Otters Earn Their Turn on Polin Waterslide

By | August 15, 2018

PHILADELPHIA, Penn. — Usually, Polin Waterparks – an award-winning designer of breath-taking, adrenaline-pumping waterslides – is focused on people. The company has built its internationally renowned reputation on catering to millions of clients who are thrilled by its 3,000 waterpark projects in 105 countries around the world. But recently, in Philadelphia, Polin focused on a very different guest: the otters at the Philadelphia Zoo.
Adding to the Zoo360 Experience
The Philadelphia Zoo created its Zoo360 experience several years ago – a series of exploration trails throughout the facility that allow animals to move safely above guests through a network of see-through mesh trail ways.
Working with Polin Waterparks, the zoo has now enhanced this overhead experience with the opening of Water Is Life: Red Panda Pass and Otter Falls, a redesign of its former Carnivore Kingdom exhibit. This new exhibit offers exciting new experiences for the animal residents.
Water Is Life highlights one of the planet’s most important resources and showcases its role in shelter, nourishment and play for animals and humans alike. Engaging and interactive water sculptures offer guests changing visual effects, allowing them to interact with, think about and engage with the ways this essential substance.

Water Is Life has two main zones: Red Panda Pass – with a winding maze of overhead bridges and tunnels in which the zoo’s red pandas roam and explore – and Otter Falls, a new aquatic version of the Zoo360 experience. The primary feature of Otter Falls is its oversized slide through which the creatures can frolic, swim and slip.

Entertaining humans and furry creatures alike
The new exhibit has proven to be extremely popular with guests who have been visiting in person to watch the otters’ angular antics. Guests have also spent hours online watching a video of the animals slipping down their personal waterslide, playing in their pool and sliding in the sunshine. The video now has more than 16,000 views on the zoo’s Facebook page.
Polin worked on the project’s design and construction alongside longtime partner Aquatics by Westwind (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada).
Aquatics by Westwind Owner Bart Deeg says, “Seeing otters have fun with waterslides is an amazing experience for Philadelphia Zoo guests. This project greatly helps to point out water’s importance for all creatures around the world. It has been honor and pleasure being part of this project.”  

World Record Roller Coaster and WinterFest Holiday Event Coming to Canada’s Wonderland in 2019

By | August 15, 2018

VAUGHAN, Ontario — When Canada’s Wonderland opens its gates for the 2019 season, the park’s skyline will be forever transformed by Yukon Striker – the longest, fastest and tallest dive roller coaster in the world. Situated in the newly themed area Frontier Canada, Yukon Striker will be the country’s first dive coaster and the park’s 17th coaster, placing Canada’s Wonderland among the world’s top three amusement parks with the most roller coasters.

Yukon Striker promises an exhilarating journey along its 3,625 feet of mountainous track where guests will be treated to a spectacular view stretching to the Toronto skyline. The coaster features a ‘hold and dive’ element where riders will literally be hanging on the edge of their seats, on one of three wide, floorless trains, breathlessly awaiting the 90-degree, 245-foot drop. Once released, the coaster dives from zero to 130 kilometres per hour straight down into an underwater tunnel before soaring up over steel track, propelling riders through four dynamic inversions and gravity-defying weightlessness. Designed by Bolliger & Mabillard, Yukon Striker will claim several world records:

  • The fastest dive coaster at 130 km/h (80 mph);
  • The longest dive coaster at 3,625 feet (1,105 m);
  • The tallest dive coaster at 245 feet (75 m) – includes underground.

Frontier Canada’s arrival at Canada’s Wonderland is more than 37 years in the making, as it was originally planned and designed as one of five themed sections to be developed for the park’s opening in 1981. The area will represent the rugged Yukon backcountry during the Klondike Gold Rush era of the late 1890s. Yukon Striker will join rides Lumberjack, Flying Canoes, Mighty Canadian Minebuster, Soaring Timbers, Timberwolf Falls, and White Water Canyon as the signature attractions in this newly themed section of the park.

WinterFest offers a new season of holiday fun in 2019, when guests at Canada’s Wonderland will be treated to an all-new immersive holiday experience taking place in late November and December. During WinterFest, the park will be transformed into an enchanted winter wonderland complete with uniquely themed areas, dozens of Christmas trees, millions of spectacular lights, ice-skating, live entertainment, savory treats, crafts and hands-on family activities.

The park’s fountain on International Street will become Snowflake Lake where guests can enjoy ice skating amid brilliant holiday lights. Each night, singers and dancers will set the stage for the celebratory lighting ceremony of a 70-foot-tall (21 m) Christmas tree featuring more than 40,000 sparkling ornaments. WinterFest visitors can feast on savory treats and holiday favourites like turkey, gourmet hot chocolate and peppermint fudge, and then catch one of a dozen live holiday-themed shows like Cool Yule Christmas and Jingle Jazz. Children can help elves mail letters to Santa, decorate cookies in Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, and meet classic Peanuts characters or special WinterFest entertainers like Jack Frost, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Candy Cane.

“This is the largest capital investment we’ve made in our park since opening,” said Norm Pirtovshek, Canada’s Wonderland General Manager. “We’re excited to offer world-class thrills and a truly unique experience for our guests next year. Yukon Striker will be the centerpiece of our new themed area Frontier Canada, delivering exhilarating and record-breaking coaster elements like no other in the world. And to cap off our 2019 season, WinterFest will be a holiday event unique to Canada as our park transforms into a winter wonderland. You can expect magical holiday fun for guests of all ages.”

Dollywood announces largest park expansion in history with new land named Wildwood Grove

By | August 6, 2018

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — One of the nation’s premier family vacation destinations is growing even larger, thanks to an impressive expansion announced today at Dollywood by Dolly Parton and park officials. Wildwood Grove, the largest capital investment in Dollywood’s 32-year history, is slated to open in 2019 and provides an adventurous journey for guests to explore, imagine and play together as a family.
The extraordinary new land features 11 thrilling experiences for guests, comprised of six unique ride attractions—including a suspended family roller coaster called The Dragonflier— the 55 ft. tall Wildwood Tree, live entertainment, various indoor and outdoor play areas for families to enjoy, a new restaurant and more. The total cost for the project is $37 million, meeting The Dollywood Company’s 2013 commitment of $300 million in investments over a 10 year period four years ahead of schedule.
“I’ve told you before about how I’d let my imagination roam free when I’d be out exploring in the hills around our home in the Smoky Mountains,” Parton said. “I’d pretend that the frogs and butterflies were my friends. I’d imagine about what it’d be like to fly with a dragonfly or to follow a bear family through the woods. Now all these things are coming true for our guests to experience in Wildwood Grove; it may be my new favorite part of Dollywood!
“This area is going to give families a place to explore, play and imagine together—but more importantly—it’s a place where they can spend more time together,” she explained. “I believe everyone has a song in their heart that needs to be set free. Wildwood Grove will be a place where families can learn together about what their heart song truly is.”
The Dollywood Company President Craig Ross echoed Parton’s sentiments about how Wildwood Grove provides a range of experiences for every member of the family.
“I think our guests are going to be excited about the diverse combination of attractions they will find in Wildwood Grove,” Ross said. “It continues our commitment to provide guests a variety of unique experiences and attractions that every visitor to the park can enjoy. We’ve also incorporated many of their requests for certain amenities that help make their visit more enjoyable. In Wildwood Grove, you’ll find more charging stations, a climate-controlled indoor space for play, larger respite locations, additional play areas which are more inclusive for everyone, and more entertainment opportunities for every member of the family.
“We have continued to expand and develop Dollywood over the last several years but Wildwood Grove is the first expansion of the park’s footprint since we added Wilderness Pass in 2008,” Ross continued. “It is rare in our industry that a park adds a new land in its entirety. Attendance has continued to increase—we’ve set attendance records each of the last six years and we’re having a strong season this year—so this new area helps satisfy consumer needs as guests have more room to spread out, imagine and explore another chapter in the epic Dollywood story.”
The adventure begins as soon as guests enter Wildwood Grove through the massive hollow trunk of a fallen tree. Once inside this delightful place, a remarkable world is unveiled to families through their own imaginations. The Wildwood Tree—a tree unlike any other—serves as the centerpiece of the area. It grows from a cluster of natural rock and boulders, and offers a natural platform for performances throughout the day and night. The green, leafy canopy is adorned with thousands of butterflies that dance playfully in the breeze. As the sun sinks in the sky, Wildwood Grove glows warmly as lanterns and lights glimmer like cheerful fireflies. Once darkness falls, the area sparkles as the Wildwood Tree comes to life each evening in a unique nighttime show that features the butterflies glowing in a kaleidoscope of spectacular color.
Six new ride attractions await guests eager to explore this captivating land. Those attractions include:
·         The Dragonflier— This thrilling suspended roller coaster lets guests soar with a dragonfly as it dips and darts along the gushing geysers and lush landscape of Wildwood Grove.
·         Black Bear Trail— Riders hop on the back of these friendly bears for a spirited trek through their natural habitat. Families will enjoy meandering through the woods of this unique Smoky Mountain experience.
·         Sycamore Swing— Guests aboard this thrilling “leaf boat” swing back and forth just like a leaf falling from a giant sycamore tree.
·         Treetop Tower— This family tower gives guests a sky-high view of Wildwood Grove as they soar nearly 40 feet in the air. Riders, seated inside giant acorns, spin around the top of a tall oak tree before gently drifting back to the grove floor.
·         The Mad Mockingbird— Tennessee’s state bird—the mockingbird—gives visitors a lift as it flies in a high speed circle around a tall tree. Riders control their ride experience by moving a sail as the birds rush above the ground.
·         Frogs and Fireflies—These friendly frogs hop up and down as they chase each other around the lily pad trying to catch the flickering fireflies fluttering from the tall reeds and grasses. Adventurous guests can hop aboard for this riveting race.
Play options abound inside Wildwood Grove. Hidden Hollow, a 4,000 sq. ft. indoor play space, provides a climate-controlled area for families looking to recharge before their next big adventure. With climbing structures, slides and multiple games, play time here is full of exploration. Another refreshing stop for play is at Wildwood Creek where numerous pop jets, splashing pools and more await. There, guests also can discover their musical side thanks to the various “instruments” available to play.
Several new friends await guests to the area. In the tradition of the Wildwood butterflies before them, Flit and Flutter—Wildwood Grove’s butterfly ambassadors of beauty and grace—dutifully watch over the Wildwood Tree. While each has their own distinct personality, both Flit and Flutter enjoy interacting with visitors to Wildwood Grove. Guests also can meet Benjamin Bear, a playful friend who loves to explore the grove with new visitors.
Wildwood Grove’s featured dining establishment, named Till & Harvest, offers another great option from Dollywood’s award-winning foods team. Visitors can order from a selection of Southwest fresh favorites, including burritos, salads and more, all with a Southern twist. In addition to traditional entrees and a topping bar with assorted salsas, guests can add items like pulled pork and fresh coleslaw to their selections. A walk-up window provides sweet treats like churros and ice cream.
As with most areas of Dollywood, Wildwood Grove takes advantage of the natural beauty of the surrounding Smoky Mountains. Nearly $1 million has been planned for landscaping the area, with more than 400 trees and 1,000 shrubs helping transform this space into a lush and relaxing spot hidden within the foothills of the Smokies.
While Wildwood Grove opens in 2019, Dollywood guests still have great festivals to enjoy during 2018’s Season of Showstoppers. Dollywood’s Harvest Festival presented by Humana (Sept. 28-Nov. 3) features the return of Great Pumpkin LumiNights—which doubles in size in 2018—as well as the largest Southern gospel celebration in the world. The season ends with the 10-time winner for Best Christmas Event, Dollywood’s Smoky Mountain Christmas presented by Humana (Nov. 10- Jan. 5). This year, Wilderness Pass transforms into Glacier Ridge, a winter wonderland complete with a 50 ft. tall video motion Christmas tree.

Lake Winnepesaukah Partnership with McDonald’s Supports local Ronald McDonald House

By | July 27, 2018

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Lake Winnepesaukah has partnered with Chattanooga area McDonald’s restaurants for the past eight years to benefit the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House.  For every McDonald’s coupon received on Wednesday and Sundays throughout our season and during WinnepSPOOKah in October, a $1 donation is made to the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House.

To date, $118,837 has been collected in support of the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House.  Jane L. Kaylor, President and CEO of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Chattanooga, said the donations cover the cost of 1,800 family nights at the Ronald McDonald House or the operation for 65 days of the entire 28-room House.  Every family who spends the night in the Chattanooga Ronald McDonald House is given all the care and resources they need so they can fully participate in their child’s medical journey, she said.  “We can only do that because of the donations that come from partnerships like the one with Lake Winnepesaukah,” Ms. Kaylor said.

McDonald’s Family Days continue on Sundays throughout the 2018 season with $5 off an Unlimited Ride Pass until September 30, 2018.  During WinnepeSPOOKah  in October, area McDonald’s restaurants also offer $2 off coupons.

Lake Winnepesaukah has a heritage of giving back to the community and the McDonald’s Family Days is an example of a family tradition at the area’s best-known amusement park.

Local destination delayed

By | July 25, 2018

NEW CANEY, Texas – Big Rivers Waterpark and Gator Bayou Adventure Park provided an update on construction progress today, and provided the following announcement: “We appreciate that the Houston area has waited a long time for Big Rivers Waterpark and Gator Bayou Adventure Park to open, and we want to give you the best experience possible. Our Operations Team is eager to provide our unique attractions. We are working with suppliers from at least six different nations, specialized contractors from a dozen states and construction teams from all over Texas, working through inclement weather, scorching heat and thousands of truck deliveries, to create Houston’s newest attraction. In the past, we’ve given you our best guesses for an opening date, but weather and other challenges have caused delays, disappointing both you and the Big Rivers team. So, while we cannot just yet provide a firm opening date, we will be giving regular updates on our progress to the media and on Facebook. We are working as hard as possible to open as soon as possible, with amazing attractions unlike any in the Houston area. You deserve our best, and we are working around the clock to provide an incredible, funfilled destination. So, hang in there: we will let you know soon what and when Big Rivers and Gator Bayou attractions will be up and running.”

Although construction delays are common in large projects such as this, these delays have been particularly disappointing for the surrounding area given the recent high temperatures. Video updates demonstrate the progress made and the view from Highway 242 provides a glimpse into many of the features that are in the process of being finished. The company will also be providing updates to schedules and opening dates on its website at

The developer, Monty Galland emphasized “We’ve had crews here daily and around the clock trying to get this done, but we want to make sure that when we open it’s as special an event for the public as it is for every member of the Big Rivers team. We value the public’s patience, and we will make the parks available as soon as possible.”

Falcon’s Creative Group Launches “Experience Imagination” Podcast Series

By | July 24, 2018

ORLANDO, Fla. — Falcon’s Creative Group, the Orlando-based creative services firm specializing in the design and production of themed experiences, is excited to announce the launch of its new podcast series, “Experience Imagination.”

Each episode of “Experience Imagination” will feature a new topic on the themed entertainment industry, discussed by a panel of creative professionals. Topics will range from theme park design, to interactive technology in themed spaces, to how to build an attraction on time and on budget, and more. Panelists on “Experience Imagination” episodes will include Falcon’s diverse employees and other industry heavy-hitters.

“In recent years, the themed entertainment industry has really gravitated towards podcasts as a tool for information sharing and learning,” said Cecil Magpuri, president and chief creative officer at Falcon’s Creative Group. “As more audiences crave strategic insight into our world, our team recognizes how we might add value to the conversation by launching a podcast series of our own. We are excited to begin generating this content to give our clients, partners, and other themed entertainment enthusiasts an opportunity to ‘Experience Imagination’ with us.”

Currently, Falcon’s Creative Group has a variety of podcasts shows in the works, with the first three shows available on Thursday, July 26.

Design for Reality – featuring: Vice President of Project Management Scott Miller, Creative Director Mike Wallace, President/Chief Creative Officer Cecil Magpuri, and Show Host Abhinav Narain

New Technology Experiences – featuring: Director of Technology Saham Ali, Technical Manager David Consolo, Senior Pipeline Technical Director Craig Barnett, Editorial Director Jesse Allen, and Show Host Abhinav Narain,

The Power of Illustration – featuring: Designer Adam Frank, Senior Concept Designer Patrick Reilly, Creative Director Mike Wallace, and Show Host Abhinav Narain

Project 412 Revealed: Kennywood and Pittsburgh Steelers’ Record-Breaking Collaboration

By | July 19, 2018

WEST MIFFLIN, PA – In Southwestern Pennsylvania, Kennywood Day is as eagerly anticipated as a Steelers game, while Pittsburgh’s gridiron greats regularly send their fans on emotional roller coasters. Now these two iconic brands will come together for a collaboration that’s unprecedented in both the sports and amusement worlds. Kennywood will welcome the Steelers franchise to the family by bringing the game day experience that is a staple to countless fans in Pittsburgh and beyond to life in the park.

Coming to Kennywood in 2019, Steelers Country is an immersive land that celebrates the hard-hitting heroics of the players, but with a unique twist. The park experience turns its attention to the fans, putting them at the center of the action. Exclusive merchandise, skill games and food locations–including a themed tailgating experience–continue the feeling of being at the stadium. The new Steelers Country will be anchored by the record-breaking roller coaster, Steel Curtain.

“Being the first park to collaborate with a professional sports franchise on not only a themed area, but also a pulse-pounding, high-flying roller coaster is a great honor that fits in with Kennywood’s longstanding tradition of innovation,” said Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas. “For that franchise to be our hometown Steelers, the most successful team in America’s most popular sport, it’s a sure touchdown!”

Throughout Steelers Country, fans will join in on familiar game moments: bursting through the area’s entry tunnel, seeing how they measure up in practice drills, perfecting their touchdown dances, and checking scores and highlights on Steelers Country’s giant video screen.  With Steelers Country, Kennywood and the Pittsburgh Steelers are honoring the greatness of the past, and looking towards the future of the park, the team, the fans, and the city of Pittsburgh.

“We are very excited about the partnership with Kennywood,” said Steelers Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ryan Huzjak. “Being able to connect the Pittsburgh Steelers with a family attraction like Kennywood is a natural fit for both organizations, and we are thrilled about the tradition and longstanding history the Steelers and Kennywood provide to families in and around the city of Pittsburgh.

The towering Steel Curtain roller coaster will rule Kennywood’s skyline. With a record-breaking 9 inversions, 197 foot-tall loop, and 220-foot maximum height, Steel Curtain is an adrenaline rush like no other, speeding across 4,000 feet of track at 75 miles per hour. Designed by S&S Worldwide, Steel Curtain will break a Pennsylvania record (tallest roller coaster), a North American record (most inversions), and a world record (tallest inversion). The colossal steel structure of the coaster will serve as a landmark addition to the park and a high-energy entry point welcoming guests to Steelers Country.

“We are honored to partner with this great historic park and the Pittsburgh Steelers on this coaster, said S&S Worldwide Director of Sales Pete Barto. “We all know how passionate Steelers fans are, and it is our mission to make sure the Steel Curtain ride lives up to its legendary namesake.”

Ground has already been broken on the Steel Curtain, with the first pieces of track to arrive at Kennywood this month. Crews will be hard at work to open Steelers Country, highlighted by this record-setting roller coaster, during the 2019 season.

ASTM International Amusement Ride Standard Revised

By | July 19, 2018

W. CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — Today, ASTM International announced two revisions to an amusement ride standard which could help support safety efforts in the amusement ride community. Members of the ASTM International committee on amusement rides and devices (F24) developed new requirements related tonon-destructive testing inspections.

The group also changed the standard from a guide to a practice.

The revised practice for auditing amusement rides and devices (soon to be published as F2974-18) now includes language on requirements around inspector qualifications needed prior to doing non-destructive testing, including training and qualification records, written practices and procedures, equipment calibration records, and more.

“We wanted to provide more instructions for auditors to follow when examining the requirements of inspectors doing the non-destructive testing,” according to Jeff Borba, owner of Precisioneering, and chair of the three“evolution task groups” created by the committee to identify areas of need for new or revised standards. Their efforts were influenced by new incident data, emerging technologies, and more.

The standard was also revised from a guide to a practice to match other existing committee standards. A guide provides information or a series of options but does not recommend a specific course of action, whereas a practice provides instruction for performing specific operations.

“This was the only committee standard that was a guide and by changing it to a practice we think the standard now carries more weight,” says Borba. “Ideally, it will encourage more people to follow the standard.”

The “evolution task groups” were created in October of 2017 and developed a series of potential revisions to existing standards. These two revisions will be the first published. According to Borba, several more updates are underway that could address corrosion, welding requirements, and visual acuity for inspectors.

DelGrosso’s Park To Host 21st Annual Native American Pow Wow & Dance Competition

By | July 19, 2018

TIPTON, Pa. — DelGrosso’s Park will host the 21st Annual Native American Pow Wow on Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22, 2018.

The Weekend Festival will be filled with Native American Dancing in Full Regalia, Drumming, and Singing. Native American Arts and Craft Vendors will also have various booths throughout the Pow Wow Grounds (inside the Tipton Creek Railroad tracks). Vendors are by invitation only.

Keith Colston, Tuscarora & Lumbee, will serve again as the Master of Ceremonies for this great event. All Native American Dancers are welcome to compete.

Pow Wow Grounds and Vendor Shopping open at 10am both days. Grand Entry into the Dance Arena will take place on Saturday at Noon and 6pm. Grand Entry on Sunday will take place at Noon. The Pow Wow will be held from 10am-7pm on Saturday and 10am-5pm on Sunday (crowd and weather depending – schedule subject to change).

“Year after year, our park guests comment about the bright, beautiful regalia and tribal traditions that they enjoy watching. This traditional Native American gathering is full of color and culture. We are so excited to be celebrating our 21st amazing year of bringing living history to the Park,” says Carl Crider Jr., General Manager and President of DelGrosso’s Park and Laguna Splash.

World’s tallest river rapids attraction reaches new heights

By | July 19, 2018

ORLANDO, Fla. — Construction is coming to a close at SeaWorld Orlando as Infinity Falls – the highly anticipated new attraction opening at SeaWorld Orlando this summer – takes its place in the Orlando skyline. The record-breaking new attraction was “topped off” over the weekend as cranes lifted the final piece of the rides iconic blue and gray tower into place. The whimsical tower structure, blending modern architecture with ancient ruins, reaches a height of 67 feet and surrounds the attractions unique vertical lift. The 41-ton steel tower, made up of 10 pre-fabricated segments, took crews five nights to install. When it opens, Infinity Falls will feature the world’s tallest drop on a river raft ride.

The new attraction brings the thrill of white-water rafting into a new experience the family can enjoy together. Aboard the rides 8-passenger circular rafts, riders will embark on an adventure through a lush rainforest environment inspired by some of the world’s most incredible freshwater ecosystems. The new attraction will feature dynamic drops and turns, interactive water elements, and allow visitors to experience the feel of exhilarating rapids. The ride will also feature an innovative vertical lift designed to transport the rafts to the top of the ride’s 40-foot drop in just over five seconds.

The new attraction will be the centerpiece of a newly themed area designed to resemble the basecamp of explorers and scientists. After riding Infinity Falls, the entire family can explore the basecamp and take part in interactive experiences that combine play with education to create a positive impact on freshwater ecosystems, reinforcing “Park to Planet” in real time, a mission to help guests understand some of the challenges facing the planet and inspiring them to help.