Switchback makes a fall debut at ZDT’s

By | October 19, 2015

ZDTsSEGUIN, Texas — A family-owned FEC in south central Texas has opened a first-of-its-kind roller coaster in the entire world and the only wooden coaster to open in the U.S. in 2015. Working with The Gravity Group of Cincinnati, Ohio, the ZDT’s owners have installed Switchback — the world’s first wooden shuttle roller coaster.

The signature touches to Switchback make it immediately distinctive. On first look, the spike jutting skyward in the center of the ride gives a first-impression appearance that the ride is yet to be completed. This, of course, is the ride’s reverse point. Seated in four rows, eight riders are dispatched with a snappy curve onto the 64-foot lift. The Gravity Group’s Timberliner trains negotiate a tight high curve and take the ride’s initial plunge. The compact nature of the available space inspires an action packed layout. Darting directional changes, a 104-degree banked turn, speed bumps and a course that zips through building structures deliver non-stop excitement. The “moment,” of course, is the climb up the spike where the track just ends. Front seat riders get the full impact of this illusory thrill. At that point, the train travels backward all the way back to the base of the first drop and then aligns itself onto the transfer track to slide into the station.

When Danny and Sarah Donhauser opened ZDT’s in 2007, it began principally as an indoor arcade fun center. Soon, the property began to develop along the lines of a standard FEC with some rides, go-karts and interactive offerings. Eventually, water park attractions were installed with waterslides and a relocated Master Blaster. At that time, a small amusement park was underway. Always hopeful from the beginning, owner Danny Donhauser knew a coaster would be added one day. Most facilities at this point would have considered a portable fairground style coaster. The Donhauser family took a different approach.

“At first we considered an indoor coaster for our first coaster and we decided it wasn’t the right thing. We needed something that was visual that people could see,” said Sarah Donhauser.

The lift hill height is 64 feet tall, while the height of the spike is one foot taller than the first drop. The length of the track is 1,196 feet, but Gravity Group estimates the actual ride length is 2,125 feet with the shuttle aspect letting the riders travel the majority of the course in both directions. Maximum speed is 41 mph. The ride time is approximately two minutes. Gravity Kraft — a division of The Gravity Group supplied two Timberliner trains of four cars each, holding eight passengers.

ZDT’s is open all year long, operating a weekend-only schedule until the summer. The park will be open daily when school is closed during the Christmas Holiday and Spring Break.

AT Photo - Jeffrey Seifert

AT Photo – Jeffrey Seifert

AT Photo - Jeffrey Seifert

AT Photo – Jeffrey Seifert

Registration now open for AIMS Safety Seminar

By | October 12, 2015

AIMS-SeminarLogo2016- RGBNashville, Tenn. – Registration for AIMS International’s Annual Safety Seminar is now open and available online. This comprehensive seminar, to be held January 10-15, 2016, at the Doubletree by Hilton in Orlando, Florida, offers classroom and hands-on safety training along with invaluable networking opportunities for ride inspectors, maintenance, operations and aquatic personnel in the amusement industry. With more than 300 students expected, the seminar is renowned for its diverse curriculum and the quality of its expert instructors who are today’s leading industry professionals.

Tuition is $595 and includes all class materials, lunches, two daily breaks, Continuing Education Units (CEU), and completion certificates. AIMS certification testing and other certificates are offered at an additional fee. Level I tests are also available in Spanish. AIMS Seminar rates at the Doubletree are $99 per night. A complete schedule and class list along with hotel and other information can be found at aimsintl.org. For more information about the AIMS Safety Seminar, please email info@aimsintl.org or contact Holly Coston, Seminar Operations Manager, 714.697.6654.

Funtime Inc. co-founder Gasper Lococo has died

By | October 7, 2015

LococoHURON, Ohio — Gasper Charles Lococo passed away Friday morning, October 2, 2015, of natural causes at home surrounded by his family.

Gasper was born on February 22, 1928 in Sandusky, Ohio, to the late August and Jenny (Cosentino) Lococo.

He was a Sgt. First Class in the United States Army who proudly served his country from 1950 to 1952. Gasper began his amusement career working at Cedar Point. In 1968, Lococo, along three other partners, left Cedar Point to form Funtime, Inc. and in November of that same year the group purchased Geauga Lake Park from the Schryer family. Funtime later entered into a lease agreement with the city of Columbus to manage Wyandot Lake Park in 1983. That same year Funtime Inc. purchased 50% controlling interest in Darien Lake Park, New York, acquiring the remaining 50% by the 1990s.

Gasper was an innovator in the amusement park industry; he was well respected and recognized by his peers for his many achievements. He was passionate about family and wanted to bring that passion to other families through his amusement parks. He and his partners grew Funtime Inc into a multi-million corporation that was worth $60 million dollars when it was sold in 1995 to Premier Parks. Gasper retired after selling Funtime Inc. He also enjoyed golfing, being an Ohio State fan and spending time with his family. Gasper gave back to his local community, both in Sandusky and Hudson.

Gasper was a member of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Sandusky and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hudson. He was also a member of the Booster Clubs in Sandusky and Hudson, the Italian American Club in Sandusky, the Walden Country Club in Aurora, OH, the Boca Tecca Country Club in Boca Raton, FL and the IAAPA. He also generously contributed to The Ohio State University.

Gasper is survived by his wife, Anna Marie (Missione) Lococo, whom he married on October 6, 1951 . He is also survived by his daughters, Pamela (Art Fessler-deceased) Lococo, Jean Marie Lococo and Kristen Lococo; sons, August (Marialana) and Anthony (Marijon) Lococo; 6 grandchildren; 2 great-grandchildren; brothers, Peter (Gail) and Chuck (Judy) Lococo; and numerous nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

Friends may call on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at Groff Funeral Homes & Crematory, 1607 E Perkins Ave, Sandusky. A prayer service will be held in the funeral home on Wednesday, October 7 at 9:30 am followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 am at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, 510 Columbus Ave., Sandusky with Father Matt Frisbee presiding. Burial will follow in St. Joseph’s Cemetery, Sandusky.

Those wishing to contribute to Gasper’s memory may do so to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Northern Ohio Chapter, 8001 Sweet Valley Drive, Suite 3, Valley View, OH 44125.

NJAA 18th holds annual Fritz Rolle Legacy golf outing

By | October 5, 2015

NJAALOGOLittle Egg Harbor, N.J. — The New Jersey Amusement Association held their 18th Annual Fritz Rolle Legacy Golf Outing at the Sea Oaks Golf Club on Tuesday, September 22, 2015. Fritz Rolle started the event in 1997 to benefit Give Kids The World, a non-profit organization supporting children with life-threatening illnesses.

After the first golf outing, it became an annual event that Fritz co-chaired for sixteen years. To date, over $100,000 has been raised for Give Kids The World through the NJAA Golf Outing because of Fritz’s passion for helping children and their families. In 2014, after Fritz Rolle passed away, the golf outing was renamed from the NJAA Annual Golf Outing to the NJAA Annual Fritz Rolle Legacy Golf Outing to honor his kindness and generosity.

At this year’s event, a bench was dedicated to Fritz Rolle and will be displayed at Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach. A donation box will be placed next to the bench and all the proceeds collected throughout next summer will be donated to Give Kids The World in Fritz’s memory.

And the Golden Ticket Award goes to…

By | September 12, 2015

Golden Ticket 2015 NYCBROOKLYN, N.Y. — Almost 400 attendees were present to watch the Golden Ticket Awards Ceremony unfold at the historic Gargiulo’s Restaurant and banquet center at Coney Island. The event was hosted by Zamperla, parent company to Central Amusements which operates Luna Park at Coney Island as well as Victorian Gardens in Central Park.

Among the accolades placed upon “The Best of the Best, perennial winners were accompanied by new faces such as Morey’s Piers, Carowinds, and Six Flags White Water. Also adding spice to the competition were some returning grabs from former winners Blackpool Pleasure Beach and Knoebels. The complete Golden Ticket Awards issue with a full list of finalists and complete roster of winners can be found at here:

GTA issue cover


By | September 12, 2015

Golden Ticket 2015 NYCBrooklyn, N.Y., Sept. 12, 2015 – In grand New York fashion and flair, the winners of Amusement Today’s 2015 Golden Ticket Awards were announced this evening during an awards’ show held at Luna Park in Coney Island inside the venerable Gargiulo’s Restaurant’s Grand Ballroom. These prestigious awards annually honor the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today.

The poll asks experienced amusement park voters around the country and world to rate the “bests” in 25 categories. While there remained some traditional winners, some new ones emerged. For the first time, Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks in Wildwood, N.J., finished on top for “Best Seaside Park” narrowly inching out Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, Calif., who has held the title since 2007. Also significant, there has been somewhat of a back-and-forth between parks in the categories of “Best Food” and “Best Water Ride” with those awards going back this year to Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pa., and Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach in England, respectively. The list of 2015 winners are …

Best Amusement Park Europa-Park, Rust, Germany
Best Water Park Schlitterbahn Waterpark Resort, New Braunfels, Texas
Best Children’s Park Idlewild & SoakZone, Ligonier, Pa.
Best Marine Life Park SeaWorld Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Seaside Park Morey’s Piers and Beachfront Water Parks, Wildwood, N.J.
Best Wooden Coaster Boulder Dash at Lake Compounce, Bristol, Conn.
Best Steel Coaster Millennium Force at Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio
Best Kids’ Area Kings Island, Kings Mills, Ohio
Friendliest Park Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Cleanest Park Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Halloween Event Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Landscaping Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va.
Best Christmas Event Smoky Mountain Christmas at Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Food Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
Best Shows Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Outdoor Night Show Production IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth at Walt Disney World’s Epcot, Orlando, Fla.
Best Water Ride Valhalla at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, Lancashire, England
Best Water Park Ride Wildebeest at Splashin’ Safari, Santa Claus, Ind.
Best Dark Ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Orlando, Fla.
Best New Attraction of 2015 – Amusement Park Fury 325 at Carowinds, Charlotte, N.C.
Best New Attraction of 2015 – Water Park Dive Bomber at Six Flags White Water, Marietta, Ga.
Best Carousel Grand Carousel at Knoebels Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pa.
Best Indoor Roller Coaster Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Orlando, Orlando, Fla.
Best Indoor Water Park Schlitterbahn Galveston Island, Galveston, Texas
Best Funhouse/Walk-Through Attraction Noah’s Ark at Kennywood, West Mifflin, Pa.

Personally chosen by Gary Slade, publisher and editor-in-chief of Amusement Today, this year’s Publisher’s Pick Awards were presented in the following categories:

  • (Co)-Person of the Year – Alberto Zamperla and Valerio Ferrari of Zamperla in Boonton, N.J., for their vision, strength and dedication that jump-started the rebirth of the famed Coney Island and saved this historic American treasure;
  • Park of the Year – Lagoon in Farmington, Utah, in its 130th year of operation, for demonstrating commitment to one of America’s oldest amusement parks by always improving the park and preserving a piece of Utah’s history;
  • Turnstile Award – Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Conn., for the park’s foresight and dedication to reinvesting and rebuilding that has resulted in renewed success and record revenues and attendance; and
  • Renaissance Award – Huck Finn’s Playland in Albany, N.Y., for saving the former Hoffman’s Playland and keeping this family tradition alive; plus creating new jobs and continuing to push the redevelopment of what was once a lackluster warehouse district into a more vibrant part of the community.

This year’s Golden Ticket Awards were hosted by Zamperla, a global design and manufacturing company specializing in some of the world’s most exciting and innovative amusement park attractions such as roller coasters, thrill rides, kiddie rides, family rides and tower rides.

For the 11th consecutive year, Amusement Today recognized college students who plan to pursue a career in the amusement industry and are employed by local parks and attractions – the Coney Island Cyclone, Luna Park in Coney Island, Victorian Gardens and Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park – as Ms. and Mr. Golden Tickets. These individuals exemplify the spirit and integrity of the amusement industry by promoting the cornerstones of safety, service, courtesy and cleanliness at the highest level, while consistently exceeding job expectations. This is an annual designation by Amusement Today to promote education in the field of hospitality and amusement.

Amusement Today newspaper was founded in 1997 and covers international amusement and water park news and trends. In its 18-year history, it is a five-time winner of various awards from the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. For a detailed outline of the 2015 winners and survey results, please log on to www.goldenticketawards.com and click on “Winners.”

Cedar Point announces Valravn

By | September 10, 2015

valravn_logoSANDUSKY, Ohio – Rumors of a dive coaster have abounded for weeks, and now it is finally been made official. On September 9, 2015, Cedar Point announced the world’s tallest, fastest and longest dive coaster for the 2016 season.

Valravn is the regal king of birds, swooping in to conquer all other dive coasters on the planet with its powerful and intense maneuvers, massive structure and immense ride vehicles. Valravn will become the 17th coaster to take reign at The Roller Coaster Capital of the World and will claim its rightful place among other record-breaking roller coasters at Cedar Point.

Riders on Valravn are carried more than 20 stories up to the top of the coaster’s 223-foot-tall first hill. Once there, the train is held perilously over the edge of the first drop for approximately four seconds, giving anxious guests unparalleled views of the park before free-falling a record 214 feet at a completely vertical, 90-degree angle, reaching a top speed of 75 mph!

Valravn then flips its passengers upside-down through a 165-foot-tall Immelmann, a fighter jet-like maneuver that takes the train into a half loop, then a half roll before traveling in the opposite direction. The train then approaches another drop zone – but there’s no stopping this time as riders plunge 125 feet down at a near-90-degree angle once again, twisting and turning upside-down two more times, once through a dive loop and then through a 270-degree roll before completing its epic journey over 3,415 feet of tarnished copper and silver steel track.

Valravn will give Cedar Point a number of new bragging rights including:

  1. Tallest dive coaster (223 feet)
  2. Fastest dive coaster (75 mph)
  3. Longest dive coaster (3,415 feet)
  4. Most inversions on a dive coaster (three)
  5. Longest drop on a dive coaster (214 feet)
  6. Highest inversion on a dive coaster (165 feet)
  7. Most roller coasters taller than 200 feet at one amusement park (5)
  8. Most rides at one amusement park (72)
  9. Most steel roller coaster track at one amusement park (52,125 feet/9.9 miles)
  10. Most roller coaster track at one amusement park (60,110 feet/11.4 miles)

“The introduction of Valravn is a first for the amusement park industry on many fronts, including the exciting virtual reality experience,” stated Jason McClure, vice president and general manager of Cedar Point. “For the first time ever, guests are able to take an immersive ride on Valravn before it opens next summer – and the actual experience will be unmatched with the tallest lift hill, fastest speed, longest track and most inversions on a dive coaster, right here at Cedar Point, The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.”

RWS & Associates to provide entertainment at Golden Ticket Awards ceremony

By | September 10, 2015

Golden Ticket 2015 NYCNEW YORK, N.Y. — RWS & Associates, a full-service, worldwide production company, will provide the entertainment for the 2015 Golden Ticket Awards ceremony on September 12. As North America’s largest provider of branded stage shows and experiences, RWS has produced shows for theme park operators Six Flags, Cedar Fair, Herschend Family Entertainment and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts.

In keeping with New York tradition, RWS has put together Broadway-style entertainment — with an amusement park connection. The entertainment portion, along with the entire awards ceremony, will be simulcast live beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. Live streaming can be viewed at youtu.be/5p5xm9ZBXiY.

Zamperla is hosting the event at the birthplace of the American amusement park — Coney Island. Zamperla’s Central Amusement International operates Luna Park at Coney Island as well as Victorian Gardens in Central Park. The Zamperla family has been in the amusement industry for more than a century.

The annual Golden Ticket Awards are the amusement industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, with amusement park owners and managers, ride manufacturers, and other industry officials gathering to salute the industry’s top parks. Winners were selected by amusement park enthusiasts, voting from around the world.

2015 Golden Ticket Awards ceremony to stream live

By | September 7, 2015

Golden Ticket 2015 NYCNEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — Zamperla will host the 2015 Golden Ticket Awards on September 11 and 12, 2015. Presented by trade newspaper Amusement Today, the private, two-day event for amusement industry professionals recognizes the “best of the best” in the amusement industry.

Beginning at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 12, 2015, the public can watch the Golden Ticket Awards ceremony streaming live online at youtu.be/5p5xm9ZBXiY.

The annual Golden Ticket Awards are the amusement industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, with amusement park owners and managers, ride manufacturers, and other industry officials gathering to salute the industry’s top parks. Winners were selected by amusement park enthusiasts, voting from around the world.

Zamperla is hosting the event at the birthplace of the American amusement park — Coney Island. Zamperla’s Central Amusement International operates Luna Park at Coney Island as well as Victorian Gardens in Central Park. The Zamperla family has been in the amusement industry for more than a century.

Entertainment will be provided by RWS & Associates. RWS has produced shows for theme park operators Six Flags, Cedar Fair, Herschend Family Entertainment and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts. In keeping with New York tradition, RWS has put together Broadway-style entertainment — with an amusement park connection.

Del Grosso’s to host last days of summer Christian concerts

By | September 2, 2015

delgrossos-logoTIPTON, Pennsylvania – Some of the top names in Contemporary Christian Music will take the stage at DelGrosso’s Amusement Park on Sunday, September 6, 2015.

DelGrosso’s Amusement Park will be hosting FrontLine Ministries 17th Annual “Last Blast of Summer” YouthFest. This annual worship service and concert will feature two amazing acts: JJ Heller will perform at 3pm and headliner Danny Gokey will perform at 7pm. Worship Service will be on the stage at 11am with George Bell, Casey Gray & Lindsay Salyards.

FrontLine Ministries was founded in 1994 by George Palmer in Tipton, PA. The multi-faceted ministry has a teen outreach center and summer camps, works with teens and their families dealing with the struggles of alcohol and drug abuse, and counsels’ single teen moms and troubled youth. FrontLine also began a community outreach ministry called The Hope Center that provides friendship, hope, encouragement, and resources to members of the Bellwood-Antis community.

“Each year the ‘Last Blast of Summer Concert’ is an amazing community event. Through song and service, we hope to reach out to our youth and families. As always, we have some really great artists who are sharing their talents to make a difference,” says George Palmer, FrontLine Founder. “Our partnership with DelGrosso’s Amusement Park allows us to have a venue that is fun, and where people of all ages can listen and be inspired,” says Palmer.

DelGrosso’s Amusement Park picnic grounds open at 8am. Rides and Food open at 11am. Free Parking-Free Admission. Bring Your Lawn Chairs. An All-Day Fun Pass for September is $16.95 per person and includes the water park for this weekend.