BBC profiles Geoff Chutter’s “Paths to Success”

By | April 2, 2020

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Sometimes, recognition is receiving an award, and sometimes, it is being featured by a global news network! WhiteWater is honoured that today, the BBC featured WhiteWater President & CEO, Geoff Chutter, on their program, “Paths to Success” on BBC.com. Last month, BBC’s Canadian team visited WhiteWater’s head office in Vancouver, B.C., where Geoff was able to share a view into the attractions industry along with insights on how he’s successfully navigated WhiteWater to its 40th anniversary this year. Geoff reflected on how as a new entrepreneur, he found himself hugely mortgaged, with interest rates reaching 20%, but was still able to persevere; an encouraging message for other entrepreneurs during this difficult time.

In addition to showcasing WhiteWater’s manufacturing capabilities locally in Canada, the BBC team learned about our focus on local responsiveness with teams working in Barcelona, Shanghai, and Dubai. While expanding globally from the start has helped WhiteWater’s success, a foundational tenant of Geoff’s has always been, ‘the right people on the bus in the right seats’. The hiring priority of mindset has created a culture of integrity and collaboration that delivers the customer experience we strive for.

The WhiteWater family is made up of diverse talents, from engineers, landscape architects, and sculptors, to human resources, accounting, and sales. It was to this team that Geoff graciously credited his recent success in becoming EY’s Canadian Entrepreneur Of The Year. 

Lui Petrollini, EY’s Assurance Partner and the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Pacific Program Director said of Geoff’s win, “it’s one thing to be acknowledged for entrepreneurial achievement, it’s another to be acknowledged in a sector that supports family values by enabling dreams to come true and lasting memories to be made. Becoming the largest global designer and the biggest manufacturer of water park products is no small feat. It’s taken Geoff, and WhiteWater, years of dedication to their business, product mix, and customer base to achieve this global reach and success.”

To enjoy a brief distraction from Covid19, see Geoff’s journey from water park owner to manufacturing leader in BBC’s “Paths to Success” at www.bbc.com/news/business-51507732.

Tony Claassen appointed President of the AIMS International Board of Directors

By | April 2, 2020

We are pleased to announce Tony Claassen of Herschend Family Entertainment has been appointed President of the AIMS International Board of Directors, effective today, April 1, 2020. The board also appointed David Bromilow of Moboro as vice president and Timo Klaus of KumbaK, treasurer. George Tso of Ocean Park remains secretary.

We would like to thank Franceen Gonzales, who served as president this past year and Linda Freeman who served as treasurer for the past four years, for their years of service to our organization. They will continue to serve on the AIMS board of directors.

Icon-ic theme park experience from the comfort of your own home

By | April 1, 2020

Blackpool Pleasure Beach has announced a string of activities allowing the public to experience the thrills and spills of the UK’s favourite amusement park from home.

Launching a virtual experience of ICON on Saturday 4th April at 4pm – ‘riders’ will reach dizzying new heights on the park’s newest and fastest rollercoaster, simply by tuning into its social pages.

Participants are invited to post their reactions on the park’s Facebook page and connect with other fans of Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Releasing exclusive clips and footage of its most popular rides every Saturday, the park will also be sharing fun activities and exercises to keep followers entertained – from keep fit videos with Team Nick to arts and craft creations.

Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Amanda Thompson OBE, said: “We understand that Theme Parks are an escape for people and rollercoasters are an amazing, feel-good journey. During these times, if we can bring some of that joy home for people, that would just be wonderful.”

Once aired, the ICON virtual experience will be available across the park’s social pages, for families and fans to enjoy for free in the comfort of their own home. Blackpool Pleasure Beach will also be offering fun activities on their social channels throughout the week, to keep people busy whilst encouraging staying home.

State Fair of Texas is searching for next voice of Big Tex

By | April 1, 2020

DALLAS — No April Fool’s joke here. The State Fair of Texas really is looking for the next Voice of Big Tex. Do you think you have the perfect voice to fit our Texas-sized cowboy? We know, it’s a tall task, (55-foot tall to be exact,) but if you’re up for the challenge, head to BigTex.com/Voice for more information on the audition process and opportunity of a lifetime. First round auditions open today, and submissions will be accepted through April 15, 2020.

Since 1952, Big Tex has served as the ambassador of the State Fair of Texas, greeting millions of fairgoers each year. Big Tex is a cultural icon. When you think of Texans, traits like friendliness, generosity, loyalty, persistence, and commitment instantly spring to mind. Big Tex personifies all those things, and what it means to be a true Texan. In our search for the next Voice of Big Tex, we’re looking for someone who embodies those same qualities of a true Texan who can use their voice talent to help bring our 55-foot cowboy to life. 

Big Tex is synonymous with the State Fair of Texas and holds a special place in so many lives across the Lone Star State and around the world. The Voice of Big Tex plays a key role in influencing audiences about the annual event and the overall mission of the nonprofit organization. We are looking for the best voice talent to help us record professional voice overs and live readings for Big Tex. On top of that, our ideal candidate is someone who shares the same love and appreciation for all things Texan, including the time-honored traditions of the State Fair of Texas.

The audition process will consist of four rounds. The first round includes an online application and digital recording submission of prewritten scripts. If selected to participate in final rounds, applicants must audition through an in-person interview, in-studio recording session, and PA system test. For a complete description of the position, its duties and responsibilities, and audition details, please visit BigTex.com/Voice.

The next Voice of Big Tex will be selected and notified by July. Although the Voice will continue to remain anonymous, be sure to visit the 2020 State Fair of Texas, opening September 25, to be welcomed by Big Tex’s new voice and his iconic “howdy, folks” greeting.

SeaWorld Orlando provides free classroom resources helping teachers, students and parents virtually explore the wild world of animals and nature

By | April 1, 2020

SeaWorld Orlando understands that you may need turnkey, engaging activities now more than ever.   Our parks have developed standards-aligned resources available to help families virtually explore the wild world of animals and nature for grades K-12.

Parents, students and teacher can explore hands-on, creative resources including Classroom Activities, Teacher’s Guides, Saving a Species Video Series, Animal Bytes and Animal Info Books.  SeaWorld’s distance learning resources can help everyone continue to explore, discover and stay connected in a fun and inspiring environment.

Materials can be accessed by going directly to SeaWorld.org, or through our portal at SeaWorld Orlando Education.  

NEAAPA member meetings every Monday at 11am to discuss industry challenges related to COVID-19

By | April 1, 2020

The next meeting will be on Monday, April 6, 2020 at 11:00am. Again, this meeting will be open to all NEAAPA members to discuss the industry-related impacts brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak. 

This meeting will be held using the Zoom meeting platform that the Board and committees use. You will have the ability to use both a phone or computer (with audio) to participate. 

You must register in advance for this meeting. Please click on the button below to get started:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Dolly Parton to read children’s books at bedtime beginning Thursday, April 2

By | April 1, 2020

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Dollywood and Abramorama, in association with The Dollywood Foundation, announced that Dolly Parton will read select children’s books from her Imagination Library each Thursday evening beginning on Thursday, April 2, at 7 p.m. EST. For the next 10 weeks, “Goodnight With Dolly” will feature Parton reading books that have been specifically chosen for their appropriate content at this unique time.

Additionally, the Imagination Library documentary that was scheduled to premiere this week, will now open the week of Sept. 21 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The Library That Dolly Built tells the story of how the Imagination Library has gifted more than 135 million books to children since its inception in 1995. The program—part of The Dollywood Foundation—currently gifts books to 1.5 million children around the world each month. 

During each week’s “Goodnight With Dolly,” the entertainment icon—who is better known as The Book Lady to millions of children around the world—welcomes viewers and introduces the title, author and illustrator of the featured book. Snuggled in bed with her Imagination Library book, Parton will read each story in her own signature style.

The books featured in the series include: “There’s a Hole in the Log on the Bottom of the Lake” by Loren Long; “Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney; “I Am a Rainbow” by Parton; “Pass It On” by Sophy Henn; “Stand Tall, Molly Lou Mellon” by Patty Lovell; “Violet the Pilot” by Steve Breen; “Max & The Tag-Along Moon” by Floyd Cooper; “Last Stop on Market Street” by Matt de la Peña; “Coat of Many Colors” by Parton; and her favorite book, “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper.

The stories will be read across the social channels for the Imagination Library, Dolly Parton’s personal sites, the World Choice Investments family of attractions, and The Dollywood Company. The readings will be Dolly’s personal gift to all families. Her hope is that families will be inspired by her message to pass on love and keep hope alive as we all work together during this time. 

“This is something I have been wanting to do for quite a while, but the timing never felt quite right,” she explained. “I think it is pretty clear that now is the time to share a story and to share some love. It is an honor for me to share the incredible talent of these authors and illustrators. They make us smile, they make us laugh and they make us think.”

Regarding the film’s release, she adds, “Although it was the right thing to do, postponing the screening of our documentary was a disappointment. So many of our Imagination Library affiliates had organized events around the nationwide screenings; however, things do have a way of working out, so the documentary will still have its day.”

The Library that Dolly Built, directed and produced by Nick Geidner, journalism professor and director of Land Grant Films, and narrated by Danica McKellar, goes behind-the-scenes of the literacy-focused non-profit, Imagination Library, to show how one of the most famous and beloved performers in the world has developed an efficient and effective program for spreading the love of reading.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library started as a gift for the children in Dolly’s hometown, Sevierville, Tennessee, and is now active in all 50 states and five countries. The film also provides a glimpse of the profound impact the Imagination Library has on the people through original interviews with authors, policymakers, Imagination Library staff, recipients, and the legend herself, Dolly Parton. Woven throughout the film is a biographical sketch of Dolly Parton, featuring rare photos and films from her childhood. Unlike most biographies of Dolly, it doesn’t focus on her music. Instead, it demonstrates that at every point in her career, any time she has had success, Dolly Parton has come back to Sevierville to give back to her people.

Swimplex Aquatics Coronavirus (Covid-19) statement

By | April 1, 2020

The world is struggling with an issue of enormous scale and human impact, and our hearts go out to all who have been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).

We continue to monitor the latest updates about the global COVID-19 outbreak provided by health officials; federal, state and local governments and are taking actions to ensure our employees are safe and our operations are being run safely.

While pandemics are unpredictable in their timing and severity, we can confirm that our local & global suppliers are still under operation as of now and we are still able to carry out our turn-key filtration, water slide/ splash pad and Myrtha Pools projects.

This maybe the opportunity to consider that long awaited repair / maintenance job.

To list a few of our services:

  • Repairs to pool shell structure, tiles and finishes
  • Service work to filtration equipment plant
  • Water slide / splash pad projects or repair
  • Wetdeck Grate, lane rope replacements or other pool products

We are continuing to deliver products, filtration and water slide/ splash pad projects to venues large and small, but obviously taking account of site contact and health issues: Contact Swimplex Aquatics.

As always, the health and safety of our clients and our staff is our top priority and we will take all necessary precautions to ensure their continued welfare.

We are closely monitoring all developments related to the coronavirus and are prepared to adjust our operations and procedures as needed to ensure the health and well-being of our customers and employees.

If you require further information on our response to coronavirus you can contact sales@swimplex.com.au or call 1300 796 759

We remain committed to providing the superior service and support that our customers have come to expect.

Treasures in plain sight many times overlooked by guests at Quassy Amusement Park

By | March 31, 2020

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. – When the gates at just about any amusement park in the nation open, there is an immediate mad dash to the largest roller coaster or fastest waterslide. Call it human nature – if you will – to be among the first in line for that morning adrenaline rush offered by the most thrilling attractions at any particular property.

And while waiting in queue lines or even strolling the midway, it’s not unusual to see a lot of folks with their eyes glued to their cellphones instead of absorbing all a particular park might have to offer.

Take for instance the not-so-hidden treasures at Quassy Amusement & Waterpark here. While some of the locals have been coming to the property for generations, many guests do not realize they are surrounded by bits and pieces of Americana that are slowly disappearing from the amusement industry landscape.

Arcade Games Of Yesteryear
Inside the huge redemption arcade in the heart of the park are a variety of games that have been around since the early part of the last century.

Perhaps the most interesting machines are two Rotary Merchandisers produced by the Exhibit Supply Co. of Chicago, Ill (circa 1931). They are a rather simple contraption to play as an arm sweeps across the game’s felt-covered field as you attempt to push prizes into a shoot to redeem them. 

The games were acquired by John Frantzis, Quassy’s patriarch owner, in 1971 when Palisades Park in Cliffside Park, N.J., closed.

Though semi-retired, John Frantzis still maintains a daily morning routine of setting up the Rotary Merchandisers and other arcade games during Quassy’s season.

“I remember Palisades Park very well,” Frantzis said of the park. “It had some great rides and fabulous entertainment – and you couldn’t beat the location.”

Palisades was famous in its own rite and was a “trolley park” – the same as Quassy – once owned and operated by a rail company. The park opened in 1898 and guests flocked to the property for its many attractions and were treated to a spectacular view of Manhattan, which was directly across the Hudson River.

Baby boomers will also recall the hit 1962 rock n’ roll song titled Palisades Park penned by Chuck Barris and recorded by Freddy Cannon. It can still be heard to this day on oldies rock radio stations.

Love Testers
Two other Exhibit Supply Co. games are located in the park. Called Love Testers (circa 1940), players deposit 25 cents and squeeze the handle, setting off a mechanized series of lights. Finally, one light remains lit showing the player if they are “blah,” “uncontrollable” or something in between.

The Love Tester in Quassy Restaurant draws the most attention as guests play while enjoying their summer fare at the lakefront.

Having A Ball
Skee-Ball is a tried-and-true arcade game dating back more than 100 years. Invented in 1908, the game has had numerous cosmetic and mechanical changes throughout the years, yet to this day offers the same exciting challenge to players.

A handheld ball is rolled up a narrow alley, becomes airborne on a ramp and drops into one of a number of scoring areas on a backboard.

 Bay Tek Games, Inc., of Pulaski, Wis., has the manufacturing rights to the product, which has changed hands numerous times since its introduction more than a century ago.

Quassy has had several versions of the game and today offers six Skee-Ball alleys in the arcade building. The latest update Quassy has attached to the game is automated credits given to players on their Quassy Game On cards, thus eliminating the need for redemption tickets to be dispensed. Many of the other arcade games use the same computerized system.

Frantzis readily admits “I hit it during the good times (1970s),” when video arcade games were up and coming and extremely popular.

“The home computers and television game consoles have killed most of that,” he asserted. “Fortunately, people still enjoy playing for prizes and just for fun.”

Despite the decline in video gaming, Quassy’s arcade has managed to mix the old with the new and still remains popular among all ages.

Some of the newest acquisitions include The World’s Largest Pac-Man video game and the Quassy Quest Laser Maze.

A Fair Deal
There were lions and tigers and … Humpty Dumpty! 

It seems as though a rite of passage growing up in western Connecticut years ago was to attend the Danbury Fair – 20 minutes from Quassy Amusement Park.

What started out as a three-day event grew into a 10-day run which attracted hundreds of thousands of guests from Connecticut and neighboring states.

“It was huge, and we used to take a full (tented) arcade operation into there,” noted Quassy President Eric Anderson, who is also John Frantzis’ son-in-law and an owner.

The sprawling fairgrounds covered more than 150 acres by the time the last exposition was held in 1981.

The fair was known for fantastic food, entertainment and a menagerie of fiberglass figures that delighted young and old.

A year after the fair closed the late George Frantzis, then Quassy president, acquired a number of the figurines from the fair. They included a lion, tiger, hippopotamus and colorful Humpty Dumpty.

While they made various appearances throughout the park, the lion found a new home in 2014 when Quassy Zoo, a children’s playground, opened near the entrance to Quassy Beach and Splash Away Bay waterpark.

The huge Humpty Dumpty figure, perched high atop Quassy’s main office, draws many a comment from astonished guests.

“He’s popular, that’s for sure,” Anderson said of the decorative figure. “Few – if any guests -realize that he came from the Danbury Fair. Those that might recall the fair know it was something special here in Connecticut.”

“It’s been important for us in recent years to make improvements at the park, including world-class attractions such as our Wooden Warrior roller coaster and a new waterpark,” said owner George Frantzis II, whose grandfather purchased the property in 1937. “But equally important is the heritage of the property. We have diligently maintained some of the oldest buildings and attractions generations have enjoyed here. What we have accomplished is a unique blending of the old with the new.”

He concluded in saying: “As one of the few remaining trolley parks in the nation we believe it is not so much our mission to maintain that heritage, but our responsibility.”

Treasures In Plain Sight At Quassy

Quassy Amusement Park opened in 1908 and today is one of only a handful of remaining trolley parks in the nation. Before The Great Depression of 1929 there were more than 1,000 such parks. Some of the treasures in plain sight – old and new and reflective of the park’s heritage, – are listed here:

  • The redemption arcade is the oldest building on the property. It opened in 1915 as an open-air dance hall.
  • Carousel roundhouse was constructed in 1927. The building was refurbished in 2007, maintaining its original heritage. In 2016 new siding was put on the structure.
  • 1940: A Tea Room was build overlooking the park. Today it is Quassy Restaurant.
  • 2009: New main entrance ticket booth opens – reminiscent of the trolley station which once serviced the park.
  • 1952: Allan Herschell kiddieland installed behind the arcade building. Three of the four rides remain in service today and are the favorites of youngsters. The Little Dipper roller coaster located there is one of the oldest steel coasters operating in the nation.
  • 2015: New train station built for Quassy Express – reflective of a station of yesteryear.

Other Treasure Chest Parks

Here is a sampling of other amusement parks where you can get a good taste of nostalgia:

  • Canobie Lake Park, Salem, N.H.
  • Waldameer Park, Erie, Pa.
  • Seabreeze, Rochester, N.Y.
  • Oaks Amusement Park, Portland, Ore.
  • Lakeside Amusement Park, Denver, Colo.
  • Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa.
  • Camden Park, Huntington, W.Va.
  • Sylvan Beach Amusement Park, Sylvan Beach, N.Y.
  • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
  • Lake Compounce, Bristol, Conn.

Property Myth: Always A Good Thing

Working at an amusement park can be fun and rewarding. Quassy employs hundreds of students each summer and when some of them inquire about the gigantic Humpty Dumpty on the rooftop, they are treated to a favorite myth: “If there is a thunder and lightning storm passing over the park exactly at midnight, Humpty Dumpty comes to life.”

That being said, the park staff quickly forgets about the legendary monster living in Lake Quassapaug.

Extension of park closures until at least mid-May announced by Six Flags

By | March 31, 2020

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas — Six Flags Entertainment Corporation (NYSE: SIX), the world’s largest regional theme park company and the largest operator of waterparks in North America, today announced that all the company’s parks will remain closed until mid-May, or as soon as possible thereafter, reflecting federal and local restrictions in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The company will continue to closely monitor the evolving global health crisis and follow the most current guidance from federal, state, and local officials as it assesses when it can reopen some or all of its parks.

The company also announced it is reducing salaries for all executive officers and team members in an effort to enhance the company’s financial flexibility while it faces the operating and financial impact of COVID-19. Effective April 6, 2020, the company is taking the following measures:

  • Reducing base salaries of executive officers by 25%
  • Reducing salaries of all full-time salaried employees, subject to state and federal minimum thresholds, by 25%
  • Reducing scheduled hours for full-time hourly employees by 25% to 30 hours per week

These changes allow employees to retain their existing health plan coverage at current premiums.

“The safety and well-being of our guests and team members is our most important priority,” said Mike Spanos, President and CEO. “While these actions are difficult for all of us, they will help the company weather the current crisis by reducing expenses. We decided to decrease salaries rather than implement a workforce reduction to ensure our team members have income and health benefits so that Six Flags has an experienced workforce in place when we are in a position to re-open our parks. Our hope is that these measures are only temporary and will help bridge the financial gap the company is facing, in the fairest manner possible, until we can return to normal operations.”