Reminder! Deadline looming to register for the 2016 Golden Ticket Awards

By | August 30, 2016

2016 ticket no shadowThe time is now to register for the “Networking Event of the Year!” Registration for Amusement Today’s 2016 Golden Ticket Awards is looming with a deadline of Friday, Sept. 2. The host park for the two-day event on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9-10 is the beautiful Cedar Point amusement park and resort located along the shores of Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio.

To check out the itinerary and to register, please visit This event is reserved exclusively for full-time working professionals in the amusement industry such as park owners, operators and management, ride manufacturers, designers, suppliers and vendors.

Cedar Point is literally rolling out the red carpet and invites all industry attendees to dress the part of the Academy Awards – or their finest attire if they wish – to fit the atmosphere of the Oscars-theme of the awards show for Saturday evening’s festivities (beginning at 5:30 p.m.).

Due to the overwhelming popularity of the “Cedar Point Legacy & Landmark Tour” slated for Friday, Sept. 9 at 2-3 p.m., that specific tour is now SOLD OUT. Space is still available for the “Cedar Point Behind-the-Screams Tour” from 3:30-4:30 p.m.

Tickets for the Jet Express Boat Tour also remain. The advance-purchase tickets ($75.00 per person) are a fundraiser to benefit the National Roller Coaster Museum & Archives.

This is the 19th annual year for the Golden Ticket Awards; they are presented to the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today.

Stephen Swika Jr. passes away

By | August 30, 2016

Swikas Jackie STevieStephen Swika, Jr., 77, of Scott Twp., Pa., owner of Pennsylvania-based S&S Amusements, passed away peacefully at home August 19, 2016.

Born in Carbondale, he was the son of the late Stephen Swika Sr. and Justine Mikloiche Swika. He was a graduate of Blakely High School.

Swika Jr.’s family began in the outdoor amusement industry as a game concession operation. But, in 1957, he and his dad partnered together to form S&S Amusements, broadening the game operation into amusement rides as well.

Today, the show has a large inventory of rides including a new one added this year, the A.R.M. Vertigo. The show plays from April until October.

Swika Jr. was a member and past president of the Pennsylvania State Showmen’s Association and served on the board of directors of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association. Swika also was a member of the Showmen’s League of America, the New York Association of Agricultural Fairs, the International Independent Showmen’s Association and was a NARSO and Pennsylvania ride inspector.

He was a member of Washington Lodge 265, Free and Accepted Masons, Bloomsburg, Pa. and an honorary member of Scott Twp. Hose Company 1.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Jacqueline (Jackie) Swika, who passed away in 2007. She also was an active member of the industry. She was a member and past president of the Pennsylvania State Showmen’s Association and the Outdoor Amusement Business Association and served on the board and as a trustee for both organizations.

Swika Jr. was respected for his knowledge and expertise in the outdoor amusement industry and played a large part in the implementation of the Pennsylvania Ride Safety Act. He was instrumental in the engineering and refurbishing of many rides. He was known for always being there to lend a helping hand, a replacement part or advice to anyone who asked.

Two of his favorite sayings were, “It Is What It Is” and “The Show Must Go On.”

Swika Jr. was loved by many and will be greatly missed.

Surviving are a son, Stephen Swika III and wife, Paula, Scott Twp.; three daughters, Cherylann Swika-Post and husband, Michael, Scott Twp.; Saundra Swika-Belcher and husband, David, Scott Twp.; and Valerie Swika, Englewood, Fla.; one stepdaughter, Stephanie Williams and husband, David, Scott Twp.; 11 grandchildren, Adam, Justine, Melissa, Ursula, Alicia, Sabastian, Corey, Tiffany, Evan, Jordan and Emily; three great-grandchildren, Peyton, Bailey and Austin; two brothers, Robert Swika and wife, Mary Helen, Jessup; Richard Swika and wife, Linda, Peckville; and several nieces and nephews.

He also was preceded in death by his sister, Susan Klopher.

Friends may call from 2-5 p.m. or 6-9 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 30, at the Hedley Mason Funeral Home, Peckville, Pa.

Masonic services by the Washington Lodge 265 will be held at 7 p.m.

Funeral services are set to start at 11 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 31, at the funeral home, followed by entombment at St. Mary’s Mausoleum, Montdale, Pa.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Salvation Army, 500 S. Washington Ave., Scranton, PA 18505, or Special Olympics Pennsylvania, 2570 Blvd. of the Generals, Suite 124, Norristown, PA 19403, or Pennsylvania State Showmen’s Association Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 5, New Tripoli, PA 18066.

Zamperla celebrations 50 years of success

By | August 30, 2016

VICENZA, Italy – It was a labor of love for Alberto Zamperla as he began putting together celebratory preparations for his company’s 50th anniversary.

The anniversary is year-long, but Zamperla wanted to bring his friends and customers together to show his appreciation of their support throughout the years.

And, that is what he did on June 9 and 10. More than 120 guests were invited to this small city just under 40 miles west of Venice, a city known for the architectural influences of Andrea Palladio in the 16th century.

Guests were wined, dined, toured and, most of all, appreciated.

“They are my reason for success,” Zamperla said, adding that he not only builds amusement rides but he also builds relationships.
In fact, to him, that is what it is all about.

The birth of Antonio Zamperla S.p.A., Albert Zamperla’s father, came in 1966. But, the foundation dates back to a century long family tradition which started with an equestrian circus at the beginning of the 20th century, moving through the establishment and management of one of the first street-cinemas in Italy, and then to the craftsmanship and production of amusement rides.

Antonio Zamperla’s entrepreneurial adventure began in those years, when he realized that popular adult attractions could be successfully reproduced for children. Three years after founding Antonio Zamperla S.p.A., the company produced mini bumper cars, which since have been renamed mini scooters. They could be trailer mounted and moved, a novelty for the time.

In 1971, the company came out with the Punchball game.

In 1972, Alberto Zamperla moved to the U.S. to open a business here. He told those attending the celebration in Vicenza that it was very difficult for him when he first entered the U.S. and tried to sell products since he had no references and that was what park and carnival management wanted to see.

In 1975, Zamperla came out with the Mini Jet 6 and Alberto Zamperla made his first sale of the ride to Reithoffer Shows.
He finally had a reference. In 1976, the U.S. office was opened.

Today, Zamperla produces over 260 rides a year and not only has the headquarters in Vicenza and an office in the U.S., but has a global presence. In 2015, the production report broken up into ride types showed 46.18 percent of the rides produced that year were major and thrill rides. Family rides produced took up 30.88 percent; roller coasters, 15.04 percent; and kiddie rides, 7.90 percent.

25th Annual OKTOBERFEST To Feature Bands, Festival Food

By | August 25, 2016

OktoberfestMIDDLEBURY, Conn. – The 25th Annual OKTOBERFEST is slated for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 24 and Sunday, Sept. 25, at Quassy Amusement Park here.
Two bands will be performing for the event, which is held in the Fieldside Pavilion at the lakeside facility. They are: Joe Stanky & The Cadets on Saturday and John Stevens’ Doubleshot on Sunday. Both bands hail from eastern Pennsylvania and have played for years at festivals, amusement parks and other large venues. The live music starts at 12:30 p.m. both days and the event will be held rain or shine.
Admission to the OKTOBERFEST pavilion is free, with fees for food, beverages, rides and attractions in the park. Parking for the event is $7 per car. Amusement rides will operate 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Quassy Amusement Park is located at 2132 Middlebury Road.
Traditional festival food in the pavilion will include knackwurst, bratwurst, sauerkraut, potato pancakes, roasted pork and steamed vegetables. There will be a variety of other menu items available as well during the two-day festival. Complete dinners or individual entrees will be sold.
Pumpkin decorating for youngsters will be offered both days at the event.

KumbaK co-founder, Maarten van de Ven, passes away

By | August 25, 2016

DSC_0003THE NETHERLANDS – Our co-founder and executive vice president Maarten van de Ven passed away unexpectedly at home on 16 August 2016, aged 58 years.  After finishing his studies of Master of Sciences in Industrial Engineering at the University of Technology in Eindhoven, Maarten worked at Philips Electronics and Tulip Computers before starting his career in the amusement industry at Vekoma Manufacturing.  After the bankruptcy of Vekoma in 2001, Maarten was instrumental in founding and building KumbaK as an engineering and service provider for the amusement industry. 
Within the company, Maarten was primarily responsible for finances, procurement and logistics.  In the almost 15 years of the existence of KumbaK, he has always been the main contact person for our suppliers and subcontractors.  Away from work, Maarten liked to travel and was a connoisseur of good food and drink – the latter skills he enjoyed applying annually to the company Christmas dinner, and which always ensured them to be memorable occasions enjoyed by everyone.
We owe him great gratitude and will truly miss him.  Maarten is survived by a brother and brother-in-law. 

Golden Ticket Awards host Hotel Breakers sold out

By | August 24, 2016

2016 Cedar PointSANDUSKY, Ohio — Owing to the popularity of both the “Networking Event of the Year,” and host park Cedar Point, the Hotel Breakers is now sold out of rooms reserved for the Golden Ticket Awards Ceremony weekend.

Fortunately Cedar Point is home to multiple lodging options and the park is offering accommodations at Sandcastle Suites, Lighthouse Point, Breakers Express and Castaway Bay.

Guests may view/book the following rates by using promotional code GTA. Details on rates and dates that are available are listed below. These rates are based on general availability and will appear as long as the property has open inventory.

Sandcastle Suites – dates available 9/9 and 9/10
Non Lake-View Suite – $179
Lake-View Suite – $199

Lighthouse Point – dates available 9/9, 9/10 and 9/11
Cottages – $205
Standard Cabins – $209
Deluxe Cabins – $255

Breakers Express – dates available 9/9 and 9/10
Friday Night – $85
Saturday Night – $95

Castaway Bay – dates available 9/9, 9/10 and 9/11
Rates vary depending on room types

This link will pre-populate the Cedar Point reservations website with the Golden Ticket Awards promotional code.

Stand-up coaster to go floorless at California’s Great America

By | August 19, 2016

2_Patriot_floorless_coaster_coming_to_California_s_Great_America_for_2017_season__COURTESY_CALIFORNIA_S_GREAT_AMERICA_SANTA CLARA, Calif. — California’s Great America (CGA) will introduce Patriot, the first floorless roller coaster in the park’s 41-year history, for the 2017 season.

Patriot will emerge from a technical makeover of Vortex, which opened at the park in 1991, was designed by Werner Stengel and manufactured by Bolliger & Mabillard of Monthey, Switzerland.

Patriot will carry riders in a seated position, legs dangling free, to the top of a 91-foot-high lift before sending them into a 360-degree loop at 45 mph.

“With the track visible beneath their feet, Patriot will create unique and exciting new perspectives throughout the ride,” said Raul Rehnborg, CGA’s vice president and general manager.

The theme of the coaster was inspired by both the ride’s position adjacent to the park’s All American Corners section and the name of the park itself. The stand-up-to-floorless transition will include new blue-and-white trains.

Guests can take their final rides on Vortex on Sept. 5., after which it will be closed in preparation for its remaking into Patriot.

CGA’s 2016 season continues weekends through Oct. 30, with Halloween Haunt running Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Sept. 24-Oct. 30.

Making its debut at CGA this year, WinterFest takes center stage Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 25-Dec. 30, with daily operation Dec. 19-23 and 26-30. —Dean Lamanna

WinterFest returns to Kings Island in 2017

By | August 18, 2016

KI Winterfest logo_4c-01MASON, Ohio – Nostalgia and a return to traditions are what holiday seasons are known for, and in 2017 Kings Island will deliver those sentiments with the return of a month-long holiday celebration.

After a 12-year absence, the long awaited return of WinterFest will provide Gold season passholders and Tristate residents with four seasons of fun at the 364-acre amusement and water park.

The focal point of WinterFest will be the world’s largest Christmas tree display with the park’s iconic 314-foot tall Eiffel Tower decorated with thousands of lights which will be seen for miles.

WinterFest RenderingBelow the Eiffel Tower, International Street will be transformed into a colorful and quaint winter village, featuring the fun of holidays past – outdoor ice skating on the park’s Royal Fountain, Christmas carolers, and homemade crafts.

Tasty foods, colorful gifts, live stage shows, fun rides, and of course, Santa’s workshop will all be part of WinterFest’s warmth and excitement.

Rides will include the Grand Carousel and a journey through the park’s Rivertown area on an authentic steam train.

Operating dates, hours and ticket prices for WinterFest will be announced at a later date. The event will be included free for 2017 Gold and Platinum season passholders.

Also new in 2017, Soak City Water Park will see the addition of a smokehouse style restaurant as well as other new amenities and improvements. Guests will enjoy the smells and tastes of new food items such as smoked pulled pork, smoked or grilled wings, hand-breaded chicken tenders and shrimp. The water park will also offer additional shade structures, changing rooms, cooling mister fans, and expanded deck space doubling the number of chaise lounge chairs.

Last month, Kings Island announced it was building a new wooden roller coaster, Mystic Timbers, which will debut in the spring of 2017.

Kings Island 2017 Gold season passes are now on sale at the lowest price of nine easy payments of $11 online at and include free season-long parking, early ride time every public operating day on select attractions, early access to Soak City Water Park and unlimited admission to Halloween Haunt and WinterFest.

Kings Island is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, a publicly traded partnership that is listed for trading on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “FUN.”

KumbaK co-founder Maarten van de Ven passes away

By | August 18, 2016

THE NETHERLANDS – It is with great sadness that we share that our co-founder and colleague, M.W.T.M. (Maarten) van de Ven passed away unexpectedly.

In the almost 15 years of the existence of KumbaK, Maarten has always been the contact person for our suppliers and subcontractors.

We at KumbaK owe him great gratitude and will truly miss him.

Weber Group mourns the loss of president, founder, and friend Tom Weber

By | August 18, 2016

SELLERSBURG, Ind. – With deep regret and great sadness, Weber Group has tragically lost one of their own. On August 14, president Tom Weber passed away unexpectedly.

Tom and I founded Weber Group together in 1983 as a Design/Build Company. Through Tom’s leadership, WGI has become a pathfinder in comprehensive specialty fabrication and a world leader in both design and construction services,” said Vice President Donny Weber.

Tom was married to Barb, his beloved wife of 39 years. They have two children, Max and Sam, both of whom worked alongside their father at the Weber Group. Tom was thrilled with his three-year-old grandson Henry, and often spoke about putting family first.

“Dad expected excellence which can be seen in Weber’s unparalleled quality and craftsmanship,” says son and Project Manager Max Weber. “But he was also a very kind and patient teacher to me and our company. As we move forward through this difficult time together we will honor dad’s memory with continued success as a market leader.”

“Weber Group was not just a business to dad, it was family,” remarked son Sam Weber. “He viewed every member of the company as a son or daughter, and treated everyone with dignity and respect. He was a man of principals and always conducted himself, and the business, in a manner he believed to be fair and just.”

Tom held a bachelor degree in Architecture from the University of Kentucky and was an avid supporter of the UK athletic program. His tenure at Weber Group included over 30 years of experience in design and construction in a variety of environments from multi-family housing and commercial construction to highly branded and themed environments for clients such as Disney, Kennedy Space Center, Crayola, SeaWorld, Lego and Great Wolf Lodge.

Tom was heavily involved in community projects and led annual efforts to support New Directions Housing Corporation, which served low income families in need of home repairs and rental housing. He was also a valued contributor to The Council for Developmental Disabilities, a local organization that provides a variety of programs for people with disabilities.

A memorial service to honor Tom’s life will be held on Monday, August 21st at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, located on 3345 Lexington Road in Louisville, Kentucky at 10 AM EST. Visitation will occur on Sunday, August 20th at Ratterman Funeral Home, located on 3711 Lexington Road in Louisville, Kentucky between 1 – 7 PM EST. Memorial gifts will benefit The Council on Developmental Disabilities; Down Syndrome of Louisville and The Flaget Alumni Scholarship Fund.

Friends of Tom’s can also share their memories and stories on a special tribute page found at

For more information please contact Carolyn McLean at or 502-645-4996.