SeaWorld Orlando Rescue Team on the Move After Hurricane Irma

By | September 17, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla. — As Florida continues to clean up in the wake of Hurricane Irma, it’s been a busy week for the SeaWorld Orlando Rescue team. Reports of stranded, displaced and injured animals have increased, and the park’s rescue team, along with partner and government agencies, has been called to assist.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, a manatee calf was found orphaned or abandoned in Southwest Florida, presumably as a result of Hurricane Irma.  Manatee calves and moms have tight bonds, and if a calf is seen without a mom around for several hours it’s very likely that calf has been orphaned.  Since manatees nurse for 1-2 years, a calf on its own has very little chance of survival.  

The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission rescued the calf and transported it to SeaWorld Orlando.  Upon arrival at SeaWorld, the animal care team provided fluids to the calf as it was suffering from dehydration. Beginning this morning, the calf was transitioned to a nutritional formula created by SeaWorld that replicates mother’s milk. An animal care specialist will give the calf a bottle every three hours for the next several months. The veterinary team took x-rays of the calf today to see if his gastrointestinal tract is functioning properly and were pleased to see that it is.

Orphaned calves are typically rehabilitated until they are at least 600 pounds, which usually takes about two to three years.  At that time if they are deemed healthy they will be returned to their natural environments.

Earlier today, the team assisted in successfully rescuing and relocating six manatees that had stranded in the Melbourne, FL area, likely due to unusual tides and water levels associated with Hurricane Irma.

{At this time, assets are not available for this relocation rescue.}

SeaWorld Orlando aviculturists are also caring for several birds, including an Audubon’s shearwater, a species typically found offshore that may have been blown inland from the storm.  A juvenile brown pelican is also being cared for.
The five dolphins that were relocated from Dolphin Connection in the Florida Keys prior to the hurricane continue to thrive.
SeaWorld will continue to work with other zoological facilities impacted by the storm and are prepared to care for displaced animals as necessary.  Its animal experts have helped more than 31,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than 50 years.

Kennywood’s Log Jammer To Take Final Drops

By | September 15, 2017

WEST MIFFLIN, Penn. – As Kennywood’s 2017 Summer Season winds down and we look ahead to 2018, we’ve come to a very hard decision: the Log Jammer will retire at the end of this season.

To celebrate 42 years of our favorite logs, Kennywood invites friends, families and Pittsburgh visitors to enjoy one last joy ride down the 53-foot drop chute before the summer season comes to an end on September 17.

While we know that the Log Jammer is a beloved ride for many of our guests and has been for us as well, we’re looking forward to exploring exciting new developments in that corner of the park in future seasons.

“It is a bittersweet decision, but one that in time will create some exciting opportunities for our guests,” says Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas. “While no final decisions have been made regarding what will replace the Log Jammer, Kennywood is committed to enhancing our guests’ experiences while preserving our signature balance of modern thrills and traditional family favorites.”

The Log Jammer debuted at Kennywood in 1975 as the park’s first million-dollar attraction. The site of the Jammer was previously home to attractions including the Kangaroo, Loop-O-Plane, Bayern Kurve, a Ferris Wheel, and, from 1930 until 1974, a pony track.

SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. Announces New Chairman And New Lead Independent Director

By | September 14, 2017

ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a leading theme park and entertainment company, today announced that its Board of Directors (the “Board”) has elected Yoshikazu Maruyama as Chairman, succeeding David F. D’Alessandro effective October 9, 2017. The company has also elected Donald C. Robinsonas Lead Independent Director, effective October 9, 2017.

“I am honored to succeed David and want to express my deepest appreciation to him for his years of dedication to SeaWorld,” Mr. Maruyama said. “I am excited to bring a fresh perspective to the Board and deeply committed to working with the management team to deliver memorable guest experiences, extend SeaWorld’s iconic brands to global audiences, improve business performance, and enhance value for shareholders and all our important stakeholders.”

Mr. Maruyama, a SeaWorld director since June 2017, is President of Zhonghong Group’s American operation and represents the perspective of a significant, long-term shareholder. He brings over 20 years of global theme park and family entertainment industry experience and helped to lead the early turnaround of Universal Studios Japan, which was recently acquired by Comcast NBCUniversal.

Mr. Robinson, a SeaWorld Director since June 2016, was formerly the Executive Vice President of Hong Kong Disneyland. He has extensive operations expertise, as well as over thirty years of executive and management positions in global theme park, retail, restaurant, resort, and entertainment businesses.

“Our Board is committed to continuing to advance its governance standards and independence, and we believe that by establishing these two complementary roles with clear responsibilities, we can enhance the rigorous and independent oversight of the company and the Board,” Mr. Robinson said. “Yoshi and I intend to work closely with the other directors and the management team to advance the company’s progress on behalf of all its shareholders and other stakeholders.”

“This transition demonstrates our dedication to ensure SeaWorld’s long-term success and growth for the interests of its shareholders and our commitment to a sustainable future,” Mr. D’ Alessandro said. “Yoshi brings the perspective of our largest shareholder. He also has over 20 years of experience in the global theme park industry and helped drive the turnaround of a leading theme park company, creating significant value for its stakeholders. Our company and our Board will benefit from his leadership.”

The company also announced that Mr. D’Alessandro, Judith A. McHale, and Ellen O. Tauscher will step down from the Board of Directors, effective October 9, 2017.

“The Board thanks David, Judith, and Ellen for their many contributions to SeaWorld,” Mr. Maruyama added.

Cedar Fair and Peanuts Worldwide Extend Peanuts Licensing Agreement to 2025

By | September 12, 2017

SANDUSKY, Ohio — Cedar Fair, L.P. (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, Peanuts Worldwide, a subsidiary controlled by DHX Media, Ltd. (TSX: DHX.A, DHX.B; NASDAQ: DHXM), and the family of Charles M. Schulz have renewed the license agreement to showcase the iconic Peanuts characters, created by Schulz, throughout Cedar Fair’s 11 amusement park locations. The agreement covers Cedar Fair’s North American exclusive use of Peanuts in the company’s attractions, entertainment and sports, food and beverage, lodging and retail operations. The new agreement extends the relationship to 2025.

Cedar Fair Chief Executive Officer Matt Ouimet said, “The renewed relationship between Cedar Fair and Peanuts Worldwide allows both companies to develop and extend their brands, creating a more immersive experience for guests through meet-and-greets, live entertainment, merchandise and themed areas throughout the parks. The value Peanuts brings to our parks is demonstrated in many ways; for example, our Peanuts themed Planet Snoopy children’s area at Kings Island near Cincinnati was just named “Best Kid’s Area” for the 17th year by Amusements Today, the leading industry news source. With more than half of our parks now offering a free pre-K season pass for children, our continued showcasing of the beloved Peanuts characters underscores our commitment to entertaining young families.”

The company recently announced the debut of an expanded Peanuts themed children’s area at Carowinds, its popular park in Charlotte, N.C. The Camp Snoopy area will feature five new rides, an 8,000 square foot climb-and-play area called ‘Beagle Scout Acres,’ and enhanced dining and relaxation facilities. Parks throughout the portfolio offer value-added attractions featuring the Peanuts such as character breakfasts, seasonal events like The Great Pumpkin Fest, and other themed entertainment year-round. The Peanuts characters were first featured at Knott’s Berry Farm, acquired by Cedar Fair in 1997; in 2014, the Southern California park unveiled a newly expanded and revitalized Camp Snoopy children’s area in celebration of the 30-year relationship.

“Cedar Fair has been a long-standing and cherished partner to Peanuts, dating back many years to when Camp Snoopy first opened at Knott’s Berry Farm in 1983,” said Craig Schulz, son of Charles M. Schulz and President and CEO of Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates. “On behalf of my entire family, I look forward to many more years of bringing the joy of my father’s characters to the fans in Cedar Fair’s parks.”

“On the heels of our recent acquisition of the Peanuts brand further cementing our relationship with Cedar Fair assures an extensive and continued North American presence in the amusement park area,” stated Dana Landry, Chief Executive Officer of DHX Media. “This agreement extension speaks to the enduring appeal of the Peanuts brand, and as a leader in children’s content and brands, we value the opportunity to work with Cedar Fair to reach an all-family audience for Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the rest of the Peanuts gang.”

JW Winco strengthens commitment to the future by introducing new logo, Launching enhanced website

By | September 12, 2017

NEW BERLIN, Wisc.  – JW Winco, Inc., A Ganter Company, has launched an evolved company logo and website to reflect its commitment to continued growth and leadership in the standard parts industry.

For over 35 years, Ganter, a global leader in manufacturing of standard parts since 1894, formed a synergistic partnership with JW Winco that has since provided world-class business solutions to customers. In 2009, JW Winco officially became part of A Ganter Company, which expanded capabilities and solidified resources globally. Since then, both sales and inventory increased by 80% respectively.

Winco’s new logo evolved from its previous look, depicting the face and mane of a lion with stylized shapes of products that Winco sells. The lion represents strength and leadership, two qualities the company continues to integrate into all aspects of business.

“With our founding in 1978, our company is built on the belief that true strength comes from our relationships with our customers, business partners, and employees.. We are dedicated to providing our customers with the most comprehensive and highest quality line of standard machine components and assembly hardware available in the world,” said John Winkler Jr., JW Winco Chief Executive Officer, and member of the Office of the President. “Our new website, with improved 3D CAD and online buying, allows us to provide a more comprehensive, yet streamlined experience for our customers.”

Winco’s new mobile-responsive website, www.jwwinco.com, is dedicated to providing the customer with modern navigation and usability. The new look and feel of the site reflects the strength in commitment to the customer and the future of the standard machine components industry. Features include:

  • Filtering capabilities to find products faster and easier.
  • Ability to build and price parts to easily create the standard part required for the design.
  • Modern CAD program for improved drawing  / CAD model accuracy.
  • Multiple languages capabilities, with Spanish and French versions coming soon.

The new website’s home page allows visitors to see new product availability, plus special application possibilities for various products. There are also links to Winco’s social media platforms and a sign-up form to receive Winco’s monthly e-newsletter.

“We strive to provide design engineers, project engineers, purchasing agents, and others involved in the product selection process the largest variety of products and technical information available in our industry,” Winkler said. “For new equipment designs and redesigns of existing equipment, standard machine components not only save time and reduce costs of the equipment, they ultimately improve the equipment design and function. We help companies design it faster, build it better, and deliver it more quickly.”

J.W. Winco Inc., which is ISO 9001:2008 certified, prides itself on having the largest selection of standard parts, offering standard machine components in inch and metric, made of aluminum, steel, stainless steel, and plastic. “Our product line is constantly evolving through the research and development of new products,” Winkler said. “With over 60,000 sku’s in stock, we have the ability to ship the majority of orders we receive within 24 hours. With our experience, flexibility, and our machining facility, we are able to deliver special customer requests even in small quantities.”

Winco’s North American headquarters is located in New Berlin, Wisconsin, with sales locations in Canada and Mexico.

“When we say JW Winco, A Ganter Company, we mean unmatched strength in market innovation and solutions,” Winkler said. “Our combined technical knowledge, customer service, design engineering, manufacturing, stocking, and distribution capabilities are our greatest strengths and solutions we offer to our clients.”

Har Kupers receives the 2017 AIMS International Safety Award

By | September 12, 2017

BRISTOL, Conn. – Vekoma Rides’, Har Kupers was presented with the 2017 AIMS International Safety award during the Golden Ticket Awards held Saturday, September 9, at Lake Compounce in Bristol, Connecticut.  The Award, presented to Har by AIMS International board member, Jim Seay, and AIMS Executive Director, Karen Oertley, recognizes a person or organization that has made a significant impact or contribution in improving safety in the amusement industry by demonstrating leadership, innovation, and foresight.

In presenting the award, Karen Oertley remarked, “As we all know, safety is of utmost importance to the vitality of the amusement industry. We received many nominations for individuals deserving of this important award and are thrilled so many individuals are dedicated to improving safety for both guests and employees. The AIMS board of directors has selected one of the industry’s finest to receive the 2017 AIMS International Safety Award.”

In presenting the award to Har, Jim Seay commented, “Har is well known to the amusement industry for his thousands of hours work in development and support of EN, ISO, and ASTM Safety Standards. He was instrumental in bringing the ASTM International standards development work into the EN Task Group harmonization effort and has worked for almost twenty years on an international amusement design standard as an contributor, facilitator and ambassador between EN, ISO and ASTM International.”

“Har is also renowned for his amusement ride design and engineering expertise and is one of the foremost authorities on ride dynamics and guest safety.  In addition to standards development, Har’s long support and dedication to AIMS International has been influential in promoting global safety training, and certification.”

While accepting the award, Har Kupers expressed, “I really feel honored to receive this award from AIMS, AIMS – being a very important organization promoting safety in our industry.”

He also expressed his gratitude to Vekoma and its owner Henk Roodenburg to give him the opportunity to do this work, both inside and outside his job.

Har was very proud to be the second in line — after Harold Hudson — to receive this prestigious award.

He further thanked all the individuals and organizations in the industry that support the work to improve amusement industry safety worldwide.

About The AIMS International Safety Award

Created in 2016, The AIMS International Safety Award is presented annually to the individual or organization that demonstrates leadership, innovation, and foresight in improving safety in the amusement industry. With safety as the industry’s #1 concern for amusement industry guests and employees worldwide, efforts in improving safety are shown in many forms: the design and implementation of new products and technology, the development of safety education programs and training, and by exemplary leadership in influencing others. The 2016 AIMS Safety Award was presented to Harold Hudson.

Nominations for the AIMS Safety Award are submitted by individuals within the amusement industry and the winner is selected by a vote of AIMS International’s board of directors. The award is presented annually during the Golden Ticket Awards.

CEO Charlie Keegan To Leave Main Event Entertainment

By | September 12, 2017

DALLAS, Texas – Main Event Entertainment announced today that Charlie Keegan has resigned as President & Chief Executive Officer of the company. Keegan will step away from his day-to-day duties on Nov. 24, and has agreed to remain available in a consulting capacity for an additional 12 months.

Keegan has led Main Event since Oct. 2006, when the company was sold to Macquarie Leisure Trust Group. During his tenure, the concept was completely re-engineered and put on a steady growth track. Main Event is now the nation’s fastest-growing bowling-anchored dining and entertainment destination, with 38 centers in 14 states, serving more than 20 million guests annually.

Keegan sent a heart-felt message to Main Event employees across the system this morning reading, in part: “Main Event Entertainment has been one of the greatest sources of pride in my life. What we have accomplished together is nothing short of amazing. We have gone from being a locally known bowling alley in Texas to a nationally recognized entertainment brand with industry admiration and global appeal. Our compound annual growth rate the last five years alone is over 30%. And we have built an impressive leadership team, with a proven track record of success, to lead Main Event Entertainment into the future.”

“It is important to me that I share with all of you what I believe makes Main Event Entertainment such a compelling story. It is our reputation as a place with Noticeably Better People and a Noticeably Distinctive Culture,” continued Keegan. “It is people like you that our guests identify with, and people like you that make our experience so special. We are unique in the industry because of all the work you do to create compelling offerings, signature branding, excellent service and amazing properties.”

“People want to be us, companies want to be like us, but there is nothing like the original. I’m so proud of the work you have done and it’s been an honor working with you. There is more amazing left in Main Event Entertainment and I look forward to watching it unfold.”

A leading global search firm has been engaged to find a suitable successor to lead the business through its next phase of development.

Amusement Today’s annual Golden Ticket Awards presented at 2017 host park, Lake Compounce

By | September 9, 2017

BRISTOL, Conn. – And the Golden Ticket Award goes to … In an awards show tonight hosted by Lake Compounce – the oldest operating amusement park in the United States – the winners of Amusement Today’s 2017 Golden Ticket Awards were revealed in grand style.

The Golden Ticket Awards are presented annually to honor the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today. The prestigious survey asks experienced amusement park voters around the country and world to rate the “bests” in 23 categories.

While the poll indicates consistency in fan favorites, each year there are some twists. In the category of “Best Wooden Roller Coaster,” Lake Compounce’s popular Boulder Dash was edged out this year by El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J. There is an annual “food fight” in the category of “Best Food” between Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Knoebels Amusement Resort in Elysburg, Pa., and Dollywood re-gained this title for 2017. The “Best New Ride of 2017” for amusement parks and water parks are always fun categories to watch with Kings Island in Kings Mills, Ohio, and Six Flags Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, taking top honors for their new rides this year.

The list of 2017 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 – Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Santa Cruz, Calif.
Best Wooden Coaster – El Toro at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson, N.J.
Best Steel Coaster – Fury 325, Carowinds, Charlotte, N.C.
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 – Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
Best Shows – Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
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 – Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Orlando, Fla.
Best New Ride of 2017 – Amusement Park – Mystic Timbers at Kings Island, Kings Mills, Ohio
Best New Ride of 2017 – Water Park – Thunder Rapids at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio, Texas
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 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:
Supplier of the Year – Intamin in Wollerau, Switzerland, for its success story of creating a diverse catalog of products and hundreds of rides in all parts of the world spanning the last 50 years;
Park of the Year – Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio, for its ongoing mission to provide a safe, clean and beautiful environment free of physical and economic barriers; and
Person of the Year – Jerry Brick of Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., for his passion and commitment to providing a quality, thrilling and safe amusement park that caters to the New England family audience.

For the 13th consecutive year, Amusement Today recognized college students who plan to pursue a career in the amusement industry and are employed by the host park of Lake Compounce, and nearby park Quassy Amusement Park, as Miss 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 20-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 2017 winners and survey results, please log on to www.goldenticketawards.com.

Ready to roll — Quassy coaster train gets updates

By | September 8, 2017

MIDDLEBURY, Conn. — Wooden Warrior at Quassy Amusement & Waterpark, Middlebury, Conn., received new seat cushions and lap restraints today on its Timberliner train. Mike Graham of The Gravity Group/Gravitykraft (designers of the coaster and state-of-the-art train) put his personal touch on the project.  Quassy was the first park in North America to feature the Timberliner when the coaster opened in 2011.

Hurricane Harvey Tourism Recovery Fund launched to help Texas gulf coast communities

By | September 8, 2017

Austin, TX — The Texas Travel Industry Association and Texas Office of the Governor, Economic Development and Tourism have partnered with Tourism Cares to launch the Hurricane Harvey Tourism Recovery Fund, uniting the industry and its resources in support of vulnerable, devastated Gulf Coast communities that welcome millions of visitors and support 170,000 tourism jobs.

The Fund’s focus on the recovery of coastal communities directly in the hurricane’s path complements relief efforts and gives the tourism industry a way to leverage its resources to help the region bounce back, ideally better than before.

“The greatest benefit will be felt in destinations like Beaumont, Port Aransas, Rockport/Fulton, the Houston-area and more.  They are dependent on tourism and were also the hardest hit. They’ll need the most help to bounce back,” said David Teel, president and CEO of the Texas Travel Industry Association.
Fund contributions will focus on affected communities and organizations in need for:

  • The physical restoration of damaged attractions and cultural tourism nonprofits, including historical monuments, beaches or open spaces, visitor centers, and more.
  • Capacity building and support for nonprofit organizations and their facilities, systems and staff capabilities, to ensure that the social capital of the region recovers and gets stronger. These activities could include technical assistance and skilled volunteering programs.
  • Other investments based on need, including trainings on volunteer management, disaster mitigation and planning, and marketing and communications support.

“This effort is a natural complement to all the wonderful giving we’ve already seen from the travel and tourism industry,” said Mike Rea, CEO of Tourism Cares. “We can make the greatest difference by giving together with our industry, for our industry — especially in times of crisis. We will leverage not just our donations but also our expertise and influence, and we will share our stories and lessons throughout the industry.”

The Texas Travel Industry Association will work with local destinations o assess needs and identify responses, along with engaging members and partners in Texas. Tourism Cares will administer the Fund, engage the industry nationwide, and provide program expertise based on decades of philanthropic experience in disaster recovery.

Donations may be made online, www.tourismcares.org/harvey, by check (payable to Hurricane Harvey Tourism Recovery Fund and sent to Tourism Cares, 20 Vernon St., Norwood, MA 02062) or by donating securities.