January 2021 issue

By | December 20, 2020

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

  • 2021 kicks off with AIMS Virtual Safety Seminar
  • Kalahari opens nation’s largest indoor water park in Round Rock
  • Indiana Beach saves coaster, adding Polyp
  • 2021 IAFE Virtual Vision recap
  • Mack Rides’s extreme spinning coaster for Plopsa De Panne
  • Knoebels looking ahead
  • North Pole Productions creates fair lighting displays
  • Strates Shows keeps things on the rails
  • WaveGarden delivers in South Korea
  • Park winterization in the COVID-era
  • Women of Influence: Hersheypark’s Laura Woodburn Krolczyk
  • Book Review: Action Park
  • Appetize surveys customer trends during pandemic …and more!

RWS Entertainment Group launches seasonal product catalogue

By | January 25, 2021

NEW YORK, N.Y. — RWS Entertainment Group (RWS), a New York-based full-service production company that creates award-winning entertainment, live events and branded entertainment announced today that it has launched a Seasonal Product Catalogue to further its offerings to clients across the world. The company, which launched its European headquarters in London last spring, will now offer products that will serve a wide range of industries including Municipalities, Retail Centers, Hotels, Resorts, Casinos, Theme Parks, Cruise Ships, Zoos, Aquariums, Museums, Botanical Gardens.

“As RWS Entertainment Group continues to innovate the experience industry, we are very excited to expand our global outreach with brand new, state-of-the-art products. Our products were designed to provide clients with offerings that would bring a new level of the “awe” effect to their audiences as well as enhance a client’s brand and awareness with multiple product offerings. These picture-perfect moments also increase social media drive, generating a natural return on investment. RWS is known for its turn-key services, but we wanted to offer our clients with tools to help them create their own story. We hope our products invigorate the imagination and inspire everyone to Raise the Experience,” says Kevin Kreczko, Senior Director of Business Development at RWS.

The seasonal product catalogue features over 100 light sculptures, 50 crystallized mirror sculptures and thousands of foliage options for all seasons and more. The company also notes that all products are made-to-order, therefore any sizes and colors can be created.

To view the catalogue, please visit experiencerws.com/catalogue2021.

Dollywood star Randy Parton passes away

By | January 22, 2021

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Randy Huston Parton, 67, iconic performer and creative leader at Dollywood, has lost his long battle with cancer. After leaving the road as his sister Dolly’s original bass player in the Family Band, Randy moved to Dollywood and entertained millions through his more than 30-year career at the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, theme park.  

“Randy was a creative force and a good friend,” Paige Bales, Director of Dollywood Entertainment said.  “He has left a lasting legacy at Dollywood with his talent, his creativity and his leadership. We will all miss him but heaven has gained another star.”

In addition to representing Dolly and the family at Dollywood and producing and staring in multiple productions, Randy also was a songwriter and recording artist in his own right. He scored several charted singles through his career including “Roll On (18 Wheeler),” which was later a number one for Alabama. He also produced and performed in his own theater in North Carolina in 2007 and 2008. For decades, Randy has collaborated with his sister Dolly with multiple projects including a new Christmas song called “You are my Christmas” on Dolly’s Holly Dolly Christmas release in 2020.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in honor of Randy and their father Lee Parton be made to the Imagination Library. Information on how to donate can be made at imaginationlibrary.com.

AREA15 in Las Vegas opens nine new, immersive experiences

By | January 22, 2021

LAS VEGAS — AREA15, the immersive art and entertainment district located minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, announces the opening of nine new experiential attractions. AREA15 is free to enter; complimentary General Admission passes allow guests to explore monumental art installations, unique design and décor, retail and food and beverage offerings. Nearly two dozen ticketed activations and experiences throughout the 200,000-square-foot complex, ranging in price from $5 to $30, are available to locals and tourists alike. Meanwhile, AREA15 hosts an ongoing lineup of occasion-driven, ticketed events—such as its holiday-season “Wanderland” experience, “Illuminate 2021” New Year’s Eve party and upcoming Valentine’s Day “Cloud9 Immersive Picnic.”

AREA15 opened in September 2020 and has signed more than 160,000 square feet of which 80,000 square feet of space were leased since May 2020. Over the last year, AREA15 added over 150 permanent positions to the company, ranging in scope from retail, security, management, creative and design and amusement activations. 

“When we sought to create a purpose-built location-based entertainment district driven by art, design and immersive entertainment here in Las Vegas, we knew we were charting new territory,” said Winston Fisher, founding partner and chief executive officer, AREA15. “To see it come to life during a pandemic provided its own unprecedented set of circumstances, but we are elated the public has received us so enthusiastically, and we’re thrilled to offer them this latest collection of brand-new offerings.”

“We’re in the business of hope and inspiration,” said Michael Beneville, founding partner and chief creative officer, AREA15. “We accelerated our opening this fall because we felt it was important to provide a bright spot for people right now.  We are not trying to save the world – but we are trying to introduce a measure of hope, optimism, connectivity and safe fun at a dark moment in time.”

AREA15’s newly opened and soon-to-open attractions follow:

OPENING February 2021: A fresh take on a food hall in the belly of a dragon. Even the pickiest eater will find something mouthwatering within the fiery walls of The Beast. Renowned chef, restaurateur and four-time James Beard Award winner Todd English presents this curated map of flavors to guests inside the world of AREA15. (Square footage: 6,700) 

NOW OPEN: One of many ticketed activations inside of AREA15, guests are invited to move and engage to light up Brainstorm’s reaction centers, which reads your unique expressions and transmits nearly infinite response patterns, never delivering the same experience twice. (Square footage: 850) 

NOW OPEN: The nation’s premier indoor axe-throwing lounge satisfies guests’ drive for new experiences, providing an exhilarating activity for groups of all sizes. The attraction features a beer and wine bar, flat-screen TVs flanking the perimeter of the lounge and 18 private or group-reserved lane accommodations—all set just minutes away from The Strip. (Square footage: 6,300)

OPENING February 4, 2021: Spanning two floors inside AREA15, the immersive Emporium Arcade Bar + event venue features dozens of games, live music, DJs, a curated craft beer and cocktail bar, amazing local art murals and more. Las Vegas will become its sixth location, joining its venues in Chicago, San Francisco and Oakland, California. (Square footage: 10,000)

OPENING January 2021: Five Iron Golf is an urban indoor golf experience that combines a unique mixture of golf and entertainment with a community-focused vision of making the game more inclusive and accessible. Featuring industry-leading golf simulators, teaching professionals, a full bar, and event space, you can reserve a simulator, compete in tournaments and leagues, host events, and book private or group golf lessons. (Square footage: 6,300) 

NOW OPEN: Museum Fiasco showcases futuristic exhibits, audio-visual experiences, art and hospitality in a space that fosters a sense of connectivity for visitors. Located on the mezzanine of AREA15, the 5,000-square-foot gallery was conceptualized and designed by Corner Bar Management founder, Ryan Doherty. Currently on view through 2022, its first exhibition, “Cluster,” tells a story through a collection of lights that strobe in harmony with the extraordinary soundscape, exploring the chaotic feeling of being inside the kernel of a glitchy computer processor. (Square footage: 4,100) 

NOW OPEN: Situated at the frontier of virtual reality, OZ Experience by BackLight exists where the boundaries between what is virtual and what is real dissolve into an immersive experience never seen before. OZ Experience offers four distinctive VR adventures: ECLIPSE, a free-roam, team-based, outer-space-themed mission for up to four players suitable for all ages; Birdy King Land, a seated, virtual roller coaster ride with full-body avatars, high-fidelity rendering and 3-D effects; Far Reach, an adrenaline-filled space odyssey ride throughout the galaxy, brought to life with advanced graphics and core-shaking sound design; and Skyhigh New York, a thrilling, escape-themed experience allowing guests to navigate a 40-story-high skyscraper ledge. (Square footage: 1,800) 

NOW OPEN: An interactive AR experience to unlock the secret backstory lurking just beneath the surface of AREA15. Guests will be outfitted with a Particle Quest mask to discover a world of surreal nano-particles triggered by the art and architecture all around. (Square footage: 850) 

NOW OPEN: Designed by Blue Man Group Co-Founder Chris Wink, Wink World: Portals Into The Infinite takes the fusion of whimsy, color, art, technology and music which he pioneered with Blue Man Group to the next level. Visitors to Wink World will walk through six infinity-mirror rooms, each one featuring a stunning production number choreographed to original music, drawing upon Wink’s love of black light and other dynamic stage effects to evoke “life force” and inspire wonder. Described by Wink as “equal parts psychedelic art house and carnival funhouse,” Wink World explores the concept of infinity in entertainingly conceptual and aesthetic ways. (Square footage: 1,500)

AREA15’s anchor tenant, Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart recently announced their tickets are now on sale and anchor tenant Lost Spirits Distillery, will announce its Q1 opening date shortly. For more information, visit www.AREA15.com

Amusement Expo International shifts 2021 date pattern by one day

By | January 22, 2021

MOKENA, Ill. — To provide an extra setup day for Amusement Expo International (AEI) exhibitors participating in another re-scheduled industry event this summer, the dates for this year’s AEI in Las Vegas will now move ahead by one day, with the education program and Gala set for Tuesday, June 29 and the exhibits open on Wednesday, June 30 and Thursday, July 1, 2021.

This allows those companies exhibiting in the Bowl Expo in Louisville added time to ship, travel and set up their AEI booths in North Hall 1 of the Las Vegas Convention Center. The adjacent Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino will serve as the headquarters hotel.

And to give all attendees and exhibitors some considerable “peace of mind” when making plans to participate in this year’s AEI, event owners the American Amusement Machine Association (AAMA) and AMOA have extended the cancellation date to May 27, 2021. Those who cancel on or before that date will receive a 100 percent refund on their registration or exhibit space fees.

For more information, visit AEI’s website:   www.amusementexpo.org or contact Brian Glasgow, AEI show manager, at:  brian@wtglasgow.com

Leslie Mouton named Morgan’s Wonderland inclusion foundation marketing, social media director

By | January 20, 2021

SAN ANTONIO — Leslie Mouton, a former two-time Emmy-award-winning TV news anchor and much-in-demand public speaker, has been named director of marketing and social media for the Morgan’s Wonderland Inclusion Foundation (MWIF), which coordinates fundraising, planning and communication for the unique theme park and related endeavors, all designed with individuals with physical and cognitive challenges in mind.

“We’re delighted that Leslie has joined us in helping communicate the many ways we’re pursuing our mission of inclusion,” said Gordon Hartman, who along with wife Maggie created non-profit Morgan’s Wonderland, thanks to inspiration from their daughter with special needs, Morgan.  “Leslie’s impressive expertise and experience will go a long way in shining the spotlight on our ultra-accessible™, fully-inclusive facilities for those with and without special needs.”

A native of Lafayette, La., Mouton graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and started her communications career in 1988 in Alexandria, La.  She retired from broadcast journalism last year after spending 21 years anchoring for KSAT 12, San Antonio’s ABC-TV affiliate.

Mouton is also a breast cancer survivor.  She garnered national attention when at the young age of 35 she went public with her treatments and even anchored a newscast bald to raise awareness about the importance of self-exams and early detection.  She felt obligated to use the platform of television to share such an important message.

“Now I look forward to sharing another important message, one of inclusion with the MWIF,” Mouton said.  “While it all began with the fabulous Morgan’s Wonderland theme park, the foundation has blossomed into an evolution of inclusion. There are so many great elements that are truly changing the way people of all abilities can enjoy life side-by-side.  It is a blessing to be part of an organization with such a great purpose.”

Mouton is married to retired Air Force pilot Tony “Maddog” Mattox, and they have one daughter, Nicole Danielle Mattox.

Mouton will devote her full energies to MWIF, which was created in 2020 because of the tremendous success of Morgan’s Wonderland and the resulting creation of other cutting-edge outdoor recreation places.  These include award-winning Morgan’s Inspiration Island splash park, Morgan’s Wonderland Sports complex and Morgan’s Wonderland Camp, offering a summer-camp-type experience to those with and without special needs on a ruggedly-beautiful 100-acre site on San Antonio’s northern outskirts. 

Additional major projects taking shape include the Multi-Assistance Center at Morgan’s Wonderland, or The MAC, a 165,000-square-foot facility housing multiple providers under one roof.  It constitutes a one-stop-shop to help those with special needs find solutions for medical and therapeutic issues as well as challenges related to social determinants of health. 

S&S announces 2021 ride openings

By | January 20, 2021

LOGAN, Utah — 2020 was a challenging year for our industry. With the opposition we all have experienced, our industry has shown its commitment to the safety and overall well-being of the people who support us. The amusement industry is resilient because of the great minds and personalities so prevalent among us. S&S is fortunate to be associated with great parks that continue to show faith in the recovery of our industry through new ride openings and purchases. With that being said, S&S – Sansei Technologies is pleased to announce that it is scheduled to open 7 exciting new ride projects in 2021. The new projects include the following:

  • 4D Free Spin coaster at Ocean Flower Island in Danzhou, China – The first 4D Free Spin coaster in all of China.
  • 4D Free Spin coaster at Motiongate in Dubai, UAE – The first ride of its kind in the UAE and themed to the epic action series, John Wick.
  • Air Launch coaster at Changsha Window of the World, located in Changsha, Hunan, China – The proprietary air launch system from S&S is the fastest and most exciting on the planet!
  • 4D Free Spin coaster at Adventureland Park in Altoona, Iowa, USA
  • Combo Tower at Ocean Flower Island in Danzhou, China
  • Combo Tower at Hainan Ocean Paradise in Lingshui, China
  • Space Shot Tower at Chongqing Sunac Land in Chongqing, China

S&S is confident that our industry will rise up and experience great prosperity in the coming months and years. We are proud to be a part of such a dynamic and exciting industry.

Fun Spot America announces Albert Cabuco Senior Vice President of Food & Beverage

By | January 19, 2021

ORLANDO, KISSIMMEE & ATLANTA — Fun Spot America Theme Parks is proud to announce Albert Cabuco as Senior Vice President of Food & Beverage. Cabuco brings more than 30 executive-level years of experience in the hospitality industry including amusement parks, hotels, and restaurants. Most recently he served as Vice President of Food & Beverage for Palace Entertainment. Palace Entertainment operates 21 amusement parks and water parks across the globe.

With a BS in Business Management from Manila University and Certification from Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration, Cabuco has turned around unprofitable organizations and developed loyal and successful team leaders while building a reputation of integrity and servant leadership. Also, he was honored to receive IAAPA’s (International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions), official designation IAAPA Certified Attractions Executive, (ICAE) in 2011.

“All of us at Fun Spot America see this opportunity to have a big influence on our parks’ food and beverage department and are thrilled to have Albert lead us into this exciting stage of growth. I’m looking forward to this next chapter and to see where it will take the company,” says CEO John Arie Jr.

Cabuco has long been an active member of IAAPA, serving as a member of the Food and Beverage Committee as well as the Board of Judges for IAAPA’s “Best Restaurant Concept in the World.” In addition, he is the author of two books: Food & Beverage Program and Management Development Program used to train all Food & Beverage and Management employees at all Palace Entertainment parks.

“We are looking forward to welcoming Albert to our Fun Spot Family. He is a true professional with a wealth of success in the Food and Beverage industry,” says Jennifer Collier, Director of Human Resources.

Cabuco begins his new position on January 18th and will soon become a Floridian as he and his family relocate from California.

China’s Enlight Media teams up with Legacy Entertainment on the Creation Of Enlight China Movie World

By | January 19, 2021

YANGZHOU, China, and NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Beijing Enlight Media, China’s largest privately-owned media group, has selected Hollywood, Calfornia-based Legacy Entertainment as the ‘Enlight Epicenter’ designer of its ambitious Enlight Movie World project in the eastern city of Yangzhou. The project, first announced in 2018, marks Enlight Media’s first foray into the Location Based Entertainment sector, and will ultimately encompass a total area of 3954mu (651 acres) with an investment of 16.4 Billion Yuan ($2.5 Billion US Dollars).

The cultural and tourism section of Enlight Movie World starts from the ‘Enlight Epicenter,which will feature experiences and attractions inspired by Enlight’s popular animated film properties. Offerings will include elaborately themed retail and dining experiences, anchored by a Family Entertainment Center, and connected by a series of ‘Art Gardens.To aid in the design of this unique destination, Enlight has selected Legacy Entertainment, a leading entertainment design firm with extensive experience in both theme park design and film production. 

“It is an honor to collaborate with the Enlight team on such a great project,.” says Eric Carnagey, Legacy’s Managing Director, and one of the company’s owners. He adds, “Unlike studio-themed parks in America and Europe which tend to look towards the past, the relative youth of China’s homegrown IP-based LBE industry is all about looking forward. We get a unique chance to imagine and create the ‘film studio and movie theme park of tomorrow’ by utilizing Enlight’s prominent position as a China-based film production and distribution company alongside their widely recognized properties. This poses an incredibly exciting creative angle for our team to run with.” 

Subsequent phases will include a wide variety of uses, including a world-class Theme Park, along with expansive Film and Television production facilities. Fueled by a string of hits that include Ne Zha and Looking Up, this new complex has been designed to meet the needs of the fast-growing entertainment company. Ne Zha holds the record as the biggest animated film in China’ history, having grossed over $580 Million US Dollars, more than doubling that of the previous record holder, Disney’s Zootopia.

Legacy Entertainment was uniquely qualified for the task, having previously worked with China’s Hengdian World Studios, the world’s largest film studio, on their recent expansions. The first of these projects, the Hengdian Shanghai Bund, debuted in 2019 with a mix of theme park-style rides and shows, along with ample production facilities. 

“Just as in our extensive collaboration with Cirque du Soleil, we love working with brands which are expanding into location-based entertainment projects for the first time,.” adds Carnagey. “With groups like Enlight, we have the chance to create something completely new because there are no rules in place. What is the studio-themed destination of the future? Working closely with a great collaborator like Enlight, we are looking forward to answering that question in new and exciting ways.”

Ed Hodgdon forms Hodgdon Consulting LLC

By | January 18, 2021

Ed Hodgdon has opened a new business Hodgdon Consulting, focusing on marketing, advertising, and PR for businesses in any industry.

“I had a great experience working at Funtown Splashtown USA over the last 20 years, but it was time to branch out on my own,” said Hodgdon. “I want to take the knowledge I acquired from working at the park to other businesses.”

Ed started working at Funtown Splashtown USA in 1998 in the Points of Sale Department. In 2001, he moved to year-around employment with the park, working in group sales and marketing. Over the last 20 years, he has taken on different roles in company, most recently as the Marketing and IT Manager. “I loved working for the Cormier Family. They are great people to work for and will fondly remember my time at the park.”

This won’t mean that Ed is out of the attractions industry, as he will continue to work for NEAAPA, the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, with an increased focused on state-level advocacy.

You can learn more about Hodgdon Consulting by going to edhodgdon.com.

New CEO and new entries for the Italian company Antonio Zamperla S.p.A.

By | January 18, 2021

Zamperla relaunches and pushes on people and innovation: two new top-notch managers to support the new CEO and accelerate growth.

As from January 2021 Antonio Zamperla JR, grandson of founder Antonio Zamperla senior and son of President Alberto Zamperla will be the new CEO and will be joined by Valerio Ferrari, Chief Sales Officer, and Adam Sandy, Sales & Marketing Director of the strategic Roller Coaster division.

The Company based in Altavilla Vicentina, with a turnover of 100 million euros and more than 400 employees as a Group, is a world leader in the production of rides and parks management, including Luna Park Coney Island, NYC, one of the most iconic luna parks ever. After betting on innovation and digitalization to face recent and future challanges, in 2021 Zamperla appoints Antonio Zamperla JR, previously Chief Innovation Officer, as CEO to be ready to manage the changes of the next socio-economic situation.

Antonio Zamperla has been working side by side his father Alberto for the last twenty years, a time marked by considerable economic growth, the introduction of artificial intelligence and robotics in the design and manufacturing processes, the incredible relaunch of Coney Island through the US based company Central Amusement International, important supply contracts for the main players in the amusement industry such as Disney, MCA Universal Studios, and Warner Bros. Jsut to mention a few, the design and construction of amusement parks in China, in the Philippines, Russia and the creation of Luna Farm in Italy. “Today we can proudly say that there is no amusement park in the world without at least a Zamperla ride. However, the near future, even following the global pandemic that has hit us, needs extraordinary interventions to be able to change gear, manage the next challenges and push innovation to the maximum. I think that the appointment of Antonio as CEO, the return of Valerio and the arrival of Adam are exactly the extraordinary interventions that our company needs. My father founded Antonio Zamperla S.p.A. in 1966 and entrusted me with the objective of making our company international. Now it is high time for the third generation to bring the contribution that new technologies and new processes can guarantee to a reality like ours. Antonio will be supported by two out-of-class managers who will make it possible to attain that mixed family and managerial governance model in which we have always believed. In America Antonio’s brother Alessandro Zamperla, CEO of Central Amusement International Inc. which manages Coney Island in NY and the overseas business, remains a firm point of reference. We will be ready to ride the recovery after the ongoing pandemic! For fifty years our company has anticipated changes in society and the economy; this is certainly one of our strengths, one of the factors that has allowed us to dialogue with entertainment giants such as Disney , Universal, Warner Bros., Lego, etc.” comments President Alberto Zamperla who, together with his father Antonio Zamperla senior, was inducted into the IAAPA HALL OF FAME, the honor roll of the great personalities of the entertainment industry together with Walt Disney and George Ferris, the inventor of the Ferris Wheel .

Valerio Ferrari, born in Vicenza, class ‘63, a lover of the human factor ‘despite’ his degree in Mechanical Engineering, is an excellent business coordinator. In recent years he has covered the position of CO-CEO for the Swiss competitor Intamin, which creates attractions for amusement parks and equipment for urban transport, but he is not new to Zamperla. Indeed, Valerio is one of the managers who has contributed to the growth of the Zamperla company from 1991 to through 2018 and scored important successes including the realiztion of the first Zamperla amusement park in Central Park, Victorian Gardens NYC, the reopening of Coney Island and the relaunch of Minitalia Leolandia in Italy. “The assignments carried out in recent years have allowed me to look at the sector from a new point of view, to acquire ideas and skills that have allowed me to improve the vision of future scenarios. It is in Zamperla that I want to bring all this, the company that for many years I have considered as my second family, which has a brand recognized all over the world and a very strong value proposition, trying to apply the most innovative technologies present on the market to the entertainment industry, to continue improving the end-user experience without forgetting safety, efficiency and maintainability ”comments Valerio Ferrari who returns to the company with the role of Chief Sales Officer of the whole Group.

Adam Sandy, from the US, has spent his entire career in the entertainment industry; the twenty years spent in Ride Entertainment and the many interventions, publications and studies on the sector have made him one of the most qualified voices in the Roller Coaster market. “I am thrilled to be joining the Zamperla team, a company that has played a vital role in the entertainment industry around the world. It is on the Zamperla rides that my children had their first incredible experiences. I am delighted to be part of this new chapter in Zamperla’s history that will bring innovation, technology and creativity to the roller coaster industry.

“When the world is no longer afraid and is finally free to have fun again, it will begin to immerse itself in the places where magic, fairy tale and adrenaline come together to create unique and intense experiences. Zamperla will then be ready with its people, its technology, its design, its taste and its skills, in two words, its Italian talent. We will be able to give people again the opportunity to dream and we will contribuite to the economic reconstruction of our region and our country”, comments President Alberto Zamperla.

The position as CEO is a challenge that Antonio Zamperla JR has been preparing for since he was a child because he grew up on the rides designed in the Altavilla Vicentina headquarters and in the simulation rooms of the R&D division, surrounded by engineers and designers. Gentle leadership coupled with a boundless passion for technology will be two of the strengths that will contribute to writing the next new page: “I’ve been trying the rides with my father since I was a child and my grandfather has always been one of my superheroes … I’ve never been afraid of even the most adrenaline-pumping roller coasters, so I’m not afraid of this new challenge that I will face with determination, commitment and the spirit of the Zamperla family”.