Watch the tramcar, please: Morey’s Piers Runaway Tram official grand opening July 2

By | June 19, 2019

THE WILDWOODS, N,J. Morey’s Piers, celebrating fifty years on the boardwalk of the Wildwoods, NJ, will unleash the brand new Runaway Tram on Tuesday, July 2. The new family-friendly roller coaster pays homage to the Wildwood Sightseer Tramcar, an icon of the Wildwood Boardwalk since it debuted nearly 70 years ago.

A total investment of $4 million, the Runaway Tram climbs 40 feet before coasting, twisting and turning riders along 922 feet of track at speeds nearing 30 miles per hour. The Force 280 coaster was manufactured by Zierer in Deggendorf, Germany and features one train with 10 two-person passenger cars. Attraction Design Company JRA of Cincinnati, Ohio custom designed the ride’s train and station. To make room for the new ride Morey’s Piers moved seven rides and completely reconfigured Surfside Pier.

Here’s what else is new at the Wildwood boardwalk this year: 

Funner Summer Challenge: Launching on June 21, the fifty Funner Summer challenges are accessible via patrons’ mobile phones offering guests a series of conquests to complete on the piers, redeem prizes and earn entries to win one of 50 lifetime season passes to Morey’s Piers. Challenge details can be found here:

Summer Concert Series at PigDog Beach Bar: Both family and dog-friendly, PigDog Beach Bar is serving up barbecue classics, cocktails and local beers on tap. Accessible via Raging Waters Water Park, the beach, and the boardwalk, pooches and guests of all ages are invited to bask in the beachfront vibes complete with cornhole, giant Connect 4, ladder ball, and more beach games.. Every Saturday in July bands will rock the PigDog stage from 5:00-8:00pm. The concert line-up is:

  • July 6: Covert Pop
  • July 13: The Beat Tells
  • July 20: Aftershock
  • July 27: The Benderz

Wild Wooder: The newest release from Cape May Brewing Co. was brewed to commemorate 50 years of Morey’s Piers and will be served at their restaurants this summer. The light-bodied, hoppyKölsch has an approachable yet deceptively intriguing flavor profile with notes of straw and hay, a fresh, subtle bitterness, and unparalleled drinkability. Using traditional brewing practices, the German-style Ale features simple ingredients and a light fermentation profile. Wild Wooder is clean, classic and ideal for sipping all summer long at Morey’s Piers.

Solar Powered Cabanas at PigDog Beach Bar: The first eco-friendly cabanas on the Jersey shore are powered solely by the sun and made from recycled materials. The two 12’x12’ cabanas will feature amenities such as a refrigerator, charging stations, lights, and fans, all powered by each cabana’s six solar panels.

New games: Boardwalk game enthusiasts can test their basketball skills at the Jump Shot game, dominate Can Crush, an old school carnival game where players attempt to knock a pyramid of 10 cans down, or conquer the Strongman Challenge: hanging for two minutes straight to win a prize.

Pier PerformersDancers, singers, bands, and more can showcase their talents at Morey’s Piers on the brand-new Coca-Cola Stage located on Mariner’s Pier. The Giant Ferris Wheel provides the perfect backdrop for both day and evening performances. Performers also receive a full day of rides and slides at Morey’s Piers. For more information, visit:

Parking Lot: Located on Atlantic Avenue between Schellenger and Oak Avenues, the new parking lot features 180 spaces and new lighting features. Parking is made easy for patrons by using the Park Mobile App eliminating the need for cash and running back to the feed the meter.

The Lego Movie Days at Legoland Florida Resort kicks off July 13 with four weekends of family fun

By | June 19, 2019

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — On eight select dates in July and August (July 13-14, 20-21, 27-28 and August 3-4), guests visiting LEGOLAND Florida Resort can revel in the ultimate The LEGO Movie experience at the theme park’s newest event, THE LEGO MOVIE DAYS. Included with theme park admission and select Annual Passes, fans of Emmet, Lucy, Unikitty and Benny can enjoy a complete theater to theme park experience walking the streets of Bricksburg in the park’s latest expansion, THE LEGO MOVIE WORLD.

In addition to experiencing three new rides and numerous attractions, guests attending THE LEGO MOVIE DAYS will also have the exclusive opportunity to meet and take pictures with a brand-new The LEGO Movie character, Rex Dangervest.

The special summer event will also feature more than 15 exclusive interactive activities, specialty food options and creative LEGO builds.

Special activities and experiences during THE LEGO MOVIE DAYS include:

  • Snap a photo with the ultra-cool, tough and confident hero Rex Dangervest, alter-ego of Emmet, star of The LEGO Movie films.
  • Boogie down at Glitter and Glow Dancy Party where kids – and adults – can show off their best dance moves in a high-energy, colorful party.
  • Brick by brick, build a giant LEGO mosaic created exclusively for THE LEGO MOVIE DAYS.
  • Find Emmet’s Friends and Search for Hearts and Stars during two interactive scavenger hunts inside THE LEGO MOVIE WORLD and MINILAND USA.
  • Indulge in a Disco Drop Doughnut, Choco Dip Banana “Slip,” Caramel Banana Dessert Pizza or Cloud Cuckoo Land Ice Cream Swirl at select locations throughout the theme park.

Guests looking to take their experience to an even ‘awesome-r’ level can book a night in The LEGO Movie themed hotel rooms inside the LEGOLAND Hotel. With Unikitty’s vibrant rainbow bathroom and hidden clues leading to an in-room scavenger hunt, no detail is left untouched in these uniquely-themed hotel rooms.

Falcon’s Creative Group and Cloudco Entertainment announce collaboration to create retail / entertainment experiences

By | June 5, 2019

ORLANDO, Fla. — Falcon’s Creative Group, a global creative services firm, is honored and excited to announce a worldwide agreement with Cloudco Entertainment (formerly American Greetings Entertainment).

Falcon’s and Cloudco Entertainment will work together to develop retailtainment venue experiences that bring the Care Bears franchise to life. This expansion of the Care Bears universe will allow for a new dimension of interaction between the beloved characters and fans.

From greeting cards to iconic merchandise to multimedia experiences and more, the Care Bears franchise has proven to be a timeless brand dedicated to bringing happiness and fun to generations of fans. These future retailtainment experiences will allow guests to physically step into and explore their magical world. Featuring an immersive blend of vibrantly themed environments and seamlessly integrated interactive experiences, guests of all ages are taken on a hands-on adventure as they discover the Care Bear realms via media content and merchandise.

“We’re excited to team up with Falcon’s Creative Group to create new ways to engage with the Care Bears franchise, said Robert Prinzo, Head of Global Licensing, Cloudco Entertainment. “We have experienced great synergy with Falcon’s and look forward to bringing the Care Bears and Care-A-Lot to life with their team.”

“We are incredibly honored to be working alongside Cloudco Entertainment to expand the universe of such a timeless brand,” said Cecil D. Magpuri, President/Chief Creative Officer of Falcon’s Creative Group. “These future retailtainment venues will incorporate an exciting blend of technology and the colorful theming the Care Bears brand is known for, creating a one-of-a-kind guest experience.”

Wilderness at the Smokies to build 2 employee dormitories

By | May 31, 2019

SEVIERVILLLE, Tenn.  –- Wilderness Resorts and Waterparks ownership group today announced that they have received city approval to build two employee housing facilities near their Wilderness at the Smokies property.

Each dormitory will consist 70 apartment style rooms with a bathroom and shower in every room. Each dormitory will roughly house a total of 270 employees. The facility will also include a large common area and kitchen for the employees to utilize.

According to Joe Eck, COO of Wilderness Resort and Waterparks, “We recognized the need for student housing in the Smoky Mountain region, and we are pleased to be part of the solution to address this.”

The dormitories will be located at Gists Creek Road. Projected ground breaking for the project will be summer 2019 with an anticipated completion date for both dorms in May 2020.

Wilderness at the Smokies is the Smoky Mountain region’s largest waterpark resort and family entertainment center. It is located in Sevierville, TN, and is situated in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, whose famous national park is the most popular in the United States welcoming over 11 million visitors a year. 

The resort features 234 Stone Hill guest rooms; 472 River Lodge suites and 7 Villas; an 84-degree, year-round indoor waterpark; two seasonal outdoor waterparks; an indoor family entertainment center; a variety of dining and shopping options; a 36-hole championship golf course; and more than 200,000 square feet of meeting and convention space. It is owned by Wilderness Resort and Waterparks, a Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin-based hotel and hospitality development and management company which also operates Wilderness Resort, Glacier Canyon Lodge, Wilderness on the Lake and Sundara Spa all in Wisconsin Dells.  Wilderness at the Smokies has created hundreds of jobs in the greater Sevierville community, attracting year-round tourism, and having a major impact on sales tax and room tax generated for the City of Sevierville since opening its doors in 2008. For more information visit or call 877.325.9453.

In addition to Wilderness at the Smokies, Wilderness Resort and Waterparks owns and operates Wilderness Resort, Glacier Canyon Lodge and Wilderness on the Lake in Wisconsin Dells.

CAVU Designwerks expands to meet the needs of Middle Eastern clients

By | May 31, 2019

CAVU Designwerks Inc. (CAVU) an attractions provider that specializes in delivering media-based attractions to the themed entertainment industry is establishing a presence in the Middle East. The new branch, servicing Riyadh, Beirut and Abu Dhabi will allow CAVU to develop closer relationships with clients in the MENA region and provide seamless services to CAVU’s North Africa Middle Eastern clients.

Recent policy changes now allow movie theatres to operate in Saudi Arabia, and the government is encouraging the development in the entertainment industry including building FECs and theme parks. CAVU is focused on serving the attraction industry and providing world-class attractions to this expanding market. International tourism in Saudi Arabia is forecast to grow by 5.8% per year from 2018 to 2022, according to a report from BMI Research. “As the investment into the amusement park industry grows across the Middle East, we at CAVU want to ensure that we offer a local presence during this exciting time of growth” says Peter Schnabel CEO, CAVU Designwerks.

The General Entertainment Authority announced the investment of $71 billion to build the infrastructure that the entertainment sector will need. CAVU currently has offices in Canada, the US and China and with the growing opportunity in Saudi Arabia it is the perfect time for CAVU to expand again and establish a presence in the Middle Eastern market. Fahad Al Moammar, President of CGS, CAVU’s new partner in the MENA region, is excited to work with CAVU and push the boundaries for our business in this region.

Mark Stepanian, VP Innovation and Engineering at CAVU Designwerks states “There is no doubt the amusement industry in the Middle East is growing, with more families looking for quality entertainment without needing to travel. By having a location that’s close to the expanding Saudi Arabia market, we are able to provide close support and align ourselves with our clients and their needs.”

Fun Spot America Atlanta adding Topgolf Swing Suite

By | May 31, 2019

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — Fun Spot America Atlanta today announced it is opening Fayetteville’s first Topgolf Swing Suite at Fun Spot America Atlanta on May 30, 2019. 

The Topgolf Swing Suite will feature two simulator bays and a variety of virtual games – including the popular Topgolf target game, Zombie Dodgeball, Hockey Shots, Baseball Pitching and Carnival Classic– paired with comfortable lounge seating, HDTVs and food and beverage service. The suite will have a classic 1950’s diner theme. 

“I am so excited to partner with Topgolf on this project,” said John Arie Jr CEO of Fun Spot America Theme Parks. “I know the residents of Fayetteville and Atlanta are going to love this new addition to Fun Spot America. Whether it’s raining, cold, hot, or beautiful outside, we have something for everyone year-round. This new 1950’s diner theme and Topgolf Swing Suite is going to offer a completely new menu, featuring some of my favorite foods. This is going to be an exciting addition for Fun Spot America Atlanta.” 

At the Topgolf Swing Suite, up to eight people can play, eat, drink and hang out in each bay. The space will be available to rent for business and social gatherings, birthday parties, bachelorette/bachelor parties, team building events, corporate meetings and more. 

“We are proud to partner with Fun Spot America Theme Parks to provide a new kind of interactive social experience that will entertain visitors of all ages and skill levels in 

Fayetteville and the Atlanta area,” said Topgolf Swing Suite President Ron Powers. “Powered by industry-leading Full Swing simulators, games are designed for both non-golfers and golfers alike, so everyone can have a great time.” 

PortAventura World opens the doors to Hotel Colorado Creek, the new highlight in the resort’s hotel offer

By | May 31, 2019

PORTAVENTURA Hotel Colorado Creek will officially open its doors for the first time on 1 June. Hotel Colorado Creek will become the flagship hotel within the resort’s range of accommodation due to its high level of theming and the quality and comfort of its facilities.

This new hotel responds to the growing demand for holidays and short breaks at the PortAventura World resort that has seen a very positive start to the 2019 season. Consequently, the forecast for hotel reservations in the summer is higher than the previous year.

Colorado Creek will be a premium four-star hotel with a unique and distinctive personality. Inspired by the era of the Far West gold rush, the architecture of the building and the construction details are reminiscent of the luxury ranches of Rock Creek in the United States. This theming, used to create a fully immersive experience for guests, will continue to delve into the history of the hotel complex made up by Hotel Gold River, The Callaghan’s building and Hotel Mansión de Lucy.

The décor is also integrated into the hotel’s history. Ornamental features such as natural stone and 6,000 m2 of natural wood that is PEFC-certified, guaranteeing responsible management of forests and increasing the sense of immersion from the moment you enter its spectacular main hall. The use of large windows, which play with the light of the different corners of the hotel, and a chromatic palette of ochres, browns and red oxides complete the interior design.

Another key element is the natural vegetation integrated into the landscape of the hotel and inspired by the North American forests of the state of Colorado.

The hotel, which has involved an investment of 25 million Euros, will have 150 rooms of 41 m2accessible to visitors with reduced mobility, with intricate décor and two queen size beds to ensure maximum comfort. All the rooms are distributed in three buildings to which will be annexed another building for the restaurant and exclusive parking. 

Hotel Colorado Creek will offer its guests a wide range of benefits such as direct and unlimited access to PortAventura Park, 1-day access to the Ferrari Land park, Express Premium wristband for PortAventura Park, access to Hotel Gold River’s three pools, free Wi-Fi, exclusive breakfast buffet and free gifts for children, to name but a few.

“With the opening of Hotel Colorado Creek, a new benchmark for the resort’s hotel offer, PortAventura World continues to strengthen its leadership in Europe’s leisure and family holiday sector, developing a concept of holiday leisure that focuses on sustainability” said Fernando Aldecoa, Managing Director of PortAventura World.

Hotel Colorado Creek will also be the resort’s first zero-emissions hotel. This line of strategy driven by PortAventura World will be extended to other resort facilities to minimise the resort’s carbon footprint. With this action, the company is directly involved with number 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), “Climate Action”.

New ‘Star Wars’-themed land taps The Force at Disneyland

By | May 30, 2019

Opening May 31, Galaxy’s Edge aims to impress fans and redefine ‘immersive’

AT: Dean Lamanna

ANAHEIM — After five years of planning and near-hyperdrive-speed construction, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens to general public at Disneyland on Friday, May 31. The themed land’s debut follows a splashy world premiere attended by Amusement Today and hundreds of international journalists on Wednesday, May 29.

With George Lucas, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Bill Dee Williams joining Disney CEO Bob Iger to launch the new land, the midweek media event unfolded with a distinct air of pop culture and attractions industry history in the making — revealing an area that renders tangible more than four decades of the Star Wars universe in ways that are likely to exceed the expectations of the hardest-core fans. One of two virtually identical 14-acre sci-fi/fantasy areas emerging at the Walt Disney Co.’s U.S. theme parks this summer (the other, at Walt Disney World Resort’s Disney Hollywood Studios in Orlando, is scheduled to debut Aug. 29), the project represents the largest single-themed land the Southern California park has ever introduced.

The massive effort, which included the extended temporary and permanent closure of several attractions and the rerouting of the Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America, have been well worth it. Galaxy’s Edge occupies what was formerly the northern part of Frontierland and a backstage area, maximizing the use of the park’s confined space.

The land transports guests to Black Spire Outpost, a village on the never-before-seen planet of Batuu filled with otherworldly sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Visitors become part of the story as they sample exotic food and beverages, explore a collection of merchant shops and take the controls of the most famous ship in the galaxy with Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, a flight simulator ride guided by the characters Hondo Ohnaka and Chewbacca located inside a stunning full-size replica of the vessel. Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8 and Chewbacca are among the characters guests may encounter during their journey.

This represents the project’s first phase. The next, launching later this year, will be the unveiling of a second major attraction called Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance — billed as even more advanced and ambitious than the Millennium Falcon adventure. The multi-element dark ride will place guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.

Making culture ‘pop’
Galaxy’s Edge, the seamlessness of which is enhanced by new atmospheric theme music by celebrated Star Wars composer John Williams, culminates decades of collaboration between Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) and Lucasfilm, Ltd., the now Disney-owned guardian of the 42-year-old franchise. Their creative partnership dates back to 1987, when the groundbreaking Star Tours attraction opened at Disneyland.

Designing the land required every technological tool in the box, including 3D modeling, digital animation and virtual reality. The techniques enabled teams from WDI, Lucasfilm and the venerable, multi-award-winning visual effects house Industrial Light & Magic to carefully plan and pre-experience everything from Black Spire Outpost’s unusual, partly-Middle Eastern-inspired architecture and street market scene to the movement of the Millennium Falcon ride.

New to the Star Wars universe, the setting is “a place that, in days of yore, was a necessary stopping off point to get food and provisions and refuel as you explored the outer reaches of the galaxy,” explained Scott Trowbridge, creative executive for the global Star Wars portfolio. “But over time, and especially with the advent of faster-than-light travel, it lost its prominence. It became much more of a home for smugglers and bounty hunters… maybe even some folks that are trying to avoid the ever-expanding watch of the First Order.”

Trowbridge added that Galaxy’s Edge gives guests “a massive E-ticket experience filled with story and characters and ways to explore and experience this galaxy far, far away like never before. One of the things we know about our guests is that they want more and more to lean into these stories, to get closer to these characters. They want to participate more, not just be a spectator.

“It’s all focused towards a single goal: to give our guests the opportunity to live their Star Wars story.”

Star wares and “wears”
Another thing the Galaxy’s Edge creative team knows about Star Wars fans is their penchant for merchandise. Storefronts and stalls throughout the new area brim with authentic franchise collectibles, gear and souvenirs.

The Droid Depot invites guests to construct their own droids. Patrons can pick pieces and parts off a conveyor belt to build one of two core models (R-series or BB-series) and customize their droids with various parts and colors. These creations, in turn, are capable of interacting with elements in the land.

At Savi’s Workshop, visitors can craft and customize their very own lightsabers. Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities offers a selection of rare and mysterious items representing different Star Wars eras, including holocrons, ancient Jedi and Sith artifacts, and more.

The Black Spire Outpost market features the Creature Stall, dedicated to replicas of rare and fascinating creatures that populate the galaxy; and Black Spire Outfitters, showcasing the latest in accessories. There’s also Toydarian Toymaker, a stall filled with toys crafted by a Toydarian (the flying alien species first seen in Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace, in 1999).

Guests can even demonstrate where their loyalties lie with the wearables they purchase. The Resistance Supply stall sells pins, badges, hats and other accessories to help visitors feel like part of the cause. First Order Cargo, meanwhile, sells pins, caps and model spaceships.

“We strove to be better than we’ve ever been before, to push ourselves further in product and design than we’ve ever pushed ourselves,” said Brad Schoeneberg, WDI’s director of merchandise strategy and a lifelong fan of the movie series. “Star Wars toys are the cornerstone of many generations of children and their childhood. So we knew it was important to offer them something different in this living land than they’ve ever seen before.

“The product in this land is new, developed specifically for this place. You will not find any of our traditional Star Wars or evergreen products here. Everything was created through the lens of Galaxy’s Edge.”

That includes food and drink. Several outlets and street vendors serve treats such as flavored milk in shades of blue and green and savory eats like Ronto Wraps filled with grilled sausage and roasted pork.

At Oga’s Cantina, even the blaster-bolt scorches on the walls tell a story. Here, revelers gather to share their tales from around the galaxy as they enjoy exotic beverages served in unique vessels and enjoy musical entertainment provided by DJ R-3X, otherwise known as Rex — the former Starspeeder 3000 pilot droid from the original Star Tours.

Know before you go…
Galaxy’s Edge is the first land within a Disney park designed to integrate with the Play Disney Parks mobile app, which debuted last year and offers interactive adventures within the park environment. When guests use the app on their own cell phones, it allows them to engage with the land — whether through galactic language translation, mission assignments or role-playing games.

“It’s an invitation to play, to go as deep as you want, using this new personal technology,” Trowbridge said.

Guests planning to visit Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland between May 31 and June 23 will need a valid theme park admission and be required to make a no-cost reservation, subject to availability. Guests staying at one of the three Disneyland Resort hotels within this period will receive a designated reservation to access the new land during their stay (one reservation per registered guest; valid theme park admission required).

Reservations for the land will not be required after June 23, but depending on demand, the park may implement virtual queuing. Access to Disneyland, Galaxy’s Edge and the experiences is subject to capacity.

Visit Disneyland’s website for additional information, including details on expanded parking and the latest park rules regarding costumes, smoking and the use of strollers. Look for complete coverage of the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in the July print edition of Amusement Today.

‘I Like Scary Movies’ a bracing mix of interactive art, wit

By | May 30, 2019

AT: Dean Lamanna

LOS ANGELES — Horror film mavens, especially those in Southern California, think they’ve seen it all when it comes to live fright-genre presentations such as Knott’s Scary Farm and Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights. And that’s something of which “I Like Scary Movies,” a new interactive art installation, seems keenly aware.

The 25,000-square foot presentation, occupying the second floor of The Desmond, a historic building on Wilshire Boulevard in L.A.’s Miracle Mile district, eschews easy funhouse scares, flashy strobe effects and in-your-face costume characters with please-touch-me-if-you-dare detail, multisensory creepiness and social media-friendly staging — lacing it all with surprising wit. It opened in early April and is scheduled to run in its inaugural location through June 16 before going on tour.

The display offers some strikingly visionary interpretations of iconic scenes from five horror / fantasy movies produced by Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema: Beetlejuice (Netherworld waiting room), It (Pennywise’s sewer lair), The Lost Boys (misty railroad bridge vampire hangout), A Nightmare on Elm Street (Freddy Kreuger’s boiler room) and The Shining (bloody elevator hallway, hedge maze and more). And unlike most haunt attractions, it encourages participants to sidle up to and step inside the fearsome “props” — in effect, inviting them to help shape the experience.

Wonder what it’s like to be caught in the grip of Freddy’s finger knives? You’ll find yourself encaged by them here.

“I Like Scary Movies” is the brainchild of locally based experiential artist Maximillian, with his wife, Robyn Snodgrass, executive-producing through their company, Ultra Prods. It taps into its creator’s 20-year history of making multimedia promotional and entertainment installations for the likes of Comic-Con, Marvel Entertainment, Pixar, Walt Disney Pictures and his current collaborator, Warner Bros. Consumer Products.

During a chat in his exhibit-adjacent office — a space filled with concept illustrations, copies of Fangoria magazine and wall art patterned after the Overlook Hotel’s trippy geometric carpet in The Shining — the artist told Amusement Today that he considers the installation “3D fan art.”

“We’ve done a lot of things that were promotionally based, but no one had really tapped into doing anything that was celebrating movie IP [intellectual property] in a ticketed experience,” said Maximillian, who spent a good part of his youth building backyard haunted houses and invested a year and a half seeing “I Like Scary Movies” from concept to completion. “I’ve always loved illustrated fan art, and our goal was to create an experience where fans could take their time to engage with the fantastical worlds of scary movies that have shaped their fandom.”

Having established a prior working relationship with Warner Bros., he realized that many of his favorite genre movies were produced by the studio — and their partnership on the installation followed naturally.

“When I pitched this concept to them, I had these five movies in mind,” the artist said. “I wanted a little bit of something for every horror fan, from throwbacks to current. I wanted classic slasher with A Nightmare on Elm Street. I wanted Tim Burton fans with Beetlejuice. I wanted ’80s vampires with The Lost Boys. I wanted classic horror with The Shining and a millennial blockbuster with It. It’s one ticket, five movies — with a little dash in there for everybody. It can bring every demographic of horror fan in.”

Working with 56 fabricators and artists “of every ilk” — from foam sculpting and fiberglass work to scenic painting — Maximillian realized his vision while deriving additional ideas and approaches to his own concepts. “I gently pushed them out of their comfort zone to do something different,” he said. “I didn’t want this to be all shiny and fiberglass; it’s horror, so it had to be a little rough around the edges. It had to have some darkness to it, a little bit of D.I.Y. It couldn’t be glossy and shiny and bright.”

An aspect of the project he particularly loved was working with individual artists who were just as passionate about creating something one would not find in, say, a theme park haunt. One element of the It exhibit illustrating this is a walkthrough section featuring wavy curtains of strung-together paper boats — a kind of floating tunnel that sets observers adrift between reality and fantasy while guiding them toward the next scary scene.

“The boats are made of paper sno-cone bottoms and hot dog trays,” the artist said proudly. “I wanted to keep them in the carnival world, and amusement, and have that be something that would be a call-out to that and also striking and cool. One of my artists and I wracked our brains figuring out how to do it, but it worked. We wanted to something different from the origami boat you see in the movie. It was about pushing the edges, pushing the boundaries, and making it tactile.”

Although he continues to make minor adjustments to the exhibit daily, Maximillian, for now, is enjoying the role of observer — peering with satisfaction from behind the exhibit’s black curtains as fellow horror fans give his elaborate “die”-oramas dynamic life.

“We want them to be able to take a deep creative dive into some of their favorite movies in a way that is fun, engaging, artistic and memorable — allowing them to really explore and enjoy the thrill of it all.”

“I Like Scary Movies” reinterprets scenes from several beloved horror / fantasy films, including Beetlejuice, It, The Lost Boys, A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Shining. Experiential artist Maximillian, shown with his wife, exhibit executive producer Robyn Snodgrass, created the installation. COURTESY “I LIKE SCARY MOVIES”; AT/DEAN LAMANNA

Read about the ‘I Like Scary Movies’ exhibit in
the JUNE 2019 issue of Amusement Today.
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Firestone Financial’s Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, Michael Smith, assumes company’s top leadership position

By | May 30, 2019

NEEDHAM, Mass. — Firestone Financial, a subsidiary of Berkshire Bank, announced today that Michael Smith, Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, assumed the company’s top leadership position. Long-time Chief Executive Officer David Cohen transitioned out of the company in mid-May 2019. 

“I come into my expanded role excited to continue the foundation David set and bring a renewed energy and excitement for the future,” remarked Smith. “David’s commitment to the growth and prosperity of all the industries we serve is ingrained in everything we do. And that commitment will remain the same.” 

The management change is part of a well-coordinated succession plan that was in process since Berkshire Bank acquired Firestone Financial in 2015. Smith has led all key functional areas of the business during his tenure and brings a deep knowledge of the business and its customers. Customers and partners will experience no significant changes in the management of their account or points of contact during or after the transition. 

“Firestone is at a point where we not only want to continue in the industries that the business was built on, but also deepen relationships with channel partners, vendors, manufacturers, and distributors as well as expand into additional industries,” said Tom Varriale, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Coming off a record year in 2018 and under Mike’s leadership we’re poised better than ever to meet our aggressive goals, increase efficiencies, and deliver even more value to our customers and partners.” 

Michael Smith joined Firestone Financial in 2008. He was hired to lead key operational areas as the Vice President, Credit, Operations, and Risk Management. In 2015, Smith, an attorney, was appointed Senior Vice President, Portfolio Risk Officer and led the credit, risk, loan operations, and portfolio management teams. In 2018 he was named Executive Vice President, Chief Operations Officer, adding oversight of sales and marketing, technology, and finance functions. He has over 30 years of finance and lending experience, previously working as the Director of Operations and legal counsel for AGFA Financial Services Inc.