Ride Engineers Switzerland, Barr Engineering supply attraction
Silver Dollar City achieves new heights with Mystic River Falls
AT: Tim Baldwin
BRANSON, Mo. — Attractions at Silver Dollar City exhibit a delightful visual display of theming, but recent new additions have storylines with a message woven in. The park’s Outlaw Run roller coaster paid homage to law enforcement, Fireman’s Landing paid tribute to volunteer firefighters, and the ground-breaking Time Traveler roller coaster incorporated the message to “Dream Big, Do Good.” This formula of subliminal positivity continues with the debut of Mystic River Falls. The ride’s tagline is “Our Greatest Adventures Lie Ahead.”
Within a span of the last 12 months, the park has invested more than $30 million in new additions. That included a new fall festival, an expansion of Christmas theming and a total redevelopment of a part of the park, now lovingly known as Rivertown. In addition to Rivertown Smokehouse, a $4 million restaurant overlooking the new ride [see AT July 2020], the reimagining includes the impressive new Mystic River Falls, a $23 million investment.
“Mystic River Falls is a unique ride in that it has four different experiences — at the river, at the lift, at the elevated channel and at the drop,” said Brad Thomas, park president. “For the rider, it’s four totally different dimensions. You can sit and listen to people screaming as you watch the person across from you. But because the river is surrounded by the eating deck of the Rivertown Smokehouse, it is fun for the spectators. In a post-COVID world, it will be able to seat over 400 people. Whether you are a rider or a spectator, Mystic River Falls is truly entertaining.”
The new ride takes the park back to its roots and the underground Marvel Cave (originally Marble Cave). Visitors to Silver Dollar City can still take free tours hundreds of feet underground. As the tale goes, Ozark lore tells of an intrepid explorer, Pearl Brazen, who grew up exploring the remote Ozarks Wilderness. She and her friends set out on whitewater expeditions to find the mouth of the Mystic River, a lost passageway that reportedly can only be found by braving the thunderous falls. The fictitious character is based on the spirit of 1880s Ozark-ian women.
While strolling through a themed queue of expedition-type artifacts, awaiting riders see and feel rafts plunging down the final drop right through the queue house. The interaction is brilliant. Once aboard, more than 200,000 gallons of water a minute flow through the attraction. At 2,100 linear feet, the ride offers an experience of five minutes, 30 seconds.
The project was overseen by Ride Engineers of Switzerland (RES), which was responsible for the design and engineering, programming, station with ADA access, rafts, the lift and elevated channel, including the drop. One of the most signature moments is the first-of-its-kind lift, which rotates with four platforms — the only one like it in the world — maximizing capacity and providing fantastic views for riders.
“The tower safety features are coming from the elevator industry,” said Roman Rothe, technical director and co-owner of RES. “There are multiple ropes on each platform, safety brakes, overspeed limiters and shock absorbers. Safety is the highest priority when we speak about getting rafts on and off the tower. You have to make sure that it is impossible for the tower to start operating while there is a raft halfway in/halfway out.”
“In terms of energy, the lifting system is absolutely ergonomic in terms of power consumption and is unique in the U.S.A.” added Willy Walser, managing director and co-owner of RES. “With the four platforms, it allows us to achieve high capacity without stressing the material.”
Mystic River Falls operates with 18, eight-person rafts. Seat belts keep riders secure. Riders 40 to 55 inches may ride with a supervising companion; those 55 inches and taller have no restrictions.
RES is represented by Intermark Ride Group. “The construction of Mystic River Falls was a two-year creative endeavor combining the talents of RES, Barr Engineering, Silver Dollar City’s in-house construction team and a host of U.S. steel fabricators,” said Gina Guglielmi, owner, IRG. “It was a privilege to work with such a dynamic team of professionals on this one-of-a-kind river raft ride.”
Barr Engineering handled the concrete channels and the water flow layout and design. “Herschend Family Entertainment wanted water to come into the boat about four times. The splashdown was to be one and that left three locations on the river for water to enter the boat,” said Al Fandrey, vice president, Barr Engineering. “There is a standing wave in the upstream portion of the river that results in great boat action that the riders really enjoy. Shortly after you pass the headwaters of Mystic River, there is a very steep, high drop that accelerates the boat and the subsequent river bend results in the boat spinning very fast. Consequently, the boat passes through the wave resulting in a very smooth combination of fast spinning and fast up-down boat movement.”
Another favorite moment for Fandrey is the three heavy rapids just before the tunnel entrance. “This sequence always generates laughs and shrieks from the riders,” he said.
Through all this action, the ride culminates in iconic fashion.
“The ride system delivers several ‘firsts’ – a four-platform vertical lift eight stories high, a 45-foot down chute and elevated channels — all firsts in the world, installed and operating — to our knowledge,” said Guglielmi.
A crowd-pleasing spectator moment is the final plunge. At 45 feet, the park isn’t aware of any taller in the world but is playing it safe with marketing by claiming the record for the Western Hemisphere (just in case).
“Steel construction and installation were not without challenges as the COVID-19 virus affected steel fabrication, delivery logistics and the inability of technicians from Europe to fly to the job site during the virus shutdown. But we were able to get the ride open close to schedule,” Guglielmi told Amusement Today.
“Roman Rothe became an honorary Missourian, as he was basically stranded in the U.S. in Branson for four months during the lockdown — his English is now perfect!” she joked.
The redevelopment of Rivertown was not an expansion of more real estate, but a reimagining of existing property.
“For our 60th anniversary, we wanted to make a significant investment in the park,” said Thomas. “We needed to address several issues through our master planning process. We knew we needed a restaurant that could increase capacity; we knew we needed increased seating; we knew we needed to refresh the old river we had. We also knew our cinnamon bread needed a new location — we took a signature item and elevated that. Rivertown did each of those things. When you hit Rivertown, even though you may have walked that area in the past, it is all new, it’s fresh, it’s packed with energy.”
“The design team at Herschend Family Entertainment did a stunning job of creating a new Rivertown themed area incorporating the ride layout and a new Smokehouse restaurant, where patrons can see the boats barreling down the channels,” praised Guglielmi.
Although the ride is completely 100-percent new, some components of the old raft ride were able to be used. One of the decorative elements of the rapids channel is a scenic stretch of waterfalls. Fandrey noted that some of the pumps from the old Lost River of the Ozarks are being repurposed for new waterfalls.
Silver Dollar City is continuously aware of its surroundings and the environment. Mystic River Falls was designed to utilize and preserve the natural landscape, with two or more trees planted for each one removed during construction.
“We’ve added significant investments in our nighttime lighting,” Thomas told AT. “We have Moonlight Madness hours in the summer, then our pumpkin event in October and then Christmas. We’re open a lot at night. Rivertown is equipped to have lighting that can change out with the season.”
Even though Mystic River Falls is a significant investment for a water ride, the park feels with an operating season of March through October, it entertains guests for the majority of the calendar, with it only being closed at Christmas.
“A river raft ride allows families to ride together,” said Thomas. “There are members of the family that may or may not be a coaster fan. A river raft ride has a really broad appeal. Being able to look at each other’s expressions and hear the laughter — that’s special.”
Beloved Pirates in Batavia reimagined; returns to Europa-Park
AT: Tim Baldwin
RUST, Germany — “Devastating fire at theme park” is not a headline any owner or operator ever wishes to see. In May of 2018, just such news spread throughout the industry. Europa-Park’s massive 1987 dark ride, Piraten (Pirates) in Batavia had gone up in flames, along with part of the Scandinavian village. Through such tragedy, the safety of guests and employees was the single bright spot.
“The fire in May 2018 was one of the most difficult and emotional moments in the history of our family business,” said Roland Mack, founder and owner of Europa-Park. “Due to the emotional sympathy and impressive support, it was clear to us to rebuild the Scandinavian themed area as well as the popular Pirates in Batavia as quickly as possible.”
Whatever future plans the park had, they were put on hold. Pirates in Batavia was such a crowd pleaser, restoring this beloved ride took top priority. As progress was underway in 2019, the idyllic Scandinavian village opened with colorful house facades and a delightful new, smaller dark ride called Snorri Touren, based on the popular water park character from Rulantica. On July 28, 2020, the adventurous pirates’ journey by boat opened anew, modernized and taken to a much grander level.
“The family attraction is now even bigger, more beautiful and exciting,” said Mack.
Placed within the Holland area of the park, the new version puts pirates in the port city of Batavia on a quest for a mystical dagger, the Fire Tiger. Two rivals, Bartholomeus van Robbemond and Diablo Cortez, are on a chase through Indonesia to acquire the priceless treasure, which renders its owner invulnerable. Visitors learn their tale as they queue through a brewery of overturned tables and empty beer barrels, evidence of a drunken brawl the night before. A room of countless land and sea maps and a collection of exotic props sets the stage for the voyage that awaits.
Once aboard, passengers are at sea through elaborate scenes, waterfalls, sunken ships, cannon fire, jungles, cityscapes and a magical realm where the dagger is found. The new Pirates in Batavia has elevated the experience in superior theming and rich detail. Of interest is that each boat sports a lantern on its bow, flickering and going out at key times during the ride.
“This project has been very challenging,” said Mack. “The task was to rebuild something that had many emotional memories, from all kinds of sensations, smell, lights, special scenes and certain figures. Everybody had different memories or emotions when talking about the old ride. Catching those and finding a way in rebuilding something with similar emotions was a hard task.
“I´m sure we found a great way in having a new ride with all modern technology but still having that lovely, funny adventure that takes visitors young and old from scene to scene and all they have to do is watch out to find some new hidden details. For example, the boat trip includes a reunion with eight pirates and other relics from the former attraction,” he told Amusement Today. “According to initial surveys, we have succeeded in creating the perfect mix and visitors are absolutely thrilled with the new and yet familiar attraction.”
“Each project at Europa-Park is very special for us! Europa-Park is ‘our’ park and our showcase, to where we invite our clients and where we know nearly everybody personally,” said Christian Elverfeldt, CEO, Mack Rides. “We love to work with the Mack family and our colleagues and friends at the park. There is nearly no other project in the world, where we are already involved at the earliest stage. And it´s further an outstanding opportunity for us to try new things and to propose our ideas to the great team at the park. The collaboration here is absolutely unique and makes for a lot of fun!”
Along the ride’s journey, passengers still float alongside a dining area. Bamboe Baai continues to entertain visitors with performances on the other side of the river. Upon safe anchorage, passengers can enter the restaurant and become part of the final scene as they enjoy the exotic cuisine and show they had just sailed through. At the restaurant, visitors can customize their own pasta or rice dish with a choice of fresh meats, vegetables, toppings and sauces. Merging dining, show entertainment and a ride experience into one setting is an extraordinary feat.
Pirates in Batavia operates with 18 boats, each containing 16 passengers. The ride experience is a long one, clocking in at eight minutes. With 80 animated figures, it’s no wonder the ride continues to maintain its reputation as a crowd favorite, now taken to a more modern and opulent scale.
“Pirates in Batavia has been a joint project of our Europa-Park team,” said Mack. “Our designers from MackNeXT have done a brilliant job in creating a magical story with lovely characters and beautiful scenes but also in making sure the execution is as close as possible to the design. Moreover, we have a very strong and experienced construction department in Mack Solutions. So not only the construction of the attraction but also the fit out and the theming has been managed in house, with mainly local builders, carpenters, painters and steel builders. The media and animation input came from MackMedia and Mack Animation. Plus [we had] some great suppliers: Mack Rides, Universal Rocks, Jora Vision, Garner Holt Productions, Hofmann Figuren, Life Formations and Sally.”
Michael Mack, managing partner, tweeted out to fans following the ride’s debut to look for Easter Eggs along the route. Longtime fans will still find details they loved. One new innovative twist keen eyes might spot is an animatronic that looks like Roland Mack himself. Portraying a magician in the village scene, the character pulls off a stunt with a crystal ball that just might be the first animatronic to do a magic trick.
In preparing the theming, a team from Europa-Park traveled to Indonesia, particularly Bali, and hand selected more than eight large containers of decorations from shops and handcraft businesses to complete the look of the environment and attraction with an overlay of true authenticity.
In addition, multimedia effects have updated the ride. More than 200 loudspeakers, 18 video projectors or screens and 13 fragrance machines offer aromas ranging from fruit to gunpowder. MackMedia and MackAnimation provided the video content balanced between real images and CGI.
The ride system has been updated too.
“The ride itself changed quite a lot in the details when you compare it to the 1980s,” said Elverfeldt. “The standards are different; the calculations now are much more accurate and of course needed as we have video mapping and triggers for the show scenes. That would have been very hard to achieve with the old system in place. Like it was with the old ride, we didn´t want to have any rider restrictions like age or height and at the same time we didn´t want to install any restraint systems, which was quite challenging, but we made it, and the German TUV was satisfied.”
Pirates in Batavia circulates 1,800,000 liters (more than 475,500 gallons) of water in the attraction.
Fire protection was at the forefront in the rebuild. A powerful ventilation performance circulates 81,600 cubic meters of air per hour. The modern smoke extraction system consists of 32 detectors with 300 smoke extraction points. A state-of-the-art sprinkler system can provide up to 15,000 liters per minute at high pressure.
“We paid a lot of attention to fire protection when rebuilding Pirates in Batavia. The attraction meets the highest standards. With regard to other attractions, fire protection is even more important due to the lessons we learned here,” said Roland Mack.
“We are very proud that the new ride also features our new Rocking Boat system. Unfortunately, it is not yet as a guest experience but as a long-term test installation as a decoration element,” said Elverfeldt.
To help envelop guests into the new attraction, the park’s 4D Magic Cinema shows Departure for Batavia three times a day.
“Emotionally this was a huge relief as we opened up the ride two years after the terrible fire. I remember very well the grounds after the fire and the positive energy the Mack family had with rebuilding the whole area and the ride itself,” said Elverfeldt. “Everyone in the company knew the ride and had a lot of memories with it, so it was an affair of the heart to rebuild it and make it even better.”
“Even if the visible traces of the fire are removed, it will always be an important part of our history and will shape not only the past but also the future,” Mack said.
A change in perspective
AT NOTEBOOK: John W.C. Robinson, email@example.com
I have to admit, I'm a little spoiled when it comes to enjoying the amusement industry. Between professional events, enthusiast events, industry connections, as well as just knowing crowd patterns within the parks, I tend to enjoy a full day at a park at will without fighting crowds. My focus has been normally just on riding as many rides as possible and experiencing the attractions themselves.
Then something happened. With parks shutdown for months to start the season, I found myself thirsting just to walk into a park and experience strolling an active midway again. I was missing being able to walk through the gates of a theme park, without regard as to what I'd actually do once inside.
As parks reopened, I began to notice I was experiencing things in a refreshed and new way.
For the first time in my life, I waited more than four hours to ride a roller coaster (Orion, on its opening day debut at Kings Island). Surprisingly, the time flew by. It was just myself and a friend in line, a friend who I hadn't seen in more than a year, but both shared a love of parks and coasters. Masked up and stocked with water in the line, we passed the time quickly. It was the only ride I rode that day, spending the remainder of my time grinning as I wandered the park and took photos of attractions back in action and guests strolling the midway once again.
More recently, I found myself enjoying a date at a park. Rather than timing things out, planning and being sure to hit every coaster and ride in the park (often running to exhaustion), we just strolled the park like a teenage couple and enjoyed the day. There was not a mission or a determination. There was not a disappointment because we didn't get to enjoy a particular attraction. It was just two people who had a day of fun at a park without the current worries of the world around us pressing down on our hearts or minds. It was just like an old-school date to New York's Coney Island as protrayed in so many cinema classics.
Just this past week, I took two young friends for a day of fun to Cedar Point. From a carousel ride to the wild twists of Steel Vengeance, everyone enjoyed every single part of the day. We laughed about a food truck delivering a hefty side of pickles (on request), talked with people in line near us and never once found ourselves running to make an attraction or frowning because we didn't get to do it all.
The sudden shutdown — and, now, reopening — of parks has rekindled what I've always truly loved about this industry. Riding all the rides in the park is no longer the focus. It's enjoying the people, moments and unique opportunities that visiting an amusement or theme park provides.
Looking ahead with hope
INDUSTRY VOICE: Patty Beazley, Managing Member, International Ride Training, LLC
Here we sit in September. It’s another Groundhog Day. My beloved niece’s wedding has been postponed from June to August. Many amusement parks across the industry never opened. The few that did open closed down short of what would be of a normal season. The 2020 Golden Tickets Awards event has been cancelled. The World Waterpark Association's show will be virtual this year. And, we await IAAPA’s plan for November's IAAPA Expo 2020 in Orlando.
My company is usually on the road conducting audits and servicing clients between Memorial and Labor Day. By the end of International Ride Training, LLC’s season, our company will have personally conducted a very limited number of operational audits. It’s a far cry from of what we normally do. Granted, with the time well spent at home, my yard looks great!
Yet, I remain optimistic. When will masks go away? When will our overflow parking reach capacity? When will college football tailgating parties commence? These questions may not be answered in 2020. But, I believe in our amusement industry family, as we are resilient.
Why am I optimistic? I have gotten accustomed to my mask, a gaiter. Thank goodness for the Gaiter as it was a game-changer for me, personally! My company embraced virtual training and Zoom conferences as the new normal. It has allowed us to connect with all industry associates like never before. Sharing stories, learning best practices and enjoying each other’s company, those calls were our proverbial water cooler. All were welcomed, clients and non-clients. We shared laughter, insight on COVID-19 issues and how to deal with the unique season of 2020.
I am optimistic for a 2021! As we put 2020 behind us, let's look ahead and not only look forward to welcoming more guests back, but also plan to have our industry ready for its next challnege.
No biz like ’shau biz
This issue’s story comes courtesy of Jim Palmer and B. Peter Zwickau, founders of International Ride Management. Enjoy!
There wasn’t anything quite like Intershau, the largest trade show for carnies in Europe, in the 1970s. It presented wonderful opportunities for ride salespeople while also sometimes being a very unusual place to do business.
In those days, vendors, park owners and carnival operators knew and respected each other — ride “peddlers” included. Well, most of them. One American ride seller was an ill-reputed rascal known to swoop in and steal sales before his “victims” even realized they’d been had.
During the show, ride salespeople would all go in on a big dinner to wine and dine serious buyers. "The Rascal" was deliberately excluded one year, so instead he invited all the buyers’ wives to a separate, more lavish supper in order to learn what their husbands were purchasing. The day after, he approached each buyer and undercut every sale from the previous night — leaving a trail of very unhappy competitors.
The Rascal typically attended each trade show with a new, attractive, much-younger female companion. So, after figuring out The Rascal’s underhanded game this particular year, the other sales folks got together and bought his latest girlfriend a lovely gift. The package included a personal note congratulating her on her upcoming marriage to The Rascal.
She was on a plane back to the U.S. the next day.
Lottie Minick is a 46-year attractions industry veteran and co-owner of Dallas-based Minick Associates, a design firm founded by her late husband, Bob. Her monthly column features behind-the-scenes anecdotes of her own and from those who have worked in the business. Got a fun industry story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessi O’Daniel, Kentucky Kingdom and Hurricane Bay
Jessi O’Daniel has held several positions in guest services at Kentucky Kingdom, and it’s easy to see why … she is full of passion for making sure each guest has a first-rate experience during a visit to the park. A team-player, motivator and very efficient, Jessi has worked her way up to vice president of guest experience and is right where she belongs. She is a Young Professionals Sub-Committee member of IAAPA, a former student-athlete trainer for the University of Louisville football program and a self-professed Taylor Swift fan.
Title: Vice President of Guest Experience.
Number of years in the industry:
In the middle of year seven.
Best thing about the industry:
The energy. There is so much positive energy among people who bring smiles to other people for a living.
Favorite amusement ride: I am very biased and would have to say our very own Storm Chaser roller coaster at Kentucky Kingdom.
If I wasn’t working in the amusement industry, I would be …
Working in the NFL as an athletic trainer. I’m a huge football fan and loved my time working as a student trainer in college.
Biggest challenge facing our industry:
The struggle between old nostalgia and new technology. It is hard to straddle that line to create experiences that remind guests of simpler times while also staying up to date with the latest technology. It’s all about balance.
The thing I like most about the amusement park season is … Being around the seasonal staff. Preparing for opening each season is like a huge family reunion. It is so fun to catch up on everyone’s lives and be back together as a team.
One word that described my hair during “shutdown” would be … Bun.
I found myself watching this TV show most often during quarantine … Gilmore Girls.
While under “shelter in place,” I found out this about myself …
I don’t like being at home that much. I love staying busy and having something to do.
If we ever have to go under another “shutdown” ever again, I will …
Stock my house with food so I don’t have everything delivered.
After a long day, I decompress by …
Taking an ice bath. It is not pleasant, but it helps me recharge for another busy day ahead.
It’s September! My favorite fall activity is … Tailgating and football games! You can catch me cheering on the University of Louisville Cardinals.
At a party, my beverage of choice is …
A White Claw (unless it’s a fancy party, then it would be a cosmopolitan).
When I say football season, you say …
What’s one item you can’t leave the house without? My morning coffee or energy drink.
I turn the TV channel every time I see …
I’m a cord cutter with no cable and I pay not to have commercials. LOL.
On my pizza, I usually order these toppings … Pineapple. Nothing is better on pizza.
The best advice I ever got was … Age does not dictate skill level, but experience can only come with time. It is a lesson I have been taught over and over and have learned that through hard work and dedication, everything will fall into place as it should.
If I had an extra hour in my day, I would spend it … Coaching my team. There is no better way to spend my time than investing in the people who work for me.
If I had to participate on any reality TV show, it would be … Below Deck, but only if I get to be the captain.
Twenty years from now, I hope to be …
Doing what I love. I love leading and motivating people and I hope my future holds plenty of opportunities for me to lead the next great leaders of the industry.
The style of my home: Modern, but cozy.
My favorite time of the day is …
Opening time. I love opening the front gates.
Garfield is gone, Harold brings new life to Kennywood’s Old Mill
AT: B. Derek Shaw
WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. – Depending on when people first visited Kennywood Park, they knew this ride by a certain name and theming. However many young lovers throughout the years have nicknamed it the Tunnel of Love. After 16 seasons, Garfield’s Nightmare has been retired, reverting back to a previous name, the Old Mill with brand new theming done by the creative team at Pittsburgh’s ScareHouse, a seasonal haunted-house attraction, regularly ranked as one of the best in the country.
Scott Simmons, creative director and co-founder of the company remembers Hard Headed Harold’s Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway (the name of the ride at the time he first rode in the mid-1970s). The attraction (and more importantly the theming inside) was responsible for Simmons life-long love of dark rides and haunted attractions that lead to a career in the horror/entertainment industry. His company created an updated version of the Old Mill as both a tribute and reboot, incorporating references to other classic dark rides and attractions found at Kennywood.
The exterior and wooden boats have not been changed or modified. The aesthetically-pleasing water wheel is still in operation, continuing to serve as the power source. New is what is contained inside. The western/skeleton theme has returned, along with extensive use of black lights which allows the scenes to vividly “pop” for the rider.
“It was definitely a collaboration. This ride means a lot to all of us. Kennywood wanted the ride to feel closer to The Old Mill feel of the 1980s, yet still be a fun and playful family ride. We aimed for something midway in tone between the previous ride (which was whimsical but dimly lit and bit more creepy, almost pitch dark at some points) yet not as overwhelmingly colorful as Garfield's Nightmare,” said Simmons on the relationship.
“So the challenge was to create something a bit spooky at times, and bring back a little bit of the moments of dim lighting between scenes – but keep it so that it was still fun and not too intimidating for small kids to ride. Kennywood had some initial concept sketches featuring skeletal characters in western scenes alongside animal creatures and also connected us with a wealth of archival photos from previous versions,” said Simmons. “One of the first things we did — along with input from Kennywood — was [to] identify the core gags that people remembered the most fondly from previous versions… and then figure out how we could put little twists on them. I didn’t want to just recreate a ride as a museum piece featuring the exact same scenes and tone as before but as something that celebrates the past while creating something new and vibrant for modern family audiences. We decided to pack multitudes of puns and details to reward repeat riders.”
Marie Ruby, director of ride operations, explained how the new theming came about. “I had come up with the idea of the new Old Mill being the story of Harold (a reference to the ride’s onetime name Hard Headed Harold’s Horrendously Humorous Haunted Hideaway) along with some drawings that were done by Bryan Bartley, a longtime ride mechanic at Kennywood.
Simmons explained the storyline from there. “Our new story follows the latest adventure of Harold — a big-hearted but bone-headed bandit with a penchant for mischief. Within the Old Mill we've created a world in which skeletons go about their business alongside various woodland creatures such as possums, snakes, and coyotes. We follow Harold (distinct from other skeletons due to his piercing blue eyes) as he hitches a ride on a train looking for trouble... which he finds by way of sneaky skunk. After a series of misadventures, Harold and the skunk join forces to rob a bank ... it's a Stink Up! So now can they stay out of trouble long enough to get away to their hideaway?”
“Although it is a dark ride, we want it to be a family ride, so it is not scary,” said Ruby. “The scenes are comical and family friendly. We have also hidden “Easter eggs” throughout that pay homage to Kennywood’s history. To catch all these hidden treasures, you would need to ride it a few times.”
The new ride experience has a silent movie quality with only upbeat piano music and cue cards throughout the 1,000-foot-long, five-minute journey to assist with the story. This is the oldest continuously operating chutes-style water dark ride in the world.
Simmons first tweeted Ruby the idea about offering his help in 2015. “Although planned for many years, the turnaround time for the project was rather fast,” said Ruby. “The Garfield brand changed ownership over the winter, which necessitated taking action on a re-theme more quickly than originally envisioned. We started the process in February and began work that same month.” In four months, the ride was ready.
Asked about any down time due to the pandemic, Simmons said, “During the quarantine phase of COVID-19 in March and April, our team continued working on props, mechanics, scenic pieces, and audio files … but from their homes. Our kitchens and basements were suddenly packed with skeletons, coyotes, bats and neon facades.”
Simmons is very pleased with Kennywood’s commitment to maintaining this and other vintage attractions. “As a Pittsburgh native and a fan, I’m just so grateful that Kennywood remains committed to so many iconic dark rides such as Old Mill and Noah’s Ark, not to mention the classic wooden roller coasters that are still operating. I think other parks might have replaced Old Mill with some “trendy” attraction at some point, especially since it’s such a massive structure that takes up quite a bit of real estate. Kennywood is not only preserving these rides, but willing to spend the time and money to keep them fresh and exciting for new generations.”
Kennywood is delighted with the final result. “A ride like this isn’t necessarily a major driver of attendance, certainly not like a roller coaster. But it helps the character of the park and definitely fits with what our market and audience love and appreciate about Kennywood,” said Ruby. “The ScareHouse team did a great job with all the curveballs the shutdown threw at all of us. They stayed within all of our parameters while adding great creative insights of their own. They definitely delivered.”
Germany theme park entangles two styles of rides
Vekoma delivers two coasters to Erlebnispark Tripsdrill in 2020
AT: Tim Baldwin
CLEEBRON, Germany — Erlebnispark Tripsdrill didn’t just add one new coaster for the 2020 season, the park added two. Ingeniously, the two are intertwined. Both rides have a regional theme to their storylines.
“We have enlarged our park by 1.4 hectares and created a new area very close to our park entrance. Previously these were on the outskirts of our parking spaces. It is adjacent to the more traditional parts of the park which are now put into the spotlight again thanks to the new attractions,” said Birger Meierjohann, press spokesman.
The larger of the two coasters is Hals-über-kopf (translated from German to mean “Headlong”), themed to the story “Sieben Schwaben” (The Seven Swabians). The Suspended Thrill Coaster takes components of the tale and incorporates them into the train design. Each individual car is designed with a shield and lance, and on the back of each seat a rucksack with equipment like a pan, map and blanket is found.
The height of the new ride is just shy of 100 feet tall at 30 meters. Track length is 2,625 feet. Along the way, the twists and turns also feature three inversions: two zero G rolls and an inline twist. In addition, beyond-90-degree-banked turns, hills that offer airtime and a below-ground trench diversifies the elements within the ride. The top speed approaches 50 mph. Those speeds are often taken very close to the ground, moments which accentuate the speed and exhilaration.
The Suspended Thrill Coaster (STC) is a new product from Vekoma. In the 20th century, the company’s Suspended Looping Coaster was a big seller. The Vekoma team is now thrilled with this newer evolution. With seating design more similar to the Family Suspended Coaster, the trains still offer upper-body freedom for the rider and an exceptionally smooth experience, even while navigating the ride’s inversions. The latest state-of-the-art technology uses machined chassis and steering wheel boogies which run very smoothly and require less maintenance.
“The STC is an entirely new development. Unlike any other inverted coaster in the world, our STC is equipped with seats that can swing slightly to the side via a double redundant hinge point connected with a specially developed tuned spring-damper system. This ensures the smoothest ride experience of any inverted coaster in the world!” said Marketing & Sales Manager Charlotte van Etten, Vekoma. “The high-class train of the STC meets all of the latest safety standards and is ready for the next decades to come.”
This force range makes the coaster very accessible outside the typical target group for thrill coasters, but still allows for a dynamic mix of aerobatics,” said Benjamin Bloemandaal, senior concept engineer, Vekoma. “The focus throughout the design is on speed and pacing — we don’t like to slow down — and constant changes between positive and negative forces. Downforce tops off at 3.4G but is around the 3.0G mark in most turns and drops. We also designed a bunch of light airtime moments into the profile that peak around -0.4G.”
Two trains of 20 carry 800 passengers per hour.
The second coaster is a Family Boomerang. Vekoma has offered various models of this fun forward-backward ride to great success. Tripsdrill’s is called Volldampf, German for “Full Steam (Ahead).” The theme was inspired by a famous Swabian folk song, “Auf de Schwäbische Eisenbahne.” The coaster train is themed to a 19th century steam locomotive, as the song spins a tale of being on the Swabian railroad.
The height of the ride is 72 feet tall, with a track length of 820 feet. Top speed exceeds 37 mph. Like its bigger brothers that populated the globe during the latter decades of the 20th century, the Family Boomerang offers forward and backward direction of travel between two reverse points, but with no inversions. The layout is comprised of numerous curves and turns that snake from one end to the other.
“We opened our launch coaster Karacho in 2013. When it was time for another really big project, we really wanted something unique!” said Meierjohann. “It was not clear at first which type of ride we’d construct. After visiting many other parks all around the world, our owner family made the decision for two coasters with intertwining layouts. Finally, after discussions with Vekoma, we chose the combination of a Suspended Thrill Coaster — a prototype! — and a family boomerang.”
A fun feature of the interaction is the Boomerang’s glass-domed station roof which allows visitors to see both coasters as they soar over and around them.
“Personally, I love that moment when Hals-über-Kopf has its first rollover — directly above the glass roof of the Volldampf station! It’s brilliant!” Meierjohann enthusiastically told Amusement Today.
When asked why open two new rides in the same season, Meierjohann said, “With the intertwining layout, both coasters of course belong together. That’s why it was a must to open both of them at the same time. The big advantage is that with Volldampf we have a ride which is suitable for families with very small children (4 years, 0.95 meters), while Hals-über-Kopf also excites real coaster enthusiasts. But for Hals-über-Kopf, we took great care to have a ride for a large target group, as we want to maintain our positioning as a family park.”
Hals-über-Kopf is available for children six years old with a height of at least 1.20 meters.
“Tripsdrill has been an exceptional project for Vekoma with two different types of coasters — intertwined and for two different target audiences: the family and the thrill seekers. Our goal was to design it in such a way that the tracks cross in various locations creating a sense of challenge, excitement and fun, said Stefan Holtman, sales manager Europe, Vekoma. “The coasters have been received with great enthusiasm by the park, the press and, most importantly, the guests.”
Both rides were installed by RCS GmbH.
The two new coasters increase the park’s lineup from four coasters to six.
“It is the biggest single investment ever made in our park history of more than 90 years. Therefore, it is definitely one of our milestones,” said Meierjohann.
Officials at Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun, Kansas City, Missouri, announced in August that its last day of operation this season will be Sept. 7.
Management said it has had to make difficult decisions regarding its operating calendar post-Labor Day, because of ongoing uncertainties related to COVID-19.
Worlds of Fun will close for the season following Labor Day weekend. Oceans of Fun water park has not opened and won't for the 2020 season.
Park officials said that is has extended the validity of 2020 passes and add-on products for its season pass holders through 2021.
Officials at Dorney Park, Allentown, Pennsylvania, made the same announcement last month. As a result of uncertainties surrounding COVID-19, this park will close Sept. 7. Wildwater Kingdom, which hasn’t opened this year, will remain closed.
All 2020 season passes and add-on products have been extended through the 2021 season. Halloween Haunt and the Great Pumpkin Fest are expected to also return in 2021.
Dan Ashe, president of the National Association of Zoos and Aquariums, was quoted in an AP news article last month saying about 75 percent of United State's zoos and aquariums represented by the association have reopened to guests for this season, but many are facing a very difficult financial future. Ashe said members are hitting between 20 percent to 50 percent of their normal revenue projections for the year. Six in 10 members applied for assistance from the federal government’s coronavirus relief package, but that financial support had run out.
Oakland (California) Zoo reopened its outdoor areas only last month. Guests there provide about 90 percent of the zoo's revenue through tickets, concessions, rides, gifts and parties.
In Seward, Alaska, three-quarters of past visitors to the Alaska SeaLife Center, an aquarium and research center that runs Alaska’s only marine mammal rescue program, have been tourists who arrive by plane or cruise ship. With most cruises canceled, there are few people to see the octopus and the site’s rare Steller sea lions. The AP article reported that SeaLife's officials are expecting a $3 million budget shortfall this year.
In other zoo news, officials for Zoo León in León, Guanajuato, Mexico, reported that 601 cars visited the facility during its first week of operation as a drive-through attraction last month.
A zoo spokesperson said approximately 2,500 guests came through the facility, with approximately 92.5 percent of visitors coming from the state of Guanajuato.
The zoo also welcomed several foreign visitors, which prompted staff to begin translating the audio guides given to guests into English.
Cranes lowered the first beams into place in August of the new Buffalo Heritage Carousel, Buffalo, New York. The project was given the green light last October but it was delayed due to the coronavirus shutdowns.
The carousel, which will be housed under a structure at the pier at Buffalo's Canalside, is a piece of Buffalo's history that has been in storage for over 60 years. All the horses and parts of the carousel itself were built in North Tonawanda, New York, at the Herschell Spillman Company.
The foundation for the carousel roundhouse is already in place so the timbers that crews were setting last month were the first parts of the structure to go up.
Originally set to be completed for 2020 summer operations, a new time table has not been determined.
Drayton Manor Theme Park in Staffordshire, England, has announced its purchase for an undisclosed amount by the Looping Group. Looping Group is the owner of U.K.'s West Midland Safari Park in Worcestershire and Pleasurewood Hills, Suffolk, as well as other amusement parks and attractions across Europe.
The theme park just recently entered into the deal after reporting a £1.8 million (over $2 million) loss in the most recent operating quarter of this year.
Under the sale, the park will retain its 599 employees as well as the park's existing name. The Looping Group also stated during the announcement that it had "very ambitious development plans to ensure the park’s long-term sustainability and make it an even more attractive leisure destination for families."
The acquisition of the Staffordshire theme park, with its more than 100 rides and attractions, Europe’s only Thomas Land, a 15-acre conservation zoo and four-star hotel, will make it the largest and one of the flagships in the Looping Group’s portfolio. The amount of the purchase was not disclosed.
The theme park and zoo reportedly attracts more than a million visitors in a normal year. It is celebrating its 70th anniversary.
A private consortium group has proposed to redevelop the site that once was the location of the Pleasure Island Family Theme Park in North East Lincolnshire, England. A public consultation is now underway, with plans to be formally submitted to the town in the fall for approval.
The group wants to create a holiday village with hotel, food outlets, lodges and supermarket, according to an article last month in the BBC News. Estimated costs for the new attraction is £57m (over $74 million U.S.) and could create more than 350 jobs.
Pleasure Island Family Theme Park was shuttered in 2016 due to low visitation. Thousands of items from the park were sold including all rides and attractions. Rides were shipped as far as Iraq, Indonesia, Chili and Ireland.
A BBC report that ran in January 2020 stated that the park’s Boomerang was operating on a shopping mall rooftop in Bali, Indonesia. The same report stated that the park’s 114-year-old carousel had been reopened in December 2019 at Dublin Castle in Ireland.
Sally, Bertazzon and WhiteWater supply new fun to family park
Santa’s Village debuts revamped dark ride, water park additions
AT: Tim Baldwin
JEFFERSON, N.H. — Once permitted to open, Santa’s Village welcomed back guests in a big way. Two new additions made for a refreshed park for the 2020 season.
“One of our most popular rides in our park was The Great Humbug Adventure,” said Christian Gainer, park president. “We’ve now taken a ride that was sub-par and brought it to a level the rest of the park has to catch up to. Everything about this completely new version is pure joy.”
The original dark ride was installed in 2000. At that time, it was a collaboration of found partners.
“We found a ride manufacturer, a gun manufacturer, a scoring manufacturer and used an existing building. We put the scenes together ourselves, and it turned out to be a hit. It quickly became one of the three most popular rides in our park,” said Gainer.
Over a period of 20 years, the park found it kept patching an aging attraction. Gainer feels Santa’s Village has taken itself to newer levels in those two decades.
“Humbug was left behind,” he said. “We knew it was ready for a re-do. In 2018, we talked to the Sally Corporation at IAAPA [Expo]. It was a wonderful initial meeting. That was enough inspiration for them to just start throwing out ideas right there on the trade show floor. A great snowball of inspiration built up to [a point in August] and we signed a contract.”
“At Sally, we do enjoy creating haunted rides such as Ghost Blasters and haunted walk-throughs,” said Drew Hunter, VP creative design. “That said, designing this Christmas-theme attraction for Santa’s Village was a thoroughly delightful change of pace. This is a ride primarily for kids under 12. It needed to be visually appealing, full of fun elements, have a few surprises and not be scary. As guests ‘tickle’ the Humbugs with their Giggle Gadgets, Scrooge’s entire home is filled with laughter.”
Once it opened, Gainer was instantly delighted.
“I’m in love with the whole ride!” he said. “I’ve been with this project since [initial] idea to signing the contract to every single communication with Sally. I helped them unload and watched them install every detail. I was so excited and thrilled when I hopped on the car and rode — it was beyond my expectations. I don’t know how that can happen when you are part of the project every single day for almost a year.”
Gainer was particularly taken with the three-dimensional sets and props. “You feel as if you are in Scrooge’s home. It’s exciting,” he said. “Everything we disliked about the previous Humbug installation has been upgraded to beyond our expectations. Everything’s fantastic.”
The exterior of the ride has also been renovated. Previously the queue was undercover, but still exposed to the elements. A major upgrade to the ride was making both the building and queue area climate controlled.
“When you open in weather that is 20 degrees below 0 sometimes, it makes life very difficult,” Gainer joked.
An extension on the building allowed for a longer queue and a new pre-show.
“The management of Santa’s Village specifically requested that we create a uniquely different look for their new Humbug attraction. The ride backstory states that old Mr. Scrooge has moved into Santa’s Village,” said Hunter. “His house is there now, and he is having problems with those pesky Humbugs who are making Christmas not much fun for him. So, he is asking guests to help ‘tickle’ the Humbugs, make them giggle and therefore instill more holiday cheer for everybody.
“One of the first — and most enjoyable — aspects of our job as creative designers at Sally Dark Rides is coming up with the ride layout,” said Hunter. “Fitting a dark ride into an existing space is always a challenge. The Sally design team was tasked with developing a new ride layout and scenes to take full advantage of the interior space. Fortunately, it was a basically rectangular clear span space, so we didn’t have to design around support columns or figure out how to work odd shaped spaces into the layout as we often do in older structures. The original ride had a second level, but the decision was made to keep the new ride on one level. This helped make better use of the existing floorspace, as a lot of square footage had been used for ramps up to and down from the second level. The entire project was one of the best I have ever worked on!”
“Our capacity is so much better than what we had before,” Gainer told Amusement Today. “Previously our ride only held two people. It was limited. We’ve upgraded to a four- to five-person car. The ride time has been extended from two minutes, 10 seconds to two minutes, 40 seconds and [we] still put more people through the ride than ever before.”
Gainer laughed that he was the first client to tell Sally to slow the ride down. He wanted to make sure guests saw all the scenes and could aim at all the targets, slightly reducing the capacity. He felt the tradeoff was worth it.
The installation took 37 days. Custom wallpaper, scenes, lighting and props were all placed, even with the evolving events during COVID.
“From start to finish, the Sally group was right on time all the time,” Gainer said.
Bertazzon of Italy supplied the vehicles to the ride. The park was relieved to receive the cars prior to extreme circumstances internationally.
On the other side of the park, Polar Paradise is a new expansion in the water park. Supplied by WhiteWater West, the addition targets a specific market. Santa’s Village feels its core audience is children ages 2 to 12. Polar Paradise brings enjoyment to the younger set who might be intimidated by larger slides or big tipping buckets.
Two-thirds of the pool is only eight inches deep. The other third offers smaller slides they can ride with parents.
“In a time when our capacity is limited and our capacity is dependent on social distancing, adding a 9,000-square-foot pool with over 20,000 square feet of open area has really helped us out,” Gainer said.
“We now have this nice area with a wonderful center monument with no real rugged water, nothing intimidating. Parents can sit down and keep their feet in the water while they watch their kids,” he said.
The pool is lined with a snowy motif and sculpted figures. WhiteWater supplied the monuments, one of which is a reclining polar beer with a pineapple drink in hand.
The water park is included with admission and open if temperatures reach 65 degrees.
Seabreeze will not open
in Summer 2020
ROCHCESTER, N.Y. — For the first time in 141 years of existence, Seabreeze Amusement Park announced at the end of July that it will not open for the 2020 season. Park management was disappointed that the circumstances with the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible for the facility to welcome guests. The park had everything in place to operate the park in a safe and responsible manner, but the state government of New York was unable to provide Seabreeze with clear guidance and permission to reopen. With the end of summer approaching, the window of opportunity for the season unfortunately closed. The team at Seabreeze will now turn its focus on preparing for 2021. The park's beloved Jack Rabbit roller coaster will finally get its 100th birthday party next year. AT/TIM BALDWIN
Intamin offers new attraction concepts
Wollerau, Switzerland — Intamin is showcasing several new ride concepts.
With a total height of more than 150 feet and a maximum speed of nearly 67 mph, the Vertical LSM Coaster is the most compact launch coaster in the world. The triple launch coaster has a physical track length of 915 feet but a forward-backward-forward launch makes the actual travelled distance is more than 1,800 feet.
The Hot Racer is a versatile roller coaster which can have various launch sequences, racing or dueling layouts. The ride can be built with or without inversions, depending on client requirements. Utiilizing the very same seat and restraint system as for Intamin’s latest LSM trains, the Hot Racer train is capable of running on highly dynamic layouts.
Intamins Giga Splash features a vertical 164-foot-tall rotating lift followed by a 131-foot-tall down-chute. Riders and spectators enjoy a big splash-down with the 24-passenger boat dropping at an angle of 87 degrees and reach a speed of 62 mph when entering the water.
Finally, using a shuttle-style design, the Ultra Splash has an LSM powered backward-forward-backward launch. The 24-passenger boat speeds up to nearly 60 mph on the U-shaped track which ends in a splash landing.
Chance Rides remains busy in 2020 making, maintaining attractions
AT: Dean Lamanna
WICHITA, Kan. — Having survived — and thrived — as an attractions supplier for nearly 60 years, Chance Rides, Inc., has found itself in a relatively strong position to face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. While adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols for its workers in the factory and in the field, the company has continued taking new ride orders and handling maintenance requests from its varied client base during a difficult spring/summer period for the industry.
“The theme park business is pretty slow right now,” acknowledged Dick Chance, owner and CEO, in a chat with Amusement Today. “Fortunately, we have a variety of products and are in very diversified markets. We’ve branched out into the zoo, city park, location-based entertainment and stand-alone attraction markets. Operations able to get the budgets and make capital purchases are still going forward.”
The fun-seeking public’s willingness to follow coronavirus safety protocols, he added, has been key to keeping the business going at some level. “People are glad to be out. As long as they take precautions, things will be all right. I think masks are a small price to pay for staying open.”
But even for parks that, because of state and/or local mandates, have not yet been able to reopen, the company has found opportunities to enhance customers’ offerings as they await the green light. In some cases, operators commissioned work before the coronavirus emerged.
Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier in Southern California contacted Chance Rides last fall to replace the 30-seat train on its 55-foot-tall, 35-mph West Coaster, a family-style steel installation originally built in 1996 by D.H. Morgan Mfg., which Chance acquired in 2001. The world-famous destination, which sits at the westernmost terminus of old U.S. Route 66, wanted to retheme the ride to take promotional advantage of its historical location.
“We talked to them about classic cars and came up with the ’57 Chevy,” Chance said. “We own the original Morgan train engineering, which was proven for 24 years at that location, so we could build them a brand-new chassis. We did the artist’s concepts and they went for it.”
The new train design, sporting a ’57 Chevy-shaped front car, bright-red paint, headlights, stylish side panels, four mock rubber-look spoked wheels and tail fins on the back car, was based on a 3D computer model of the real thing and physically produced by Chance’s in-house CNC (computer numerically controlled) molding machine. The job, which included upgrading the ride with magnetic braking and a variable-speed control system for smoother chain-lift engagement and station reentry, took about six months from the time the order was placed.
“COVID slowed us down about a month, but we got the train delivered by Memorial Day weekend,” Chance said. “Unfortunately, they weren’t able to open the park, but we were able to get in and do all the testing. It’s ready to go as soon as the state gives them the okay to reopen.”
Pacific Park, Chance noted, expects the coaster’s annual ridership of about 1 million to increase by 20-30% with marketing tied to the $1 million retheming project, which includes a redecoration of the station and queue and a new name: Route 66 West Coaster.
Chance Rides’ has fulfilled several orders for its C.P. Huntington trains recently. Since it went into full production at the start of this year, the company’s all-electric, lithium battery-powered, emission-free model — introduced at Landry’s Downtown Aquarium in Houston two years ago — has been shipped to the Lincoln Children’s Zoo in Lincoln, Nebraska. Units for the Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, Florida, and the multiuse, city-owned Kennedy Park in Hayward, California, are shipping in September.
“It’s been called the Tesla of trains,” Chance said of the throttle-free, fully automated product, which incorporates speed, dynamic-braking and wheel wear-reducing traction controls. “When the operator pushes the start button and the train is supposed to go five miles an hour on one area of the track, that’s what it goes. If it’s got to slow down before going into a curve, it automatically does that. It’s a big safety advantage.”
Additionally, the company recently supplied an Electric C.P. Huntington to the Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum in Alabama and its last gas-powered C.P. Huntington to Santa’s Village in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada.
Chance Rides has enjoyed success with two newly introduced pandemic-related safety products for its trains and trams. It has sold plexiglass seat dividers that allow its C.P. Huntington models to operate at 100% capacity to the St. Louis Zoo in Missouri (AT, July 2020). For Chance’s Tramstar trams, which have wider seats, the company has created dividers of clear, cut-and-sewn vinyl that attach easily with adjustable brackets and tighteners. The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro and Grant’s Farm in St. Louis are among the locations that have ordered sets.
On the carousel manufacturing and refurbishment front, Chance Rides has been plenty busy. The company recently supplied 28-foot units to 501 Ranch in Uvalde, Texas, and the Municipality of Cayey in Puerto Rico, while it delivered a custom 20-footer with all-white horses to Pacific Amusement International Co., a mall developer in Seoul, South Korea. Horse-refurbishment jobs have been completed for Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin.
In early August, Gillian’s Wonderland Pier in Ocean City, New Jersey, looking ahead to the 2021 season, sent its 1992 Wipeout to the company’s Wichita factory for a complete rebuild.
Said Chance: “We’re helping our customers by refurbishing some of their older rides so that when they’re open next year, the rides are reliable, safe and ready to operate.”
The slower-but-steady work has taken some of the sting out of 2020 for Chance Rides, which, along with several other major companies, made the difficult decision to bow out of the annual November trade show held in Orlando by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. (IAAPA was still weighing whether to move forward with this year’s gathering as AT went to press.) The company has exhibited at every show since Chance’s founding in 1961.
Chance admitted the call was “very tough” and made it only after consulting with his customers and fellow manufacturers Great Coasters International, Inc., Larson International, Inc. and Premier Rides.
“I’ve been going since I was 14 years old, and I’ve never missed a show in 58 years,” he said. “But most of the member parks are operating on a very limited basis, and a lot of them are completely closed. Most of the ride manufacturers have zero business. We’re one of the lucky ones that have at least some business coming in.”
The executive is hopeful the industry, and the world, will recover and rebound from the pandemic next year.
“I think 2021 is going to be a boom year for the industry because there will be a vaccine,” Chance said. “As soon as we get the vaccine, people are going to start feeling comfortable about getting out in crowds and doing things — there’s going to be a lot of pent-up demand for entertainment. And after next year, parks are going to start ordering new equipment again, so 2022 is going to be a boom year for the manufacturing business.
“We’re coming back. And we’re coming back strong.”
Lagotronics Projects introduces Kunibert’s Abenteuer at Wild- und Freizeitpark Klotten
KLOTTEN, Germany — Brave adventurers may enter the castle of Knight Kunibert and his ancestors. Kunibert’s Abenteuer is a new dark ride from Lagotronics Projects where visitors discover something new every time.
The interactive dark ride, debuting at Wild- und Freizeitpark Klotten, is designed in a ghostly castle theme.
The story is based on Knight Kunibert, a well-known German legend, who has been sent on a mission by his mother to prove that he is a courageous knight, just like his ancestors. He may only return when he has completed his mission, full of dangerous assignments. Meanwhile in the castle, all 64 ghosts (ancestors, family members and friends from the past) have come together to organize a huge ball to honor his return.
During the ride, visitors discover the ghost life in the castle by lighting candles using a special interactive matchstick in nine different scenes. The candles are lit by hitting one of the 160 targets that have been installed. The guests work as a team to light all the candles and collect as many points as possible. In return for lighting all the candles, they are rewarded with black light scenes featuring ghosts, beautiful scenery and other special effects. The more candles that are lit, the more the scene will reveal. Each candle flickers for only a few seconds, adding to the challenge. The final scene features all of the ghosts dancing and celebrating at the huge ball to honor knight Kunibert’s return.
When leaving the ballroom, visitors see Knight Kunibert riding his horse across the castle’s drawbridge to attend the huge ball. The effect is created with a video projection using a laser projector and a screen.
Lagotronics Projects designed and delivered the entire ride; from concept design and storyline to production and installation of all show equipment, media and theming.
The storyline was completely designed by the company's creative director. The narrative is played through speakers installed in the vehicles. Which is not the only audio incorporated into the vehicles as the sound effects of the interactive devices are also emitted from the vehicles’ speakers. In addition, speakers are installed along the entire track for the background music, to complete the experience. The background music is triggered by the position of the vehicles on the track. This ensures that the audio fragments begin to play with proper timing.
At the entrance and queue line of the ride, two monitors allow guests to view the previous scores as well as part of the storyline. Another screen has been hung just before the station, which displays the rules of play and safety measures.
At the start of the ride, the short pre-show scene allows visitors to bring four paintings to life using their interactive devices.
In the vehicle, each player has their own score display, to see how many points are scored during the ride. When the tour ends, all guests can view their personal scores on the live score monitor.
Gerstlauer Giant Wheel
highlights Summer in the City
MUNICH, Germany — With the cancelation of Oktoberfest this year, city leaders created a group of smaller festivals around Munich for locals to enjoy. One of those featured a new 140-foot-tall Giant Wheel from Gerstlauer Amusement rides GmbH (shown here at the Gerstlauer factory. See ad page 21). The portable wheel impresses with its light architecture and its overhanging gondola carriers in the form of spikes. This unique hanging of the 24 gondolas (each holding up to eight guests) offered an excellent panoramic view. The LED-lighting package created a spectacle in the evening hours. With the special sustainable drive system, the Giant Wheel sets new standards in terms of environmental friendliness with energy storage, peak load reduction, energy savings in the infrastructure, as well as no energy recovery or network pollution. COURTESY GERSTLAUER
Fall park events altered, canceled due to COVID-19 concerns
AT: Pam Sherborne
UNITED STATES — It seemed to come as no real surprise this summer as some of the nation's theme and amusement parks began canceling Halloween and fall events.
This is, after all, 2020.
But, the cancelation of these events doesn't necessarily mean amusement facilities open this fall will ignore Halloween altogether.
Cedar Fair Entertainment's Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio, and King's Island, King's Island, Ohio, both have canceled their traditional HalloWeekends events, but have announced a new event called Tricks and Treats Fall Fest. The event will run Sept. 12-Nov. 1 at both facilities. It has been designed with unique entertainment and food and activities for all ages. It will be an event that will enable better social distancing and capacity management.
Knott's Berry Farm, Buena Park, California, another Cedar Fair park, had not been able to fully open by mid-August, but had opened a section for events. Park officials there are planning a Halloween event, but Knott's Scary Farms will not be back until 2021.
Six Flags is considering a host of new horrors for Fright Fest 2020 that could bring mazes without monsters, social-distancing scareactors and drive-through haunts to its amusement parks as an alternative to canceling the Halloween seasonal events all together.
Last month, it was announced that Six Flags is developing a modified version of Fright Fest — called HallowFest — in hopes of capturing some of the Halloween tradition.
Officials at Silverwood Theme Park, Athol, Idaho, also have announced the cancelation of Scarywood for the 2020 season. Officials felt they could not operate the event while maintaining recommended guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Silverwood's team will instead focus on operating the theme park for daytime guests using enhanced health and safety procedures already in place. The park will be open and operational on weekends from Sept. 12 through Oct. 25, weather permitting.
Halloween Spooktacular will go on at SeaWorld in Orlando and in San Antonio. This is traditionally a daytime event and, although safety guidelines will be implemented, officials say the show will go on there. Dates are scheduled for Sept. 1-Nov. 1.
Universal Studios has canceled Halloween Horror Nights for 2020 at both the Florida and California parks. Officials there have decided, like Silverwood, to focus on daytime activities.
Disneyland in Anaheim, California, has canceled Oogie Boogie Bash, originally set for September and October. And Disney World, Orlando, Florida, announced in mid-June it had decided to cancel Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party.
Pirates of Emerson will return to the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton, California, this October with a twist because of the coronavirus pandemic. The haunted theme park will be a drive-through experience.
Organizers are changing the annual event in Pleasanton to accommodate social distancing. Attendees will stay in their cars, while tuned into a soundtrack on the radio. There will still be actors, large-scale sets and more scares. The show runs Oct. 2 - Nov. 1.
Although decisions for November-December holiday events have yet to be made at most of the nation's attractions, Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pennsylvania, is planning a major Christmas event. The park hasn't held a holiday event for many years.
Called Joy Through the Grove, guests will be able to drive their personal vehicles through the park to see a Christmas light display. The park is planning on over 15 miles of string lights and over 400 light-up pieces.
Joy Through the Grove will open Nov. 27 and continue nightly until the first week of January.
SeaWorld Entertainment delays new coasters until 2021season
ORLANDO — With park capacity still capped due to COVID-19 and two of its properties still prohibited from opening at all this season, SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., announced during an Aug. 10 earnings call that it was delaying opening its planned new-for-2020 attractions until 2021. That includes the nearly completed roller coasters at four of the company's properties.
Rides such as Ice Breaker (Premier Rides) at SeaWorld Orlando, Iron Gwazi (Rocky Mountain Construction) at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Pantheon (Intamin) at Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Emperor (Bolliger & Mabillard) at SeaWorld San Diego were all moved into the chain's 2021 pipeline.
"We feel really good about the 2021 lineup of rides coming to the parks," SeaWorld Interim CEO Marc Swanson said during the call. "And so we're excited to continue to make progress toward that."
SeaWorld operators feared that opening the new attractions now would waste the buzz normally generated from opening a headlining ride because of the realities of operating under limited capacity.
Delaying the opening of new attractions allows SeaWorld to generate revenue with the parks' existing attractions with the health and safety procedures in place, and build excitement for the new attractions in the coming year.
The Texas Stingray (Great Coasters International, Inc.) wooden coaster at SeaWorld San Antonio and the new Tonga Twister waterslide at Aquatica San Antonio opened just before the COVID-19 closures of the Texas parks. SeaWorld San Antonio and Aquatica San Antonio reopened in June.
Stern's Heavy Metal pinball
official soundtrack revealed
CHICAGO — Stern Pinball, Inc., a global lifestyle brand based on the iconic game of pinball, and Incendium, a multifaceted production company known for an array of animation, comic books, toys, and video games, announced the complete soundtrack listing for a new limited edition pinball machine celebrating the illustrated magazine, Heavy Metal. The soundtrack for the game features twelve songs filled with space-faring, fantasy riffs suiting the style of the game's source material:
•"Veteran Of The Psychic Wars" by Blue Oyster Cult
•"Takin A Ride (Heavy Metal)" by Soundswitch
•"World Of Fantasy" by Helloween
•"Cosmic Power Of The Infinite ..." by Dragonforce
•"Heavy Metal" by Justice
•"Midnight Flyer" – The Night Flight Orchestra
•"I Must Be Dreamin'" by Cheap Trick
•"Heavy Metal" by Sebastian Bach feat. Brendon Small
•"At The Edge Of Time" by Blind Guardian
•"Space Police" by Edguy
•"Sky Is Mine" by Amorphis
•"Lightyears from Home" by Primal Fear
The lineup includes an all new cover recording of Sammy Hagar’s "Heavy Metal" — which was featured in the soundtrack for the property's 1981 animated movie of the same name — performed by Sebastian Bach and Brendon Small.
The Heavy Metal pinball machine will be available exclusively from incendium.online and commemorates the 300th issue of Heavy Metal, which has been running since 1977 and inspired the 1981 animated movie of the same name. An exclusive variant cover edition of issue 300 will be included with every machine. Heavy Metal is working with Incendium as a premier licensing partner to align with premium brands and their products.
“Sci-fi, fantasy, horror and metal collide in this first-ever pinball machine. This is our most ambitious Heavy Metal product yet. We couldn’t be more proud of the result and we’re hugely grateful for the support from Stern Pinball and Heavy Metal in bringing this amazing machine into existence,” said Llexi Leon, CEO of Incendium.
The original art created for the Heavy Metal pinball machine pays tribute to characters and worlds from the magazine’s storied history. New additions from its upcoming publications join this shared universe for the first time. Gameplay revolves around the warrior heroine, Taarna and the undead tailgunner, Nelson. Both will speak for the first time ever, supporting the in-game narrative.
Alboa upgrades its Christie projectors
MEXICO CITY — The Mexican entertainment chain Alboa, part of the Cinemex Group, has recently acquired 85 Christie 1DLP laser projectors for its 13 entertainment centers dotted around the country. The integrator T&T Cinema oversaw the roll out.
Alboa Entertainment Halls embrace a mix of bowling, pool tables, sports bar, food, mixology, stages for live shows and spaces for events for 50 to 1,000 people. It has 13 centers all over Mexico with a total of 175 bowling alleys, and another seven new centers are scheduled to open in the next few months.
Alboa has always acknowledged the major role that AV plays in its centers as the best option for ensuring unique experiences for its customers. The chain was already using Christie lamp-based projectors but decided to make the move to laser projection technology in order to give its audiences a whole new level of image quality, as well as to reduce costs and increase efficiency.
“Besides the fact that laser projection guarantees improved image quality, with up to 20,000 hours of virtually maintenance-free operation, it means a considerable cut in running costs, and no expenditure in replacing lamps and filters,” explained Fernando Poblador, Alboa’s infrastructure manager.
Poblador also underscored the greater potential of laser projection when compared with other display technologies like LED. He pointed out that laser projection gives you the flexibility to ensure high quality images whatever the available space.
“Here at Alboa, we are always looking to forge alliances with the leading companies in their sector, and Christie, the world’s preeminent projection brand, has always offered us the perfect solution for each of our projects,” Pablador added.
Alboa has installed various models from the Christie GS series, ranging from 5,600 to 13,000 lumens and with resolutions from HD to WUXGA, with the Christie DWU630-GS model being the standard in most of its entertainment centers. The GS Series has built-in Christie BoldColor technology for the most life-like images and natural color reproduction possible with laser
On average, every Alboa center uses five projectors to screen sports, music and entertainment as well as in the bowling area, projecting onto a single screen with a gain of 1.8.
“For Alboa, the post-sales service is perhaps the most important factor in any business arrangement,” said Pablador. “We have always been able to rely on the full support and back-up of Christie Mexico, thanks to which we have built up a very good rapport and a long-term relationship.”
This operation is a further link in the long-standing relationship between Christie and the Cinemex Group.
“We couldn’t be happier with the trust Alboa and the Cinemex Group have placed and continue to place in us. Alboa’s entertainment centers all over Mexico have a reputation for offering their customers an unbeatable entertainment experience,” said Clayton Brito, Christie's sales director of Latin America. “We are delighted with the fantastic way that they have been putting our projectors to use in order to enrich their centers with powerful visuals.”
Monster Mini Golf announces partnership with Semnox
Providence, R.I. — Monster Mini Golf, an entertainment destination known for providing a unique, affordable and engaging indoor miniature golf and entertainment experience, announced its selection of Semnox Solutions as its revenue management technology partner.
Founded by Christina and Patrick Vitagliano in 2004, Monster Mini Golf boasts more than 30 centers across the U.S. and Canada. Management and franchisees have chosen to unify operations under the single Semnox Parafait System, replacing all their existing debit card systems.
“Monster Mini Golf, like many other family entertainment centers, have struggled through various frustrating point-of-sale system solutions over the last few decades, with the majority falling short,” said Christina Vitagliano. “After learning of Semnox through another industry partner, we quickly discovered that they placed ethics and prompt, sincere customer service at the top of their list, and I believe, as a result of their self-pride, the Semnox system is top-notch in both technology and reliability.
“In addition, our franchisees are more than pleased with the lack of exorbitant and unnecessary fees,” Vitagliano added.
“We are very excited and proud to add Monster Mini Golf to our growing family of satisfied clients here,” said Brian Duke, Senior Sales Partner of Semnox Americas. “Even though our team got involved late in negotiations after they were almost ready to sign with another company, we were allowed to show all the capabilities of our Parafait hardware and software. Having everything ‘under one roof’ really helped us win the contract.
“Our advanced point-of-sale, RFID tap-to-play Lumin readers and self-serve kiosks fit perfectly for their arcades while our cloud-based studio package could manage all aspects of e-commerce from party booking to online [ticket] sales,” said Duke.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its related shutdown of some locations in various states has slowed Semnox's rollout plans for Monster Mini Golf, but several installations are completed and more are scheduled for the coming months.
A new family entertainment center is coming soon to the center of Cincinnati Shopping Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. A new Urban Air Adventure Park is set to open in late August.
“The goal is to build family experiences,” said owner Tom Payne. “We’ve tried to embrace the whole ninja warrior experience out there as well. It’s not just about going out to a trampoline park and watching your kids jump. Everyone can get involved and make memories.”
Construction is almost finished and the facility is currently hiring.
“I think in another week or two, I'll be making an official announcement on what our grand opening date is going to be,” added Payne.
This will be the second Urban Air Adventure Park to open in the Cincinnati-area in 2020. The company opened a Hamilton, Ohio, location in February 2020.
Shauwney Anderson of Frederick, Maryland, is working to bring roller skating back to the city of Frederick. The local family is planning to open Shauwney's Skate Palace in the months to come.
The rink will offer both quad and inline skating, birthday party planning, snack bar with specialty items, arcade and soft play areas, miniature golf, as well as yoga/Zumba classes in off-season. There is a plan to have pool tables, an adult lounge and many other exciting amenities.
The family needs to raise an additional $250,000 to open its doors and is currently holding multiple local fundraisers to secure the needed capital.
For nearly 20 years, Asheville’s Fun Depot was filled with kids who took rides on bumper cars and go-karts, played miniature golf on an indoor course and flocked to the arcade and laser tag game.
An outdoor ropes course installed a few years ago added a challenging option to the family entertainment center that owners Dave and Mary Beth Day opened in 2003.
Unfortunately, the popular venue is closed in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
“After 17 years of serving Western North Carolina, it is with deep sadness that we have made the difficult decision to close Asheville’s Fun Depot,” the Days said in a statement posted on the Fun Depot website.
The business and the buildings at the location are up for sale. An auction of the entertainment equipment occurred on August 6.
The trampoline-based Adrenaline Entertainment Centers, with operations in four states, has closed permanently through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The surprise statement came from CEO Morgan Chapman on Monday, August 10, stating that the closedown would be immediate.
“Despite the health of our company and the wonderful relationship we enjoy with our loyal customers, the shutdown and subsequent economic climate have made it impossible for us to keep our doors open,” Chapman said.
The company had venues in York, Pennsylvania; Cincinnati, Ohio; Columbia, South Carolina; and Lexington, Kentucky.
A major sports training complex in the northern town limits of Florence, Arizona, has been proposed. The plan showcases the complex as home to fields, courts, lodging, retail stores and family entertainment.
Grinder Sports Group Inc.’s 350-acre project will require a major general plan amendment and annexation into the town limits. It will be “designed to provide a catalyst and mind-body inspiration motivating athletes to become Olympians and professional athletes,” according to the application to the town.
“This is really exciting; this is something we’ve been working on and talking about for quite some time now, so it’s great to see it brought before us this evening,” Mayor Tara Walter said during the town council meeting where the proposal occurred.
Once The Bunker Family Entertainment Center opens in August, eight ax-throwing lanes and a laser tag arena will open inside the first floor of Eastridge Mall of Gastonia, North Carolina, in late summer.
Robert White was accustomed to finding something to do pretty easily while previously living in Chicago, and he believes there’s a need for more fun things to do in Gastonia. White couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring ax throwing to Eastridge Mall.
“With the housing values going up so much, building the FUSE [District] and then now the casino, I’m just following the growth,” White said. “It seems like the money’s here to go ahead and try to do something that’s a little bit more lucrative in the area, so why not give it a shot?”
The other half of White’s business is sanctioned for intense laser tag. Players can go head-to-head or play in teams up to 10, depending on which of the 40 game types they choose.
LAI Games announced a new Hygiene Kit for its hit virtual reality attraction, Virtual Rabbids: The Big Ride.
The Hygiene Kit contains retrofits to hardware components on the game including a sanitizing wipe dispenser to sit between the seats and a trash receptacle directly built into the handlebar mechanism, allowing guests to take control of hygiene best practices and experience The Big Ride with confidence.
Meow Wolf opening Omega Mart in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS — More than two years after announcing it would open its second interactive art installation in Las Vegas, Meow Wolf, the Santa Fe-based arts and entertainment company, announced that it will be opening the grocery store Omega Mart in the Nevada location.
Debuting in early 2021, Omega Mart will be an eye-popping shopping experience where all products have an uncanny ability to fulfill desires beyond expectation. Through elevated narrative and technical elements spanning 52,000 square feet, Las Vegas marks Meow Wolf’s highly anticipated second permanent installation and the company’s most ambitious project to date.
Omega Mart will be unlike anything visitors have seen before, with an even richer storyline than Meow Wolf’s previous installation in Sante Fe, the THEA award-winning international sensation House of Eternal Return. The team behind Meow Wolf Las Vegas is working with hundreds of creatives on staff and more than 50 collaborating visual and musical artists and artist groups from all over the world, including local Las Vegas residents like Eric Vozzola, and world-renowned artists like Amon Tobin, Shrine and Claudia Bueno, to create a one-of-a-kind grocery store experience that will anchor AREA15.
“Meow Wolf is thrilled to enter the vast and exciting creative realm of Las Vegas. Our exhibit will bring storytelling alive through a hands-on experience of art,” said Marsi Gray, senior creative producer of Omega Mart. Collaborating artists local to Las Vegas and from around the world — plus our forged team of storytellers, fabricators and artists in Santa Fe — are creating an unforgettable experience.
“We are on the innovative edge of what entertainment can be. We are in the business of transformative experiences. Participants of all ages can expect something entirely new from Meow Wolf’s popular House of Eternal Return, but will also enter fantastic worlds of story, humor, and spectacle if they accept our invitation — to play,” Gray said.
Boasting an impressive creative team, Omega Mart is helmed by Meow Wolf co-founders Corvas Brinkerhoff, the executive creative director of Meow Wolf Las Vegas and senior vice president of experience design, and Emily Montoya, the creative director of Omega Mart and senior vice president of brand. Additionally, Gray has been brought on as the senior creative producer of Las Vegas, and Spencer Olsen is working as Omega Mart’s art director.
“Something is happening in the store with portals opening into other dimensions, but the store is trying to cover everything up,” Montoya said. “It’s a journey into a surreal supply chain of a grocery store and commentary on corporate responsibility.”
This year, Meow Wolf was recognized in Fast Company's 2020 list of World’s Most Innovative Companies, garnering the No. 1 spot for Live Events. The company is also building a third permanent installation in Denver, which is slated to open in late 2021, following the launch of Omega Mart.
Delaware State Fair provided a safe event in midst of pandemic
AT: B. Derek Shaw
HARRINGTON, Del. – The 101st Delaware State Fair proved that it was possible to safely operate a fair during a pandemic. The ten-day event, July 23 – August 1, while down in attendance, was successful in providing a quality fair even without without free concerts and nightly parades.
“It was down by design,” said Danny Aguilar, assistant general manager and director of marketing. “The weather was an impact with several days over 100 degrees and a half day of rain was a large determining factor.”
The fair staff worked closely with Delaware state officials to develop, then modify an operational plan. “Each state and region has their own challenges. We were still able to put on a safe fair,” said Aguilar. Wash Up, Back Up, Mask Up! was the COVID-19 message promoted throughout the grounds during the ten days of operation.
“Homegrown Summer Fun” was the theme of the scaled-down 2020 edition of a fair that typically plays host to 300,000 attendees on the 270-acre site. Officials have not released attendance figures yet. To insure the flattening of arrival times, admission was free every day from 8 – 11 am, half-price 11-4 pm and $9 4pm to close. Aguilar said the fair staff did its part “to help our community return to some form of normalcy for the summer.”
Wade Shows again had the ride midway contract, offering 44 rides, of which 15 were kiddie ones. Powers Great American Midways provided half of the rides on the lot. For the first time in Delaware State Fair history, ride midways were widened from 65 feet to 75 feet to allow people to more easily navigate through the area. Rides were also distanced a bit further apart. The show operated eight food trailers and 25% less games on site. The fewer games were purposely done to distance them.
Returning after a few years absence was Vertigo (ARM Rides). New to the fair this year was Kraken (re-themed Spider) (Battach); Down Draft, Battech, Air Raid (Zamperla) and Jumbo ride (Kolmax.)
Wade Shows produced a carnival cleaning protocols video (just under 10 minutes) featuring owner Frank Zaitshak reviewing and demonstrating all the safety steps and procedures with viewers. Hand sanitizer stations were located before and after each ride in the ride queue and exit areas. The show is using Prime Time Plus sanitizer with fogger. The product claims it will last up to 28 days, although Wade Shows tests often. High touch areas are cleaned frequently with the product that dries in two minutes.
“We didn’t want to slow down the process of people being able to ride by four, six or eight minutes (even though it cost more money than other similar other products.) We went with the product that took the least amount of time to be effective.”
Another new enhancement was the placement of Lexan between the ride ticket taker and the customer. “We’re happy about that,” said Zaitshak. A few times during the video, Zaitshak explained who has the responsibility of being aware of these pandemic procedures, “It’s not all on us. It’s on you too.”
A similar video was produced on the FunTagg digital ticket system, also hosted and demonstrated by Zaitshak. The automated kiosk takes cash and credit cards with only two points of contact on the screen. “It was important for our guests to have a contactless experience,” said Aguilar. Wade Shows also offered live ticket sellers and a FunTagg cashless ticket app for smart phone users.
Since all concerts were cancelled, the fair added additional grounds attractions, including Roberto the Magnificient, a crazy comedy stunt show. He provided cirque-style skills that included riding very tall unicycles and industrial strength pogo sticks, juggling super sharp knives and flaming torches and spinning hand saws, all while keeping the audience engaged and laughing. Disc-Connected K9's was another show that was offered to fairgoers. Many of its 16 dogs are World Frisbee Dog Championship finalists that delighted and entertained the audience with their skills and prowess.
The media mix was on a reduced budget due to no major concerts, instead concentrating on the grounds entertainment and the carnival. The percentages of digital and traditional forms of advertising were the same as in the past.
Promotions were primarily on the carnival side this year. On Tuesday all carnival rides were $1 per ride. “Wade Shows Wednesday” included a $20 reduced price wrist band, and on Thursday a $2 per ride offer was available. All three promotions occurred between 1 and 4 p.m. Monday was Hunger Relief Day. Fairgoers who brought five Food Lion brand non-perishable food items was entitled to one free admission.
Representatives from 15 other fairs came to learn about how to open amid the coronavirus pandemic. Also visiting for a day was Marla Calico, President and CEO of the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE).
This was the 22nd year Wade Shows has provided rides for the Delaware State Fair. “We love going there,” said Zaitshak. “The board is committed, caring and forward thinking. We look forward to working with them for many, many years.”
Aguilar was pleased as well. “They were excellent! Frank and his team and Corky and his team went above and beyond with cleaning protocols for the rides and games.”
“Obviously attendance was way, way down,” said Corky Powers, owner of Powers Great American Midways. “I was happy to be there. It was worth being there. We proved we could pull off an event like this.”
The five-day, 108th Wyoming State Fair did go on the middle of last month, but not without a few hiccups, that were quickly remedied. The fair board learned in July their decades-long ride provider, Crabtree Amusements, pulled out citing the economy, routing changes and the pandemic. General Manager Courtny Conkle reached out to her contacts to find a replacement. “It’s frustrating that it happened so late (in the planning stage.) “I can’t do a fair without a carnival,” she told the Laramie Boomerang.
“Crabtree canceled on a Thursday evening. By Friday afternoon, I had five different carnival companies eager to do the state fair,” said Conkle. The winning suitor was Midway Attractions, Winter Orange, California, filling up the midway with carnival games, rides and food booths. The company has more than 40 amusement rides for all ages.
On top of that, Reckless Kelly, the grandstand show cancelled. Conkle reached out to The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) for a second night of a rodeo show. “It’s been a rough year to be in the rodeo industry,” Conkle said. “When Cheyenne Frontier Days was cancelled, and so many other rodeos around the state (were as well), my first thought was how can we do a two-night PRCA.”
In spite of the on-going pandemic, Reithoffer Shows recently made major investments in new rides and equipment. The Orange Unit has taken delivery of The Beast (Street Fighter 360), Technical Park, Veneto, Italy. This spectacular does a 360-degree loop, with a capacity of 16 customers in four gondolas. It is transported by two trailers.“
“This ride is absolutely wild! The kids will love it. Great action with the best light package I’ve ever seen. I can’t wait to get it to the first fair,” said Owner Pat Reithoffer. He also purchased two additional rides to add to the lineup: Magic Maze (Hall of Mirrors) Owen Trailers, Inc., Riverside, California and kiddie bumper boats, Bumper Boats, Inc., Newport, Rhode Island.
The International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) has culled from member fairs a resource guide of revenue generating event ideas. Each one includes anywhere from one to 16 fairs that have done that event and includes contact information.
The bakers dozen of ideas include drive-in movies, movies and food combo, drive-in concerts, food/concession events, fair deals cards, drive-thru farmers' markets, summer camps, drive-thru Christmas light exhibit, auto auctions, gun shows, fine arts exhibitions, livestock events, merchandise and miscellaneous events. The document can be found at fairsandexpos.com.
With the cancellation of the 2020 Kansas State Fair, General Manager Robin Jennison promptly resigned to lessen the financial impact for front-line fair staff. “Having the highest-placed administrator surviving while front line essential employees bear the brunt is something I will not do,” Jennison said in his resignation letter.
Jennison served as Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism before starting with the fair in 2018. The 2021 edition will occur September 10-19 in Hutchinson.
The Tennessee State Fair has called Nashville home since 1906. However next year it could be merged into the Wilson County Fair. Davidson and Maury counties have also shown interest in hosting the fair. All three submitted “Expressions of Interest” earlier this year to the Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission. On July 17, it was announced that Wilson County scored the highest. Davidson County is where the state fair has resided.
The Wilson County Fair is currently Tennessee’s largest county fair. The questions remain which fair would cease to exist and which carnival provider would get the midway contract? Reithoffer Shows has the Wilson County Fair while NAME has the Tennessee State Fair contract. Both fairs were canceled for 2020.
“The Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission recognizes the historical significance of the current fairgrounds,” Tennessee State Fair and Exposition Commission Chair Charles Hatcher said in a statement issued to the Lebanon Democrat.
Water World, Raging Waves open new ProSlide RalleyRacers
AT: Jeffrey Seifert
YORKVILLE, Ill. and ERIE, Pa. — Mat racers have always been great additions to a water park, allowing families or a group of friends to simultaneously enjoy the ride together, while adding the visual excitement of a side-by-side race. Mat racers are also good at keeping the lines moving, with four, six or eight riders dispatching every minute or so for a headfirst race to the finish.
Over the years, manufacturers have ramped up the excitement by adding a serpentine tunnel to the beginning of the slide to increase the thrill by having riders start in darkness or slide through colorful special effects. Once the tubes converge, the sliders are lined up for the final dash to the finish.
ProSlide took the concept a step further, by adding multiple tunneled sections. On previous slides, once the rider left the tubed section and entered the open racing section, the chute remained flat through the end of the ride. Trying to have a mat slider enter another tube ran the risk of having that rider bump the side of the tube at the opening. Now, by using a specially designed rounded channel, ProSlide is able to safely funnel the mat rider into and out of enclosed sections multiple times. Riders meet up with each other and can check out the competition at what ProSlide refers to as RallyPoints, where low separators allow riders to see and hear each other as they rocket to the finish. The first mat racer slide of this type opened last year at Hersheypark.
Proslide has once again modified the design by stacking the beginning of the slide over the middle section giving riders a thrilling 400-foot slide with a smaller footprint than that of previous mat racers.
Two such slides opened this year. Waldameer & Water World in Erie, Pennsylvania, opened RallyRacer on July 3, and Raging Waves in Yorkville, Illinois, opened its Aussie Mat Dash on July 24. Although both are ProSlide RallyRacers, the two slides are not identical and both are different than the slide at Hersheypark.
On Aussie Mat Dash, riders start with a straight tunneled section that leads to the first side-by-side RallyPoint. That leads into a massive tunneled section that has riders reversing direction, as they encounter a colorful array of light and dark sections throughout the tube before bursting into daylight for the second RallyPoint, directly under the first. One more tunneled section awaits, before the final RallyPoint leads to the finish and runout. In all, there are three enclosed-flume sections interspersed with the three RallyPoints that has riders seamlessly speeding in and out of open and closed-slide areas along the way.
“We are thrilled to open our newest waterslide to our guests,” said Randy Witt, co-owner of Raging Waves. “As a family-owned and run business, our entire Raging Waves team is proud to continually provide the opportunity for friends and families to make memories each summer. Bringing our total waterslide count to 32, the Aussie Mat Dash is the perfect ride for guests to embrace their competitive side and race together. With state and federal approval to operate during these unprecedented times, we look forward to serving each of our guests with the utmost care and opportunity for safe, family-friendly entertainment, as we do every summer.”
Waldameer’s RallyRacer starts out with a tunneled section that has riders doing a complete 360-degree spiral through light and dark sections, before meeting up at the first rally point. A second tunneled section has riders reversing direction then bursting into daylight underneath the first RallyPoint. Riders stay out in the open all the way until the end of the slide.
Park owner and CEO Paul Nelson told Amusement Today that he had been working with ProSlide on a design for a couple of years. He decided to let Hersheypark try out the concept first, and then had his slide installed a year later. Nelson told AT that the project was well underway when the governor ordered a halt to construction for about three months in the spring. Once construction resumed, the crews put in long hours and seven-day weeks to get caught up. Then, when the slide was complete and ready to open, the state government would not allow the park to operate. State approval was finally granted and the park opened on July 3, just ahead of the Independence Day holiday.
Nelson told AT, “the ride is spectacular…it is beautiful. It has been very well-received. Unfortunately, we are only running at about 15 percent of our normal summer crowds, even though the weather has been ideal all summer long. For the people we do have in the park, it has been a top-grosser.”
Nelson added that the park has seen steady growth over the last decades and last year was the best year in the park’s history. With this year’s downturn the park will not be able to add anything new for next year, even though Waldameer will be celebrating its 125th anniversary.
Polin Waterparks provides six body slides to Gold Coast park
AT: Jeffrey Seifert
GOLD COAST, Australia — Just in time for the new year, WhiteWater World in Australia debuted its new Fully 6 multi-slide tower featuring six different body slides. The slides are the Gold Coast's first water park attractions to be built in five years. The park can also boast having the only tower in Australia with six body slides. Not only are each of the slides exciting to ride, but they provide a visual experience as they are decked out with multi-colored natural light effects.
The opening came at the perfect time as WhiteWater World's AU$7 million (US$5 million) makeover was wrapping up with parkwide refurbishments set to be completed this year. Work is mostly done on refurbishing the water park's existing slides and attractions, including fresh paint and coatings which will restore the slides to an as-new condition. These improvements and other projects in the works will help make the entire water park look brand new. A team of more than 40 local contractors behind the development of Fully 6, including the creator Swimplex-Polin Australia, had been working hard since construction started in July 2019 to get the slide complex completed on time.
Dreamworld Chief Strategy Officer Paul Callander said, "It was an exciting time for the theme park, which is excited to be launching the new attraction to the public in time for the summer school holidays."
Murray Booth from Swimplex-Polin Australia added, "It's great to be a part of a new era here at Dreamworld and WhiteWater World.
"As a waterslide supplier, we are not only doing waterslides; rather, we are able to offer a complete guest experience package," said Sohret Pakis, Polin Waterparks director of marketing and communications. "We are in a position to offer more to our clients by integrating different parties, products and technologies to benefit them and delight their customers, the park guests."
Although titled Fully 6, there are actually only five different ride experiences. A pair of open-air speed slides, situated right next to each other, are virtually identical. The rest of the slides offer a variety of elements to appeal to all levels of thrill seekers. Two of the slides feature twists and turns and helices in an open-air configuration. A third slide alternates between tunneled and open sections, and the last slide is fully enclosed for the entire run. The enclosed portions feature exciting lighting effects and alternating dark and translucent sections. All six slides are extremely colorful and glossy thanks to Polin’s Resin Transfer Molding (RTM) technology. All six slides end with a straight, minimal-depth runout, providing a safe and easy exit for riders, without the need to swim or wade through a pool of water.
Australian-based Swimplex Aquatics provides commercial pool and water slide design and engineering throughout Australia and New Zealand. Swimplex-Polin is the Australian partnership of Polin Waterparks which is based in Istanbul, Turkey.
WhiteWater World Australia is located next to Dreamworld one of the largest theme parks in Australia. The park, which is operated by Ardent Leisure, opened in 1981. WhiteWater World made its debut in December 2006 with 10 attractions. It has added a number of high-profile slides over the years, mostly from ProSlide. Fully 6 represents the park’s first working partnership with Polin Waterparks.
Guests were able to enjoy the new slide and the rest of the water park for a couple of months before the park was forced to closed on March 23, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. WhiteWater World has received approval to reopen under a new COVID safe plan. As of press time, the water park was hoping to open in time for the September holidays but had not yet confirmed specific re-opening dates.
World’s first Orbiter water slide
opens in China at OCT’s Adventure Bay
AT: Jeffrey Seifert
XIANGYANG, China — Overseas Chinese Town Enterprises better known as the OCT Group was founded in 1985 as a Chinese-state owned enterprise. Its tourism division has built numerous theme parks, water parks and hotels under the brands Happy Valley, Visionland and Windows of the World. The company has often looked to WhiteWater West to provide its water parks with groundbreaking and thrilling attractions. Having previously collaborated on 14 projects at 10 water parks throughout mainland China, OCT Group and WhiteWater have developed a partnership spanning more than a decade. The latest addition to this collaboration is the Adventure Bay water park, part of the integrated leisure resort, FABLAND, consisting of three parks and an entertainment district.
The park opened this summer featuring many of WhiteWater’s most popular attractions, including a FusionFortress 10, Wave River, Extreme River and Double Wave Pool. Among the attractions is an impressive collection of water slides including an AquaSphere + Python Fusion, Dueling Master Blasters, two speed slides, and the world’s first Orbiter slide, dubbed Turbo Shuttle.
The concept was first introduced at the 2018 IAAPA Expo where it picked up a Brass Ring Award for New Product Concept. What makes this attraction unique is the oblique 360-degree ascending loop that is traversed by a family raft holding up to five people. Riders come upon a large drop that accelerates the raft as it plunges toward the open-bowl-like loop feature. After traversing along the sides of the bowl, riders encounter an acceleration feature which then leads into a low-to-the-ground tunneled finale. In order to keep the rafts from overaccelerating WhiteWater developed a water brake injection system to slow the water flow and create a smooth deceleration for the rest of the ride.
Adventure Bay’s Marketing Director Li Xu said, “We are delighted that the world’s first Orbiter was launched at Adventure Bay, where we have called it Turbo Shuttle. Our guests love it! It’s exciting, fresh and fun, and it’s an unprecedented experience to ride on a raft inside it. The guests queuing in line are even more eager to try it when hearing the screams of the riders. Although the park is recently opened, Turbo Shuttle has become one of the stars of the entire water park.”
“It was a great honor to work with OCT again on building another larger than life water park,” said Phil Zhong, WhiteWater’s Chief Operating Officer – Asia. “Adventure Bay at OCT FABLAND is a unique park for several reasons, but the gem of the park has to be their Orbiter.”
China Creative Intelligence Association Co., Ltd. (CCIA) designed Adventure Bay which can best be described as a spaceport embedded in a rocky fortress meets water park with a touch of steampunk thrown in. ProSlide and Wiegand Waterrides also supplied additional attractions to the park. The rest of the resort is still under construction with the theme park, Fantasy Land, expected to open in 2021.
Even though WildWater Kingdom at Dorney Park did not open in 2020, the park is still making plans to introduce a new attraction for the 2021 season. Seaside Splashworks will be a beach-themed, multi-level interactive play structure. The family attraction will include six waterslides and more than 75 play elements including interactive spray jets and water cannons. The attraction will also include a splash zone designed solely for toddlers.
Garden City Water Park in Phnom Penh opened on August 17 as the largest water park in Cambodia. The $55 million water park was developed by the L.Y.P. Group of Cambodia and constructed by White Water Group of England. The water park offers more than 40 water slides from supplier Polin Waterparks and WhiteWater West. Polin supplied speed slides, a Windigo, Kamikaze, Looping Rocket and themed waterplay structure. WhiteWater supplied a wave pool, lazy river, double Flow-Rider and four-person Abyss, four-person Constrictor, Boomerango and Super Bowl.
The water park is part of a multi-park resort and includes the Safari World Zoo which opened in 2018 along with the Garden City Hotel and Garden City Golf Club. L.Y.P. Group hopes to make the Garden City a major tourist destination in Cambodia.
Golfland Sunsplash in Roseville, Calif., is open to the public despite California Department of Public Health (CDPH) restrictions. On the park's website a statement noted, "Golfland Sunsplash is giving our guests the opportunity to ‘Test the Waters.' If within the first hour of your water park visit, you still feel uncomfortable after observing our safety measures in practice, you may go back to the ticket window and request a return ticket for a visit in 2021."
In order to limit access, the park is selling date-specific tickets online and will stop selling tickets at the gate when the restricted capacity is reached.
The CDPH has a four-stage plan for reopening businesses and is currently at stage two. Parks can reopen when the state reaches stage three. Parks that violate the order to stay closed can face a fine of up to $500 per day.
WaterWorks Park in Redding, Calif., also defied the state's order and opened on June 5. That park has had its public pool permit revoked and was forced to close on August 3.
Imagine Hospitality Management announced that it will build an indoor water park resort in Hollister, Mo. The 575,000-square-foot resort will be situated on 68 acres within the city limits. The property will feature a 100,000-square-foot indoor themed water park, 450 guest rooms and cabins, six to eight themed restaurants and dining experiences, 40,000 square feet of family entertainment space, 10,000 square feet of retail space, 30,000 square feet of convention space ideal for corporate meetings and family reunions as well as adult- and kid-themed spas.
Hollister is located just south of Branson's central business district on the other side of the White River. It is the city in which the Branson Airport is located and is considered part of the Branson, Missouri, micropolitan statistical area by the U.S. Census Bureau.
“We’re so pleased to bring the world’s first of these family-friendly, branded destination resorts to the vibrant vacation area of Hollister and Branson,” said Bruce Neviaser, CEO and managing member of Imagine Resorts. “This resort will be an exciting addition to the area, and we look forward to being an active member of the business community. In short, we’re thrilled to be welcomed into the region’s tourism family.”
Imagine Hospitality Management, which owns hotels in Tennessee and Kentucky, is investing an estimated $300 million into the project. The company plans to break ground in the first half of 2021, with a grand opening slated for 2023.
IAAPA's Virtual Expo Asia gives members a chance to connect
AT: Pam Sherborne
SHANGHAI, China — Due to the ongoing global pandemic that has spanned months now, amusement industry professionals and participants have virtually visited amusement and theme parks, zoomed planning sessions, ridden remotely on roller coasters and visited museums and zoos on their phones.
So it seemed quite natural when the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) announced a virtual trade show and convention after having to cancel the IAAPA Expo Asia that was set for June 7-10 in Macao, China, in an effort to keep the industry connected.
Called IAAPA Virtual Expo: Asia, IAAPA's first-ever virtual expo was held July 28-30 in China Standard Time.
IAAPA officials reported there were 131 exhibiting companies on the virtual trade show floor and more than 4,000 participants. There were eight unique pavilions, seven IAAPA networking events and nine education sessions featuring 21 global industry veterans speaking on timely topics.
“IAAPA’s first virtual expo truly reflects the resiliency and strength of the global attractions industry,” said June Ko, executive director and vice president, IAAPA Asia Pacific. “Our goal was to provide an innovative, timely new experience that brought the industry together."
Ko said the show demonstrated the commitment of committee volunteers as well as the manufacturers and suppliers who participated by having to navigate through a technology-based learning curve.
"We are more inspired than ever by the heart and spirit of this incredible industry and are already taking key learnings from this event and applying them to our next IAAPA virtual events,” Ko said. "IAAPA members have shared they enjoyed having the ability to connect and communicate with one another during IAAPA’s virtual expo."
The IAAPA virtual expo team created templates for exhibitors to virtually set up their booths and provided help if needed. Participating association members were able to access the show at no charge just by registering. While the event was live, registered attendees could access the exhibit hall, chat rooms, and education sessions at any time, allowing for easy access for attendees around the world, in any time zone.
In addition, up until Aug. 8, attendees were able to continue to access the site and listen to sessions through an on-demand platform.
Sara Seay, Premier Rides, said they spent about three weeks "on setup, which for all of us included a learning curve regarding the technology and platform.
"We took time to become familiar with the digital booth building platform so that we could anticipate needs of both our clients and of our booth staff," she said. "In this unique setting, we developed a digital strategy regarding open access content. The actual designing of the booth was very straightforward."
She said they had the flexibility to create tabs and links that allowed a visitor to access the Premier site, ride fact sheets and videos, a QR Code to allow visitors to connect with Premier WeChat and a link to a Zoom meeting room for video chats.
Jim Seay said there were some challenges, which affected a broad part of the attendee base and limited functionality. But, he hoped, with this being the first, "that the lessons learned are applied to future efforts to make the experience more seamless."
Premier did have some activity in their virtual booth, but, even before the event, "it was clear and understandable, it was not the time for customers to be present," Jim Seay said.
"We and many other suppliers spoke with a significant amount of clients prior to the show and they said that this was not the time to be buying but it was the time for finding the path forward," he said. "We are respectful of their input. As another well-known supplier noted, this technology is good for the future but is not something for the present until our clients are again financially healthy. We agree with that viewpoint."
He went on to point out that IAAPA and its staff should be given great credit for being able to pivot so quickly upon the postponement of the Macau show and deliver a platform that allowed the industry to come together.
"The significant effort has not gone unnoticed and Premier is very appreciative of the staff’s dedication to execute," he said.
Cassidy Newman, marketing and trade show coordinator, WhiteWater West Industries, enjoyed having the opportunity through the IAAPA Virtual Expo: Asia to make the most of the current situation.
"IAAPA Virtual Expo: Asia gave us the platform to exhibit our new Orbiter water slide, the first family raft ride with a 360-degree loop," Newman said. "We were able to show videos and brochures of the new slide and walk virtually through other booths to learn new industry trends."
Being the first show of its kind, Newman said it gave the WhiteWater trade show team a lot of learning opportunities regarding how to navigate an online system, introduce different team members and organize a virtual booth to help people easily find the information.
"There is a lot that we can do to optimize the platform and experience going forward," she said. "For example, our sales team would love to have had the opportunity to do some video chats rather than text chats at these virtual shows to make more of a lasting relationship."
Hunter Novotny, Larson International, also felt having audio and visual capabilities would have been beneficial.
"We had to communicate the way you do through text," he said. "We could see the names of the people coming into the booth, the companies they represented and headshots if they had provided one to IAAPA."
He said they did have some other exhibitors and attendees stopping by to say hello.
"And we did have a few customers visit the booth, but we did not have a single question on our products," Novotny said. "People that I have spoken with had similar experiences."
Cindy Emerick Whitson, senior vice president, business and technical development, Dynamic Attractions, said the lack of shopping customers seemed natural "based on the world conditions."
"We did get a few leads, but it did not replace the success behind a face-to-face visit with potential clients," she said.
The IAAPA Virtual Expo: Asia featured opening remarks. They were presented by the IAAPA current chair, Amanda Thompson OBE, Blackpool Pleasure Beach, United Kingdom; and Hal McEvoy, IAAPA president and CEO.
The educational conference featured sessions on topics such as best practices for reopening parks and attractions, safety, operations, automation and digitalization.
There were Coffee Chats, Spotlight Chats and an IAAPA Trivia Networking Hour.
Ko said the IAAPA team did learn a lot through the process.
"We are already adjusting and refining as we ready for future virtual experiences," Ko said, just a little over a week from the conclusion of the event."
Already, IAAPA has added two separate virtual events for this month. The first allows attendees to meet in their respective regional time zones. It is called IAAPA Virtual Conference: The Americas and is set to take place Sept. 2-3. The second event, the IAAPA Virtual Conference: EMEA and APAC, is set for Sept. 22-24.
IAAPA Virtual Expo Asia
During the IAAPA Virtual Expo: Asia, held July 27-30, attendees voted for virtual booth innovations in three categories: Best Booth Downloads, Best Booth Videos and Most Engaging Chat Room.
The event’s winners were:
Best Booth Videos Extreme Engineering
Best Booth Downloads Polin Waterparks
Themebuilders Philippines, Inc.
Ride suppliers decide that IAAPA Expo 2020 is a no-go in Orlando
AT: Pam Sherborne
ORLANDO, Fla. — With the continued uncertainty of what will happen during the remainder of 2020, four leading amusement industry leaders penned a letter last month to the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and to the amusement industry as a whole announcing their decision to not attend the IAAPA Expo 2020 in Orlando.
The event is set for the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 16-20.
Premier Rides, which is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland; Chance Rides, Wichita, Kansas; Great Coasters International of Sunbury, Pennsylvania; and Larson International, Plainview, Texas, collectively released the letter and explained their decisions. Together, these four companies have more than 100 years of exhibiting at the convention. It was not an easy decision to make.
For their part, IAAPA officials plan to update the status of the November expo to the industry on Sept. 4.
But, it seemed with so much still in flux, i.e., continued travel restrictions and limitations, continued global shutdowns in some areas as well as some reverse openings, the number of COVID-19 cases continuing an upward trend with some U.S. states continuing to set records, it just seemed it was time to pull the plug.
The letter states with certainty that the IAAPA Expo in Orlando is the most important "annual gathering of amusement industry professionals and enthusiasts and is truly the epicenter of attractions innovation and business."
Citing the record-setting 2019 event with an attendance of 42,000, "the show was a confirmation of the strength of the attractions industry, which this past year set all-time records globally for attendance. Business had never been better.
"[The year] 2020 will not be the same."
The companies reached out to their clients and heard much of the same sentiments. Many had already decided not to attend.
"We put our heart and soul into this industry with the like goal of creating lifetime memories for millions of people around the globe," the letter stated. "And we all look forward to the opportunity each year to gather in Orlando and to be with colleagues and friends from nearly every country in the globe. There are no better words to describe the show environment than 'one big family.'"
The four companies stressed they know, "...the industry is hurting on all levels. Even with a global effort lead by IAAPA to establish very safe facility operations, our guests have not come back to the parks in the numbers for which we had all hoped. As suppliers to the industry, we know that successful business for us requires successful business for our valued clients. We get it. We understand there is a right time to sell and this is not the right time.
"Parks and attractions need to focus all their attention on keeping their facilities healthy and well-maintained so they can open strong in 2021. We are here to help you in any way possible, whether it be service or technical support and we will be here when the time is right to talk about new innovative attractions.
"And finally, and most importantly, we need to prioritize the health of our employees who have dedicated themselves to making our companies successful and who are what make visiting our booths so great and so welcoming. We understand all the precautions that are being taken for the IAAPA Expo, and we are grateful for that significant effort. There is indeed hope for the near future with rapid global achievements in the medical field. But for this show, with just over three months to go, the clock has run out."
The companies realize that money already spent in preparation is gone. But they also know some will be saved. In the letter, they shared their commitment to donating some of those savings to these three charity organizations: Give Kids The World, Doctors Without Borders and Heart of Florida United Way.
"We work in an industry that is extremely resilient," the letter continued. "Through wars, through recessions, and yes, even through pandemics, our industry has survived. People have a basic need to smile, to have fun. And in tough times, amusement parks are a place where families can enjoy themselves.
"The show must go on and will go on. Just not this year. We will see you again in 2021. And yes, we will once again smile."
Disney posts first quarterly loss since 2001
ORLANDO — The Walt Disney Co. missed quarterly revenue estimates and reported a rare loss as the COVID-19 pandemic pummeled its theme parks and movie studio businesses, even as the crisis helped its streaming services gain subscribers.
Closure of theme parks in the quarter resulted in an operating loss of $1.96 billion in parks and consumer products business. Even as four of its six theme park resorts around the world have opened, social distancing rules have weighed on visitors allowed.
The media network segment, which includes ESPN and Disney channels, reported a 48% jump in operating income to $3.15 billion. The direct-to-consumer and international segment, which houses its streaming service, Disney+, reported an operating loss of $706 million, compared with an operating loss of $562 million in the year-ago quarter.
Net loss from continuing operations was $4.72 billion, or $2.61 per share, in the third quarter ended June 27, compared with a net profit of $1.43 billion, or 79 cents per share, a year earlier.
Universal Orlando layoffs, revenue down
ORLANDO — In an email on August 3, Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said the Florida theme park resort was reducing its workforce “to reflect current priorities and needs.”
Universal has put the construction of a new theme park, Epic Universe, on pause because of the pandemic. Comcast, Universal Orlando’s owner, reported in July that the company’s theme parks division shrank to $87 million in revenue from $1.46 billion a year ago.
“We are prioritizing daily operations and shorter-term projects and continuing our pause on longer-term projects such as Epic Universe as we allow the tourism industry to recover,” Schroder said.
SeaWorld posts loss, may expand in future
ORLANDO — SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., reported its financial results for the second quarter and first six months of fiscal year 2020 on August 10. Attendance saw a decline of 6.2 million guests from the second quarter of 2019 with only .3 million guests in 2020’s second quarter. Total revenue was $18.0 million, a decline of $388.0 million from the second quarter of 2019. Net loss was $131.0 million, a decline of $183.7 million from the second quarter of 2019.
“I am extremely proud of our team's performance during this unprecedented and challenging time,” said Marc Swanson, interim chief executive officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
During a conference call, Swanson said that SeaWorld might be in the market to buy additional properties, in addition to paying bills with the money it's raising.
“There might be situations where there's market dislocation or competitors in industry who aren't able to weather the storm. So whether it's a water park, a hotel, or something like a park that we could look at and convert to a Sesame Place, for example, those are the type of things we're talking about,” he said.
Partial operation impacts Cedar Fair
SANDUSKY, Ohio — Cedar Fair Entertainment Company announced results for its second quarter.
Net revenues for the second quarter which ended June 28, 2020, were $7 million versus $436 million for the second quarter of 2019. The decrease in net revenues was the direct result of an 8-million-visit decrease in attendance and a $44 million decrease in out-of-park revenues, both shortfalls were due to COVID-19-related park closures in the current period.
Fewer operating days, combined with cost-saving measures implemented in response to suspended park operations in the second quarter, led to a decrease in operating costs and expenses in the period. Operating costs and expenses totaled $93 million compared with $277 million for the second quarter of 2019.
Jon Brady, AAMA-honored games distributor
CHARLOTTE, N.C.— Jon P. Brady, former CEO of now-defunct arcade games distributor Brady Distributing Co., passed away July 1. He was 78.
Brady was born in 1941 to Maude Isley Brady and Clyde Brevard Brady, the youngest child of the family behind a sister and brother. He was involved with the Boy Scouts from an early age and earned his Eagle Scout rank during high school, where he played football. Later, he graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) with a major in political science and a minor in business.
While in high school, Brady worked part time in his father's amusement and vending distribution business. After graduating college in 1963, he joined the company full time — working in all areas, including service, parts and sales. He assumed control of Brady Distributing Co. as president in 1975 and became the company’s CEO in 1988.
Respected by his customers, employees and competitors alike, Brady served for many years on the board of directors of the Amusement & Music Operators Assn. and, in 1996, was honored by the American Amusement Machine Assn. (AAMA) for lifetime achievement. In 2007, he established the Jon P. Brady Scholarship fund at UNC to provide financial aid to students.
Brady is survived by his wife of nearly 54 years, Gwendolyn; two sons, Jon and Chris; and four grandchildren.
Alvin Cohen, founder-owner, Adventureland
BOCA RATON, Fla. — Alvin H. Cohen, founder and original owner of Adventureland amusement park in Long Island, N.Y., died June 27 of complications from COVID-19. He was 94.
Cohen was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, in 1926, the first child of Sumner Cohen and Jenny Berman Cohen. He graduated from Boston Latin School and Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. Cohen met his wife, Shirley Rubenstein, while boating in New Hampshire; they were married for 70 years until her death in 2016.
In 1962, Cohen and a partner pooled small loans collected from relatives to purchase six acres of farmland along Route 110 in East Farmingdale, New York, where they built and operated Adventureland — a year-round amusement park with indoor and outdoor rides, miniature golf, a restaurant and an arcade. After much success, Alvin became the park’s primary owner in the 1970s and bought an additional six acres to expand the operation.
In 1977, the Cohens sold the park and moved to Florida, eventually settling in Boca Raton, where Cohen developed homes.
Cohen is survived by his children, Dr. Sheila Furr of Boca Raton and Dr. Robert Cohen of Muttontown, New York; four grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Helen ‘Robbi’ Lepré, Busch Gardens creative
TAMPA — Helen “Robbi” Parsons Lepré, a veteran employee of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, passed away June 1 after a long battle with temporal arteritis. She was 61.
Lepré was born April 6, 1959, in Tampa to Robert Curtis Parsons and Betty Gainer Parsons. A graduate of the Academy of Holy Names, she started working at Busch Gardens in Tampa as a teen in 1975, transitioning to the show side in 1979 and launching her career in theme park entertainment. Her various roles at the park culminated in the position of director of theatrical services, in which she oversaw holiday presentations and helped spearhead the park’s annual Howl-O-Scream — a successful event adopted by other SeaWorld Entertainment parks.
Lepré loved the circus arts and strove for the circus community’s advancement throughout her career. She also volunteered with organizations including the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions and the Themed Entertainment Assn.
Lepré is survived by her husband of 35 years, Russell; their two children, Jacalyn Danielle Veon and Shannon Michelle Lepré; two grandchildren and a sister.
Kara Anderson has joined St. Louis-based debit card technology company Intercard as training director. Anderson has 10 years of amusement industry experience, including management for a family entertainment center in Biloxi, Mississippi. To give Intercard’s customers quick and easy access to helpful information, Anderson will be producing a new training video library covering a variety of topics, including security settings, card products, retail products, redemption and inventory.
Interactive dark ride and attraction manufacturer Alterface of Wavre, Belgium, has welcomed Pim Dams to its team as sales executive for the European market. Experienced in the theme park business through his work at Disneyland Paris and Efteling in the Netherlands, Dams developed specific expertise in the interactive attraction sector during three years with Lagotronics Projects in Venlo, Netherlands. He works efficiently with customers and inquiries in the English, Dutch, German and French languages.
Lars Lenders has been appointed European director of sales for S&S – Sansei Technologies of North Logan, Utah. Lenders, based in Amsterdam, has extensive leisure industry experience, having spent the last decade working for ProSlide Technology, Inc.
He began his career in amusement park development approximately 20 years ago, moving into indoor snow-based attractions and eventually into the water park business — first with Van Egdom and then with ProSlide. He will be responsible for establishing and growing the presence of S&S in his assigned region.
The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, now under construction in Exposition Park in Los Angeles, has filled six leadership roles. The new hires will help shape programs and policies for the institution founded by philanthropist and filmmaker George Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson, co-CEO and president of Ariel Investments and former chair of DreamWorks Animation, to inspire current and future generations through the art of visual storytelling.
Pilar Tompkins Rivas joins the museum as chief curator and deputy director of curatorial and collections from the Vincent Price Art Museum (VPAM) at East Los Angeles College, where she served as director and chief curator since 2016. Tompkins Rivas will provide leadership, strategic direction and managerial oversight for curatorial, exhibitions, acquisitions, collections management, conservation, archives and publications. At VPAM, she spearheaded partnerships with the Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens.
Nenette Luarca-Shoaf is the museum’s managing director of learning and engagement, charged with establishing a vision for innovative educational and public programs that will foster creativity, inspiration and civic engagement. She is also tasked with building a team to engage the museum’s diverse constituencies, including adults, K-12 students, educators, scholars, teens and families. Luarca-Shoaf previously was director of adult learning and associate curator of interpretation at the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition, she held curatorial and educational roles at several museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth.
Amanda Hunt is director of public programs and creative practice. Previously, she was director of education and senior curator of programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. In her new role, Hunt will devise a roster of programs that will engage visitors with works of art. Her past appointments include curatorial roles at The Studio Museum in Harlem and the 2019 Desert X Biennial in Palm Springs.
Anais Disla is director of special events, responsible for developing and guiding the strategy for all event planning, including future opening events and venue operations. She joins the museum from The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, where she served as acting head of special events — managing a department that produced more than 400 annual events — and held the distinction of being the first woman of color to produce the famed Met Gala. Previously, Disla was event sales and design manager at Floralia Decorators and event production director at MME Entertainment, both in New York.
Larissa Gentile is managing director of special projects, serving as a bridge between the construction team and museum staff as well as supporting the development and implementation of the building. Gentile’s most recent project management effort found her working with the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York to realize a permanent, large-scale public art installation by David Hammons called Day’s End in New York State’s Hudson River Park. She also served as project director for the Whitney’s current Manhattan location.
Erica Neal is director of computing and infrastructure, responsible for overseeing strategy and administration of desktop and mobile computing, network design, and administration of cyber security tools and response. Neal previously served as the senior manager of information systems infrastructure at CalOptima, a health insurance agency based in Orange, California.
Paula Roads Borchardt
Wonderland Amusement Park
A view from the top…
Wonderland Amusement Park, Amarillo, Texas, was founded in 1951 by Paul and Alethea Roads. The couple, along with their two young children, Paula, then six, and Danny, three, moved from San Angelo, Texas, to open their own park.
From that opening with three rides to today with 32 rides, the park has stayed in the family. Paula Borchardt and her husband, Paul, worked for many years with her parents before the property was passed to them.
Accomplishments and affiliations…
•Member, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions
•Member, Family Owned Amusement Parks (FOAM)
Borchardt has enjoyed her ride
AMARILLO, Texas — Paula Roads Borchardt has been around a family -owned amusement park for as long as she can remember, doing just about every job there is to do.
Even before her own family moved from San Angelo, Texas, to Amarillo when she was six years old to start their own park, they were working with her aunt and uncle, Hazel and Roy Neff, at Neff's Amusement Park.
"But there just wasn't enough there for two families," Borchardt said.
So they made their way to Amarillo encouraged by a city official there who wanted an amusement park in his own city. The city official told them they could set up their park in Thompson Park in Amarillo. So, they packed up and left San Angelo.
Thompson Park then was not the Thompson Park of today. In fact, what the Roads found when they drove up was a barren strip of land. It took months of improvements by both the Roads family and the city, but, in 1951, the precursor of Wonderland Park, Kiddie Land.
They opened with three rides, a Herschell kiddie boat ride (which the park still operates), a Lil Dipper and a kiddie car ride that Paul Roads built.
"He took the little cars that had the pedals down inside," Borchardt said. "He took off the pedals, attached the cars to a center pole and made them go around in a circle."
When Borchardt thinks back to that time, she said: "I though we were the poorest family on the earth."
It was tough going. To support the family, her father worked at the Amarillo Air Force Base during the day and nighttime at the park. Her mother also was vital to the park operation between juggling raising her two children and doing all the things that entails such as being a Girl Scout leader and a Cub Scout leader.
Her mother's parents had moved with the family from San Angelo. They also helped.
Borchardt began working at the park when she turned 12 years old. For the next two years, she sold tickets and ran the boat and car rides even though her parents had added to the ride inventory by then.
"I pushed the start button, counted the number of turns and, then, pushed the stop button," she said. "We got tired of counting those turns."
When she turned 14, she began working in the concession stand making cotton candy, continued to sell tickets and eventually answered the phone and booked groups. By then, her brother was working there as well, creating a truly family-run operation.
She worked at the park throughout her high school and college years.
After Borchardt's high school graduation, her brother, who had not long before been diagnosed with leukemia, passed away. It was a very hard time for her entire family. She decided to stay close, attending Amarillo College.
The next year she attended the University of Oklahoma in Norman. She excelled in her studies and ended up completing coursework for a pre-med Bachelor of Science in two years there, three years total.
She also became a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and Pi Omega service organization.
It was her affiliation with her sorority that led to her meeting her husband, Paul Borchardt.
"A roommate and I went on a double date," she said. "Paul was the fifth wheel. He was our dates' social trainer since they were fraternity pledges. My date feel asleep and we just started talking. We snuck away for a dance when my date went to get a Coke or something. For me, it was love at first sight."
The two dated during college and graduated in the summer of 1965. Paul Borchardt had joined the United States Navy upon his college graduation and was scheduled to go to his first duty station at the supply school in Georgia. They ended up getting married in June before he left. She ended up going with him there. She went with him thereafter to his various stations until he deployed to Vietnam in 1967.
While her husband was away, Borchardt lived in Amarillo helping her parents at the park, which, by that time, had been renamed Wonderland Park. Paul Borchardt was gone for eight months. Upon his return, her parents asked him to come and work with them as well.
And that is what they did. They moved back to Amarillo permanently. They worked in the park and, in addition, opened a video game company called Borchardt's Coin Machines.
All four of their children were born there, Rebecca (1968), Kristen (1970), Kiera (1974) and Paige (1979).
The two worked at Wonderland with her parents for years. The park had grown and the growth was continual over the years. Their children worked with them as they got older.
Upon her parents retirements and subsequent deaths, the Borchardts inherited Wonderland.
Their oldest child, Rebecca Borchardt Parker, is the only one of their children still working at Wonderland. She is the controller and works side by side with her parents. Her children are there some as well.
Borchardt said she has enjoyed working in the amusement industry even with the occasional challenges. Friends and happy faces are always a boost.
"It is a fun business," she said. "We love it when people come in here and say they had more fun here than in the bigger parks."
They now have 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild.
The year 2020 has been tough for the entire industry. Although she and her husband will never truly be away from the industry, she said she is beginning to wonder whether it is time to retire and let the next generation take over.
The last day of Wonderland's 69th season is September 7.
Urban Air's touch-free ordering solutions courtesy of Appetize
AT: John W.C. Robinson
Los Angeles — Appetize, a point of sale, digital ordering and enterprise management platform, announced a partnership with Urban Air Adventure Parks. As Urban Air’s exclusive provider for ordering and payment software, Appetize has begun its initial product roll-out to service more than 100 Urban Air franchise locations in North America.
“We’re thrilled to work with one of the fastest-growing and well-known adventure parks in the industry,” said Appetize co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Max Roper. “Our companies share the same vision of a touch-free guest experience while providing operators and franchisees modern tools to run their business in the COVID-19 era. Now more than ever, businesses are looking to digital ordering platforms as they begin to reopen, and we’ve been incredibly honored to help them navigate ‘the new normal’ with our omnichannel solutions.”
Urban Air appointed Appetize for its contactless capabilities — including NFC and “tap-to-pay” checkout — and cloud point of sale to enhance the safety and experiences of guests and staff. The company’s current system is being completely upgraded with the integration of Appetize’s omnichannel digital solution, including self-service kiosks, Interact, which allow the reduction of staff interaction and crowded check-ins and provide 25% faster checkout.
“The Appetize platform is being used at Urban Air to facilitate admission to the park, including buying tickets and signing of a waiver,” stated Brian Whitney, vice president of sales for Appetize. “This waiver is required of all people entering the park and includes the ability for repeat visitors to look up their previous waivers to reduce the time needed to buy tickets. In early deployments, the combination of the streamlined UI and process improvements reduced the ticketing transaction time by as much as 40%.”
“Urban Air collects several pieces of information to complete the waiver process from guests including their names, dates of birth, phone numbers and email addresses. The Appetize solution enables easy entry of this data and uses our open API structure to send that to Urban Air.”
All Appetize devices come ready with Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay, a feature that helps eliminate cash handling. Urban Air is utilizing Appetize’s POS-as-a-Service model, whereby hardware and software are bundled into a monthly fee, reducing the capital required by franchisees.
“We can provide either, but many multi-unit operators, like Urban Air, select our Point of Sale As a Service program, which provides for a low initial cost and a monthly fee that includes all hardware, software, services, support, upgrades, hosting and associated fees, as well as full hardware support,” explained Whitney. “Since we are a SaaS provider, our software is updated periodically and customers always have access to the latest versions and features. In addition, all core hardware and devices are refreshed every three years so that stores have the latest technology at all times.”
During the COVID-19 shutdown, Urban Air seamlessly deployed Appetize using a self-installation strategy. While Appetize offers a full-service, in-person installation model, the ease-of-use of the platform allowed Urban Air to successfully install Appetize technology on their own.
“While our parks were shut down, we took a number of actions to improve guest service and ensure a safe return to operations,” said Urban Air Chief Development Officer Josh Wall. “Working with the team at Appetize, we were able to accelerate the rollout and give our returning guests a faster and more secure check-in process. One of the items high on our list was reducing crowds at check-in, and we have proudly addressed it.”
“Appetize partnered with Urban Air to accelerate the deployment of the solution while many parks were shut down. While travel for installers and technicians was limited, we were able to work with staff at each park to complete a self-install of Appetize quickly and easily,” said Whitney. “Our deployment teams worked remotely to enable the parks, and working together with Urban Air in this way, we were proud to bring dozens of parks online in a single week.”
Keeping with the upgraded santitation and disinfection procedures which are rapidly becoming the industry-norm during the global pandemic, the Appetize kiosks are regularly sanitized by staff throughout the day.
“Urban Air has a strong sanitation program for their facilities, which includes a regular cleaning of the kiosks to limit guest exposure,” added Whitney.
In the next several months, the Urban Air plans to deploy Appetize POS terminals, self-service kiosks, handheld devices, and kitchen display systems at each of its locations to reduce wait times and crowds and increase guest satisfaction.
While under the pandemic, Urban Air locations are following CDC safety and sanitation guidelines to practice safety. All staff wear face shields, guest temperatures are taken at the entrance and sanitation services have been increased, including regular surface cleaning.
“[The Appetize system can be offered] as a Service program, which provides for a low initial cost and a monthly fee that includes all hardware, software, services, support, upgrades, hosting and associated fees, as well as full hardware support,” explained Whitney.
Appetize has helped several large-scale businesses and franchisees reopen safely with its contactless technology and omnichannel solutions. In an effort to provide businesses the tools they need to navigate through COVID-19, Appetize also offers free webinars, educational product demonstrations, and important resources on its website.
“All of our devices support contactless payment, which has become a necessity for many operators,” stated Whitney.
“Our Interact Web platform also allows companies to deploy contactless ordering so customers can use their own devices to place orders through a fully-functional web experience without forcing the customer to download an app. By simply scanning a QR code, guests are taken directly to the ordering site where they can easily order, pay and transact with the brand without a face-to-face interaction. No matter how an order is placed, they are all managed centrally from our platform without the need to deploy any additional devices.”
COVID-19 leads to cancelation of the fall Pennsylvania ride safety seminars
AT: B. Derek Shaw
Due to ongoing COVID-19 mitigation, both Pennsylvania ride safety seminars this fall have been cancelled.
Conducted by Slaggert Risk Management for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, Amusement Ride Safety Division, the Pennsylvania Amusement Ride Safety Seminar is usually held in early November in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area.
The other ride safety seminar, known as PACE (Parks and Carnival Education), jointly sponsored by the Pennsylvania State Showmen’s Association (PSSA) and the Pennsylvania Amusement Parks & Attractions (PAPA), typically takes place in late October.
Pennsylvania Amusement Ride Safety Division Supervisor Joe Filoromo provided the following information:
•Pennsylvania state certified inspectors that are in good standing who have certifications that expire in November and December 2020 will be granted a one year extension of their expiration date.
•Inspectors may “log in” to the state ride inspection system as “Inspector” to check the status of their inspector certification dates. Persons having questions about their certification standing can contact Filoromo by email if necessary at email@example.com or 717-215-4316.
The spring 2021 Pennsylvania Amusement Ride Safety Seminar is still scheduled for February 25-27 in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area.
The 2021 PACE Ride Safety Seminar will be re-scheduled in late October next year for Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania and Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pennsylvania.
Filoramo went on to say that Quality Assurance Inspections have not stopped in Pennsylvania, as his department is doing virtual inspections and making limited physical visits. They have developed a touch-free QA inspection report while practicing social distancing.
Premier Rides awarded service contract
Baltimore, Md. — Premier Service, a division of Premier Rides, announced that it received its largest ever service contract and will be producing a new fleet of trains in addition to providing other technology upgrades for a non-Premier Rides existing attraction.
The location of the project will be announced at the appropriate time by the client. The trains will incorporate advanced technology elements used on the Sky Rocket series of attractions which combine enhanced rider comfort features with high thrill elements and high speed. Additionally, the trains will incorporate some new precision-machined lightweight technologies as part of the adaptation to the existing ride’s track design.
“We are honored to be able to provide a fantastic technical upgrade to a truly iconic roller coaster,” Jim Seay, president of Premier Rides commented. “Fans will be excited when the location of the effort is announced. The Premier team is certain that the addition of these newest generation of trains will take this coaster’s ride experience to the next level.”
“There are always unique challenges in layering advanced technology equipment onto an existing attraction,” Seay continued. “All through the design and integration phases, our technical team has worked closely with the client’s talented maintenance team who are passionate about keeping their equipment operating at the highest level and raising the guest experience. This new fleet of trains will help them do just that.”
Despite the current global pandemic, the project goal is to have the trains available for the 2021 season. Additionally, the upgrade is aimed at providing a ride experience that will enhance rerideability.
There are key and unique challenges due to the global pandemic including health and safety as well as travel restrictions. The Premier team has found solutions to remain efficient and timely, to think outside of the box and to utilize technology to achieve project milestones such as gaining regulatory approvals using a virtual environment.
“Premier had already pivoted quickly at the beginning of the pandemic and came up with a portfolio of technology approaches to keep our projects moving despite onerous worldwide restrictions to travel,” Seay stated. “Our efforts to be heavily virtual in all aspects of service will be a large factor in this project’s success.”
The service division of Premier Rides, Premier Service, has had a history of being a leader in aftermarket service. The majority of the division’s work is focused on non-Premier Rides attractions.
Premier Service features a Premier Rapid Response Team, which utilizes the latest technologies to communicate with and to support parks around the globe during rehab efforts, reopening procedures or to address specific technical projects.
Coming through the pandemic stronger — and safer — than ever
2020 — what a crazy year! As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the globe, its impact on the amusement industry compounds daily. With some facilities still closed and most others missing key tent poles like spring break, field trips, camp groups, Memorial Day weekend and a better part of the summer, capacity restrictions and social distance requirements continue to put downward pressure on all of us.
Amazingly, there is an air of optimism that we’ll get through this together ... and we’ll be stronger for it in the end. Despite these unfamiliar challenges, our parks are cleaner and safer than ever. The resilience that has been shown so far by so many amusement industry leaders has been inspiring, and, as a result, a new way of operating more safely has emerged. From higher levels of sanitation to improved guest service, this industry is finding its new normal.
As the leading provider of safety education and certification, AIMS International is committed to coming through this seemingly never-ending pandemic stronger than ever. To that end, we are focused on two key initiatives; the annual AIMS International Safety Seminar and our all new online learning program, AIMS connectED.
Both programs provide state-of-the-art courses taught by industry experts with AIMS connectED offering the added benefit of earning CEUs from the safety and comfort of your home and office. In addition to learning and earning certifications, the annual safety seminar has brought amusement and traveling show operators, safety and maintenance technicians, as well as inspectors, manufacturers and suppliers together to share new ideas, trends and technologies, in an intimate setting with the shared purpose of making amusement facilities safer.
The AIMS International Safety Seminar has always been something to look forward to by its attendees, sponsors and instructors. From educational sessions, social events and receptions, to the fabulous lunches and snacks provided at the convention center, there’s always a lot to look forward to and much to be gained by attending.
There will be a 2021 seminar. What it will look like is yet to be determined. The AIMS staff and board of directors is committed to providing the most comprehensive safety education and certification opportunities possible. However, the January 2021 seminar will not be the same experience that it has been in the past. Much like its members and attendees, the AIMS Safety Seminar must adapt in order to survive. There is much to consider while moving forward with the planning of this event, but first and foremost is the safety of the attendees, sponsors, instructors, volunteers and staff. We are considering all options available and will soon decide the best way forward to deliver the same high-quality educational courses, in a format that is most accessible to those who need it.
In the next several weeks, AIMS will be announcing its plans for delivering the 2021 AIMS Safety Seminar. In the meantime, anyone interested in taking safety education courses can find more than 40 hours of content on AIMS connectED, the new AIMS on-line learning platform. AIMS, NAARSO and California QSI certified individuals can earn the continuing education units needed to keep their certifications current by taking courses through AIMS connectED.
Please visit aimsintl.org/education for more information and to register for online courses. As always, questions, suggestions and concerns can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Semnox integrates with Sports Play Connect
Semnox, an RFID-based venue management solutions provider, and Sports Simulator have announced the launch of their integrated solution Sports Play Connect.
With more than 29 sports, more than 539 game challenges and an active presence at more than 2,200 sporting venues, Sports Simulator is a pioneer in the entertainment industry. The unique detection system developed by Sports Simulator can accurately track any moving object and integrate the same into its Sports Simulation.
The Sports Simulator programming team is focused on the development of multi-sports simulators and custom sports applications. Their goal is to virtually recreate any sport including famous stadiums, spectators in club colors, realistic player movements, and embedded sponsor signage, attaining maximum benefits for clients.
With this integrated solution, clients of Semnox can operate the Sports Simulator game via Semnox Parafait Venue management system, instead of operating it in standalone mode. This way, the entire operation of the facility is seamless and controlled under one single system. Guests are able to enjoy the various sports by simply tapping the RFID wristband or card on the Semnox RFID reader to automatically validate entitlements, play the game and record the score from the play within Parafait.
“Our customers can now benefit from having the most advanced Sports Simulator integrated with the leading cashless payment system, ensuring their centers are completely seamless,” said Andy Cole, director at Sports Simulator Limited.
“The integrated solution with Sports Simulator brings in tremendous value to our clients,” said Mathew Ninan, vice president of product Development at Semnox. “Through this integration, our clients can take advantage of seamless operation of Virtual reality and Simulator games.”
Saudi Arabia's Chuck E. Cheese
stores add Semnox Play Pass System
SAUDI ARABIA — Semnox announced that Unique Hospitality Group has implemented the Play Pass system at all its Chuck E. Cheese stores in Saudi Arabia.
Unique Hospitality Group owns more than 14 Chuck E. Cheese franchise stores across Saudi Arabia, which are regarded as a leading place for birthdays. Chuck E. Cheese has a goal to create positive, lifelong memories for families through fun, play and delicious handmade pizza.
With the first-of-its-kind gaming experience, All You Can Play (made possible by the Play Pass system), kids have access to play every game at Chuck E. Cheese as many times as they want on any day, without any restrictions.
“We are glad that we have deployed the Play Pass system across all our stores in Saudi Arabia,” said Talal Azari, general manager, Chuck E. Cheese franchise, Unique Hospitality Group. “This system has enhanced the customer experience at our stores. They don’t need to carry the tokens around to play games. Everything runs on the Play Pass system as it should, and all the metrics related to the game performances are just a click away.”
“We have had a smooth rollout of the Play Pass System at all the Chuck E. Cheese stores owned by Unique Hospitality Group in Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure working with Mr. Azhari and his team,” said Meghashyam, client manager with Semnox Solutions DMCC. “With comprehensive reporting management tools, Semnox has largely reduced the need for manual inputs and has improved the Game performance views for analysis purposes.”
Safety adds savor to Knott’s Berry Farm’s themed food events
are both a hit and a
model of operation
AT: Dean Lamanna
BUENA PARK, Calif. — Theme park-deprived residents and visitors in Southern California caught a surprise break halfway through the summer when Knott’s Berry Farm debuted a series of outdoor, Friday-through-Sunday events called Taste of Calico.
The innovative food-and-retail concept, which provided access to the park’s historic Ghost Town section under firm safety protocols and combined open-air dining with its historic ambience, launched July 17 and quickly sold out its extended run. A new and expanded food event, Taste of Knott’s, which carries the tasty fun into the park’s Fiesta Village and Boardwalk sections, picks up where Taste of Calico left off on Aug. 21 and continues through Sept. 13.
In lieu of rides and shows — theme parks and their attractions technically remain closed under mandate by the State of California, with no reopening guidance or green light in sight — boysenberry-flavored eats, treats and drinks provide the “thrill factor.” Served with minimal contact at acrylic- and plexiglass-shielded service points with the use of a scannable, prepaid tasting card purchased online or through park’s mobile app, the offerings range from savory (e.g., boysenberry sausage) to sweet (e.g., funnel cake with boysenberry topping) and include vegetarian and gluten-free items. Many of the unique recipes were originally developed by the park’s ace culinary team for the annual Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, which was canceled this past spring because of the pandemic.
While three park sections provide the setting for the food events, Knott’s emphasizes that the theme park overall remains closed. Store occupancy is limited to less than 50% capacity.
Kevin Wynne, vice president of sales and marketing for Knott’s, told Amusement Today that the park wanted to offer “an experience that would provide guests with a stress-free visit,” given the current challenges. “Our team and leadership worked with the Orange County Health Care Agency, city and state officials, and health and safety experts to ensure every safety protocol was implemented when producing Taste of Calico,” he said, indicating that California has encouraged outdoor activities.
The staff’s thoughtful and thorough effort is evident immediately upon arriving at Knott’s California Marketplace, just outside the park’s gates. Most of Grand Avenue has been closed off and filled with shaded, generously spaced picnic benches servicing Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant and other eateries lining the street, where, per state mandate, indoor dining is not currently permitted. Visitors arriving at the park gates for Taste of Knott’s are greeted in a friendly manner and asked if they are exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 before being directed into a tent that discreetly takes their temperature as they walk through it.
“Our temperature checks are conducted through new thermo-cameras, which are programmed to detect temperatures over 100.4,” said Wynne. “Once alerted, our screening-security team will set our guests aside to a secondary temperature screening conducted with a handheld thermometer.”
Both in the Marketplace and inside the park gates, he added, Knott’s is implementing preventive measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with rigorous in-house sanitation standards and health and hygiene protocols. In addition to the mandatory wearing of face coverings for employees and guests (except when seated and eating), these include:
•Extensive and ongoing training for associates in maintaining a safe and hygienic workplace and environment for guests.
•Specified intervals for frequent sanitization of targeted areas throughout the day.
•Numerous and accessible handwashing facilities and hand sanitizer locations.
•Quick response to spills, trash and other situations.
•Frequent sanitation and daily deep-cleaning procedures for restrooms, kitchens, dining surfaces, benches and trash cans.
•Daily and frequent cleaning and washdown of outdoor locations, including walkways and queue lines.
According to Wynne, admission sales for the recently concluded Taste of Calico were limited to approximately 10-15% of normal attendance for the Ghost Town area in order to ensure physical distancing and plenty of seating for guests.
Coinciding with the Aug. 21 start of Taste of Knott’s is the reopening of the Knott’s Berry Farm Hotel. The hotel, which is offering special Taste of Knott’s packages, is implementing a range of safety protocols — including daily temperature checks for guests and employees, sanitizing high-touch surfaces with increased frequency and the use of hospital-grade disinfectants throughout the property.
With Knott’s planned summerlong 100th anniversary celebration postponed until 2021, the cancellation of Knott’s Scary Farm for this year and the full-season closure of Knott’s Soak City water park, the Taste of Calico and Taste of Knott’s events have provided both an outlet and a morale boost for guests and employees alike.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback from our guests stating how wonderful it is to be able to step out of their homes safely and in a controlled environment,” said Wynne, reminding that, true to its name, Knott’s Berry Farm’s earliest success was founded on roadside food stand sales and food service. “Guests have also graciously shared that a visit to Taste of Calico made them feel a sense of normalcy — but above all, it made them feel closer to our theme park.”
WWA reveals details on virtual expo taking place October 6-8
Overland Park, Kan. — The World Waterpark Association recently announced that it will present its 40th anniversary WWA Show as a virtual experience to allow more attendees to join this industry event in the safest manner possible. Taking place over three days, October 6-8, the WWA40 virtual event will deliver the high-quality educational and networking opportunities that water leisure owners, operators and suppliers have come to expect.
“Canceling the in-person portion of this year’s show was not what we had hoped for, but like so many of our members, we’ve continued to adapt to challenges as they arise,” said Rick Root, president, World Waterpark Association. “We’re excited about the opportunities that a virtual show experience offers to our members. This virtual format will allow everyone, regardless of their location, to safely participate in our educational sessions and spend time connecting with each other through our online networking opportunities.”
Registration rates for attending the WWA40 virtual show start at $249 for park and supplier members and will include access to everything being offered over the three-day period. Sponsor packages also will be available to industry suppliers who want to connect with owners and operators and show their support for the WWA40 event.
“Now, more than ever, we need to keep our industry members connected to each other,” said Root. “None of us could have predicted how difficult the 2020 season would be, but we have the opportunity to come together to learn, connect and recharge so we’re ready to tackle what’s ahead in 2021.”
Galaxy Multi Rides combats COVID-19
Port Charlotte, Fla. — Galaxy Multi Rides announced their Galaxy ULV Cold Air Fogger Sanitizing machines are having huge success in the fight against COVID-19
The Galaxy ULV Cold Air Fogger Sanitizing machine offers a low-cost effective way to sanitize any size location quickly and efficiently.
“Galaxy Multi Rides manufactures amusement rides. During lockdown we realized that when our customers started to reopen, they would need an efficient fast solution to sanitize their parks and attractions,” Mike Whincup, vice president Galaxy Multi Rides, said.
“We initially marketed them to our customers but quickly realized that they are very effective in any location. Factories, offices, fitness centers, dentists, restaurants, doctor’s surgery’s, schools, in fact anywhere and everywhere,” Whincup continued.
The Galaxy ULV Cold Air Fogger Sanitizing machine is lightweight and extremely portable. It operates from a standard electrical outlet and has a 10.5 pint sanitizing fluid tank capacity. At full flow, it will last 20 minutes with up to a 26-foot spray spread. In addition, the flow rate can be adjusted from 30 to 120 microns.
Galaxy Multi Rides celebrated its 30th anniversary of providing the amusement industry with innovative rides and attractions on July 30.
Top 5 requirements for safe travel
released and standardized by hotels
WASHINGTON D.C. — The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today released the Safe Stay Guest Checklist for guests on how to travel safely while also creating a standardized safety experience nationwide. This checklist is part of AHLA’s Safe Stay guidelines, an industry-wide, enhanced set of health and safety protocols designed to provide a safe and clean environment for all hotel guests and employees.
The Safe Stay Guest Checklist includes:
•Require face coverings in all indoor public spaces and practice social distancing in all common areas.
•Choose contactless options, where available, including online reservations, check-ins and payments.
•Consider daily room cleaning, only if necessary. Ask the hotel about your options.
•Request contactless room service delivery.
•Refrain from traveling if you have, or recently had, any symptoms of COVID-19 or contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.
“The top priority for the hotel industry is the health and safety of guests and employees. Utilizing these best practices, including requiring face coverings and practicing social distancing in public spaces, will create an even safer environment for all our guests and employees,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA.
“As an industry, we want every guest to experience a clean and safe hotel no matter where they stay. We applaud governors who have standardized the use of face coverings in all indoor public spaces and we urge all lawmakers to help make this a national standard by implementing this requirement in their states. These preventative measures make it safer and easier for Americans to travel while also supporting hotel and tourism employees.”
Several executives from the hotel industry came forward in support of the Stay Safe guidelines.
“Hilton is united with the hospitality industry in prioritizing the health and safety of our guests and employees. We are supportive of the industry adopting consistent guidelines and practices that adhere to public health guidelines, including the wearing of face coverings indoors and in public areas,” said Chris Nassetta, president and CEO, Hilton. “As part of our Hilton CleanStay program developed in partnership with Lysol and the Mayo Clinic, all Hilton Team Members are required to wear face coverings in an effort to protect all who enter our more than 6,100 properties worldwide.”
“To help enable safe travel amidst the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, we need to come together as an industry and promote clear guidelines, which for the foreseeable future include the wearing of face coverings in indoor public spaces and practicing social distancing,” stated Mark Hoplamazian, Hyatt's president and chief executive officer.
Elie Maalouf, CEO, Americas, IHG said: “It is critical we take action to protect the health and safety of guests and colleagues to build confidence in travel as the industry begins to recover. IHG fully supports the AHLA Safe Stay program, which complements the protocols in our own IHG Way of Clean, and the new Covid-19 best practices implemented in all of our hotels in partnership with the Cleveland Clinic. Requiring face coverings in all indoor public spaces across our industry will help create an even safer environment for all travelers and frontline hotel colleagues.”
Loews Hotels & Co.'s Chairman and CEO Jonathan Tisch said, “The travel and tourism industry is rooted in partnerships. As an industry, we need to work and align together, and AHLA’s Safe Stay Guidelines is an opportunity to do just that. As hotel operators and owners, we have a role and responsibility to provide a welcoming, safe and comfortable environment for team members, guests and our communities, and now more than ever we need to ensure we are exceeding expectations in this area.”
“The health and safety of associates and guests has always been a top priority at Marriott. Part of our Commitment to Clean is that we’re redefining our cleaning and safety standards to align with evolving expert protocols as we all work together to manage the spread of COVID-19,” said Arne Sorenson, CEO, Marriott International. “Health guidance is clear on wearing masks, and it is a simple step everyone can take when in public spaces of hotels to protect themselves, each other and associates. We’re pleased to join with the industry to create consistency and collectively support our communities so we all can travel more safely.”
“One of Radisson Hotel Group’s highest priorities is the continued health, safety and security of our guests, team members, and partners,” offered Jim Alderman, chief executive officer, Americas, Radisson Hotel Group. “One of the easiest ways to help slow the transmission of COVID-19 is by wearing a face covering, especially indoors. It’s going to take all of us working together, which is why we stand alongside AHLA in asking our government leaders to help make this a national standard by implementing this requirement in their states.”
Finally, Geoff Ballotti, president and CEO of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts stated: “We all must play a role in slowing the spread of COVID-19, and encouraging the adoption of these guidelines is an important and meaningful step for us to take together. This easy-to-follow checklist can help protect our guests, team members and franchisees, as well as the countless communities in which we operate.”
To further expand the hotel industry’s Safe Stay initiative, AHLA also recently launched COVID-19 Precautions for Hotels, an online course developed in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) to help hotels train their staffs on the enhanced safety and cleanliness guidelines.
wash-through ride system to virus proof roller coasters
Altavilla Vicentina, Italy — Having fun while feeling safe is the current challenge amusement parks are facing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the connected regulations and access restrictions related to rides.
Zamperla has implemented and developed a new system and an effective solution to help clients and parks disinfect roller coasters vehicles to contain the spread of viruses, bacteria, ensuring the cleanliness and safety of surfaces.
The Wash-Through Ride System is a simple and practical structure to install, which consists of a tunnel or a suspended structure positioned arched above the vehicle. The vehicle is then sanitized by passing through foggy air between the unloading and loading portions of the ride. The ability to set the intensity of the spray also allows the disinfection of vehicles and people at the same time, enabling passengers to stay seated during the sanitation process, doubling their safety. The misting system can be easily customized in relation with the thematization of the roller coaster and perfectly inserted into the setting without being overly invasive.
The wash consists of a sanitizing solution mist that is not alcohol-based, colorless, and odorless with a biocidal action of up to 18 hours over the surfaces without leaving the vehicles wet or humid and without ruining the fiberglass.
The sanitizing solution action time is around 45 seconds, consisting of a cycle of 15 seconds of spraying and 30 seconds for activating the biocidal action on surfaces. The washing cycle could be done each five or 10 rides, (varying on the preferences), and can operate automatically to minimize human supervision, and therefore, the additional risk of spreading COVID-19 while running the system.
The Wash-Through Ride System is also a multifunctional apparatus becoming, if necessary, a structure for washing vehicles at the end of the day, based on the liquid inserted inside the pipes (cleaning soap or any other kind of detergent), or a refreshing walk-through mist tunnel if the park desires.
The misting system has been conceived for more efficient and reliable automatic disinfection compared to the manual one, with almost halved times and significantly lower queuing times, optimizing the whole process.
Former Dogpatch USA theme park
purchased by Bass Pro Shops founder
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Noted conservationist and Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris announced the purchase of the former Dogpatch USA theme park property, a 400-acre natural setting in northern Arkansas’ Newton County.
While specific plans for the property remain in the early stages of exploration, any possible future development will be an extension of Morris’ signature experiences that help families connect to nature and each other. Natural beauty, quality craftsmanship, attention to detail and family fun are the hallmarks of every project Johnny pursues.
“We are very excited to have the opportunity to restore, preserve and share this crown jewel of Arkansas and the Ozarks so everyone can further enjoy the wonderful region we call home,” said Morris, a lifelong resident of Springfield, Missouri. “We’re going to take our time to restore the site, dream big and imagine the possibilities to help more families get back to nature through this historic and cherished place.”
Initially constructed in 1967, the property formally known as Dogpatch USA operated as a theme park featuring a trout farm, horseback rides, and various amusement rides and attractions. During the height of its popularity in the late 1960s, the destination attracted 300,000 annual visitors, but attendance gradually declined before closing in 1993. While there have been numerous owners, the site has been vacant for the past several years with many of the remaining structures in a dilapidated state.
Imagineering an American Dreamscape, a treasure trove of theme park history
REVIEW: Tim Baldwin
There is no shortage of books written about Disneyland. To see the title, Imagineering an American Dreamscape, an observer might assume the term “imagineer” refers to yet another Disney book. But author Barry Hill takes the reader on an incredible journey of America in the middle part of the 20th century when regional theme parks began their proliferation across the U.S. landscape.
In the foreword by Cedar Fair’s Rob Decker, he states, “At long last someone took on the task of filling the void, to compile and unravel the stories behind how these parks were developed.”
Indeed. Hill’s approach is not one of encyclopedic paragraphs of factual details and dates. The reader is not only taken for a ride, but Hill stands at the helm not so much as an author but as a tour guide, practically draped in costume, filling us in on all the components and character that make each park unique. The writing is conversational and the personalized references — you, we, our — and the questions posed make the reader feel part of the conversation, as if this ride we’re on is through a time capsule of theme park history. And it’s a blast.
Chapters group similarities: the original Six Flags parks, the Taft parks, struggling parks that become acquired and such. Those long in the industry probably feel they are rather knowledgeable about amusement parks, but this book finds details that even most locals probably didn’t know about their own park.
Learning curves, best practices and mistakes along the way are interwoven with the successes and failures of the theme park world. In illustrating the nation with its amusement industry canvas, Hill starts with “Before Disney” in Chapter 1. After Walt sets a new standard, subsequent chapters look at how each city approached the regional themes and the stories that made each property beloved by its local fans.
Following that, three chapters jump forward a half century. “Evolution,” “Redemption” and “Who says we can’t build a theme park today?” places the industry as it is currently known under the microscope, and park operators today may be intrigued to see how their amoeba fares in the amusement entertainment petri dish. Hill pulls no punches in how a continual turnover of corporate owners have slowly eroded many of the park’s original charms as each owner has come in, morphed and mangled new park strategies, and then cast it to the side for further financial adventures. Still, many of the characteristics of some parks have been maintained, and Hill is quick to spotlight those triumphs.
Puzzlingly at first, two chapters appearing near the end are penned by other authors. Storyland Studios’ Mel McGowan speaks on the significant importance of Randall Duell and his team for perfecting the blueprint that so many went on to follow in designing park concepts. Rick Bastrop from R&R Creative offers a personal retrospective, “Learning from Legends,” that spotlights key figures that moved the industry forward. Despite the jarring flow in direction, the topics still connect to the overall scope of the book.
Imagineering an American Dreamscape is a must-read for anyone in the amusement industry. Not only does it document the grand history of theme parks, but it just might teach numerous professionals about the very park in which they work. It’s not just a great book, it’s a fun ride.
The book is 295 pages and is available at RivershoreCreative.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble or by ordering from a local bookstore.