Military Mom reunites with 6-year-old son at Shamu show

By | August 10, 2015

SeaWorld_Orlando_4CORLANDO, Fla. — A military mom returning from service overseas surprised her 6-year-old son in a whale-sized reunion right before his favorite show at SeaWorld Orlando this weekend.

More than 5,000 guests were part of the touching moment, which occurred minutes before the Shamu show began. According to the family, son Aiden Rodriguez, is a big fan of the show and always urges his family to stand up to honor his mother during the “Hero’s Salute” pre-show – a segment that recognizes men and women who serve in the armed forces. It was during this “Hero’s Salute” that Tech. Sgt. Aixa Rodriguez came out from behind the scenes to surprise her family.

Waves of Honor Program

SeaWorld Orlando is a proud supporter of the men and women who serve in the nation’s armed forces. The park’s Waves of Honor program gives any U.S. active duty military, activated or drilling reservist, or National Guardsman one complimentary admission per year for themselves and as many as three direct dependents. For more information, visit

SeaWorld Orlando and USO Partnership

The park is also a proud supporter of the USO Central Florida, an organization that has been lifting the spirits of America’s service members and their families for more than 70 years. As part of SeaWorld Orlando’s commitment to this organization, the park is proud to sponsor the new USO Welcome Center at the Orlando International Airport (MCO) currently in development.

Dollywood building world’s first launched wooden coaster

By | August 8, 2015

titlelogo.ashxPIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Themed after a tricked out 1950s-era hot rod, Lightning Rod will launch riders from zero to 45 mph more than 20 stories up its lift hill to one of the ride’s first airtime moments. At the crest of the hill, riders will face twin summit airtime hills before tackling the daring first drop. Lightning Rod then races down the 165-foot drop propelling guests along its 3,800-ft. track to a top speed of 73 mph, the fastest speed for a wood coaster in the world.

Located in Dollywood’s Jukebox Junction, Lightning Rod will rocket riders around its massive wooden structure on an adrenaline-charged lap through the trees in the hills and valleys surrounding Dollywood. During the ride, guests will experience nearly 20 seconds of airtime. The coaster train will be comprised of 12 cars, carrying two passengers each, for a total of 24 people per train.

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‘Gale Force’ coming to New Jersey, as S&S debuts new coaster design

By | August 5, 2015

S&S ~ SanseiLOGAN, Utah — The innovative team at S&S Worldwide has been selected by Playland’s Castaway Cove to build what is anticipated to be the first linear synchronous motor (“LSM”) launched coaster to open in the Northeast region of the U.S. S&S has teamed up with Scott Simpson of S&T Amusements (owner of Playland’s Castaway Cove) to create a new design for the Gale Force coaster, combining some thrilling elements of the S&S El Loco coaster with three LSM launches. This all-new coaster concept is planned to open for families and thrill-seekers alike on the New Jersey coast in the spring of 2016.

The S&S LSM Triple Launch Coaster will offer visitors to the New Jersey shore an exciting, high-powered ride experience that does not exist anywhere else in the world. The ingenious design of the three launches (one forward, one backward, and a final forward launch at 64 mph) provides an amazing ride experience on a coaster that has a very small footprint. S&S has packed the ride design with an unbelievable number of exciting elements, including a 125-foot crest, the pure rush of a 100-degree downdrop at a pulse-racing 59 mph, a 180-degree twisting climb, an off-camber dive drop, a corked roll, a top hat twist, and a raven dive.

“Scott Simpson wanted to build an exciting family coaster and bring something new and different to the New Jersey shore, and S&S was excited to be able to offer our new LSM Triple Launch Coaster,” said Tim Timco, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for S&S. “It has been a pleasure to work with Scott Simpson and his team in planning an extraordinary new ride for his facility. By listening to our customer and seeking to understand their needs, we have been able to design yet another thrilling coaster that is perfect for the family-centered amusement park (“Gale Force” will accommodate passengers as small as 48” tall). S&S sincerely appreciates the confidence Scott Simpson and his team have placed in us with this coaster project.”

Scott Simpson, owner of Playland’s Castaway Cove, said, “After 56 years on the Ocean City boardwalk, we have chosen S&S to build a compact thrilling coaster to entertain our visitors. Having enjoyed a long, successful experience with our S&S Double Shot ride, we are adding the next level of attraction to the park. Our “Gale Force” coaster will feature acceleration from beginning to end, providing non-stop excitement for the entire ride.”

Discussing the process of working with S&S on this new coaster design, Simpson said, “We have spent three years with S&S in planning and design, in order to achieve a one-of-a-kind coaster that would utilize a small footprint. We are all very excited to open the ride next spring.”

Timco, who enjoyed spending summers in Ocean City while growing up, added, “This project is very special to me, as well. Being able to partner with a long-time friend in the creation of our new LSM Triple Launch Coaster is a tremendous opportunity – and the coaster is yet another example of the caliber of our world-class engineering team at S&S. We’re looking forward to the grand opening of this new coaster at Playland’s Castaway Cove next spring.”

2015 Golden Ticket Awards registration underway

By | August 5, 2015

Golden Ticket 2015 NYCEvent registration, itinerary and hotel info online at

NEW YORK CITY, N.Y. — It’s the Networking Event of the Year. Start spreading the news — industry friends old and new will gather for Amusement Today’s annual Golden Ticket Awards at the birthplace of the American amusement park, Coney Island. The new Luna Park in greater New York City, is the location for this year’s “don’t miss” event on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 11-12. The complete itinerary, registration and hotel information are now available at

The Golden Ticket Awards event will officially kick off on Friday, Sept. 11. The day is open for attendees to explore New York City. The festivities begin in the evening with a special Roaring 20s-themed cocktail party and dinner reception at Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in New York City’s beautiful and iconic Central Park. Zamperla will serve as the host for all 2015 Golden Ticket Awards festivities.

Attendees will have the opportunity before the awards show on Saturday, Sept. 12, to tour downtown NYC on a double-decker bus that is narrated by a licensed guide who knows the city inside and out. Special tour bus wristbands will be provided to all registered attendees. A private shuttle bus will transport participants to Luna Park at Coney Island the afternoon of September 12 to take in the sights and sounds of one of the oldest and most beloved amusement areas in the world. The Golden Ticket Awards presentation will be at the historic Gargiulo’s Restaurant. The event concludes that night with a special fireworks show viewable from the Coney Island Boardwalk.

To check out the itinerary and hotel information for the Golden Ticket Awards, as well as to register, please visit the website. ALL attendees MUST register online. 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 network and celebrate another industry season.

The Park Lane Hotel across the street from Central Park will serve as the host hotel for the event. Specific information and rates can be found at

This is the 18th 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.

Busch Gardens celebrates World Lion Day

By | August 5, 2015

Busch Gardens® Tampa gathers the pride to celebrate World Lion Day on Aug 8. The international celebration brings awareness the most iconic big cat in the World and Busch Gardens is celebrating with special keeper talks, animal enrichment and lion-inspired festivities.

WHAT: Busch Gardens celebrates World Lion Day

WHEN: 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015

As populations decline sharply in Africa, the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies lions as a vulnerable species.Busch Gardens Tampa is proud to support conservation projects that are committed to sustaining wild lion populations.

This weekend, Busch Gardens gives guests the opportunity to learn how they can help with lion conservation with World Lion Day activities. Plus, they’ll learn about the two lion prides and six lions that call the park home. All of Busch Gardens’ lions are part of the park’s participation in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

Since its inception, the SeaWorld® & Busch Gardens® Conservation Fund has supported over 25 lion conservation projects in six African countries, totaling $320,000. The Fund is currently supporting five lion conservation projects in three African countries.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is one of the World’s foremost zoological organizations and a worldwide leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for one of the largest animal collections on the North American continent and has helped lead advances in the care of species in zoological facilities and in the conservation of wild populations.

Massive Waterslide Will Transform Hampton Road

By | August 4, 2015

Slide the City promises Dallas participants the “slide of their lives”

3328061438628718726.JPG.htmlDALLAS – August 4, 2015 – Slide the City™ is bringing their super-sized slide to Dallas. On August 22, families and friends can take a break from the Texas heat as they slip, slide and splash down Hampton Road. Event organizers expect thousands of sliders will come and experience this giant three-lane slide.

“The slide is a great way to cool off during scorching summer days,” said Cydney Westgate, Slide the CityTM event director. “Dallas is the perfect location to grab your tube and splash down a city street.”

This will be the slide’s second visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In June, the event made a stop in Fort Worth, but technical problems forced event organizers to cancel the first slider wave. By the afternoon everything was running smoothly and sliders broke a Guinness World Record™ for “Longest distance slid on a Slip ‘N Slide.“ Since the Fort Worth event, Slide the City™ has made changes to slide operations while completing more than twenty successful events. With music, local vendors and giveaways throughout the day, this family-friendly event promises to be a highlight of the year.

Slide the CityTM donates a portion of the proceeds from every event to a local charity. They will be partnered with USACares [] for their Dallas event. USA Cares addresses the critical and unmet needs of post-9/11 military, veterans and their families. They have responded to more than 65,000 requests for emergency financial help with more than $11.5 million in granted assistance.

“This will be the second time I have had the opportunity to work with USACares,” said Westgate. “They go above and beyond to help us carry out a fun and successful event.”

Sliding starts at 10 a.m. Participants can purchase a one, three or super slider slide pass during a selected wave time and are encouraged to sign up before August 8 to take advantage of the current promotion. Pricing starts at $15.

Those more than 5 years of age and 46 inches tall are welcome to slide! Visit the Slide the City™ Facebook page to see what fans have to say or visit for more information about Slide the City™ Dallas.

Great Wolf Lodge Makes a Splash with its First Resort in Colorado

By | July 30, 2015

Set to open in 2016, indoor water park resort to offer families unique vacation experiences

Families in Colorado will soon have something new to howl about. Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., North America’s largest family of indoor water park resorts, announced today it is expanding its paw print to the Centennial State.

Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will be a first-class destination resort, providing families with more than 380,000 square feet of entertainment offerings and lodging amenities to enjoy, all under one roof. The centerpiece of the resort will be more than 65,000 square feet of indoor water park fun, the largest in the state. With signature Great Wolf Lodge water rides and attractions, including the thrilling five-story funnel slide, Howlin’ Tornado™; Slap Tail Pond® wave pool and Fort Mackenzie® – a multi-level interactive tree house with a massive tipping water bucket – the new resort will feature water fun for everyone.

“We are so excited to bring the Great Wolf Lodge brand to Colorado,” said Kim Schaefer, chief executive officer, Great Wolf Resorts, Inc., “As the leader in indoor water park resorts, we provide unique, year-round family getaways each and every day. The addition of Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will feature many of the amenities and activities our guests know and love, as well as several experiences new to our brand.”

The 311 guest suites will provide the perfect place for families to relax after a full day of water park play. Each suite will comfortably accommodate at least six people and include an in-room refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker. Families can choose from several suite styles, including the kid-focused Wolf Den and KidCabin® suites, complete with bunk beds and theming featuring the Great Wolf Kids characters.

For true weatherproof, year-round fun, Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will feature dozens of entertainment options, all under one roof. Families will delight at the wide variety of activities found throughout the entire resort, perfect for children of all ages.
Attractions and entertainment include:

· An indoor play park with over 33,000 square feet of fun complete with Howlers Peak Ropes Course®, a multi-level climbing attraction, and Howl in One indoor miniature golf;
· MagiQuest®, the brand’s exclusive live-action, interactive game that takes place throughout the lodge;
· Scooops® Kid Spa, the perfect place for ice cream-themed manicures and pedicures;
· Ten Paw Alley™ mini bowling;
· Daily children’s activities as part of the resort’s Great Wolf Kids program; and
· The Forest Friends Show and evening Story Time by the fireplace – a Great Wolf Lodge tradition that brings everyone together in their pajamas in the Grand Lobby each night.

Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will also feature several dining options and food outlets including the brand’s signature Lodge Wood Fired Grill® restaurant and bar Hungry as a Wolf® handcrafted pizza and pasta.

Event planners can also look to Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs for their meeting and event needs. The property will feature more than 20,000 square feet of preconference and flexible conference space, built-in audio/video technology and customizable catering options.

Access to Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs’ indoor water park is exclusive to resort guests, and included with each suite reservation. A Great Wolf Lodge getaway is a great option for families looking for the perfect place to spend time together.

Great Wolf Lodge Colorado Springs will be the company’s fourteenth resort. It will be located off I-25, 15 minutes from downtown Colorado Springs and less than an hour from Denver. The resort is expected to open in late 2016.

For more information on Great Wolf Resorts and its brands of indoor waterpark resorts, visit

Kennywood Amusement Park Premieres New 4-D Theater Experience

By | July 24, 2015

WEST MIFFLIN, PA–A mammoth new Ice Age branded 4-D theatrical experience, Ice Age: No Time For Nuts 4-D, will premiere at Kennywood Amusement Park on Wednesday, July 29.

This eye-popping adventure follows the manic saber-toothed squirrel Scrat on an epic odyssey in time travel. From the Coliseum of Ancient Rome to the dance floor of Studio 54, Scrat survives everything from Excalibur to the Titanic as he chases after his beloved acorn that’s been accidentally lost in time.

This fully immersive, high energy 9-minute show was created by Blue Sky Studios and Fox Animation in partnership with SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment. Featuring exclusive brand new footage, Ice Age: No Time For Nuts 4-D is presented in high-definition 3-D projection combined with in-theater special effects to further engage the audience.

“We are thrilled to bring this new Ice Age experience to our guests! The high action storyline engages all the senses with amazing scenes that maximize our in-theater special effects,” said Kennywood General Manager Jerome Gibas. “The Ice Age characters are well known and appeal to our audience. Families and adults visiting Kennywood will enjoy this show.”

The 4-D Theater is included in the price of Kennywood’s FunDay Passes and Season Passes – available at the park’s ticket gate and at

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square installs the World’s Largest Matchstick Model

By | July 21, 2015

All Aboard! ‘Flying’ steampunk train is made from more than 1,000,000 matchsticks!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square Odditorium introduces the world’s largest matchstick model to the public July 29th, 2015.

The train measures 22 feet long, 13 feet wide and 9 feet high – and is made from over one million, individually placed matchsticks. Created in the style of steampunk, this locomotive features classic turn-of- the century details of both a plane and a train. Visitors can get up close and personal to this massive exhibit with direct access to the train’s ‘working’ engineer cab. This child-size cab has fully operable throttle, brake and forward levers.

Ripley’s commissioned the locomotive, called ‘Plane Loco’, from master matchstick artist Pat Acton. Acton spent 14 months (over 3,000 hours) building his largest creation in Iowa. He will hand deliver the giant exhibit, and will be onsite to perform the installation himself at Times Square.

Members of the press are invited to a pre-launch event on Wednesday, July 29th from 6 AM – 8 AM. Artist Pat Acton will be on hand to answer questions about his world record art, and offer a first-hand look at how such a massive undertaking is achieved one matchstick at a time. Please contact Brittany Every at to reserve your spot!

Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Times Square will officially open the exhibit to press and public at 2PM on Wednesday, July 29th. With General Admission tickets the first 200 guests will receive special giveaways and have an opportunity to meet the artist.

“This train is an incredible work on its own, but the fact that Pat built it one single matchstick at a time is what visitors will find truly mind-boggling,” said Edward Meyer, Ripley’s VP of Exhibits and Archives.

SeaWorld’s Killer Whales Live As Long As Their Wild Counterparts

By | July 21, 2015

Peer-reviewed study published in the prestigious Journal of Mammalogy

A new peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Mammology by the Oxford University Press adds important insights to the debate over how long killer whales in human care live. The study found no difference in life expectancy between killer whales born at SeaWorld and a well-studied population of wild killer whales.

The study, “Comparisons of life-history parameters between free-ranging and captive killer whale (Orcinus orca) populations for application toward species management,” compares current published data for survival and reproductive activity of known-age Pacific Northwest killer whales since 1975 with the life history of killer whales in SeaWorld’s care. The average life expectancy for SeaWorld’s killer whales is 41.6 years; average life expectancies for Southern and Northern Resident killer whales are 29.0 and 42.3 years respectively.

Additionally, the study shows that average calf survival rate from approximately 6 months of age (i.e., age at first sighting) to age 2 in the Southern Resident killer whale population (79.9 percent) is significantly less than SeaWorld’s average calf survival rate from 40 days to age 2 (96.6 percent). The study may be accessed and read in full by following this link:

“Although emotion will always be a part of the debate as to whether killer whales, or any other species, should be maintained in human care, it is absolutely necessary to have validated facts when an argument for or against is being made on scientific grounds,” said study author Kevin Willis, Vice President for Biological Programs for the Minnesota Zoo. “Based on the available data, it is now clear that it cannot be truthfully argued that killer whales should not be maintained in captivity because they have a shortened life expectancy relative to their wild counterparts.”

The objective of this study was to characterize and compare reproductive parameters and survivorship patterns of free-ranging killer whales in the Pacific Northwest and killer whales living at SeaWorld using methodologies previously published for zoological and free-ranging populations. The Northern and Southern Resident killer whale populations of the Pacific Northwest are the most studied and documented wild killer whales in the world. These new comparisons provide a novel metric from which comparisons with other populations can be made. They also shed new light on age estimates for the species as a whole.

“This article represents the first peer-reviewed publication that directly compares reproductive and survivorship patterns between captive and wild killer whales,” said study author Todd Robeck, DVM, Ph.D., Vice President of Theriogenology for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.

“The results demonstrate unequivocally that killer whales in captivity have similar life expectancies to those in the wild and provide invaluable knowledge concerning normal reproductive patterns of this species. This information is imperative for developing management plans and directing future research efforts that are designed to protect wild killer whale populations.”

The ability to study killer whales in controlled research settings in accredited zoological institutions like SeaWorld has provided most of the fundamental information known about the species’ physiology including adaptations to diving; auditory detection, echolocation, and learning; reproductive physiology; growth and development; metabolic and energy requirements; and immune system function.