Intercard brings mobile management to the Roller Skating Industry Trade Show 2019

By | April 24, 2019

ST. LOUIS — The 2019 International Roller Skating Industry Convention and Trade Show will be held in Las Vegas from April 28 – May 2 at the Tropicana Resort. It is sponsored by the Roller Skating Association International, and Intercard will be there!

Rachelle Granger will be at the Intercard trade show booth on May 2 to demonstrate how proprietors can enhance customer service and boost revenues with Intercard’s innovative cashless technology.   

Intercard will feature its enhanced Edge Mobile App Collection, the amusement industry’s first collection of mobile management tools. “The mobile future is here,” says Scott Sherrod, CEO of Intercard, “and The Edge lets operators make the most of it.”

The Edge Mobile App Collection builds on iService, the industry’s first mobile management app, which Intercard introduced in 2017. iService makes it simple to track and manage every arcade game at one or more locations. Users can remotely put a game out of service for maintenance and technicians can use it to track repair information and when the game was placed back into service. All information is automatically updated on the server and in the cloud.

With the addition of two new apps, the Edge Mobile App Collection helps Intercard customers do even more with mobile technology. Intercard Upshot is a card management app that FEC proprietors can provide to their customers under their own brand. The app allows the customer to easily add value to multiple game cards directly from their mobile device. This means there is no need to go to the center to recharge cards or interrupt the game action to go to a kiosk to do so.

The Inventory app assists staff in maintaining their merchandise and redemption inventory by providing easy access to inventory logs and the ability to adjust inventory. All of this can be done from an Android or iOS mobile device, reducing the labor cost of inventory management and eliminating mistakes. 

Universal Orlando Resort announces dates and special offers for its 2019 Holidays Celebration

By | April 23, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. — Guests can take their holiday traditions to the next level and experience the merry, mischief and thrills of Universal Orlando Resort’s Holidays celebration, beginning November 16, 2019 and running through January 5, 2020.

Holidays at Universal Orlando

Guests will find a winter “fun”-derland that the entire family will enjoy with incredible holiday experiences across the entire destination that put a twist on the traditional. There’s nowhere else that they can witness a spectacular transformation of Hogwarts castle during “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle” in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter; meet the maven of mischief himself, The Grinch, during Grinchmas; experience merry – and mayhem – with the Minions from Illumination’s Despicable Me and other beloved characters during Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s; and so much more.

See below for more details about the experiences guests can enjoy during Universal Orlando’s Holidays celebration.

Access to Holidays festivities are included with admission to the theme parks or with an Annual Pass (blockout dates apply). Guests can also book their holiday getaway to Universal Orlando now with the Holiday Stay and Play Package, available for travel from Nov. 16 through Dec. 31. The package includes base admission to all three Universal Orlando theme parks and five-night hotel accommodations. The package starts at $89 per person, per night for a stay at Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites. 

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure
Experience the wonder of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, one of the most immersive theme park experiences ever created, as it transforms for the Holidays into a wizarding wonderland. The streets of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley become adorned in themed decorations, garlands and lights with the sounds of special holiday-themed performances filling the air. Guests can hear both magical and Muggle Christmas carols from the Frog Choir – comprised of Hogwarts students and their giant croaking frogs – and the unique holiday hits of one of the wizarding world’s most popular singing sensations, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees. There will also be seasonal food and beverages – including hot Butterbeer.And, as night falls, guests will revel in a stunning projection of holiday spirit as Christmas moments inspired by J.K. Rowling’s stories come to life on Hogwarts castle for “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.”

Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s at Universal Studios Florida
Merry and mayhem take to the streets of Universal Studios for Universal’s Holiday Parade featuring Macy’s. Featuring the fun of the Minions and other beloved characters from Illumination’s Despicable Me, the family of Shrek and the friendship of Madagascar, this parade includes more than 30 larger-than-life balloons and floats, hundreds of performers and more. 

Grinchmas at Universal’s Islands of Adventure
See the maven of mischief himself during Grinchmas at Universal Orlando. Guests can enjoy the “Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular” – a live retelling of Dr. Seuss’s holiday classic starring The Grinch – and special appearances by the merry Whos from Who-ville as they prepare for their favorite holiday throughout Seuss Landing.  Guests may also enjoy a separately-ticketed breakfast on select dates that includes meet and greets with the mean, green one and his friends at Circus McGurkus Cafe Stoo-pendous.

Mannheim Steamroller at Universal Studios Florida
The best-selling holiday artist of all time, Mannheim Steamroller, returns to Universal Studios Florida to fill the air with the traditional sounds of the season. Guests can take in live concerts on select nights.

Holidays at Universal’s Hotels
The merriment continues when guests stay at Universal’s hotels, which feature seasonal décor, holiday activities including festive meals and more.

New Year’s Eve Celebrations at Universal Orlando
Guests can ring in 2020 with various New Year’s Eve celebrations across the destination that offer something for everyone – from family-friendly festivities at Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s hotels to the ultimate upscale party for guests 21 and up at EVE at Universal CityWalk. More information about Universal Orlando’s New Year’s Eve celebrations will be revealed at a later time.In addition to all of the Holidays festivities, guests will also have access to the exhilarating rides and attractions at all three theme parks. They can rock out to hit songs on the innovative Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster at Universal Studios Florida, join Hagrid on a journey into the Forbidden Forest to find the wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure – opening June 13 at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal’s Islands of Adventure and plunge downward – and upward – through a 200-foot tall volcano on Krakatau Aqua Coaster at Universal’s Volcano Bay.

May is National Water Safety Month

By | April 23, 2019

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A coalition of water safety partners, including the American Red Cross, the National Recreation and Park Association, the Pool & Hot Tub Alliance (formerly The Association of Pool & Spa Professionals/National Swimming Pool Foundation) and the World Waterpark Association, along with dozens of other water safety groups will work together to promote May as National Water Safety Month (NWMS). NWSM engages the public to raise awareness about water safety and highlights the importance of public education regarding safer practices for kids and adults when they’re in and around water.

May is National Water Safety Month and has been designated as such in recognition of the popularity of swimming and other water-related recreational activities in the United States, and the resulting need for ongoing public education on safer water practices, including swim lessons, the buddy system, parental supervision, following the posted rules, and always being “water aware.”

What started as a week in 2003 has grown into this annual month-long event that is supported by thousands of aquatics facilities and professionals that provide educational programs, public service announcements, governmental proclamations, dealer and aquatics business promotions and the distribution of water safety themed materials, designed to help prevent water-related fatalities, illnesses and injuries.

“National Water Safety Month is a powerful way to send a crucial message at the start of the busy summer swim season,” said Connie Harvey, Director of the Aquatics Centennial Initiative for the American Red Cross. “There are layers of protection involved in water safety. Ensuring everyone in the family learns how to swim and that parents and caregivers have the knowledge and skills to handle emergencies around the water, including how to perform CPR is a good place to start. National Water Safety Month helps us communicate these messages.”

Hundreds of water safety awareness and educational events take place during the month including:

International Water Safety Day – May 15, 2019
International Water Safety Day is designed to help spread global awareness of the ongoing drowning pandemic, and educate youth in becoming safer in and around water. May 15th is a day to spread drowning awareness and water safety education by any means possible. Register to host an event and access free resources here.

Registration for World’s Largest Swimming Lesson – June 20, 2019
Celebrating its 10th year of saving lives, the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson™ (WLSL) holds open registration for aquatic facilities interested in being an official Host Location for the global event that takes place on June 20, 2019. Tens of thousands of kids participate to help build awareness about the fundamental importance of teaching children to swim to prevent drowning. Learn more about WLSL and register here.

“More than 9 in 10 Americans believe it is important for children to learn how to swim at an early age,” said Barbara Tulipane, CAE, NRPA president and CEO. “That’s why we’re proud to promote the importance of water safety at our nation’s park and recreation centers where there are opportunities for everyone, especially children, to learn how to swim.”

“The Pool & Hot Tub Alliance, in partnership with members and stakeholders, works year-round to promote the safe enjoyment of water,” said PHTA President & CEO, Lawrence Caniglia. “We are proud to celebrate May as National Water Safety Month. Participation in National Water Safety month not only saves lives but it helps promote the safe enjoyment of swimming to future generations.”

“In 2018, we were able to secure proclamations from Governors in all 50 U.S. states recognizing May as National Water Safety Month. This recognition emphasizes the importance of protecting kids and families in and around the water through education and building awareness,” said Rick Root, World Waterpark Association (WWA) President. “Participating in National Water Safety Month is a wonderful opportunity to broaden our reach and amplify our message about the importance of learning to swim and providing undistracted parental supervision while children are in or near the water.”

Florida’s tallest launch coaster Tigris opens today at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

By | April 19, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. — Just in time for the holiday weekend, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will officially open Tigris, a triple-launch steel roller coaster, on Friday, April 19, 2019. The new attraction is Florida’s tallest launch coaster and the ninth coaster in the park’s collection, solidifying Busch Gardens Tampa Bay as Florida’s thrill ride leader.

Tigris will catapult riders through an exhilarating array of looping twists with forward and backward motion, breath-taking drops, a 150-foot skyward surge, and an inverted heartline roll, reaching a top speed of more than 60 miles per hour. Tigris will race riders along more than 1,800 feet of steel track designed to mimic the awe-inspiring agility of the world’s largest and most powerful cat –the tiger

Tigris joins a top-rated list of favorites for coaster enthusiasts, including Cheetah Hunt, the park’s longest coaster, SheiKra, a 200-foot tall floorless dive coaster, Falcon’s Fury, a 335-foot freestanding drop tower, Montu, an inverted coaster, Kumba, and Cobra’s Curse, to name a few. 

The best way to experience Tigris and all of the attractions at Busch Gardens as well as more than a dozen seasonal events throughout the year is with an Annual Pass. Guests can choose from four unique passes for the benefits and value they want most. Pass Members will also enjoy exclusive ride time on Tigris for the first two weekends in May before the ride opens for the day to general guests. 

To learn more and be the first to know about new attractions, events and future announcements, fans can follow the park’s blog or join the social conversation using #TakeOnTigris on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Construction underway for Pinstack Austin

By | April 19, 2019

DALLAS, Texas — Entertainment Properties Group, Inc. today announced PINSTACK’s expansion outside of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. With three successful locations in Plano, Las Colinas/Irving and Allen, the premier entertainment and dining destination is slated to open its first Austin location in late 2019 at Tech Ridge Center, a Regency Centers (Nasdaq: REG) property.  

“We are excited to bring PINSTACK to Austin, one of the largest and fastest growing cities in Texas,” said Mark Moore, CEO of Entertainment Properties Group, Inc. “As we partner with Regency Centers for the first time, our goal is to create a unique and memorable entertainment experience for the surrounding communities and local organizations.”

PINSTACK provides a range of engaging activities for a fun night out. Bowl a perfect game at its state-of-the-art bowling lanes or conquer one’s fear of heights on a 24-foot high rock climbing wall. Dodge your opponent’s laser beam in the two-story laser tag arena or buckle up for a wild ride with bumper cars. The massive game room includes the latest video games and virtual reality technology, such as the four-player Halo: Fireteam Raven and Virtual Rabbids as well as arcade classics and the latest pinball machines. PINSTACK also features a 16-person Giant Foosball table that is a first of its kind in Texas. Towering over the game room is a 20-foot high ropes challenge course perfect for team building.

The Austin location will also boast a chef-inspired restaurant, serving elevated classics and a weekend brunch menu. In addition to PINSTACK’s monthly chef’s specials, menu highlights include Signature Mac & Cheese Pops, Almond Crusted Salmon, Texas Smokehouse Burger, Classic Margherita Pizza, and the PINSTACKED Pancake Tower. Additionally, its sophisticated beverage menu boasts signature craft cocktails, an extensive wine list featuring over 45 varietals (including 12 on tap), as well as 24 imported and domestic draft beers— all served from the venue’s two full-service bars.

PINSTACK will offer restaurant, patio and lane-side dining, plus entertainment areas for private parties and events. Private rooms are equipped with AV capabilities for corporate and business-related needs.

Free rides for preschoolers May 19 at Quassy Amusement Park

By | April 19, 2019

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. — Preschoolers will have their day in the park – Quassy Amusement Park that is – on Sunday, May 19.

The property will be hosting a special day for preschoolers in which those 5 years of age and younger will receive a free all-day ride wristband when an adult family member purchases a wristband.

“We believe this is an outstanding way for us to showcase all of the fantastic attractions we have for not only children, but the entire family,” Quassy President Eric Anderson said of the event. “The park is also initiating a new season-long policy for those under 24 months of age. They will receive free rides on the Grand Carousel and train and entrance into the beach and Splash Away Bay (waterpark) area when accompanied by a paid adult.”

Over the past several years the family-owned park has introduced numerous new rides for all ages.

New for 2019 is the Bouncing Buggies family ride, located in the heart of the property.

“We added two new children’s rides at the lakefront in 2017 and both of those rides also accommodate adults,” Anderson said of the park’s recent focus. “Plus, we have a variety of rides just for younger children – in total, more than a dozen rides for smaller kids.”

The venerable property is entering its 111th season of operation and last year introduced its largest project to date: Caterogy 5 Rapids – Extreme Waterslides in Splash Away Bay waterpark.

The ride area of Quassy will operated weekends starting April 27 with the waterpark and Quassy Beach ramping up for the summer season on May 25. Daily operation begins June 4 through Labor Day.

Mall Of America celebrates Earth Day by unveiling large-scale butterfly art installation

By | April 19, 2019

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Mall of America will celebrate Earth Day on April 22 by unveiling a large-scale art installation created by artist Christopher Lutter-Gardella that explores eco-consciousness and resourcefulness. Entitled “Kaleidoscope”, the installation will feature a majestic 30-foot Monarch butterfly surrounded by more than 300 smaller butterflies of varying size. Suspending from the Atrium skylight at the North entrance to Mall of America, the piece shares the critical story about the decline of the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. 

True to the artist’s passion for environmental sustainability, Kaleidoscope was created predominately from waste-stream materials such as plastic bags, straws, plastic spoons, coat hangers and more, and is designed to be reused. A key goal for the artist is to educate guests on the importance of pollinators and how they can make a difference to help address the declining population. 

“This installation draws attention to the crisis of our pollinator populations and the habitats they rely upon,” said artist Christopher Lutter-Gardella. “Butterflies are not just pretty insects on which we should dote, but are part of the life-stream essential to our very survival.” 

To create Kaleidoscope, Lutter-Gardella used a unique combination of commonly discarded materials, including more than 700 coat hangers, 600 tasting spoons, 800 yards of fabric and 100 yards of window screen material. Hundreds of volunteers worked with the artist to hand create every one of the 372 butterflies that surround the Monarch centerpiece. 

“Hearing Christopher’s story and approach to how he creates using recyclable materials made this partnership a natural fit,” said Jill Renslow, SVP of Business Development and Marketing at Mall of America. “Since we opened our doors in 1992, Mall of America has led the industry with sustainability practices. Not only will this installation be a beautiful welcome for our millions of guests who walk through our doors, but it will also help share the important message about protecting the monarch butterfly and other pollinators.”  

Mall of America has been committed to environmental sustainability since opening more than 25 years ago. The Mall relies on 1.2 miles of skylights for solar energy, and residual heat from light fixtures and body heat from 40 million annual visitors to maintain the comfortable 70-degree indoor temperature. It recycles 32,000 tons of materials each year, and diverts 2,400 tons of food waste to local livestock. It also releases thousands of ladybugs throughout 30,000 live plants throughout the building instead of utilizing pesticides. 

Kaleidoscope will be on display in the North Atrium through August 2019.

Kennywood becomes Certified Autism Center

By | April 17, 2019

WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. — Kennywood is making a commitment to ensure all visitors, even those with sensory needs or on the autism spectrum, have an amazing experience. As part of this commitment, the amusement park recently earned the Certified Autism Center designation, which is awarded by the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to organizations that have completed a training and review process with the goal to better serve individuals with autism and other sensory needs.

“When we looked at ways to improve guest service over the offseason, becoming a Certified Autism Center was at the top of our to-do list,” says park General Manager Jerome Gibas. “Our mission at Kennywood is to provide the finest in family fun and entertainment, and ensuring we’re on the front lines in understanding and serving our guests who are on the autism spectrum is critical to achieving that mission.”

Parents with children on the autism spectrum often find new experiences and traveling to new destinations a challenge due to sensory needs, dietary restrictions and safety concerns. For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children with special needs have limited travel options and created programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry.

“We want to ensure leaders in the industry, like Kennywood, are fully prepared to welcome guests with all needs. Ongoing training and certification ensure they are committed to serving these guests and have the knowledge and programs to do so,” said Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “We’re excited about what this means for families in Pennsylvania and all over the US!”

In addition to training and certification, Kennywood will complete an onsite review by IBCCES and provide additional communication, resources, and adjustments for families with special needs. Currently, ride admission passes are available onsite for guests with disabilities, which will make rides more accessible. Sensory bags are also available for guests, which include ear plugs, a fidget toy, squishy ball, and coloring books and crayons. While an officially designated quiet space is not yet available within the park, Kennywood is identifying lower-traffic areas for families to visit when in need of a break from the normal activity of the amusement park. Families can for more information on Kennywood’s efforts to serve guests on the autism spectrum.

Rather than relying on the growing number of organizations promoting “autism-friendly” options that can vary widely, more parents are now seeking out destinations that have completed research-based training and professional review. IBCCES also created, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center requirements.

Icon named Best New Visitor Attraction at Blackpool Civic Trust Awards

By | April 16, 2019

ICON, Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s newest ride and the UK’s first ever double launch rollercoaster, has been named Best New Visitor Attraction at the Blackpool Civic Trust Awards.

ICON opened to the public in May 2018 and since then has launched hundreds of thousands of guests on an exhilarating journey across the South side of Blackpool Pleasure Beach.  The ride, which was manufactured by Mack Rides in Germany, represents a £16.25M investment.

The Blackpool Civic Trust was formed in February 1975 to encourage and support the town of Blackpool and its people. It’s objectives and aims are to stimulate a sense of Civic Pride to promote high standards of planning and architecture and to secure the preservation, protection and improvement of features of historical or public interest.

The Trust keeps an eye on Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas maintaining an interest in areas relevant to Blackpool’s status as a premier resort.

Amanda Thompson OBE, Managing Director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach and patron of the Blackpool Civic Trust, comments, “The Civic Trust is a group which is very close to my heart as my father was the original Chairman when it was established in 1975.  We are delighted that ICON has been recognised as the Best New Visitor Attraction.  It truly is the most ambitious project we have undertaken at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and has already thrilled hundreds of thousands of excited riders in it’s first year.”

Universal Orlando Resort releases first-ever look at magical creatures that await in Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure

By | April 15, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. — Starting today through April 19, Universal Orlando Resort is giving guests a first-ever look at the magical creatures they’ll encounter inside the most highly themed, immersive coaster experience yet – Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure.

The epic new addition to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be an immersive experience unlike any other, combining a new level of storytelling and innovative coaster technology with elaborate environments – including an actual forest with more than 1,200 live trees – to bring an all-new wizarding world adventure to life. Guests will embark on a journey with Hagrid – one of the most beloved characters in the Harry Potter films – into the Forbidden Forest to discover some of the wizarding world’s rarest magical creatures.

Every day through April 19, guests can visit the Universal Orlando Blog at 11 a.m. EDT to get a first look at the creatures – from familiar fan-favorites in the Harry Potter film series to a creature that’s never been seen in the films – and where they can be found in the new experience. 

The week begins with a “massive” fan-favorite whose barks are worse than his bites.

When it opens on June 13, 2019, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will join the lineup of award-winning entertainment experiences in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort and bring an all-new adventure inspired by J.K. Rowling’s beloved stories to life. Guests will join Hagrid’s Care of Magical Creatures class and fly deep into the Forbidden Forest aboard magical motorbikes to brave the mysteries and thrills beyond the grounds of Hogwarts castle. Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure will be located in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.