Fire strikes beloved bowling alley; crowdfunding push to aid cleanup

By | January 26, 2018

PORT JERVIS, N.Y. — Minisink Lanes bowling alley, a popular local establishment for more than four decades, was devastated by a fire on Jan. 20.

The fire occurred at approximately 3 p.m., shortly after Saturday youth bowling leagues finished for the day. The building was empty at the time and no one was injured.

The bowling alley is owned by Matamoras, Pa., resident Raymond Willis, Sr. The 72-year-old Vietnam veteran, who has operated the business for 45 years, is known for hosting fundraising events for charitable causes and families in need.

Jay Willis, Raymond’s son and the proprietor of Willis Amusement, described the fire as “unexpected and tragic.” He said his father is seen as “a pillar in the community, touching several generations — as many parents and grandparents would bring their children to bowl in leagues and tournaments.”

Willis added that his father had discontinued hazard insurance on the building last year because of its increasing cost. Raymond Willis lost his wife and business partner, Jamie Willis, to cancer in 2015.

Raymond bought Minisink Lanes shortly after completed his 1969-70 military service, during which he served in active combat in Vietnam.

During its heyday, the bowling alley boasted 20 lanes, a full bar, a snack bar, a pro shop and an arcade.

Inspectors said the fire started in the kitchen area but were still seeking a cause. The building is not salvageable. Demolition and cleanup costs could total as much as $50,000.

Local residents have shown an outpouring of support. A GoFundMe page has been set up online with the goal to offset the cleanup expenses:

—Dean Lamanna

S&S to Open Double Towers and Launch Coaster for Sun Tzu Cultural Park

By | January 24, 2018

LOGAN, Utah — S&S Worldwide, Inc. is pleased to announce that it will open 12-Seat Double Towers and an Air Launch Coaster for the Sun Tzu Cultural theme park.

Sun Tzu Cultural Park in Guangrao county of Shandong province is the first and largest military cultural theme park in China. Sun Tzu Cultural Park is designed to promote Sun-Tzu culture and create a related cultural tourism destination. It now has become an important base to inherit and carry forward Sun-Tzu culture. The park is filled with military cultural exhibition buildings and over thirty rides, ranging from gentle and suitable for children to outrageous rides for those looking for exhilarating moments.

S&S Worldwide, Inc., the largest U.S. ride manufacturer, has now installed over 450 of their products in 30 countries around the world. Gerald Ryan, Executive Director of Sales from S&S commented, “S&S is excited be installing two new attractions at the Sun Tzu Cultural Park this coming year. The Air Launch Coaster will be our 4th Air Launch Coaster to be installed in China and will have the longest track length of the four at 930 meters long.”

The new Air Launch Coaster at Sun Tzu Cultural Park is to be named “Lightning Speed’, and will be the tallest launch coaster in East China. Both the Towers and the Launch Coaster are to open in the Summer of 2018.

Amusement Expo International in Las Vegas Welcomes Growing VR Arcade Segment

By | January 23, 2018

MOKENA, Ill. — The AAMA/AMOA Amusement Expo International, the annual event for the coin-op and revenue generating amusement, music, and family entertainment industry, is extending its reach at this year’s conference and trade show by targeting the burgeoning virtual reality entertainment ecosystem as an area of focus and growth.

When the 2018 Amusement Expo International in Las Vegas commences in February, it will feature a new dimension—literally and figuratively—as an entire day of panels and seminars, as well as a new VR Pavilion on the trade show floor, will be devoted exclusively to the rapidly-emerging virtual reality experience segment of the marketplace. In past years, the Amusement Expo International has embraced other aligned segments such as bulk vending and laser tag, which are now integral components of the annual gathering.

Manufacturers and companies supplying equipment and services in the VR attractions space are invited to exhibit in the new VR Pavilion, where their products will join more than 400 booths from over 200 companies on display for more than 3,000 Industry Professionals. The aim of the VR Pavilion is to educate traditional amusement operators about opportunities and products from the VR attractions market and offer VR companies the chance to exhibit and connect with a large group of influential new customers who are unlikely to attend other virtual-reality focused events.

“Arcades will continue to be the locations where most people will first experience VR”, says Bob Cooney, location-based VR guru and curator of the virtual reality education program for the Amusement Expo International.  “Billions of dollars have been invested in virtual reality startups based on the expectation that the consumer market was poised to explode.  However, with consumer adoption emerging slowly, companies are now flocking to location-based entertainment as a means to showcase their products and build the consumer awareness they hope will lead to greater adoption.”

According to Greenlight Insights, the global leader in virtual and augmented reality market intelligence, global spending on location-based virtual reality entertainment will exceed $8 billion by 2022, up from $579 million in 2017.  Location-based entertainment centers will continue to play a significant role in growing consumer awareness and mass adoption of VR technology.

The new VR program’s educational track debuts on Tuesday, February 27, 2018 during the Amusement Expo International Education Day. VR will also be an exciting addition to the core of coin-op, FEC, bulk vending and laser tag areas on the exhibit floor during the Amusement Expo International trade show including the VR Pavilion open Wednesday, February 28 and Thursday, March 1 in South Hall 1 of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

The Amusement Expo International is the annual North American gathering of the coin-operated and revenue generating amusement, music and family entertainment industries.  In its 9th year, it is the largest trade show in the region focused on pay-to-play entertainment for family entertainment centers, arcades, bars and restaurants, and other locations where people seek out fun diversion out of home.  The Amusement Expo International is sponsored by industry trade associations AAMA and AMOA.

Angus Jenkins, Director of Theme Park Sales, Has Accepted a New Position at Six Flags

By | January 22, 2018

WICHITA, KS – After 12 years of dedicated service to Chance Rides, Inc. Angus Jenkins has been presented with an opportunity which he will pursue.

“Angus has been a key part in our success in amusement park and observation wheel sales and had worked closely as a team with my son Michael”., said Dick Chance. “I am happy to see him stay in the industry with a key customer like Six Flags and look forward to working with him in the future”.

For the next two weeks Angus will work with Jay Aguilar, V.P. of Sales & Marketing at Chance Rides, to transition outstanding projects and introduce him to key people in the industry. Going forward Chance Rides, Inc. will be looking to add to its sales team to continue the company’s success as an industry leading amusement ride manufacturer.

“My 12 years with Chance Rides has resulted in some of the best personal, and family relationships anyone in this industry could hope for. For that I will always be grateful. The depth of skill, innovation and hard work at Chance Rides will be a lasting impact on me personally. This was the hardest decision of my life to leave, but I can see that the Chance company, and ride product, will continue to be a frontrunner in the industry. I look forward to working with all my Chance friends in the near future.”, said Angus Jenkins.

We would like to thank Angus for his loyalty and dedication to Chance Rides over the years and wish him continued success in his upcoming career transition.

Jim Dunn is Named President of Aquatic Development Group

By | January 22, 2018

COHOES, N.Y. – Aquatic Development Group (ADG), designers and builders of water parks and recreational water park attractions, today announced the promotion of Jim Dunn to President. Ken Ellis, formerly President and CEO, will retain the role of CEO.

“Jim has been an integral part of our success,” said Ellis. “His passion and enthusiasm for creating innovative products and solutions to enhance our client’s business has resulted in some of the most ground breaking water ride attractions and park designs ever seen in the industry.”

Mr. Dunn joined ADG in 1988, beginning his career in the design department. A registered architect with over 30 years’ experience specializing in aquatics, his portfolio today includes many of the most prestigious water parks and resorts in the country, and he has established long-time working relationships with clients such as Six Flags, Premier Parks, Gaylord Resorts, Columbus Zoo and many others.

Mr. Dunn’s work has received numerous awards over the years including multiples Leading Edge and IAAPA Brass Ring Awards, an Aquatics International’s Dream Designs Award, WWA Executive Award and special recognitions from IAAPA and ARDA. In 2011 Jim was named to Aquatics International’s “Power 25“; a prestigious list of industry influencers working to establish a standard Model Aquatic Health Code (CMAHC). Mr. Dunn’s most recent position with ADG was as Executive Vice President.

SeaWorld unveiled ride car for Electric Eel and celebrated topping-out for completion of steel installation on San Diego’s tallest and fastest coaster

By | January 19, 2018

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Are you ready for an eel reveal? SeaWorld is! On Jan. 17, 2018, the park unveiled the new ride car and celebrated the topping out of steel installation for San Diego’s fastest and tallest roller coaster.

Electric Eel, where riders will soar 150 feet and accelerate to more than 60 mph, is on track to open this summer at SeaWorld San Diego.

Electric Eel will feature an exhilarating triple-launch experience with high-energy twists, heart-pounding loops and the only upside-down view of Mission Bay. This
new coaster will EELectrify even the bravest thrill seekers making them feel like an eel as they slither and dart around the track. The Electric Eel area will also feature an interactive learning experience called Mission: Deep Discovery. A habitat with mysterious moray eels, which was opened as part of the new Ocean Explorer attraction in summer 2017, is adjacent to the tallest and fastest roller coaster in San Diego’s history.

Eurosat – CanCan Coaster, the new attraction of Europa-Park in association with the Moulin Rouge

By | January 15, 2018

A new attraction inspired by Paris and the Moulin Rouge universe will be launched by summer 2018 in Germany at Europa-Park, which has been awarded best theme park in the world for four consecutive years!

This is a first for the Moulin Rouge, which had never worked with a theme park before. These two entertainment references met naturally, as both are famous throughout the world for their quality and the unique experiences they propose. They decided to work together for renewing the 45 meters high rollercoaster. Signing took place in Paris at the Moulin Rouge between Jean-Jacques Clerico, chairman of the Moulin Rouge and Michael Mack, managing Partner of Europa-Park. 
At the present time, the famous “Eurosat” rollercoaster, the main attraction of the French themed area at Europa Park, is being renewed to give a new look that will showcase the 19th Century Paris by summer 2018. On the facade overlooking the rollercoaster entrance, visitors will admire an accurate reproduction of the Moulin Rouge at the Belle Epoque time. Inside, they will discover a well-decorated space full of references to the Moulin Rouge and Parisian symbols, before boarding in the cars of the “Eurosat – CanCan, Coaster” to live an experience in the dark at the heart of the City of Lights.
Driven by the same desire for innovation and creation, these two family-owned companies from two neighbouring countries were made for each other.
With more than 5.6 millions visitors every year, Europa-Park is well known worldwide for its realistic settings and its attention to details. The park, located in Rust in the “3 borders country” (Germany, France and Switzerland), opened in 1975 on the initiative of the Mack family, founder of Mack Rides in 1780. Since then, the park keeps growing with 15 theme areas, more than 100 attractions and shows including 13 rollercoasters, 300 artists and some 20 stages!
With more than 600.000 spectators every year, the Moulin Rouge is also well known worldwide. From 1889, the Moulin Rouge has been the amazing place where emotions, surprises and the bustle of Parisian night life are born, lived, invented and shared. A cabaret and popular dance hall at its opening during the Belle Epoque, an iconic music hall during the golden twenties, a cinema and theatre, the Moulin Rouge has always succeeded in adapting to new trends of entertainment.

Today, the Moulin Rouge and its 80 artists present the spectacular Féerie show: two hours of wonder combining dance main scenes, attractions and surprises, without forgetting the French Cancan, the most famous dance of the Moulin Rouge! Every evening, it is a dreamlike world performed on stage: 1000 costumes full of feathers, rhinestones and sequins, amazing performances, sumptuous settings and original music.

HAuNTcon Announces Silent Auction with all Proceeds Benefitting Magic Wheelchair

By | January 10, 2018

Trumbull, Conn. — Haunters around from around the country are set to take over New Orleans this week for HAuNTcon: The Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Convention. The event takes place January 12-15 in New Orleans and provides a forum for the haunt community to connect with one another while discovering new products, education and best practices. Along with several new features this year, the event has announced a LIVE build of an ossuary crypt that will be auctioned to attendees. All proceeds will benefit the non-profit organization, Magic Wheelchair.

Beginning Friday, January 12, the team from Davis Graveyard will begin to construct the 8×16 ossuary starting with raw plywood, all the way up to adding detailed painting and finishing touches on Sunday, January 14. The ossuary will include products from featured sponsors including lighting from Gantom Lighting & Controls, skulls and bones from Skeleton Store and foam from Hot Wire Foam Factory.

Those interested in including the ossuary in their 2018 haunt are invited to participate in a silent auction with all proceeds benefitting Magic Wheelchair, a nonprofit organization that seeks to put a smile on the face of every child in a wheelchair by building epic wheelchair costumes.

Ryan and Lana Weimer, the founders of Magic Wheelchair, have five children, three of whom were born with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which requires the use of wheelchairs for the entirety of their lives. Each Halloween, Ryan made the biggest, “baddest” costumes he could for his sons, Keaton and Bryce. Once the news of these costumes spread, Ryan began receiving requests from parents around the world asking if he would transform their kid’s wheelchairs into “magic”. In 2015, Ryan and Lana decided to make that happen and start Magic Wheelchair.

Attendees are invited to learn more about Magic Wheelchair by visiting their booth, #109, directly across from the ossuary build.

For those interested in participating in the silent auction, bids will be accepted through 3:00pm on Sunday, January 14. The winning bid will be announced and proceeds will be presented to Magic Wheelchair at 4:30pm.

Jerry Pendleton, founder of SkyTrans Manufacturing, dies at 79

By | January 9, 2018

CONTOOCOOK, N.H.Jerry Pendleton, founder and president of SkyTrans Manufacturing, LLC, passed away peacefully in his sleep on Dec. 28. He was 79.

A graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Pendleton started his career with road, bridge and all-around contractor O.D. Hopkins in 1960, eventually becoming president of O.D. Hopkins Associates, Inc., in 1988. Under his leadership, the company expanded beyond the aerial tramway business into roller coasters and water rides — becoming the world’s largest manufacturer by volume of rides including log flumes, shoot the chutes and raft rides.

In 2002, Pendleton founded SkyTrans, where he continued to pursue his love of the amusement industry with his sons.

Pendleton was born in Westerly, R.I., on Nov. 13, 1938. His family lived there for an additional two years before leaving for the small town of Contoocook, N.H., where young Jerry spent much of his childhood working on a large dairy farm across the street from his family’s residence.

In 1952, during his freshman year at Hopkinton High School, he met his future wife, Sylvia Allen, on a Ferris wheel at the Hopkinton State Fair; they married six years later while Pendleton was attending the University of New Hampshire. They raised five sons born between 1959 and 1974 on an eight-acre property given to them by Sylvia’s mother.

Although Pendleton earned a degree in dairy science, his meeting of O.D. Hopkins in 1960 would change his trajectory. For Hopkins’ fledgling company, the enthusiastic college grad pumped out septic tanks, drove trucks and operated backhoes. It was the start of what became an increasingly ambitious working relationship and lifelong friendship.

In 1962, Hopkins purchased designs and drawings of the John A. Roebling’s Sons Co. aerial tramway business, shifting his focus to the design, manufacture and installation of chairlifts for the local ski industry. Over the next two decades, Pendleton worked his way up in the company, which by the early 1970s had begun selling its aerial tramways to the amusement industry.

Of his working relationship with Hopkins, who died in 2010, Pendleton recalled to Amusement Today: “We rarely disagreed on things, and I knew that it never paid to argue with him because 99 percent of the time he was right. He told me once that my job was to be the front man, as he was more than content to design things — and that was how we functioned for many years.”

Hopkins concurrently operated tramways at major state fairs around the country under the name SkyFair Inc. Pendleton later purchased SkyFair from Hopkins, and together with close friend and co-owner Don DiGirolamo and so-called “adopted son,” Tracy Shedd, he grew the operation to what it is today.

There were milestones along the way.

In the mid-1970s, as vice president of O.D. Hopkins Associates, Pendleton connected with Paul Roads, founder of Wonderland Park in Amarillo, Texas, and the park’s president, Paul Borchardt, developing a very close working relationship with them. Together they planned — usually on a napkin, with plenty of margaritas nearby — and built a total of eight rides at Wonderland between 1976 and 1996, including a sky ride and the first Hopkins-produced log flume ride. It led to Hopkins becoming the largest manufacturer of water rides worldwide.

Of the comfortable working relationship Wonderland had with Pendleton and the Hopkins company during those years, Borchardt shared with AT: “They were just common people, not high-pressure salesmen. They manufactured it, produced it and then we bought it in a one-on-one deal — with a handshake. Whatever we did, we wanted it to be easy and not complicated. We’d have drinks and eat together, and we’d talk about our industry. We became really good friends.”

Pendleton was “easygoing, a good guy,” said Borchardt. “Sometimes I’d tell Jerry we couldn’t pay [for a project] right at this minute, and he’d say, ‘Well, we can wait until the end of the season.’ And I’d say, ‘No, we didn’t mean until the end of the season. We’ve just got to cash a CD.’ And he’d say, ‘Go ahead. Whenever you can, send it.’”

With a laugh, Borchardt added: “That’s how we always did everything — there was no pressure with anything we did together. Jerry really helped us create the family-oriented attractions we needed.”

Pendleton was known to have described Wonderland “our Skunk-Works facility,” where all new Hopkins ride designs were thoroughly tested and debugged. Among the other rides produced for the park by Hopkins were the Texas Tornado steel looping roller coaster, the Sky Rider monorail, the Shoot the Chute flume ride, the Pipeline Plunge wet/dry waterslide and the modest Rattlesnake River Raft Ride.

During his O.D. Hopkins years, Pendleton was involved with hundreds of projects for other parks and major theme park chains, including Splash Mountain at Disneyland, Paul Bunyon Log Flume at Mall of America and the Log Ride at Warner Bros. Movieland in Australia. The company’s projects spanned the globe, with installations in Japan, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Canada, South Africa, the U.K. and more. He was active in the original AREA and the beginning of AIMS safety associations.

In 2000, Hopkins Rides was merged with the French ride company Reverchon. The Hopkins brand later became affiliated with Martin & Vleminckx before being purchased by its current owner Whitewater West. In 2002, Jerry and his sons launched SkyTrans Manufacturing — focusing on water rides and bringing aerial tramways to zoos.

Pendleton observed that many older ski lifts were being replaced with newer models, and that some in the amusement, zoo and ski industries needed a people mover that would be high capacity (and for zoos, not disruptive to the animals). His company found a way to repurpose and refurbish existing equipment to ANSI B-77 Tramway code and ASTM standards in order to provide an economic solution for smaller parks and zoos.

SkyTrans has since installed rides in more than 10 locations across the U.S. It additionally supplies and fashions replacement parts and non-destructive testing devices for a variety of rides, including those manufactured by O.D. Hopkins Associates and others from manufacturers no longer in business.

In recent years, Pendleton gradually had been removing himself from the day to day activities of both SkyTrans and SkyFair, thus preparing his sons and colleagues for the succession of the companies’ leadership. At the time of his passing, he was en route to the warmer climes of South Florida.

“He did not make it to his final destination, but he died the busy travelin’ man he was,” said his family in a statement.

Recalling how much Pendleton enjoyed spending time in Daytona Beach, one of his best friends in the city, Theresa Doan of Doan Management, told AT: “Jerry loved Daytona Beach Bike Week, NASCAR races, New Year’s Eve celebrations — and Bud Light. He led the Bike Week contest team to reach new heights and raise thousands of dollars for the local Boys and Girls Club.

“Jerry was adept at managing all phases of special events, be it writing contracts, consulting on insurance, coaxing temperamental entertainers or engineering structural improvements. Mostly, Jerry loved people, meeting and befriending all — customers, employees, entertainers, vendors and members of law enforcement — with his cheerful happy countenance.”

Pendleton is predeceased by his wife, Sylvia Allen Pendleton; son, Frank Pendleton (stillborn); father, Lewis Pendleton; mother Helen Tulley Pendleton; and sister, Judith Pendleton Bline. He is survived by his sons Jerry, Jr., John, James, Daniel and Matthew, plus 11 grandchildren, one great grandchild, and 11 nieces and nephews.

A remembrance of Jerry will be held later this spring for his family and many friends from around the world.

Kurt Ray Crandall: October 11, 1966 – January 3, 2018 (age 51)

By | January 9, 2018

Our fun loving son Kurt Ray Crandall age 51 of Springville, passed away on Wednesday, January 3, 2018 from complications of severe infections leaving our hearts very saddened. Kurt was born to Ray and Valora Stout Crandall of Springville UT on October 11, 1966.

Although he and his brother at age 7 and 10 were severally burned it never dampened or slowed his adventurous spirit for fishing, hunting, boating, skiing, riding his dirt bike and flying his paraplane.

He graduated from Springville High School in 1984 and began working at his family business lntermountain Lift, Inc. helping build steel roller coaster track and structures for amusement ride manufactures though out the world.

Kurt is survived by his parents Ray and Valora, his son Austin Crandall and his brother Bret (Butch) Crandall (Julie) Mapleton UT. and many cousins, nieces, nephews and long time friends. He was preceded in death by his sister Laura Crandall and his Grandparents.

The Family would like to thank the Spingville Ambulance and Utah Valley Regional Medical Center Doctors, ER and ICU Teams in their efforts in trying to save our son.

Services will be conducted by Wheeler Mortuary at 211 East 200 South Springville, UT with a viewing and visitation from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. on Tuesday January 9, 2018. On Kurts request there will be no other service. His ashes will be scattered at his favorite places.

In lieu of flowers the family encourages supporting organ donation programs. Condolences may be sent at