Generational Expert to Headline 2018 Amusement Expo Education Day

By | December 4, 2017

With so many generations in the workplace today, there has never been a greater opportunity for collaboration.    At the same time, there has never been a greater opportunity for conflict.

So says Meagan Johnson, who will lead off Expo Education Day at next year’s AAMA/AMOA Amusement Expo on February 27, 2018 at the Westgate Las Vegas Hotel & Resort Casino.

Johnson, known as a “Generational Humorist,” has an outspoken, take-no-prisoners Gen X attitude and challenges audiences to think differently and act decisively when dealing with multiple generations.

After working several years in a sales environment, she became discouraged when she experienced the negative perceptions about Generation X, the 50 million people born between 1965 and 1980. A Gen X’er herself, she began to research companies large and small to better understand how multiple generations could work together and be successful.

She and her Dad, professional speaker Larry Johnson, are co-authors of the best-selling book:  “Generations, Inc.:  From Boomers to Linksters, Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work.”

“Whether it’s with our kids, parents or work colleagues, we have all experienced what we used to call the generation gap,” said Lori Schneider, executive vice president of the Amusement & Music Operators Association (AMOA), one of two industry trade groups that co-owns the Amusement Expo.     “That gap seems to be widening, with more communication breakdowns and conflict, so this is a timely, key topic to address.”

For the past 20 years, Johnson has entertained and educated thousands of audience members, and she has written about and been quoted extensively on a variety of generational topics.

“Every generation gets a negative label when it enters the workplace,” Johnson notes.   “For example, Baby Boomers were called trouble-making hippies when they first went to work.  Once we take time to understand the motivations and mindset of each generation, then working with them, communicating with them and managing them becomes a more successful effort.”

Set to address business owners and managers in the amusement, family entertainment center and related industries at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, February 27 at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas, Johnson’s topic will be entitled:  “Zap the Gap!”

“When we show up at the office, factory, warehouse or route each day, we bring our unique perspectives and personalities with us,” said Pete Gustafson, executive vice president of the American Amusement Machine Association (AAMA), the trade association that co-owns the show.    “If we can gain a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the traits that define the different generations we interact with, it will be tremendously useful.     It promises to be a great way to launch our 2018 Expo Education Day.”

ASTM International Releases New Brand Video: “Connecting the Dots”

By | December 4, 2017

W. CONSHOHOCKEN, Penn. – Today, ASTM International, one of the world’s leading providers of standards and related services, released a new video that tells the organization’s story through the eyes of a technical expert as she goes to work, develops standards, uses helpful tools, and builds partnerships.
The video was shown at the kickoff of two concurrent ASTM International “committee week” events held this week in Houston and New Orleans where thousands of the organization’s members will create and update standards. The Houston meetings involve fields such as petroleum, bioenergy, and commercial spaceflight while the New Orleans meetings involve cement, concrete, masonry, road materials, roofing, rubber, carbon black, fire safety, and more.
“I’m thrilled to release this succinct and powerful video that reflects ASTM International’s mission,” said Katharine Morgan, who became president in February. “In just 90 seconds, it captures how we are working with our members, customers, and partners to help our world work better.”

Gary Goddard Takes Leave of Absence From The Goddard Group; Taylor Jeffs Assumes Role of President, Chief Creative Officer

By | November 28, 2017

LOS ANGELES, Calif.  Company founder Gary Goddard has taken a leave of absence from The Goddard Group, an entertainment design firm based in North Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Mr. Goddard, founder and CEO of the company, will begin his leave effective immediately, according to an announcement made today by the company’s Chief Operating Officer Barry Kemper.

Taylor Jeffs is assuming the role of President and Chief Creative Officer of the company, Mr. Kemper said.  Mr. Jeffs has served for more than 14 years as the Goddard Group’s Director of Design, working on major international theme parks, museums, retail centers, destination resorts, and live entertainment projects. He was previously at The Walt Disney Company.

The Goddard Group, the creator and designer of some of the world’s leading attractions and experiences, continues to successfully operate and do business nationally and internationally on its projects at destination resorts, casinos, theme parks and retail experiences.

Kemper said Mr. Goddard took the leave to allow the company and its employees to continue their projects undistracted by recent allegations made against him.  “We believe this move is in the best interest of the company, its employees and clients,” Kemper added.

Darien Lake to build new roller coaster

By | November 27, 2017

DARIEN CENTER, N.Y. – Darien Lake Theme Park will open a new coaster, Tantrum, in May 2018. This latest capital investment is a nearly $5 million addition to the park.
Tantrum riders will embark on a 98-foot vertical lift at a 90-degree angle – straight up the coaster’s first hill. In a matter of seconds, upon reaching its apex, the train plummets into a 97-degree drop and pretzel inversion. Reaching speeds of 52 mph, the coaster snakes through the structure over a bunny hop, keeps riders wondering which way is up or down during an Immelman turn, and finishes with a tilted loop.
Tantrum will be the park’s seventh coaster. Its signature beyond-vertical drop offers a thrilling, unique experience that has not previously been offered to park guests. It’s the first of its kind in New York State and Ontario, Canada.
“This ride confirms our status as New York State’s Coaster Capital and our commitment to providing guests with cutting edge experiences,” said Chris Thorpe, general manager.
With the announcement of this coaster, Darien Lake has reduced the price of 2018 season passes for the holidays. Currently, season passes are on sale for $59.99, the lowest price of the season. On top of unlimited visits in 2018, pass holders receive free parking, free and discounted tickets for friends, exclusive pre-sale concert ticket access, lodging deals, and in-park discounts. Additionally, extra free tickets for friends, a 2018 souvenir mug with $1.49 refills and a limited edition Tantrum souvenir will be available to pass holders who purchase and visit before Memorial Day 2018.

Quassy Ride Superintendent George Zonas Has Died

By | November 22, 2017

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. – George Zonas, ride superintendent and training officer at Quassy Amusement & Waterpark here, has died following a lengthy illness.

The Waterbury, Conn., native came to work at Quassy in 2000 following his1999 retirement as an international customer service representative and traffic manager for Black & Decker’s Pop Fasteners Division in Shelton, Conn.

His illness forced him to step down during the 2017 season at the family-owned park.

“George came to the park shortly after he retired from Black & Decker, looking to fill some time,” recalled George Frantzis II, a park owner who worked closely with Zonas throughout the years. “Little did I know that this would the beginning of a great friendship. George was the type of man that cared for others before himself and never showed defeat, even to his last day on July 5th. He always inspired me with the spring in his step and smile on his face. We will greatly miss his upbeat charm and inner beauty.”

In 2015, he was presented with the Alan E. Ramsay Safety Award from the New England Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (NEAAPA). The accolade recognizes “an unparalleled commitment to safety in the amusement parks and attractions industry.” Ramsay, a NEAAPA past president and Hall of Fame member, was a certified risk evaluator and developed training materials for amusement rides and devices throughout the world before his untimely death in 2011 at age 41.

During his nearly two decades at Quassy, Zonas trained hundreds of ride operators and started with an introduction speech that led off with the phrase: “this is show business.”

“Everybody who lived locally came here as a youngster, including myself. It was part of the rite of passage,” he said in a 2006 interview for a story about his vital role at the landmark property.

Zero Latency — Free-Roam VR Pioneer Wins First and Second Place IAAPA Brass Ring Awards; Launches New Title Outbreak Origins, Most Advanced Free-Roam VR Game Ever Made

By | November 17, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. – Zero Latency, the irrefutable world-leader in location-based free-roam VR entertainment, announced that a panel of judges comprised of IAAPA facility members has voted two Zero Latency VR games the first and second place winners of IAAPA Brass Ring awards in Category 8: Games and Devices – Class B – Midway Games and Equipment. The IAAPA Brass Ring Awards mark “achievements of excellence throughout the international attractions industry”

According to IAAPA:
This award is for the best new midway game, including any game that uses an operator/ attendant. The judging criteria, used to evaluate eligible products, are:
• Benefit of the product or service to the prospective buyer
• Originality or uniqueness of the product or service
• Quality of the products or service’s design and construction
• Innovation of the product or service.

The first-place winning game, Engineerium, is a gun-free, family-friendly adventure on an eyepopping fantastical alien world in which our laws of physics do not apply. Players walk up and down ramps and twisty, curvy walls while solving puzzles. The game that won the second-place Brass Ring award, Singularity, is an immersive space-themed shooter in which players battle through robots, killer drones, and gun turrets in the zero-gravity environment of a military space station. Watch videos on Engineerium and Singularity.

Also during the IAAPA tradeshow, Zero Latency is presenting Outbreak Origins, the company’s newest game, which is making its debut outside Australia during IAAPA. Zero Latency is shuttling prospective customers from Booth #1675 to partner site at Main Event Orlando (Pointe Orlando – 9101 International Dr), to play Outbreak Origins, a 30-minute, multilevel game that features incredible replay value, advanced storytelling, ultra-realistic zombies, and an epic final boss battle. Watch the Outbreak Origins trailer.

“IAAPA has been a great platform for Zero Latency over the past few years and we are honored to and thankful to have been selected as winners of the 2017 Brass Ring awards. We opened our first U.S. location during IAAPA last year and since then we have opened 13 locations in 4 continents, on our way to 20 locations by the end of the year”, states Zero Latency CEO Tim Ruse. “Attendees are going to love Outbreak Origins, which is the culmination of the best VR experiences we have built into our games over the past two years we have been open and entertaining guests. In that time, we have had continued to push the player experiences further as 150,000 people experienced over 200,000 free-roam Zero Latency VR game plays.”

Zero Latency pioneered warehouse–scale free-roam multiplayer VR gaming arenas in 2015 with patent-pending motion tracking technology. Every visitor to a Zero Latency-powered arena can lead the pack, be a hero, support the squad, or discover their own role as part of a team. Teams in the VR arenas stay in contact with each other through Razer integrated headphone/ microphone units and are outfitted with OSVR HDK2 virtual reality headsets while wearing a military-grade backpack containing a high-performance Alienware PC gaming computer. They carry a perfectly-weighted, custom-made simulated weapon for game sessions that require firepower.

Zero Latency gaming arenas range from 2,000 to over 4,000 square feet, making them up to five times larger than any current free-roam VR entertainment competitor, and lead the industry by accommodating up to 8 players.

Galaxy America Inc. pulls out all the stops with largest exhibit space for 19th year at IAAPA

By | November 15, 2017

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – With five interactive motion rides on display, Galaxy America Inc., the world’s leading manufacturer of interactive motorized action games and multi rides systems, is gearing up for its 19th year at IAAPA Orlando 2017.

The headlining and most anticipated attraction is Galaxy’s new, family-centric motorized adventure courses, the Galaxy Ninja. With suspended upper body challenges and floor-mounted obstacles, most “Ninja Warrior” courses are geared toward athletic users. The Galaxy Ninja is an attraction anyone over 4 feet tall can participate in. It’s fun for the whole family. The simplest way to explain the attraction is “American Ninja Warrior” meets “Wipeout.” Most people are familiar with the two popular TV shows, and Galaxy created a hybrid adventure course that combines the most compelling features from both. Two different Galaxy Ninja courses will be on display at booth #5178.

“IAAPA is by far the largest show we participate in, so we push ourselves to be innovative each year,” said Robin Whincup, president of Galaxy America Inc. “Our goal was to bring the newest, greatest and safest attractions to the table, and we’ve certainly accomplished that this year.”

Along with the Galaxy Ninja, Galaxy will also showcase its full range of action games popular for entertainment centers, theme parks, trampoline parks or any visitor attraction center. The best selling action game in the industry will once again make an IAAPA appearance at booth #8035the Toxic Trampoline Meltdown, the immensely successful eight-player sweeper game. At booth #8130, IAAPA attendees can challenge themselves or race against someone else on the Adrenalator, the giant treadmill action game. And as always, Galaxy will demonstrate its ever-popular Galaxy Mechanical Bull at booth #5484.  

We’re excited to show off our more seasoned, as well as our new, attractions at this year’s IAAPA,” said Mike Whincup, director of design and innovation. “We’ve built our company’s reputation by always showcasing innovative products of the highest quality at the most competitive prices. Come on out to one of our booths – you’ll see!”

 For free VIP passes to the Galaxy’s booths, email or call 941-697-0324.

Cartoonist Bubba Flint will be signing 20th anniversary Amusement Today prints today! Booth #4215

By | November 15, 2017

Polin Aquariums launches Funtastic Aquariums Concept

By | November 15, 2017

TURKEY — Polin Waterparks introduced its new Polin Aquariums division last year, immediately igniting interest within the attractions industry about what the concept included. Now, the results of those initial conversations have begun to develop into full-fledged installations. The first, in fact, is already under construction and will open in Anzali, Iran, next March.

Polin launched the new concept under the Funtastic Aquariums brand. The division allows the company to serve up multifacted levels of expertise that let clients integrate an entirely new entertainment channel into their facilities. Polin’s oversight includes every imaginable detail of the installations: concepts, business plans, architecture, construction, procurement of living creatures and brand identities – all delivered by a team of experienced architects, engineers, biologists, veterinarians and technical experts.

But while the name infers that the Funtastic Aquariums brand is primarily focused on fish species, invertebrates and other aquatic animals that live in aquatic habitats, it actually includes a full offering of entertainment options including family entertainment centers (FECs), game centers and shopping. And while many amusement-style venues focus on fast-food-style eating, Funtastic Aquariums developments will provide fare for more sophisticated palates with a special food-and-beverage experience led by chefs who have worked at Fanous Michelin star restaurants.

Creating new opportunities for commerce
Polin’s first installation of its Funtastic brand will be the Anzali Aquarium being constructed in the area’s innovative Anzali Free Zone. Created to spur economic development, the Free Zone is located in Gilan province along the southern part of the Caspian Sea. It covers 9,400 hectares (23,228 acres) and 40 kilometers (25 miles) of shoreline.

Implemented in 2005, the zone offers special advantages such as its strategic transportation and transit position within the International North-South Transport Corridor. Plus, businesses within the zone enjoy tax exemptions for 20 years, as well as customs-duties and value-added tax exemptions.. Such incentives have spurred the construction of 14 hotels, motels and residential complexes with a capacity of 5,800 beds.

Tourism is now booming with the number of domestic and foreign visitors rising to 3.107 million from March 2016 to March 2017 compared to 2.3 million a year earlier – growth of 35 percent. A recreational pier is currently under construction as a pilot project to enhance marine tourism in the region setting up the Anzali Aquarium to be another major draw for visitors.

A first turnkey project
Construction on the US$22 million, three-story aquarium covers a footprint of 12,000 square meters (129,167 square feet). The aquarium complex fills 6,000 square meters (64,583 square feet) of that space, along with a 200-square-meter (2,153 square feet) FEC and arcade, as well as the eateries. Most notable will be the installation of Iran’s longest aquarium tunnel: 40 meters (131 feet).

Cüneyt Alpgüven, a Polin Aquariums partner, says the Anzali facility is the first turnkey project of Polin’s new Aquariums division. “Polin is handling all aspects, from the design and installation to the operation,” he explains. “That kind of oversight allows Polin to consider how to best integrate each aspect of the facility with all others to ensure visitors enjoy themselves in every regard. After all, we’re not simply building an aquarium – which is complicated enough on its own. We’re also creating a full attraction and entertainment center.”

In addition to the features already mentioned, the Anzali Aquarium will include:
35 different aquarium areas
A tropical reptiles section
A crocodile sector
A tropical birds section
Touch pools and interactive areas
A penguin section
A children’s playground
A bowling alley
A cafeteria and restaurant
A souvenir shop
An open-air children’s play area
A carousel
A fairground
A virtual reality (VR) cinema with moving seats
A green-screen “memory station” for photo sessions
Touch-screen information panels.
Bilge Pakis, Polin Waterparks design manager, says the Anzali Aquarium is one of the most unique projects Polin has ever taken on. “It’s particularly special for us being as it is the very first under our new Funtastic Aquariums brand,” he adds. “We anticipate it will attract a lot of interest.”

Attractions Industry Legends Inducted into IAAPA Hall of Fame

By | November 15, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. — The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) today announced the induction of several attractions industry legends — Philippe de Villiers, Henri and Pamela Landwirth, and Richard M. Sherman — into the IAAPA Hall of Fame. The inductions were announced during the Kickoff Event for IAAPA Attractions Expo 2017 in Orlando, Florida. The IAAPA Hall of Fame honors individuals whose work and accomplishments have made significant and lasting contributions to the worldwide attractions industry.

“We are honored to welcome this esteemed group of industry leaders into the IAAPA Hall of Fame,” said Jack Morey, 2017 chairman of the IAAPA Hall of Fame and Archives Committee and executive vice president of Morey’s Piers. “These individuals truly embody everything our industry stands for, bringing innovation, creativity, and philanthropy to the world. Throughout their notable careers, Philippe de Villiers, Henri and Pamela Landwirth, and Richard M. Sherman have positively shaped the global attractions industry; leading by example and inspiring generations to continually strive for excellence.”

Writer and Park Founder: Philippe de Villiers, Puy du Fou, Les Epesses, France
Philippe de Villiers grew up in the French countryside of the Vendée region of Western France and graduated from the prestigious ENA (National School of Administration). In 1978, inspired by the beauty of his homeland, he wrote the script for “La Cinéscénie,” an original nighttime show featuring music, lights, special effects, and hundreds of local volunteers. With an abandoned castle as the backdrop, he invented a new model for theme parks without rides for guests. Following the success of the show, in 1989, de Villiers opened his own park to the public — the Grand Parc of the Puy du Fou. Featuring unique historical shows and performances, today the number of volunteers has grown into the thousands, and the park also provides more than 2,000 jobs each season. People throughout the industry travel to see and find inspiration from Puy du Fou, which has more than two million visitors annually and is one of the most popular theme parks in France. De Villiers’ vision helped redefine the entertainment experience for guests at attractions worldwide, and he continues to lend his creative expertise to educate, train, and inspire the next generation of artists and attractions operators.

Philanthropists and Industry Ambassadors: Henri and Pamela Landwirth Give Kids The World, Kissimmee, Florida, United States
Henri Landwirth founded Give Kids The World (GKTW) in 1986. Since that time the nonprofit organization has grown to become an 84-acre, whimsical resort for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. Based in Central Florida, families come to GKTW Village from all over the world to experience a cost-free, week-long dream vacation away from doctor visits and hospital stays.

Pamela Landwirth has continued the legacy Henri began. For more than 20 years she has worked to expand the Village’s reach to children to who need it most. Pamela has partnered with IAAPA members globally to develop the World Passport for Kids program, which provides complimentary admission to member attractions and parks around the world for guests of the Village. To date, more than 130,000 families have received a Passport from Give Kids The World. The Landwirths’ have openly shared their knowledge and experience with others around the world who strive to create similar places for children and families. Their dedication to service and commitment to children have inspired the global attractions industry and left an immeasurable mark on millions of people.

Iconic Songwriter: Richard M. Sherman, California, United States
Richard M. Sherman’s contributions to the industry span more than 50 years, and he has written and composed countless beloved songs for Disney theme parks, resorts, and attractions around the world. His work represents the industry’s most iconic and memorable achievements, combining the physical ride experience with music that elevates the impact and emotional connection of an attraction — for children and adults alike. Along with his brother Robert, he wrote the timeless lyrics for “It’s a Small World,” celebrating global peace and our shared humanity. In addition, he wrote other classic songs such as “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” “A Spoonful of Sugar,” and “The Winnie the Pooh Song,” to name a few. Throughout his career, Sherman has served as an influential mentor to many designers and creators at schools, universities, and workshops. His legendary work and talent for telling stories through lyrics and melodies has connected the globe, inspiring millions through the gift of music.

IAAPA Hall of Fame Honors Those Who Have Made Lasting Contributions to the Global Industry
The IAAPA Hall of Fame was established in 1990 to honor legends and pioneers for their significant and lasting contributions to the growth and development of the attractions industry. Over the past 27 years, dozens of industry pioneers from around the world have been inducted to the IAAPA Hall of Fame including Walt Disney (The Walt Disney Company); Milton Hershey (Hersheypark); Dick Knoebel (Knoebels Amusement Resort); Bo Kinntorph (Liseberg); Will Koch (Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari); Jack Lindquist (Disneyland), Franz Mack (Mack Rides/Europa-Park); Bob Rogers (BRC Imagination Arts); Jay Stein (Universal Studios Florida); Geoffrey Thompson (Blackpool Pleasure Beach); Tom Williams (Universal Parks & Resorts), and Antonio Zamperla (Zamperla).