SeaWorld Entertainment names Joel Manby as President and CEO

By | March 19, 2015

SeaWorld Joel Manby CEOORLANDO, Fla. — SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS), a leading theme park and entertainment company, announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Joel Manby as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective April 7, 2015. At that time, Manby, 55, will also join the Company’s Board of Directors. David F. D’Alessandro, who has served as interim CEO, will continue to serve as the Company’s Chairman.

“The Board of Directors has completed an extensive search process and we are extremely pleased to welcome Joel Manby to SeaWorld Entertainment. Joel has nearly 20 years’ experience and a proven track record with business models very similar to ours – multiple brands and multiple properties in the entertainment and theme park industries,” said D’Alessandro. “Even in the most challenging business environments, Joel has consistently enhanced the performance of the companies he has led for customers, investors and employees alike. He has the experience and qualifications to lead our Company into the future.”

Most recently, Manby has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Herschend Enterprises, the largest family-owned theme park and entertainment company in the United States. While at Herschend, he has consistently driven profitable growth, expanding the company from six to 26 properties while more than doubling annual EBITDA and net cash flow. Herschend reports annual attendance of more than 14 million across its companies.

“I am honored to be selected as SeaWorld Entertainment’s new CEO. This Company has tremendous brands, and for more than 50 years, families have come to our parks to learn about animals, have fun and be entertained,” Manby said. “We are known for our exceptional operations and world-class animal care. My job is to build on that foundation while consistently improving and innovating in a competitive environment. I look forward to working with our more than 23,000 team members through the challenges ahead.”

Before joining Herschend, Mr. Manby spent 20 years in the auto industry. From 1996-2000, he served as CEO of Saab Automobile USA, where he increased the company’s sales by over 60 percent and improved its J.D. Power Quality Rating from 30th to fifth in the industry. Prior to joining Saab, Mr. Manby held various roles at GM, and was a member of the start-up team for Saturn Corporation, where he was instrumental in launching Saturn’s innovative marketing and distribution strategy.

Mr. Manby was the valedictorian of Albion College, where he was a Rhodes scholarship finalist, and he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. He serves on the boards of several companies and organizations, including Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. and the National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army. Mr. Manby is married and has four daughters.

Rainforest Adventure coming to Grapevine, Texas

By | March 16, 2015

SEALIFE-GrapevineGRAPEVINE, Texas — Construction has started on the new 3,500-square-foot Rainforest Adventure scheduled to open this summer at Sea Life Grapevine Aquarium. The new permanent exhibit takes guests to the lush environment of the world’s rainforests where they will encounter brand new species to Sea Life, including crocodiles, piranha, anaconda and more.

The five-gallery display replaces the freshwater lakes exhibit and spotlights a variety of animals native to exotic locations from around the world. Unique features include a piranha walk-through tunnel, a domed pop-up tank in the middle of the anaconda cave, and touch tanks with fish and invertebrates.

Guests begin their journey through the rainforest where rays of light shine through mist and the forest canopy. In the Amazonian rivers gallery, freshwater fish swim amongst twisted roots, tree stumps and lush planting. The caiman exhibit takes visitors to an abandoned ancient temple reclaimed by the forest and crocodiles. Next, visitors of all ages get an up-close view of piranha as they swim overhead in the 40-foot walk through tunnel. In the anaconda cave is a domed pop-up tank where kids can observe the intriguing lifestyle of the world’s largest species of snake. Upon exiting the rainforest, guests will discover the newly re-imagined rock pools where they can touch and learn about coldwater fish and invertebrates native to the Pacific Northwest.

“This is the biggest investment we’ve made since our opening in 2011,” says Iain Scouller, Regional General Manager Sea Life Grapevine. “The new Rainforest Adventure exhibit will recreate extraordinary natural environments with exciting architectural elements, creating a highly immersive experience for visitors.”

SEA LIFE Grapevine is located at 3000 Grapevine Mills Parkway, Grapevine, Texas 76051. More information is available at

Proposed new ASTM waterpark standard highlights stationary wave systems

By | March 3, 2015

ASTM_logoW. CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — Stationary wave systems bring the thrill of surfing to water parks. A proposed new ASTM standard (WK31624, Practice for the Classification, Design, Manufacture, Construction and Operation of Standing Wave Systems) will provide a reference tool for safe construction and operation that will prove useful to both manufacturers and owners of standing wave systems.

“Riding a sheet wave is an exhilarating experience,” says ASTM member Marshall Myrman, leader of the FlowRider and Waves division of WhiteWater West Industries Ltd. “Since the participant is riding a 25 mile per hour sheet of water, there are certain issues that need to be addressed to ensure the safest experience possible, and that is what we are doing.”

The proposed standard will present such manufacturing guidelines as structural design requirements, identification markings and design responsibilities. Regulatory agencies will be able to use the standard as a tool for enforcement and laboratories will find it helpful for benchmark testing.

This proposed standard is being developed by Subcommittee F24.70 on Water-Related Amusement Rides and Devices, part of ASTM Committee F24 on Amusement Rides and Devices. Myrman welcomes all interested parties, particularly those representing standing wave manufacturers, to join in the development of WK31624.

Cedar Point unveils more plans for 2015

By | February 24, 2015

Cedar Point PNGSANDUSKY, Ohio — Although most attention has been focused on Cedar Point’s conversion of Mantis to Rogarou, the park has revealed plans for name-changes and makeovers of three more rides in 2015.

First up will be another relocation for Calypso. The historic spinning platform ride from Mack Rides of Germany, was part of a multi-ride package added to the Point in 1970. In 1994 the ride was moved from its Main Midway location to back by the Blue Streak station to make room for Raptor. Calypso will be disassembled, refurbished and relocated to the Wicked Twister Midway. The ride will also be rebranded as Tiki Twirl, which is a nod to a second Polynesian-themed Calypso that operated at Cedar Point from 1970 to 1984.

The Dodgem bumper cars, also part of the 1970 ride package, will be moved from the end of the Main Midway to a new location near maXair. In that same general area, the Good Time Theatre — the former IMAX theater that opened in 1965 — has already been demolished. The relocations and removals will free up a good chunk of real estate, but Cedar Point has been mum regarding any plans for the newly-opened up space.

Finally, the Kiddy Kingdom Krazy Kars bumper cars will be moved to the Planet Snoopy section of the park with a new name: Joe Cool’s Dodgem School.

Amusement Today office closed Monday, February 23

By | February 23, 2015

ARLINGTON, Texas — The offices of Amusement Today will be closed on Monday, February 23, due to a North Texas ice storm that is causing hazardous road conditions through the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Conditions are not expected to improve until mid-morning Tuesday, February 24.

Frontier City to get seven-story looping thrill ride

By | February 20, 2015

BRAINDRAIN_LOGO_trnsprnt_2.28.14Oklahoma City, Okla. — Hang on to your hats, Oklahoma. Frontier City’s all-new extreme thrill ride brain drain is going to throw you for a loop this summer – literally!

This exciting thrill ride is seven stories tall (over 72-feet high!) and puts 24 riders face-to-face as they rocket back and forth in suspense before wildly looping in an adrenaline-drenched 360° revolution.

“We are extremely excited to bring this new type of thrill ride to our guests,” says Stephen Ball, Frontier City’s General Manager. “It is the tallest ride to be added to the Frontier City skyline in the past decade and boasts the perfect combination of speed and suspense that is sure to please all thrill-seekers.”

Get unlimited hang time on the Brain Drain and all of the other great rides and attractions at Frontier City and White Water Bay with a Double Park Season Pass! Double Park Season Passes are on sale at for $69.99 thru May 25, 2015. Frontier City will open for the 2015 season on April 11th.

World's largest swimming lesson looking for hosts

By | February 16, 2015

WLSLlogostacked_2015_ROVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Host Location registration for the 2015 World’s Largest Swimming Lesson opens on Saturday, February 14. New this year, all Host Locations will teach their lessons at 10 am in their local markets as the lesson travels around the globe over the course of 24 hours. In prior years, aquatic facilities hosting WLSL events conducted lessons simultaneously at 3pm GMT.

The 2015 event will mark Team WLSL’s sixth Guinness World Record attempt for the largest swimming lesson ever conducted. The international team, made up primarily of kids, works together to prevent childhood drowning by participating in a global swim lesson to spread the vital message Swimming Lessons Save Lives.

Aquatic facilities, pools and waterparks interested in becoming an official WLSL Host Location can register at:

Team WLSL set its fifth Guinness World Record on June 20, 2014 with 36,564 participants from 22 countries. Since it’s inception more than 120,000 people have participated in WLSL lessons generating more than 150 million media impressions.

Tragically, drowning remains the leading cause of unintended, injury related death for children ages 1-5, and the second leading cause for children under 14. Research shows participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning by 88% among children aged 1 to 4, yet many children do not receive formal swimming or water safety training.

More than forty different aquatics and safety organizations and publications support Team WLSL in their mission and encourage their members and constituencies to join the effort by registering as an official WLSL Host Location or participating in a local lesson.

Pennsylvania amusement ride safety seminar to add crowd control seminar

By | February 13, 2015

Pa safety seminar logoIn cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, a six hour session dedicated to the challenge violence and rowdiness at public events has been added to the Pennsylvania Spring Amusement Ride Safety Seminar. This informational session will be held at the Holiday Inn in Grantville, PA on Thursday February 26, 2015 from 10:00am to 5:00pm.

There is no fee for this six hour session. Advance registration is required for all participants. Interested parties may should send an email to to register for this session. Registration deadline is Monday February 23, 2015. An optional lunch is available for $15.00.

Who Should Attend? Persons involved in management, security and operations of fairs, festivals, amusement parks, sports stadiums and family fun centers.

Topics to be covered:

  • Emergency Planning: The first two hours will focus on how to formulate and implement an emergency plan.
  • Lessons learned from past incidents.
  • Corrective and preventive actions that may prevent or lessen the impact of a negative incident.

Following Lunch:

  • Crowd control, management techniques and barricades.
  • Pennsylvania State Police will explain The Fusion Unit and how it can offer assitance.
  • Suspicious activities reporting.
  • The emerging role of social media and instant communications.
  • Alternate sites.
  • Command Center: How to organize, staff and implement.
  • Non-verbal Communication.

Overnight accommodations are available either before or after the seminar at the Holiday Inn-Grantville, (717) 469-0661. Mention that this is for the Pennsylvania Ride Safety Seminar to receive a special rate.

DreamVision announces launch of multi-billion dollar family entertainment theme parks

By | February 9, 2015

Dreamvision-whiteFORT WORTH, Texas — The DreamVision Company, a Fort Worth-based privately owned entertainment and media enterprise, announced plans for two multi-billion dollar theme parks and the addition of executive Dave Goodman as president of DreamVision Theme Parks and Resorts. DreamVision CEO Rick Silanskas says the parks are being developed in partnership with Bryan Robinson, CEO, Provident Global Capital, LLC.

“We are very excited about our partnership with DreamVision and their team of proven industry leaders. Even more compelling is how DreamVision aligns with Provident Global Capital’s core values and our mission of investing in companies that have a positive impact on society,” said Robinson.

Located in Fort Worth’s Metroplex region and slated to open in 2020, DreamVision Mountain/DreamScape, Texas, will transport guests through multiple themed lands and attractions. Rising up in the center of the park will be the iconic DreamVision Mountain, a towering winter wonderland and one of the largest indoor winter snow experiences in the world, featuring winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and bobsledding. The realistic winter landscape, inspired by the artwork of Thomas Kinkade, will be created by technology developed by Malcolm Clulow, the foremost expert in indoor snowmaking. Themed lands, including Dreamscape Tinsel Town, Nadia’s Storybook Land and Dreamscape Metropolis, will surround DreamVision Mountain, each offering unique attractions, rides and adventures.

Since 2002, Silanskas, a producer, musician and composer, who has created award-winning work for the motion picture, television and animation industries, has assembled a team of top entertainment industry professionals, among them chief creative officer Ron Logan, previously executive vice president and executive producer for Walt Disney Entertainment and the force behind the Broadway production of “Beauty and the Beast,” and president Vince Silanskas, a former Walt Disney World executive.

DreamVision has added Dave Goodman, a longtime entertainment executive, to head up the theme park division. Goodman is a former vice president of entertainment and executive producer at Disneyland Resort and has held executive level positions at Walt Disney Special Events Group and Busch Entertainment Corporation.

“We are thrilled to have Dave take charge of the theme park division,” Silanskas said. “With his expertise, DreamVision has the best team to launch these two family-oriented theme parks. Both parks will include golf courses, water parks, hotels, concert venues, retail and more.”

In a brief interview with Amusement Today, Goodman confirmed that although the location will not yet be revealed, that the property has been secured. When questioned about the water and energy requirements for such a large undertaking, Goodman assured AT that this would be a green project, with an environmentalist on staff to make certain the resort is efficient, clean and green.

Pioneering a new breed of family entertainment, DreamVision also announced an extensive partnership with The Thomas Kinkade Company; a music division and label called DREAMVISION MUSIC; a CGI film “NADIA” (in production); and the Broadway adaption of “NADIA.”

Plans for a second theme park in Muscle Shoals, Alabama will be announced February 11 at an 11 a.m. CST press conference at the Marriott Shoals Hotel.

About the DreamVision Company

The DreamVision Company is an entertainment and media enterprise focused on developing emotionally driven and technologically advanced family attractions and entertainment.

Snow showers fill the room following the DreamVision press announcement

Snow showers fill the room following the DreamVision press announcement.

Long time park director is honored after nearly 50 seasons at Six Flags Over Texas

By | February 6, 2015

Photo courtesy of Six Flags Over Texas

Photo courtesy of
Six Flags Over Texas

ARLINGTON, Texas — This season will mark a bittersweet end of an era at Six Flags Over Texas. For 47 seasons, the park’s Director of Operations has been employed at the park and now he’s retiring.

Mike Apple began his career in 1967 as a ride operator for the Astrolift. Throughout the years he’s always taken great pride in his work for the park. During his tenure, he has seen or been a part of nearly every innovative moment at the park. In addition to working as a ride operator, Mike worked in Human Resources, Park Services, Games and eventually made his way back to Operations where he served as the Operations Manager for more than 25 years before he was promoted to Director of Operations in 2007.

Many have had the pleasure of hearing him tell great stories about the years when Angus Wynne, Jr. — the founder of Six Flags Over Texas — would roam the midway. As a member of management, Mike would often be found at the front of the park during the hot summer months wearing a short sleeved button downed shirt, slacks, cowboy boots, name badge and carrying a trash picker.

This week, Mike was honored by current and former Six Flags employees, inside his favorite entertainment venue — The Crazy Horse Saloon.

Apple, as he’s affectionately called by co-workers, has told colleagues that as a retiree he plans to travel, work in his yard, and for the first time in several years be home to celebrate his wedding anniversary with his wife instead of being at the park.

The new season at Six Flags Over Texas kicks off on Saturday, February 28.