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

The Peanuts Characters Take Over Knott’s Berry Farm for the Knott’s Peanuts Celebration, Weekends Starting January 27th to February 25th

By | January 4, 2018

Buena Park, Calif. – The Knott’s PEANUTS Celebration, an all-new Seasons of Fun event uniquely dedicated to celebrating the beloved PEANUTS characters, invites guests to step inside the pages of a Charles M. Schulz comic strip as the characters take over the entire theme park for the very first time. The newly introduced event will take place on weekends beginning January 27th through February 25th plus President’s day, February 19th. The limited time celebration invites fans of all ages to join in on the fun by introducing new ways for guests to play and interact with the PEANUTS Gang throughout the park. The event will feature special PEANUTS inspired décor, new social media worthy comic strip photo ops, new character experiences, live shows, exclusive merchandise and deliciously themed treats to complete this whimsical celebration.

The celebration will have plenty of surprises hidden around every corner. One-of-a-kind photo opportunities will be available throughout the park allowing guests to pose alongside their favorite characters or step into a PEANUTS comic strip to create a unique and lifetime memory. The vibrant décor will include full size comic strip props like Charlie Brown’s kites and the iconic kite eating trees which will adorn the park’s pathways. Guests will have the chance to meet with the beloved PEANUTS characters throughout the day as the characters appear at unexpected locations for special interactions.

Camp Snoopy Theater presents an all-new show where Lucy and Charlie put their talents to the test in Lucy and Charlie’s Balancing Act. Also in Camp Snoopy, the Grand Sierra Railroad invites kids to celebrate with the PEANUTS Gang as they head to the Beagle Bonanza in this new ride overlay.

The PEANUTS inspired festivities continue at the Birdcage Theatre as the park introduces an experience that gives both the young and the young at heart a lesson on how to draw their favorite PEANUTS character. The PEANUTS Sketch School will include our resident art teacher who will provide step by step instructions on how to draw the perfect PEANUTS masterpiece. After class is dismissed, a special showing of a classic PEANUTS television special will be shown in the theatre.

Franklin and Linus are on a Western escapade as they transform into cowboys in the new PEANUTS Cowboy Jamboree at Calico Park. The boys are looking to challenge guests with some of the rootinest, tootinest games in Calico. Also in Ghost Town, everyone’s favorite messy pal, Pig Pen will be making his Knott’s Berry Farm debut as he hosts a special meetup at the Livery Stables with some of his favorite animal friends.

The celebration continues at the Calico Mine Stage where the PEANUTS characters have two all-new musical surprises for guests. During the day Sally and Schroder will host a retrospect of music in The Music Goes Round and Round where they’ll have the audience dancing in the aisles.  At nightfall the stage will transform into a musical extravaganza as the park presents the first ever Woodstock’s Musical Festival. The musical event will feature the Peanuts Gang joined by the family-friendly indie band The Jelly of the Month Club, performing a high energy rock concert for the whole family. Guests will also uncover hidden fun as they venture into Fiesta Village were Lucy and Sally have taken a journey south of the border as they have been introduced to the colorful dancing of Mexico. Lucy and Sally’s Fiesta Fantasy will bring lively music, traditional costumes and live performances to the Fiesta Village stage.

Intercard hires Michael Dishian as CFO

By | December 20, 2017

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Intercard has hired Michael Dishian as its chief financial officer. A corporate finance expert with a Big 4 accounting background, Dishian has more than 30 years of experience as an accountant, controller and CFO for large and growing companies. As Intercard continues to expand its global business in debit card technology, Dishian will direct strategic planning and budget development and supervise purchasing and manufacturing.

Dishian has worked extensively with technology companies, manufacturers and distributors including Prism Medical US, Spartech Packaging Technologies, GatewayCDI and Corporate Express. Earlier in his career he was an accountant and auditor for several leading firms including Ernst & Whinney and Rubin, Brown, and Gornstein.

A long-time St. Louis resident, Dishian is an Eagle Scout and an assistant scoutmaster for Troop 353 of the Greater St. Louis Area Council. He credits his Eagle Scout training with helping him prepare for his business finance career. “Becoming an Eagle Scout is a very large task and you have to break it down into manageable pieces,” says Dishian. “Sometimes you have to be willing to go outside your comfort zone and deal with things that are new to you. You definitely have to show leadership.”

“Michael Dishian has helped several fast-growing international companies to operate in a more efficient and profitable way,” said Scott Sherrod, CEO of Intercard. “As Intercard continues to expand its global business, Michael will help us ensure that we enjoy continued success and sustainable growth as a reliable provider of market-leading debit card technology and services.”

Dishian graduated Drake University as a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in accounting and received his MBA in finance from St. Louis University. He is licensed in Missouri as a CPA and is certified by AICPA as a Chartered Global Management Accountant.

Player One Amusement Group Partners with OWA to bring Winning Gaming Experience to New Theme Park

By | December 20, 2017

TORONTO, Ontario – Player One Amusement Group (P1AG) today announced the opening of a games room at OWA, Alabama’s newest amusement park located on the Foley Beach Express. The games room is the latest addition to the park’s 520 acres of entertainment and features 50 pieces of amusement gaming equipment, a variety of interactive video and a state-of-the-art redemption centre.
“As Alabama’s top entertainment attraction, we are always looking for new and enhanced options to offer our guests of all ages,” said Greg Rawls, Business Development Director, Creek Indian Enterprises. “P1AG is one of North America’s leading providers of amusement gaming and a perfect addition to our ever-growing lineup of first-class entertainment.”
“We are pleased to partner with OWA and the Poarch Board of Creek Indians, who share our commitment to unique and family-friendly entertainment experiences,” said Joe McCullagh, General Manager, P1AG. “From start to finish, we employed the talents of our entire P1AG team across North America to provide strategic solutions to help bring OWA’s long-term vision to life and be a part of  Alabama’s newest entertainment destination.”
Now open to the public, the games room uses coinless, play-card technology that enables players to move from game to game with ease and accumulate points. Players can purchase reloadable play-cards on site and redeem their rewards for a variety of great prizes at the merchandise store.

George Frantzis to be inducted into the NEAAPA Hall of Fame

By | December 19, 2017

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. – George Frantzis II, an owner of Quassy Amusement & Waterpark here, will be inducted into the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (NEAAPA) Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual meeting in March.

A past president of NEAAPA (1998-99), George represents the third generation of his family to be involved at the lakeside property, which his grandfather purchased with two business partners in 1937.

“It certainly took me by surprise and I’m honored to be joining such a distinguished group,” he said of the accolade.

The induction ceremony will take place on Tuesday, March 13, during NEAAPA’s 105th Anniversary Education Conference & Annual Meeting at the Hilton Mystic in Mystic, Conn.

Of the 40 persons currently in the NEAAPA Hall Of Fame, George Frantzis II will become the third family member to be inducted. His late father, George, and uncle, John Frantzis, both served as NEAAPA presidents prior to being installed.

Quassy, founded in 1908, enters its 110th year in 2018 and today is solely owned and operated by the Frantzis and Anderson families.

George grew up working at the park in a variety of positions under the watchful eye of his father. Today, he heads up the sales team, oversees the rides and waterpark staff, manages payroll for the more than 350 seasonal personnel and directs daily operations with business partner Eric Anderson. Eric currently serves at first vice president of NEAAPA.

“Anyone in our industry knows you have to wear a lot of hats – I’m no different,” he said of his daily tasks. “During the height of the season the work days are long with very little time off.”

Rebirth Of The Property

And he will be the first to admit that Quassy was showing its age at the turn of the century.

In 2002, George and Eric formulated a long-term plan to pump new life into the then struggling property.

“We realized we had to reinvent ourselves as many of the rides were old and the beach was no longer a big draw,” he recalled.

The solution – they believed – was to dive into the waterpark business.

To mark Quassy’s 95th anniversary in 2003 the park introduced Saturation Station, an interactive modular family water play area, which was the largest single investment in the park’s history.

The gamble paid off and set the stage for subsequent improvements in the years to follow.

In 2011 the Wooden Warrior roller coaster, a marquee attraction in the ride area, made its debut at Quassy.

“It was the game changer, that’s for certain,” George said of the new ride. “While the development of the waterpark helped us to make other improvements throughout the park, Wooden Warrior literally put us on the international map.”

Coaster enthusiasts from across the nation flocked to the park to experience the relatively small family ride, giving it rave reviews.

“What made it unique was the Timberliner train that maneuvered the track like a race car,” George remarked. “We were the first in all of North America to use this train and the next thing we knew we had coaster groups from abroad booking days at the park just because of the Warrior.”

The ride is currently listed among the Top 50 Wooden Roller Coasters in the world, according to a ballot taken by industry trade magazine Amusement Today.

Since 2004 Quassy has added eight new rides and expanded the waterpark on three different occasions.

In May the park will open Category 5 Rapids extreme waterslides in Splash Away Bay waterpark. It will surpass any previous investment made by the owners.


In 2015 Amusement Today Publisher Gary Slade honored George and Eric with the publication’s Turnstile Award.

“Without their vision, Quassy could have met the fate of many New England parks of yesteryear and ceased to exist,” Slade said in presenting the award.

George lives in nearby Woodbury, Conn., with his wife, Joann. They have two grown children, Alexandria and George III.

He is president of the Lake Quassapaug Association, Lake Authority and volunteers as an emergency medical technician with the Woodbury Ambulance Association.

In addition, George sits on the steering committee of the Central Naugatuck Valley Regional Action Council (CNVRAC), a collaborative of community partners from across the local 12 town service areas. The goal is to conduct and build capacity to deliver state-of-the-art prevention strategies for substance abuse.

George is also on the legislative committee of the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce, serves on the grants committee of the Connecticut Community Foundation and is a past board member of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) and Women’s Emergency Shelter.

In addition, he has been a speaker at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo on several occasions.

Polyfab Australia announces acquisition by Nolan Group

By | December 18, 2017

Manhattan Beach —  Chris Nolan of Nolan UDA PTY LTD and Barry Jamieson of Polyfab Australia PTY LTD have announced the acquisition of Polyfab Australia by the Nolan Group.  Barry Jamieson is one of the originators of developing heavy duty knitted HDPE shadecloth for the protection of people from the damaging rays of the sun more than 25 years ago, and had established Polyfab Australia, Polyfab Middle East and Polyfab USA (Polyfab Middle East and Polyfab USA were spun off a few years ago as separate companies). Barry will continue to play an active role in management of Polyfab Australia.

The Nolan Group is one of Australia’s largest suppliers of commercial & industrial textiles, with six branches strategically located in capital cities throughout Australia.  They have a rich history dating back to 1881 and pride themselves on operating in adherence to their core business principles of integrity, innovation and value for money.  Over these years, the Nolan Group has established a solid and reputable network of trading partners from around the world, providing them with a comprehensive portfolio of products.  Each product has been put through rigorous testing to ensure performance, longevity and customer satisfaction.  “I am sure some of these products will find their way into the USA market, through our new strategic partnership with Polyfab USA”, according to Chris Nolan, Managing Director of Nolan Group.  “Initially we will be concentrating on shadecloth and related products, providing additional technical and marketing support to the USA team”.

Cedar Fair Names Tim Fisher Chief Operating Officer

By | December 18, 2017

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that Tim Fisher will join the company as chief operating officer, effective immediately. In this role, Fisher will oversee operations at all of the Company’s parks and resort locations. He will report directly to incoming chief executive officer Richard Zimmerman.

“Tim is the right person at the right time to enhance the strength of our management team,” said Zimmerman, Cedar Fair’s president and incoming chief executive officer. “We are making significant, strategic, long-term investments within and adjacent to our parks. Tim’s significant industry experience, coupled with his extensive knowledge of our parks and target markets, will deepen our management team and help us fully capitalize on all of our park-level initiatives. We are excited to welcome Tim to our Cedar Fair family and we look forward to his leadership and focus on taking the overall guest experience to new heights going forward.”

Fisher, 57, joins Cedar Fair from Village Roadshow, one of the leading theme park operators in the world. Most recently, Fisher served as chief executive officer of Village Roadshow Theme Parks from January 2009 until March 2017 when he became the CEO of Village Roadshow Theme Parks International. During his time with Village Roadshow Theme Parks, Fisher was responsible for all of the theme park business operations in the United States and Australia, as well as development initiatives in Asia. Under Fisher’s leadership as CEO, the theme park group achieved record attendance, revenue and EBITDA performance.

Prior to joining Village Roadshow, Fisher served more than 30 years in the theme park industry including serving as executive vice president of Paramount Parks and Viacom Recreation, where he was directly responsible for the management, operational and financial performance of all of the domestic and international theme parks.

“I am thrilled to join this successful leadership team,” said Fisher. “Cedar Fair is an exceptional company – from the quality of its attractions to the talents of its people. Its properties are well-run and offer great family entertainment value. I am truly honored to have this opportunity and look forward to working with Richard and the entire team to build on Cedar Fair’salready strong legacy of success.”

Big Rivers Waterpark and Gator Bayou Adventure Park Break Ground!

By | December 18, 2017

Big Rivers and Gator Bayou will sit on 80 acres. The waterpark portion will comprise the largest lazy river in the Houston area; the largest interactive play structure in Texas; a wave pool capable of generating the tallest waves in Houston; and a variety of waterslides and activities for guests of all ages. Guests will even be able to learn about Texas’ rivers through entertainment, interactive activities, and theming. There are activities for families, thrill seekers, and students at Big Rivers Waterpark.

Gator Bayou Adventure Park will bring a new outdoor experience to the Greater Houston Area, open year round. Immediately adjacent to the waterpark, Gator Bayou will provide zip lines, challenge courses, nature trails, a seven story free fall tower, additional water attractions, and eco-tourism activities. Gator Bayou also incorporates educational aspects regarding Texas wildlife with an alligator habitat as a focal point. Guests will also be able to relax with activities such as cane fishing, a petting zoo, pony rides, and a giant maze.

A premier team of contractors, engineers, and architects are working to bring Big Rivers Waterpark and Gator Bayou Adventure Park to Grand Texas by Summer 2018. Solid Bridge Construction, based in Huntsville, Texas, is the general contractor. Engineering and design work is provided by WET Engineering, Ward, Getz & Associates, Bleyl & Associates, and Quest Engineering. Architectural services are led by Van Horn Reed & Associates.

Additional development within Grand Texas includes recently-begun construction of a Best Western Premier hotel along Interstate 69, which is also expected to open this summer. A 24-hour urgent care and a casual dining restaurant have also taken steps to begin construction.

International Ride Training announces winners

By | December 15, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — International Ride Training recently announced winners for the 2017 iROC Audit Excellence Awards for Ride Operations. This year’s recipients are: Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio; Holiday World Theme Park, Santa Claus, Indiana and California’s Great America, Santa Clara, California.

The award winners achieved the highest rankings in IRT’s International Ride Operator Certification audit program. The iROC audit program assesses ride operator safety, efficiency, and professionalism through a proprietary methodology focused on IRT’S 10 Critical Components of ride operation. In unannounced audits each summer, IRT parks are evaluated on over 30 specific performance criteria designed to improve and maintain excellence in amusement ride safety, professionalism, and efficiency. This year’s iROC Audit Excellence Award winners rated highly in all areas consistently.

While discussing the award, Patty Beazley of IRT, LLC commented, “IRT audited nearly 500 rides in 2017, and Cedar Point, Holiday World, and California’s Great America consistently demonstrated overall excellence in ride operations. It is impressive to watch a team of operators so focused on guest safety, while consistently engaging with each rider. Their passion is evident and overwhelming.”

Cindee Huddy of IRT, LLC added, “Safe and efficient ride operation is a learned skill that requires multi-tasking and attention to detail each and every cycle. These award winning teams made it look easy, and have set an example the industry should strive to emulate.”

International Ride Training LLC provides safety services to the amusement industry including ride operations auditing and training. IRT has provided for more than 17 years direct operations training, auditing, advisory services, interactive safety education and coaching, training and leadership development, Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) development, and general ride safety consulting to more than 75 theme parks worldwide.