Poarch Band of Creek Indians Unveil New Tourist Destination Complex Projected to Bring 1 Million New Visitors to Alabama Features Amusement Park, Marriott Hotel, Proximity to Sports Complex

By | November 15, 2016

FOLEY, Ala. – The Poarch Band of Creek Indians today unveiled detailed plans for its first-class, family-friendly tourist destination currently under construction near Alabama’s most popular beaches.

The development’s name, Owa, means “big water” in the Muscogee Creek language. Owa “big water” refers to the 14-acre lake at the center of the unique project that features a themed amusement park, a 150-room Marriott Town Place Suites hotel, and a wide selection of restaurant and shopping opportunities.

Stephanie A. Bryan, Poarch Creek’s Tribal Chair and CEO noted, “As a Tribe, we have worked hard to ensure that our businesses bring revenue and jobs into the State and add to the quality of life in the rural communities where they are located. Owa is being built in this tradition, and we are very excited to be both neighbors and partners with the City of Foley in bringing economic development to this area.”

When completed, the Owa development will generate close to 3,500 jobs (both direct and indirect) and will boost tourist spending in South Alabama by 7%. That increase in spending is expected to increase Baldwin County’s economic output by close to $250 million.

The 520-acre Owa development is adjacent to the City of Foley’s $40 million sports tourism complex which features 16 state-of-the-art outdoor fields and a 90,000 square foot indoor events center that is slated to open in the summer of 2017. The two projects will provide a seamless experience for “sport families” who travel to the area specifically for tournaments, but who will avail themselves of opportunities offered by Owa to entertain the entire family.

“For every visitor, Owa will provide a top-notch experience,” said Tim Martin, President of Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority, the Tribe’s business entity charged with developing the property. He continued, “It is an added benefit that families who come to Foley for sporting events will also have all of Owa’s offerings available to them. We believe that this is a winning combination that will have families coming back to Alabama for years to come.”

Owa, located just off the Foley Beach Express and County Road 20, is just 9 miles from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. While that area of the State already hosts 6.2 million each year, Owa is expected to bring in an additional 1 million visitors annually.

Foley’s Mayor John Koniar added, “No place can beat Alabama’s Gulf beaches for their natural beauty. We are happy to offer visitors to our area a one stop, family-friendly destination that is near the beach but will provide another option, for not only overnight visitors, but those looking for a day trip getaway.”

Owa’s design celebrates its rural roots. The complex will have the feel of a small Southern town that evolves through time with distinct districts such as the Warehouse District, Downtown District, and Amusement Park.

Phase One of Owa, which includes the 150-room hotel, retail and dining spaces, amusement park and lake will open Summer 2017. Future plans call for a waterpark, additional hotels, a condominium complex and a resort level RV park. When complete, total investment in the development will top $500 million.

accesso Unveils Revolutionary Smart Park Wearable

By | November 15, 2016

accesso-prism-2ORLANDO, Fla. – accesso Technology Group plc (AIM: ACSO) has a long history of coloring outside the lines, and its latest innovation may redefine lines altogether.

Having made its mark on leisure, entertainment and cultural markets by providing cutting-edge queuing and ticketing solutions to top attractions around the globe, accesso today revealed a shining new standard in smart park technology, accesso PrismSM, at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, Florida. Prism is a next-generation, wearable device that heralds in a new age and new ways for theme parks, waterparks and other attractions to connect with guests.

Prism – the latest offering in the accesso LoQueueSM line of virtual queuing solutions – is the most technologically advanced smart park wearable available. Using accesso’s award-winning and proprietary queuing technology, guests wearing this new device can enjoy a more carefree park visit with less time spent waiting at each attraction. With just a swipe of a finger on the wristband’s touch screen menu, guests take their place in the virtual queue for an attraction or show – no kiosk or smartphone required. If a ride’s operation is temporarily interrupted, or a show is rescheduled, the Prism device will notify the guest of the update.

accesso-prism-1The new Prism wearable device does much more than wait in line for guests – it allows for a fully integrated smart park, creating a better, more engaging and seamless guest experience. From front gate entry, to facilitating secure cashless purchases, sending push notifications or triggering events based on guest location, Prism sets a new standard for the attractions industry.

Whether provided to all guests as part of park admission to eliminate the need to wait in any queues or offered as a premium service upgrade, Prism offers the option to deliver a more efficient, integrated, smart park experience.

“Untethered by a smartphone or rigorous pre-planning requirements, guests can now enjoy a carefree, hasslefree and waitfree experience when they visit their favorite venue,” said Steve Brown, accesso CEO. “With Accesso Prism, we introduce an improved way for visitors to enjoy attractions, and for attraction operators to offer more fun, more convenience, and less waiting for their guests.”

The innovative Prism design is a compact and lightweight wearable offering a variety of functions that can be uniquely adapted for a wide range of venues including theme parks, water parks, ski resorts and museums:

– Virtual Queuing – A waitfree experience as guests reserve their place in line, change their ride selections and monitor their ride return time.
– Payments – A walletfree experience with cashless payments via secure Near Field Communication (NFC) technology.  Messaging – Push notifications for proximity-based marketing, operational updates and status of virtual queue positions.  Photography – Automated tagging of ride and park photographs for seamless collection throughout the day.  Access – Hasslefree entry at park turnstiles, guest lockers and resort hotel room doors.  Intelligence – Collects guest journey information in real time and provides valuable data to inform park operations and marketing.

The proprietary accesso design delivers a multitude of sophisticated technologies that open up a whole new spectrum of possibilities for venues to enhance their guest experience:

– Communication – Robust communication protocols including Bluetooth, long range radio and Secure NFC.
– Durability – Corning Gorilla Glass® lens and waterproof design to withstand rigorous theme park and water park environments.
– Ease-of-use – Capacitive touch screen allows for simple operation by guests of all ages.
– Stand-alone operation – No requirement for guests to tether to a smart phone, visit a kiosk or preplan their visit.
– Power efficiency – Advanced hardware and software provide estimated battery life of over 200 days of virtual queuing operations.
– Comfort – Hypoallergenic, one-size-fits-all, high-performance strap.
– Adaptability – Multilingual capability for use with visitors from around the world.

To learn more about accesso Prism and accesso’s other technology solutions, visit www.accesso.com.

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2016 Opens, Bringing New Thrill Rides, Food, Immersive Games, and Technology to a Theme Park Near You

By | November 14, 2016

img_0127ORLANDO, Fla. – New thrill rides, immersive games, fun foods, and emerging technology are the buzz of IAAPA Attractions Expo 2016 underway in Orlando through Nov. 18.

IAAPA Attractions Expo is the largest annual conference and trade show for the $39.5 billion global theme park and attractions industry. The must-attend event converts the Orange County Convention Center into a multisensory marketplace of experiences that will soon arrive at popular attraction destinations worldwide.

This year’s show floor is the largest in the event’s 98-year history and includes several announcements related to new rides debuting in 2017. A list of major ride and park press conferences is available at www.IAAPA.org/ExpoPressEvents.

The future of roller coaster design, dark ride development, water slides, immersive experiences, food and beverage, theming and design, ticketing technology, and more is on display by more than 1,000 companies.

Representing 100 nations, 30,000 professionals from water and theme parks, family entertainment centers (FECs), aquariums, zoos, museums, science centers, resorts, and more attend Expo to build relationships, test new innovations, and learn best practices. Attendees and media often view breaking news from the industry in real time at Expo.

Sneak peeks of what may appear in amusement parks next year and beyond, include previews of SeaWorld’s new rides for 2017, a new “Storm Race” water slide virtual reality experience, updates to the “Cloud Coaster” cart-less roller coaster, details about the newest Andretti Indoor Karting and Games location are expected to create buzz. Additional information about what’s new on the “nine miles of aisles” show floor is available at www.IAAPA.org/SneakPeek.

The Expo features more than 100 education experiences including behind-the-scenes EDUTours of popular Florida destinations, such as The Crayola Experience, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, Fun Spot America, Kennedy Space Center, and SeaWorld Orlando.

The event features keynote presentations or panel discussions by industry veterans, including Bob Rodgers of BRC Imagination Arts, Dick Kinzel of Cedar Fair, Maribeth Bisienere of Disney Springs and ESPN Wide World of Sports, Steve Van den Kerkhof of Plopsa Group, Craig Russell and Nancy Seruto of Shanghai Disney Resort, Richard Nunis of Walt Disney World, and Marty Sklar and Bob Weis of Walt Disney Imagineering. IAAPA’s new Game Changer session features Zappos Culture Evangelist John Wolske speaking about how the company delivers superior customer service and employee rewards.

On Wednesday, IAAPA recognizes the industry’s best-of-the-best during a special celebration – The IAAPA Brass Ring Awards – honoring excellence and creativity in areas including entertainment, new products, food and beverage, and human resources.

Presented by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), the Expo is open to media and closed to the public. Exhibitor details, photos, and phone interviews are available to localize reports. Follow the Expo @IAAPAHQ or #IAE16, with more at www.IAAPA.org or via 703/299-5127 or 678/358-7476.

Affordable and thrilling roller coaster offers visibility and capacity with a small footprint

By | November 14, 2016

img_0126ORLANDO, Fla. – For too long, parks have had limited thrill options for roller coasters around two million dollars, especially those that are American designed, manufactured, and supported. Skyline Attractions enthusiastically announced today an end to that struggle by introducing Skywarp and expanding its growing portfolio of innovative products for the amusement industry.

Using clever engineering, Skyline developed the coaster to safely incorporate modern technology with big structure, major thrills, speed, inversions, interaction, and capacity while simplifying operations and maintenance.

Among its thrills, the dual-loop ride cleverly produces a dueling near-miss element that brings riders tantalizingly close to one another by using a single train with passengers at each end. The technique effectively creates simultaneous two-train operation without a costly PLC that relies on block logic and maintenance-intensive sensors. Thrill-seekers 48 inches and taller, seated facing each other, twist sideways and upside-down as they accelerate through twin Immelmann inversions.

“Skywarp has everything that operators of all sizes desire: Big impact, big thrills, big visibility, and big capacity with a small footprint and a small price,” the Skyline team boasted. The ride is 62 feet tall with a track length of 360 feet and fits on a site just 30 feet wide and 120 feet long. It seats 32 riders per cycle and thrills 800 per hour.

Skywarp can be installed on a customer’s foundation or supplied with a base frame for semi-permanent installation. While drive tires will be the standard propulsion method, linear synchronous motors from a proven industry expert are an optional substitute to further streamline the system. Both methods will gradually rock the train back and forth until reaching full speed, reducing power consumption and minimizing required infrastructure improvements.

Skywarp will be available to virtually ride and learn about at the IAAPA Expo this week in Orlando, along with a “Crazy Crab” themed Crazy Couch kids’ ride. Come ride and warp your perspective at booth 5429!

Skyline Attractions, LLC is the Orlando-based manufacturer of innovative amusement industry creations. More information about Skywarp and their other American-made products, including video and images, can be found online at skylineattractions.com. Skyline Attractions can be reached at (407) 587-0080.

CENTAMAN Expands US Presence

By | November 14, 2016

In November 2016, CENTAMAN, a leading provider of software for the tourism and visitor attractions space, will expand its operations in the USA by opening an office in California. CENTAMAN will enhance its west coast operations from a corporate office in Huntington Beach.

“We’re very excited to be expanding our US presence in California,” Mr Mike Korbel, VP Jonas Ticketing, said. “It gives us better access to service our customers and opportunities on the west coast of the USA.”

CENTAMAN currently operates from multiple locations around the world, including Chicago. Jon Leutenegger, with over 10 years’ experience with CENTAMAN, will be managing sales on the west coast and will split his time between the USA and Australia.

“We believe the west coast is a key market to continue the growth of CENTAMAN in the USA,” Mr Korbel said.

With more than 25 years’ industry experience in the attractions industry, CENTAMAN creates innovative, practical software that allows tourism operators to seamlessly manage all aspects of their business.

CENTAMAN’s all in one, fully integrated solution streamlines workflows, improves business efficiency and enhances the guest experience, whether you operate across one site or many.

Apex Parks Group mourns unexpected death of President and Chief Executive Officer, Al Weber, Jr.

By | November 10, 2016

al_weber__apex_parksALISO VIEJO, Calif. — Apex Parks Group announced on Nov. 9 that Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer Al Weber, Jr. died suddenly on Nov. 8 while vacationing in the British Virgin Islands.

“Al was a gifted leader and a great friend to all who knew him. He was a visionary who led the growth of Apex since its inception,” said Tyler Zachem, chairman of the board of Apex Parks Group. “We are saddened by this monumental loss and extend our deepest sympathies to his wife, Bonnie, and his family.”

“He was well liked and respected by everyone in this business, from ride operators to other CEOs,” Doug Honey of Apex said. “He often said his goal was to create a strong culture where people could grow to be successful industry leaders, and he meant it.”

Prior to forming Apex Parks Group, Al Weber, Jr. was the interim CEO of Six Flags Entertainment Corporation and a leader on the team that successfully turned around the business. Previously, he was the CEO of Palace Entertainment and earlier served as President and CEO of Paramount Parks. He began his career as a seasonal ride operator at the age of 16 and never left the amusement park industry. He was widely recognized for his innovative spirit, leadership and energy.

Gregg Borman, Apex senior vice president of operations, said he and Weber conceived of starting Apex four years ago by acquiring properties that experienced managers could grow by focusing on family fun, close to home. “Al was a true friend and a great mentor. He was always passionate about this industry and instilled his enthusiasm in everyone he encountered,” said Borman. “Though the company is grieving this devastating loss, Al’s vision for Apex was clear and fully embraced by our team. With our collective efforts, we are determined to realize it.”

“We are confident the management team at Apex will continue to follow Al’s blueprints for success and build upon the company’s great collection of parks,” Zachem said.

Longtime friend, Jim Seay, Premier rides told AT, “The many successes that Al achieved early in his career meant he never had to work. He only worked because he was so incredibly passionate about our industry that he truly loved every day he was part of the magic. Al was a driven entrepreneur, corporate CEO, creative inventor, and beloved mentor all wrapped into one amazing person that will be dearly missed. His loss truly hurts.”
Weber was the most recent member addition to IAAPA’s board of directors and had just been announced as the association’s second vice chairman, that would have made him the association chairman in 2019.

IAAPA president and CEO Paul Noland said, “We have lost a visionary, an advocate, and a friend. Al was the embodiment of everything that is great about this business, and his impact on our industry will live on for generations to come. On behalf of IAAPA, our board of directors, staff, and membership, we send our deepest condolences to Al’s wife Bonnie, Al’s family, and his industry friends, especially his colleagues at Apex Parks Group.”

Prior to his role at IAAPA and Apex he was the former COO for Six Flags Entertainment for many years.

In a statement to company employees Six Flags President and CEO John M. Duffey said, “Al was instrumental in the turnaround of our company, leading Six Flags in its difficult period after emergence from bankruptcy. He has been in the theme park industry for more than 45 years and was not only well-respected, but deeply loved. He will truly be missed. Our industry lost one of its beloved titans, and it is a truly sad day.”

AT will have more details as they become available.

The Game Just Changed: Cineplex Starburst Inc. Becomes ‘Player One Amusement Group’

By | November 9, 2016

TORONTO, Ontario, – Cineplex Entertainment today announced that Cineplex Starburst Inc. (“CSI”), a leading distributor and operator of amusement and gaming equipment, is rebranding its business. As of today, all of CSI’s business units will operate under its new name ‘Player One Amusement Group.’

Previously operating as four businesses – CSI, Brady Starburst LLC, Premier Amusements and Tricorp Amusements – the amalgamation creates one company that delivers entertainment and amusement gaming solutions for customers across North America and internationally. Player One Amusement Group provides a full-service offering that includes sales and distribution, route operations, parts and service as well as merchandising and consulting.

Much more than a name change, the amalgamation announced today creates new and exciting opportunities for Player One Amusement Group’s customers, suppliers and employees as it raises its game as one unified brand. That brand is being supported with a new company logo and website, WinWithP1AG.com. The website acts as a comprehensive and easy-to-navigate resource for existing and new customers about Player One Amusement Group. It also offers insights on the latest industry news as well as product and services information that changes the game.

Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Player One Amusement Group employs over 450 people in 21 offices throughout Canada and the United States. One of North America’s leading providers of interactive video, redemption and amusement gaming equipment, it specializes in solution servicing and design for a wide range of customers in the theatrical exhibition vertical as well as community-based entertainment destinations such as bowling centres, restaurants, arcades, shopping centres and water parks.

New tourist destination planned for Alabama

By | November 2, 2016

OWA LogoFOLEY, Ala. — The Poarch Band of Creek Indians unveiled detailed plans for its first-class, family-friendly tourist destination currently under construction near Alabama’s most popular beaches.

The development’s name, Owa, means “big water” in the Muscogee Creek language. Owa “big water” refers to the 14-acre lake at the center of the unique project that features a themed amusement park, a 150-room Marriott Town Place Suites hotel, and a wide selection of restaurant and shopping opportunities.

Stephanie A. Bryan, Poarch Creek’s Tribal Chair and CEO noted, “As a Tribe, we have worked hard to ensure that our businesses bring revenue and jobs into the State and add to the quality of life in the rural communities where they are located. Owa is being built in this tradition, and we are very excited to be both neighbors and partners with the City of Foley in bringing economic development to this area.”

When completed, the Owa development will generate close to 3,500 jobs (both direct and indirect) and will boost tourist spending in South Alabama by 7%. That increase in spending is expected to increase Baldwin County’s economic output by close to $250 million.

The 520-acre Owa development is adjacent to the City of Foley’s $40 millionsports tourism complex which features 16 state-of-the-art outdoor fields and a 90,000 square foot indoor events center that is slated to open in the summer of 2017. The two projects will provide a seamless experience for “sport families” who travel to the area specifically for tournaments, but who will avail themselves of opportunities offered by Owa to entertain the entire family.

“For every visitor, Owa will provide a top-notch experience,” said Tim Martin, President of Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority, the Tribe’s business entity charged with developing the property. He continued, “It is an added benefit that families who come to Foley for sporting events will also have all of Owa’s offerings available to them. We believe that this is a winning combination that will have families coming back to Alabama for years to come.”

Owa, located just off the Foley Beach Express and County Road 20, is just 9 miles from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. While that area of the State already hosts 6.2 million each year, Owa is expected to bring in an additional 1 million visitors annually.

Foley’s Mayor John Koniar added, “No place can beat Alabama’s Gulf beaches for their natural beauty. We are happy to offer visitors to our area a one stop, family-friendly destination that is near the beach but will provide another option, for not only overnight visitors, but those looking for a day trip getaway.”

Owa’s design celebrates its rural roots. The complex will have the feel of a small Southern town that evolves through time with distinct districts such as the Warehouse District, Downtown District, and Amusement Park.

Phase One of Owa, which includes the 150-room hotel, retail and dining spaces, amusement park and lake will open Summer 2017. Future plans call for a waterpark, additional hotels, a condominium complex and a resort level RV park. When complete, total investment in the development will top $500 million.

Passing of Bob Henry, Schlitterbahn founder

By | November 2, 2016

papa1NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – It is with a heavy heart that we at Schlitterbahn share the news that our founder, Robert Ray Henry, known to many of us here as Mr. Bob, passed away last night.

Mr. Bob was a brilliant businessman as well as a devoted husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather. When he and Billye came to New Braunfels fifty years ago, they took over a small camp and over time built it into what is now one of the most beloved waterparks and resorts in the world. But it all started with family.

“My father, from the very start, hoped to have a family business where he and his children could work together,” said Gary Henry, president of Schlitterbahn Waterparks and Resorts, and eldest son. “All of us will miss him dearly. We will miss his leadership, his guidance, and his insights. We are blessed that he leaves behind a legacy of hard work, dedication, and commitment to those who both those who work here and to generations of guests who have made memories in the parks he made possible.”

He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

Knott’s offers expanded Seasons of Fun, summer interactive entertainment and thrilling new rides in 2017

By | November 2, 2016

New Thrilling Ride, Sol Spin (PRNewsFoto/Knott's Berry Farm)

New Thrilling Ride, Sol Spin (PRNewsFoto/Knott's Berry Farm)

BUENA PARK, Calif. – There’s farm fresh fun for everyone coming to Knott’s Berry Farm in 2017 with a brand new thrill ride, an extended Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, the exciting return of Ghost Town Alive! next summer, and the expansion of Knott’s Soak City Waterpark.

Sol Spin will bring brand new hair-raising thrills to the Fiesta Village area of the park next season. The new ride will send brave guests on a thrilling topsy-turvy adventure over 6 stories high as they rotate in all directions on one of six spinning arms. Sol Spin will be the newest addition to the theme park’s world-class line up of more than 40 rides and attractions when it opens in spring 2017.

But that’s not all! Knott’s Berry Farm is also expanding the park’s Seasons of Fun. For the first time ever, the mouthwatering Knott’s Boysenberry Festival, exclusively dedicated to celebrating Knott’s delicious roots, will be expanded to 23 days. Celebrate the historic berry with countless one-of-a-kind boysenberry inspired dishes, drinks and more, plus limited-time live entertainment the whole family will love!

This past summer to celebrate Ghost Town’s 75th anniversary, Knott’s debuted the one-of-a-kind interactive experience Ghost Town Alive! The extremely popular interactive experience returns for a second year packed with new characters and even more interactive old west fun. The citizens of Calico return to take guests on an immersive journey back in time to the old west of the late 1800s when bandits and cowboys battle for control of the west. This summer the wild- west gets a little wilder, as new story lines and plot twists will be revealed throughout the season insuring guests will never experience the same adventure twice. Ghost Town Alive! offers something for everyone in your posse.

Also, coming to the park next summer, is the all new Boardwalk Barbecue restaurant located in the Boardwalk area of the park near Xcelerator. This new fast-casual dining location will offer various BBQ favorites including smoked pork ribs, tri-tip and rotisserie chicken along with a selection of sandwiches and side dishes. Boardwalk Barbecue will also be featuring a selection of local and well known craft beers. The restaurant will include a new covered seating area with a stage for live entertainment. The location will replace the existing Boardwalk Barbecue restaurant. Construction is set to begin this year.

Next year’s new enhancements also include an extensive expansion, renovations and new additions in store for Knott’s Soak City Waterpark, which were announced earlier this summer. Orange County’s largest water park will debut two water slide towers offering exhilarating attractions geared for families and thrill seekers. Shore Break will tower over seven stories and offer six different thrilling water slide experiences. Four of the slides on the tower will feature an Aqua-Launch chamber which will innovatively launch guests as the floor under their feet drops them into an almost vertical free fall through a series of flat loops and S-curves in a translucent flume. Shore Break will also feature dueling tube slides that will zip riders through an enchanting series of drops and turns. The height requirements for Shore Break slides are 48 inches. The Wedge slide tower will take the location of the current Pacific Spin and will be an open air family raft ride. Up to six guests at a time will descend down navigating twists and turns and unexpected drops. The minimum height requirement is 40 inches and 40 – 48 inches must be accompanied by a responsible person. The expansion project will also include updated shaded seating areas, cabanas and a remodeled Longboards’ Grill. Guests will be able to experience both water slide towers when Knott’s Soak City Waterpark opens for the summer season in May 2017.