Mike Apple began his career in 1967 as a ride operator for the Astrolift. Throughout the years he’s always taken great pride in his work for the park. During his tenure, he has seen or been a part of nearly every innovative moment at the park. In addition to working as a ride operator, Mike worked in Human Resources, Park Services, Games and eventually made his way back to Operations where he served as the Operations Manager for more than 25 years before he was promoted to Director of Operations in 2007.
Many have had the pleasure of hearing him tell great stories about the years when Angus Wynne, Jr. — the founder of Six Flags Over Texas — would roam the midway. As a member of management, Mike would often be found at the front of the park during the hot summer months wearing a short sleeved button downed shirt, slacks, cowboy boots, name badge and carrying a trash picker.
This week, Mike was honored by current and former Six Flags employees, inside his favorite entertainment venue — The Crazy Horse Saloon.
Apple, as he’s affectionately called by co-workers, has told colleagues that as a retiree he plans to travel, work in his yard, and for the first time in several years be home to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his wife instead of being at the park.
The new season at Six Flags Over Texas kicks off on Saturday, February 28.
ORLANDO, Fla. — SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS), a leading theme park and entertainment company, has announced changes in its operations management. These changes are part of the Company’s previously announced business optimization plans.
Daniel B. Brown becomes the Company’s Chief Parks Operations Officer, having operational oversight over all of the Company’s theme parks. Donald W. Mills becomes Orlando Park President responsible for leading the Company’s Orlando parks: SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica. Current Orlando Park President Terry Prather moves to the Company’s corporate team to become Senior Vice President of Operations with oversight of the safety, environmental, ride operations and standardization functions across the Company’s parks. He will also work closely with the Company’s industry-leading zoological operations.
Brown has been with the Company for nearly 40 years and has served as Park President for SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, as well as Corporate Vice President of Operations.
Mills has held a variety of positions in park and corporate leadership over a career that spans 40 years. He served as Park President of both the Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Tampa parks and also led operations in parks including SeaWorld San Diego.
Prather has led SeaWorld Orlando’s park operations since 2010. He also served as General Manager of Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Va. and held several operations management positions at SeaWorld San Antonio.
ISTANBUL, Turkey — The rush of water. The surge of adrenaline. The flow of energy. The screams of joy. You can’t describe it. You have to feel, experience it. Polin has been doing that with that same feeling of anticipation and energy for nearly 40 years. Committed to safety and passionate about design, it has grown from a family company into a global leader, with 2500 waterpark projects in 93 countries worldwide. Polin offers the industry’s widest range of waterpark / water play attractions.
In time, passion became profession.
The company’s pioneering technologies and groundbreaking designs mean that it has become the trusted suppliers to some of the world’s biggest, award-winning waterparks. Each and every element within the waterpark matters and the thrilling waterslides help break attendance records for its clients all over the world.
It is this attention to detail and desire for perfection that guarantees the quality and variety of its rides and ensures that every waterpark delivers a unique experience. Game changing innovations such as the landmark King Cobra or L-RTM technology in waterslide manufacturing have set new industry benchmarks for creativity and excitement.
Where there is fun there is joy, there is absolute perfection.
Now the company’s logo has evolved to reflect the evolving business and vision. Inspired by the products they are so passionate about, it represents a bird’s eye view of a spiraling waterslide created from the company’s initials. The logo might have been changed but the company’s passion remains the same: the passion to innovate and exhilarate.
Polin Waterparks, the experience.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Construction workers installed the final piece of track on Fury 325 at Carowinds on Friday, January 30, 2015. The record-breaking coaster will be the world’s tallest and fastest mega coaster with a traditional lift hill. Fury 325 will carry riders 325 feet high before plunging down an 81 degree drop at 95 mph.
Fury 325 is expected to debut when Carowinds opens for the 2015 season on March 28.
RICHMOND, British Columbia, Canada — WhiteWater has recently celebrated its 100th AquaLaunch built. The innovative launch capsule dials up the thrill factor in numerous WhiteWater water slides. AquaLaunch sends riders into jaw-dropping waterslides such as the AquaDrop, the Flatline Loop and the ever popular AquaLoop with installations in over 70 countries worldwide.
WhiteWater first started manufacturing AquaLaunches in 2009 and the current launch has evolved substantially over the past 5 years. “We have worked hard over the years upgrading the quality and durability of the launch parts,” comments Mike Genovese, Operations Manager of Electrical and Mechanical Assembly. The aesthetic design has also been updated to be more visually appealing and provide a streamlined design.
Major innovations have included updating the fiberglass trapdoor to a clear Lexan1 trapdoor that is free swinging to reduce noise and eliminates the need for expensive shock absorbers. The AquaLaunch has become more automated with the addition of a push button operated door replacing the old, manually operated one. All of the changes and updates over the years have only improved the heart-pounding ride experience; “The goal is to provide a quality water slide to our customer that is reliable and inexpensive to operate and maintain,” comments Mike.
Due to the complexity and the specialized nature of the AquaLaunch, all manufacturing is kept local in British Columbia, Canada to allow for close monitoring and quick response from engineers and managers in the event that issues arise during the production process.
2015 will be a busy year for the AquaLaunch team as the orders have been pouring in for projects all over the world. One project to note is set to be China’s largest water park: Zhengzhou Yinji Kaifeng Water park in Henan. With 7 AquaLaunches in total, guests will have the chance to brave two AquaDrops, three AquaLoops and two Fusion AquaLoop + Flatline Loops where riders are sent through an inverted loop before traversing a horizontal loop-de-loop, shooting down into the shutdown lane. Other projects that will feature multiple AquaLaunches include Lotte World in Korea, Sunway Lagoon in Malaysia and Yalta Water park in the Ukraine.
MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada — Triotech announces the very first installation an Interactive Dark Ride attraction in Turkey. The attraction will be operated in partnership with FunLab Cevahir, Turkey’s leader in Family Entertainment Centers.
Mr. Ernest Yale, President and CEO of TRIOTECH stated: “We are very happy to open this Interactive Dark Ride with a strong local partner. FunLab’s expertise in the amusement and entertainment world is extremely strong.”
In this new attraction, to be called “Zombi”, TRIOTECH has designed and produced the animation and gaming system that allows guests to experience a 3D adventure enhanced with 4D effects and interactivity. The ride system has been provided by Gosetto srl of Treviso in Italy.
In “Zombi”, guests ride aboard four-person police-themed vehicles and embark on a thrilling family adventure. There are six carts with four interactive scenes and the same number of non-interactive scenes. The 216 feet long ride blends media-based interactivity with 4D effects. An extensive physical décor and theming completes the immersion for riders.
“This installation highlights the flexibility and scalability inherent in our media based offering. Even an FEC can afford to invest in an Interactive Dark Ride. It’s not just for large parks,” mentioned Gabi Salabi, Vice President of Business Development for Triotech.
Triotech’s has recently won two Brass Ring Awards for Best New Product; in 2013 for FEC’s and in 2014 for Major Theme/Attraction Parks as well as IAAPA’s prestigious Impact Award for its Interactive Dark Ride at IAAPA’s Expo last November in Orlando, FL, USA.
“As the leading brand of the amusement industry in Turkey, FunLab is well aware that continuous innovation is key to success in a competitive market. This new ride & our partnership with Triotech will not only keep us cutting-edge but also add value to the entire network of FEC’s we operate,” stated Levent Baloglu, CEO of Balo-FunLab.
SANTA ANA, Calif. — The world’s most beloved blue engine rolls into Discovery Cube Los Angeles on January 24, 2015. Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails is an interactive, hands-on exhibit, and is locally sponsored by Union Pacific Railroad, Kinkisharyo, Metrolink and BNSF Railway, with a local media sponsor of PBS SoCal. The exhibit is set to run through April 26, 2015.
Featuring the favorite engines and destinations from Thomas & Friends, the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math)-focused exhibit seeks to engage children and families in foundational skills that foster STEM literacy through playful learning experiences. The exhibit incorporates foundational STEM practices that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems using a variety of methods and tools, thinking creatively and reflecting on actions and results.
Visitors to the 1500 square foot exhibit will be delighted as they find themselves surrounded by the Island of Sodor’s iconic locations: Knapford Station, Sodor Steamworks and much more. In the exhibit, children help Thomas and his friends solve a variety of challenges, from a simple sorting and shape identification activity to more complex engineering obstacles, such as completing a train track using track pieces with different levels of elevation. As children confront new challenges and test their abilities, the smiling faces of Thomas, Percy, Victor and others are there to offer encouragement and remind children how “really useful” they all are.
The Thomas & Friends exhibit was designed and developed by Minnesota Children’s Museum in partnership with HIT Entertainment, a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. The national tour is sponsored by 3M. PBS SoCal is the local media sponsor for the exhibit and the television home for Thomas & Friends. PBS SoCaL is excited that their PBS show is being brought to life by this dynamic exhibit for Thomas & Friends’ fans across Southern California.
Jackson, N.J. — The devil is in the details for Six Flags Great Adventure’s new looping thrill ride, set to open this spring. Originally announced in the fall of 2014 as “Looping Dragon,” with an Asian-inspired moniker and location in the Golden Kingdom section, the new ride was re-imagined by park management who opted for a more “devilish” theme – El Diablo.
“The Jersey devil has deep roots in our state’s history, and inspired the new theme for our upcoming thrill ride,” said Park President John Fitzgerald.
The giant, fiery red El Diablo giant loop will make its home next to the world’s top-rated wooden coaster, El Toro, in the Mexican-themed Plaza del Carnaval section. It features riders sitting in “face-off” seats rocketing forward and backward pendulum style until the train gains enough momentum to complete a full revolution seven stories in the air. The thrill ride then kicks into high gear, completing full revolutions until it stops momentarily with riders suspended upside down, and then reverses direction for even more thrills.
“El Diablo is the perfect addition to Plaza del Carnaval, as it appeals to both thrill seekers and families alike. Rides like El Toro and Tango attract a wide audience to this area, which also provides ample opportunities for dining, shopping and relaxation from the excitement of the world’s largest theme park,” Fitzgerald added.
El Diablo is set to open this spring, and will have a 48-inch height requirement to ride.
Gwazi opened in 1999 as Florida’s first dueling wooden roller coaster, providing guests with thrilling and memorable experiences for more than 15 years.
“No decisions have been made about what lies ahead for Gwazi or for the future plans of that area of Busch Gardens,” said Park President Jim Dean. “But, we are always looking for ways to enhance guests’ experiences, so stay tuned for more news.”
SANTA ANA, Calif. — AIMS International has extended the early registration deadline for the 2015 AIMS Safety Seminar and Certification Program to January 7, 2015. Attendees who register by the newly extended deadline will save $100 off the registration price.
The annual AIMS Safety Seminar is world-renowned for its diverse curriculum and the quality of instructors. Certification testing will be offered for Levels I and II Maintenance Technician and Operations Technician; Level I Aquatics Operations Technician; and Levels I, II and III Ride Inspector Certification. The seminar will take place in Orlando, Florida, January 11 to 16, 2015.
A complete schedule, list of classes and registration information can be found on the AIMS International website.