from Toronto Pearson International Airport. It will feature amenities important to both business and leisure travelers, such as free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, an indoor pool, 24-hour fitness center, coffee and cocktails bar, casual dining options, business center, flexible meeting and event spaces, and an outdoor sun deck.

“This dual-branded Hyatt Place and Hyatt House will be a great example of our continued focus on growing premium hotels that will attract business and leisure travelers alike,” said Scott Richer, Hyatt’s regional vice president of development for Canada. “We’re thrilled to team up with the team at Cedar Fair Entertainment Company – we’re confident the appeal and convenience of these two brands will meet the needs of guests visiting Canada’s Wonderland and the growing city of Vaughan.”

The project marks the sixth hotel in Cedar Fair’s accommodations portfolio. The company currently owns and operates three hotels at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, and one at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif.; an additional hotel is under construction at Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C.

About Hyatt Place

Hyatt Place, a brand of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, combines style, innovation and 24/7 convenience to create a seamless stay with modern comforts. There are more than 312 Hyatt Place locations in Armenia, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Germany, Honduras, India, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Panama, Puerto Rico, Thailand, The Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States. For more information, please visit hyattplace.com. Join the conversation on Facebook and Instagram, and tag photos with #HyattPlace and #WhySettle.

About Hyatt House

Hyatt House, a brand of Hyatt Hotels Corporation, launched in 2012 and offers more than 85 locations throughout the United States, China, Germany, Mexico, Turkey, and Puerto Rico. Inspired by extensive research into guest experiences, Hyatt House hotels offer services, amenities, upscale spaces and a casual, comfortable environment that reminds guests of home. For more information, please visit hyatthouse.com. Join the conversation on Facebook, and tag photos with #HyattHouse and #WhySettle.

Reminder! Deadline looming to book hotel lodging for the 2018 Golden Ticket Awards

By | August 22, 2018

The time is now to secure your accommodations for the “Networking Event of the Year!”  The booking deadline for the host hotels for Amusement Today’s 2018 Golden Ticket Awards is looming with a reservation deadline of Monday, August 27. Event hotels are Hilton Branson Convention Center and the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing. The host park for the two-day event on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 7-8 is the beautiful Silver Dollar City theme park located in scenic Branson, Mo.

To check out the itinerary and to register, please visit www.goldenticketawards.com.  This event is reserved exclusively for full-time working professionals in the amusement industry such as park owners, operators and management, ride manufacturers, designers, suppliers and vendors.

Friday activities will set the event weekend in motion with time to explore the park and evening receptions, and even more networking and behind-the-scenes-opportunities take place on Saturday, September 8.

Festivities conclude with a first-ever Golden Ticket Awards ceremony on water. Dinner, entertainment and the award ceremony will take place aboard the Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake.

This is the 21st annual year for the Golden Ticket Awards; they are presented to the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today.