Karen Oertley named Executive Director of AIMS International

By | September 2, 2014

AIMSbannerSANTA ANA, Calif. — The board of Directors of AIMS International (Amusement Industry Manufacturers & Suppliers International) is pleased to announce the appointment of Karen Oertley to Executive Director. Oertley brings nearly 30 years of industry experience to AIMS International and will assume overall responsibility for day-to-day management and operation of the association. Based in Nashville, TN, she will report to the board of directors.

“Karen brings wealth of industry knowledge and relationships along with a strong business background to AIMS. On behalf of the entire board of directors, we are thrilled to have her at the helm,” said Roger Berry, President of AIMS International Board of Directors.

Oertley’s earlier career with Amusement Business spans more than 25 years. As Publisher and Editor in Chief of the international live entertainment newsweekly, she held complete responsibility for the division and maintained a highly visible industry presence. She is the former chair of the Amusement Business/Liseberg Applause Award Board of Governors and was a member of AIMS International’s board of directors for eight years. She served on several IAAPA (International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions) committees including the Manufacturers & Suppliers (M&S) Committee, Small Parks Committee and Exhibit Awards Committee. She has written columns and articles on trends in the industry and has spoken at industry gatherings.

Oertley photoIn accepting this position, Oertley commented, “I am more than honored and very excited about this opportunity. I have the utmost respect for AIMS International and its mission to improve safety, which is essential to the entire industry. I see tremendous potential for the future of the organization and I look forward to working with our board to accomplish great things!”

Most recently, Oertley was Director of Marketing for Hopkins Rides and held marketing and communications responsibilities for WhiteWater. Prior to joining WhiteWater, Oertley was the Executive Director of Leadership Music, an educational non-profit organization based in Nashville. Earlier, she was Publisher of Hospitality Design magazine, based in New York City.

About AIMS International

AIMS International is a non-profit 501(c)(6) association dedicated to improving amusement Industry safety through its leadership in education. AIMS International provides training classes and certification (CEU) programs for operations, aquatics and maintenance personnel through its annual Safety Seminar and at other venues throughout the year. AIMS also serves to inform its members on legislative and other issues relating to industry.

The 2015 AIMS International Safety Seminar will be held in Orlando, FL January 11-16, 2015 with more than three hundred expected to attend. For more information about AIMS International and the AIMS Safety Seminar, please visit www.aimsintl.org

Innovative Attraction Management, LLC to provide Elite Aquatic Risk Prevention Program to Atlantis Paradise Island

By | August 27, 2014

Innovative Attraction ManagementWINDERMERE, Fla. – Innovative Attraction Management, LLC (IAM) has formed a partnership with Atlantis, Paradise Island to provide the IAM Elite Aquatic Risk Prevention program at the destination resort location in the Bahamas. Their exceptional aquatic guest experience includes an unprecedented 141-acre waterscape, Aquaventure. This water experience, containing 7 million gallons of water, consists of thrilling water slides, a mile-long river ride with high intensity rapids and wave surges, 11 pools, a life-size replica of a Mayan Temple, a 7-acre snorkeling lagoon, a lazy river and special effects that add a level of excitement to the overall experience.

IAM and Starfish Aquatics Institute, LLC (SAI) formed a broad strategic alliance using their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new option for aquatic training and elite risk prevention services. The IAM Elite Aquatic Risk Prevention Program utilizes SAI’s StarGuard lifeguard program as its foundation. SAI’s programs have been in use in all 50 states in the United States and around the world since the agency was formed in the late 90’s, and together the two organizations provide the aquatic industry with client-based and cost-effective services that set the industry standard.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity to partner with the team at Atlantis, Paradise Island” IAM President Mike Friscia said. “Their facility is incredibly unique that exceeds their guests expectations and we are prepared to exceed Atlantis expectations with the implementation of the IAM Elite Aquatic Risk Prevention program”.

The Elite program has the following features and is designed for water park and resort clients:

  • Exceeds recognized safety standards
  • Audit reviews for both lifeguards and dispatch positions
  • Aquatic incident investigation support
  • Litigation support
  • Annual pre-season park inspection and in-service training session
  • IAM/StarGuard Instructor and Instructor Trainer sessions that fit the needs of the client
  • Experiential, objective-based training that results in a certificate of completion and a site-specific license and accountability program.

HAuNTcon heads to Baton Rouge for 2015

By | August 25, 2014

Hauntcon_logoWINTER GARDEN, Fla. — The Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow and Conference, sponsored by DarkLight, is proud to announce that HAuNTcon 2015 will be help in Baton Rouge, La. at the Belle of Baton Rouge Hotel and Conference Center February 6 to 11. HAuNTcon has a group discount at the hotel and they provide free shuttle service to and from the Baton Rouge Airport to the Hotel.

Designed for haunter’s, by haunters, the 2015 conference starts early Friday morning with an all day “Inspiration” Pre Show Bus Tour of everything spooky and interesting to see in Southern Louisiana. Friday night concludes with a lights off full actor October style tour of 13th Gate and Necropolis. Saturday morning begins with haunter education and hands-on workshops sponsored by Garage of Evil. In between classes be sure to check out the HAuNTcon Tradeshow, filled with product and service providers, special effects and prop companies, costume and make up manufacturers. Saturday night concludes with the infamous HAuNTcon Costume Ball, sponsored by Froggy’s Fog.

Education, Workshops and Tradeshow continue on Sunday and continues Sunday night with a tour of Rise Haunted House. Monday morning brings a full day of in depth workshops and education and concludes with a haunt tour and Haunter’s Party at The Mortuary Monday night.

But the fun is still not over. Tuesday is filled with all day hands-on workshops designed for the serious haunter looking to take their event to the next level. Attendees can take advantage of the nightly networking in the HAuNTcon Hospitality Suite and impromptu meeting of haunters and vendors all over the hotel. There is even a Casino attached to the hotel to keep spouses entertained.

We are still finalizing things so you will not be able to get a room or buy tickets just yet, but you will very soon. Stay tuned.

This year’s event is shaping up to be the largest to date and we look forward to seeing you February 6-11 in Baton Rouge for the haunter’s convention, HAuNTcon 2015! For more information visit the HAuNTcon website.

Today is last day to book a room for Golden Ticket Awards

By | August 22, 2014

Generic TicketARLINGTON, Texas — Although registration for Amusement Today’s 2014 Golden Ticket Awards is still available at goldenticketawards.com. Today is the last day to book a room at the host hotel — the beautiful Hyatt Regency Mission Bay — at the Golden Ticket special rate. On Saturday morning the room block will be released and the rooms will be open to the general public. Make your reservation now at the Golden Ticket hotel web page.

To check out the itinerary, hotel information, and to register, please log on to goldenticketawards.com. This event is reserved for working professionals in the amusement industry. Representatives from parks and attractions, manufacturers, suppliers, consultants and more will come together to celebrate another industry season – all in the name of fun.

SeaWorld San Diego in California is planning to roll out the red carpet for industry attendees on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5 and 6. Nearby Belmont Park will host an Opening Reception on Friday, Sept. 5, while the San Diego Zoo is extending an extra play day on Sunday, Sept. 7.

This is the 17th annual year for the Golden Ticket Awards; they are presented to the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today.

Carowinds reaching exciting new heights

By | August 21, 2014

Carowinds-transCharlotte, N.C. – For more than 40 years, Carowinds has been the place where the Carolinas come together. It’s where the Tar Heel State and the Palmetto State meet. It’s where families and friends bond over thrilling rides and entertainment. Carowinds will now unite its storied history with its future as the standard for thrills by unleashing Fury 325, one of the world’s tallest and fastest mega coasters.

Fury 325 will simulate the wild, daring and spontaneous flight of the hornet. The new ride will be visible from uptown Charlotte, renewing the park’s skyline and serving as a symbol of changes to come. Fury 325 is part of a planned $50 million dollar multiyear investment to bring new life to founder Pat Hall’s original vision for Carowinds. The park will be revamped from top to bottom to celebrate Carolina culture including new rides and attractions, signature Carolina food offerings and entertainment. Opening in Spring 2015, Fury 325 will be the centerpiece of a new 8.2 acre main entrance plaza that includes a state–of–the–art ticketing and season pass processing area and expanded guest service facilities.

“Starting with Fury 325, we plan to make Carowinds a destination for thrillseekers to celebrate the Carolinas,” says Mike Fehnel, Carowinds Vice President and General Manager. “The new ride will build on the heritage of the park, creating new memories and traditions for our loyal fans and future guests from around the world.”

Riders will board into three 32–passenger open air trains and begin their ascent to the top of a 325–foot (over 30 stories) hill. This immense hill is followed by an exhilarating 81 degree first drop. Like an angry hornet chasing its target, Fury 325 will race through a series of hills, curves and quick transitions while reaching speeds of up to 95 miles per hour. Riders will speed along 6,602 feet of track during the nearly three and one half minute ride.

Fury 325 is designed and manufactured by Bolliger and Mabillard (B&M) of Monthey, Switzerland, a recognized industry leader in roller coaster development and the same firm that brought Vortex to Carowinds in 1992, Afterburn in 1999, and The Intimidator in 2010.

Reminder! Today is last register for the 2014 Golden Ticket Awards

By | August 15, 2014

Generic TicketARLINGTON, Texas — The time is now! Registration for Amusement Today’s 2014 Golden Ticket Awards is available at goldenticketawards.com. SeaWorld San Diego in California is planning to roll out the red carpet for industry attendees on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 5 and 6. Nearby Belmont Park will host an Opening Reception on Friday, Sept. 5, while the San Diego Zoo is extending an extra play day on Sunday, Sept. 7.

To check out the itinerary, hotel information to register, please log on to goldenticketawards.com. This event is reserved for working professionals in the amusement industry. Representatives from parks and attractions, manufacturers, suppliers, consultants and more will come together to celebrate another industry season – all in the name of fun.

This is the 17th annual year for the Golden Ticket Awards; they are presented to the “Best of the Best” in the amusement industry and are calculated from an international poll conducted by Amusement Today.

‘Pink Thing’ inventer C. Russel Smith, Jr. dies at 82

By | August 14, 2014

C. Russell Smith, Jr., Pink Thing founderDALLAS, Texas — C. Russel Smith, Jr. of Dallas, Texas, passed away on Aug. 10, 2014, at Woodridge Nursing Home in Grapevine after a brief battle with colon cancer. He was 82.

Smith was born in Dallas and graduated from Highland Park High School. He received a bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M in 1952 and served as an Army captain during the Korean War.

His grandfather, Charles W. Smith, entered the ice cream business in Dallas in 1989. C.W. Smith started operating the ice cream equipment of one of his milk route customers who went bankrupt. A plaque near the Trammell Crow Center in the Arts District marks the location of the original Smith’s Ice Cream.

Russel Smith Jr. joined the family business as a plant superintendent after completing his military service. He was president of the company when Smith Ice Cream became an original Six Flags Over Texas vendor. It was during this time that Smith invented the Pink Thing, a frozen treat that was popular at the theme park during the 1970s-80s.

“We had the first ice cream stores at Six Flags,” said his son, David Smith. The Pink Thing was introduced as the Pink Buried Treasure for the small plastic character hidden inside the treat. “My brother [Charles] named it, because kids would request ‘that pink thing.’ That’s how it got named,” Smith added. Six Flags management estimated that one out of every four or five visitors bought a Pink Thing during its heyday. The Pink Thing was also popular at Rangers games and the State Fair.

During his career, Smith was a chamber of commerce leader and active in politics and fund raising. He retired in 1965, about the same time the family sold the business. Other vendors later sold the Pink Thing.

Preceded in death by his wife, Barbara, Smith is survived by three sons, Charles, Stuart and David; three grandchildren; and on great-grandchild. Donations may be made in his name to Faith Hospice or the American Cancer Society.
Pink Thing Cart-Z2

Silver Dollar City announces Fireman's Landing

By | August 13, 2014

10 new family adventures & Harlem Globetrotters first-ever extended-run show

SDC_Firemans_lndg-logoBRANSON, Mo. — Silver Dollar City debuts 10 new family adventures in Spring 2015. Named Fireman’s Landing, the all-new area harkens back to the days of bucket brigades and volunteer fireman all centered around the headquarters of “Fire Station No. 3.” Featuring six family rides and four interactive play zones, this nearly two-acre addition to the 1880s city features fun for the whole family, ages 3 to 93.

But that’s not all — the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters will join the park for Silver Dollar City’s Star-Spangled Summer. For six straight weeks guests will enjoy slam-dunk hit entertainment showcasing highlights from the Globetrotters’ one–of–a–kind touring show.

The 10 new attractions at Fireman’s Landing include:

  1. Fire Spotter – Soaring balloons for spotting fire dangers
  2. Fire Wagon Frenzy – A bumpy ride for bucket brigade volunteers
  3. FireFall – The 8-story fire tower free-fall drop ride for the more daring recruits
  4. Firefighter’s Fire Drill – Featuring buckets, pumpers, foam ball cannons and targets for showering mock fires
  5. Firefighter’s Fire Escape – An obstacle course of tubes, mazes, climbing structures and slides
  6. Firefighter’s Junior Escape – A soft play area for toddlers
  7. Fireman’s Flyer – A low-flying swing ride for little firefighters
  8. Up the Ladder – A smaller tower drop ride for junior recruits
  9. The Roundaboat – A bouncing ride on Dalmatians racing around a fire hydrant
  10. Firehouse Splash Yard – Squirting water jets and pump hoses

The citizens of Silver Dollar City know all too well of the dangers of a fire as during the late 1800s the town then known as Marmaros burned to the ground. Following that devastating event, citizens rallied and quickly decided that they would never fall victim to such a fire again — together they would be prepared. The fire chief is now asking that all volunteers be ready when duty calls at Fireman’s Landing — it only takes one spark to light the fire of family fun.

Hersheypark announces first indoor, spinning Glow-Coaster in the United States

By | August 12, 2014

Hershey logo copyHERSHEY, Pa. — Known for blending the best of the past with the innovations of the future, Hersheypark announced the addition of Laff Trakk, the first indoor, spinning glow-coaster in the United States for the 2015 summer season. Laff Trakk will be the 13th roller coaster at Hersheypark, officials announced today in a press conference at the site of the new attraction.

Laff Trakk, built within a family friendly house of laughs, spins riders through an eye-popping adventure of sights and sounds complete with glimpses of colorful characters including classics like Laffing Sal plus an engaging hall of mirrors, house of cards and more. Laff Trakk, a 21st century Fun House, offers a new experience with every trip as riders enjoy the sensation of floating along the coaster track.

“Fun Houses are an American amusement park treasure and an important part of the historical fabric at Hersheypark,” said Kevin Stumpf, General Manager, Attractions & Entertainment. “We are thrilled to bring back some of the timeless elements from these classic attractions and, quite literally, put a new spin on them.”

Set to debut in May 2015, Laff Trakk, part dark ride, part family coaster, will deliver a different sensory experience with each trip on the innovative attraction. “The number and size of riders affects the rotation of the cars giving riders a different view of the bright, colorful elements and playful surroundings providing endless amounts of fun on Laff Trakk,” continued Stumpf.

As soon as riders enter the queue line, they will see a glimpse of the whimsy which awaits them in Laff Trakk and be able to capture the anticipation in sharable photo opportunities.

The roller coaster will deliver larger than life experiences in an elaborately themed environment. The new attraction will be located within a 130 feet long by 75 feet high red, white and blue building along Midway America between the Whip and Midway Tent.

Hersheypark worked with the award-winning team at Raven Sun Creative, a New York-based immersive entertainment design group that has worked with internationally known brands, to bring the Park’s rich history to today’s guests.

“Our team took inspiration from researching iconic Hersheypark Fun Houses,” said Louis Alfieri, Principal and Chief Creative Officer, Raven Sun. “We looked at archival images of ‘WHOOPS,’ ‘Laugh Land’ and ‘Laffing Sal’ with the goal of re-creating the nostalgic Fun Houses of yesteryear with the latest in technology in Laff Trakk.”

Maurer Söhne, a German company, manufactured the coaster that will feature a four-seat ride vehicle with two seats in two rows, back-to-back. The design of the coaster car allows for a 360-degree free spinning rotation. Reaching a maximum speed of approximately 40 miles per hour, Laff Trakk takes its riders along 1,400 feet of track which includes an Immelman turn (riders enter a half loop and then go through a half twist and curve out in the opposite direction in which they came), multiple high-banked curves (85 degrees maximum) and Camelback air time hills.

With seven ride vehicles each holding four riders, the 70-second ride has an estimated ride capacity of approximately 850 riders per hour. The ride system utilizes a combination of the most modern magnetic and pinch braking systems to give everyone the smoothest and safest ride possible.

For more information or a “virtual” ride on Laff Trakk, visit Hersheypark.com. Guests also can Like Hershey on Facebook or follow the park on Twitter and Instagram at @Hersheypark.

Canada's Wonderland Retires Iconic Stand-Up Roller Coaster SkyRider After 29 Years

By | August 6, 2014

Canadas WonderlandVAUGHAN, ON, — After almost 23 million riders, Canada’s Wonderland will be saying goodbye to the iconic stand-up looping roller coaster, SkyRider. Monday, September 1, 2014, will be the last chance for riders to experience one of the legends in the roller coaster collection at the park.

SkyRider opened for riders in May, 1985 and was instantly a hit for coaster enthusiasts across North America. It was the first stand-up coaster to be built in Canada, and second in the world with a loop.

“As the park evolves each year, we continue to focus on future park enhancements that will provide our guests with innovative entertainment and leisure experiences. To accommodate these enhancements, we need to make difficult decisions when considering redevelopment of the land for an improved guest experience in future years. After creating 29 years of memories for our guests, we wanted to make sure thrill seekers of all ages had advance notice of the SkyRider retirement, and an opportunity to enjoy one last ride before it closes at 8 p.m. on September 1,” Norm Pirtovshek, General Manager at Canada’s Wonderland.

AT Photo / Gary Slade

AT Photo / Gary Slade