December 2023 issue

By | November 29, 2023

The DECEMBER 2023 issue includes:

  • Utah welcomes 2023 IAFE Annual Convention, Trade Show
  • Frank Zaitshik evolves Wade Shows
  • Carousel Gardens grows; Christmas season bolsters attendance
  • Jollywood Nights jazzes up Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Six Flags Fiesta Texas produces new Christmas Carol musical
  • Altitude Trampoline Park continues growth with new locations
  • State Fair of Texas attendance and midway revenue both down
  • More than 900,000 attend the 11-day North Carolina State Fair
  • Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair enjoys a solid run
  • Island H2O Water Park extends operations with Holiday Nights
  • Kalahari breaks ground on its fifth resort
  • New Orleans welcomes World Waterpark Association
  • Amusement Today‘s 2023 Holiday Cooking Guide
  • Jon Eyerly passes at the age of 82
  • Woman of Influence: Alicia Shoults
  • Perspectives on safety displayed along the WWA tradeshow floor
  • PACE Seminar trained more than 50 at Kennywood, in classrooms
  • Auction items sought for AIMS International Safety Seminar … and much more!

Wild Zoo Wonderland at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo

By | December 1, 2023

Santa is coming to the Zoo! Join us Wild Zoo Wonderland at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and say hello to animals on the Indiana Family Farm, Asian Trek including Red Panda Ridge, hear a holiday tale during Story Time, hop aboard the Z.O & O Railroad or Endangered Species Carousel for a free ride, visit Santa Claus and so much more. Start a new family holiday tradition this year at the Zoo.

“We wanted to give guests a chance to see some of their Zoo friends during the holiday season, like Paula the red panda, Loki the Canada lynx, Meeko the otter, and Jethro the goat,” said Rick Schuiteman, Executive Director. “You can even visit Santa in his workshop, brush the goats, touch a stingray, and decorate a holiday cookie. Your little ones won’t want to miss Story Time and hear Twas’ the Night Before Christmas at the Zoo, a story that takes place at our very own Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.”

The Zoo will host Wild Zoo Wonderland, December 1 – 3, 8 – 10, 15 – 17, 21 – 23, 26 – 30 from 10 am to 3 pm. General admission is $12, Kids 12 & under $10 and FREE for Zoo members.

Universal Studios Hollywood celebrates an unforgettable year with EVE, Hollywood’s biggest New Year’s Party, to ring in 2024 on Sunday, December 31

By | December 1, 2023

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Universal Studios Hollywood invites guests to ring in 2024 with EVE, Hollywood’s hottest New Year’s Eve celebration featuring multiple dance locations, a captivating fireworks display and access to select rides and attractions, on Sunday, December 31 with extended hours until 2:00 a.m.

Included in the price of theme park admission, EVE is the ultimate way to usher in the new year. Beginning with a full day of theme park fun, guests can enjoy award-winning rides and attractions, before transitioning to a park-wide celebration and special midnight countdown to 2024.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s unforgettable night begins at 9:00 p.m. as the theme park transforms into a thrilling celebration, including designated dance party zones with DJs spinning an eclectic medley of music from pop, rock and hip-hop to EDM and Latin music. Unique photo opportunities located around the theme park will also provide a sparkling backdrop to capture and share memorable moments from the night.

Guests will countdown and toast to the new year as a dazzling fireworks display punctuates the nighttime sky. Plus, a winter snowfall and confetti will add to the celebratory feel in the air within designated areas.

An array of food and beverages, champagne, beer, wine and cocktails will be available for purchase. Guests must be 21+ and have a valid photo ID to purchase alcoholic beverages.

It’s a day and night filled with exciting entertainment and one-of-a-kind attractions, including the newly opened SUPER NINTENDO WORLD, mega-attraction “Jurassic World—The Ride,” Illumination’s award-winning “The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash” and “Despicable Me Minion Mayhem” and the world-famous Studio Tour. Guests can visit Springfield, U.S.A. and “The Simpsons Ride” and experience heart-pounding thrills on “Transformers:  The Ride-3D” and “Revenge of the Mummy: The Ride.”

While rejoicing in the New Year, visitors can enjoy festive holiday activities such as “Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” featuring “The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts  Castle” which brings the iconic Hogwarts castle to life in a stunning spectacle. The Who-bilation continues at “Grinchmas” where joyful park-goers can delight in the wonderous Who-ville and meet its legendary resident, The Grinch and his faithful dog Max, plus the Whos.

Holiday festivities at Universal Studios Hollywood run daily now through Monday, January 1, 2024.

L3DFX celebrates an incredible IAAPA Expo 2023

By | November 28, 2023

BOLINGBROOK, Ill. — L3DFX, the award-winning creative studio and design and fabrication firm, is celebrating its most successful IAAPA Expo ever. Exhibiting at the global event once again, L3DFX’s incredible team was honored throughout Expo.

On November 16, 2023, it was announced that Emily Popovich, L3DFX, Chief of Sales and Business Development was elected to serve a three-year term on the Themed Entertainment Association’s (TEA) Board of Directors Eastern North America Division. TEA is the international non-profit association representing the world’s leading creators, developers, designers and producers of compelling places and experiences. Popovich is the first L3DFX team member to be nominated – and elected – to serve the association as part of its Board of Directors.

“Since joining L3DFX Emily has had incredible success helping our team connect and partner with key players in the global themed entertainment and attractions industries,” shared Paul Ciesiun, Founder and CEO, L3DFX. “Her passion for the industry, powerful relationships, and talent for making genuine and successful connections have helped L3DFX grow already in many new ways. I am proud and honored that Emily will now be able to share her expertise while supporting TEA’s work, on behalf of our industry and the many creative professionals working within it.”

“I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve TEA’s members on the Eastern Board of Directors,” stated Popovich, “and I look forward to working alongside the talented professionals who represent the international themed entertainment community for the betterment of all. Personally and professionally, I am immensely proud to be heavily involved in this dynamic industry and I thank TEA and its members for trusting in me to offer my perspectives and experience while serving on the Board the next three years.”

That same day during Expo, IAAPA also announced L3DFX earned a coveted IAAPA Brass Ring Best Exhibit Award. The IAAPA Brass Ring Awards annually celebrate utmost excellence in the global attractions industry and are considered among the industry’s most prestigious honors. The show features a massive exhibitor base of more than 1000 companies; Brass Ring Award applicants were judged on booth design, branding, staffing during IAAPA Expo, products and services featured in the booth, and overall appeal.

“We take our planning seriously in how we tell our story during IAAPA Expo,” Ciesiun stated. “This year, we developed and created a special space that truly set us apart. It was inviting, unique, and captured our spirit of imagination. We love to bring L3DFX’s creativity to life on the tradeshow floor, and it’s always exciting to welcome attendees during IAAPA Expo. This year we hosted dozens of clients and partners in our medieval tavern-themed exhibit. We thank IAAPA for highlighting the efforts and commitment our team put into creating and operating this year’s booth.”

2023 has been an exciting year for L3DFX, and the honors the team earned during IAAPA Expo are just the latest in the creative studio’s continued growth and success. Just ahead of IAAPA Expo, L3DFX also launched an all-new website to help clients better understand the full range of services the firm can provide to clients around the world.

“For the past ten years we have been a solutions-driven design and fabrication firm,” said Popovich. “Even with the many outstanding and one-of-a-kind projects we have developed, created, and installed, we recognize we have an opportunity to still better communicate and share our brand, story, and expertise.  Any website is a crucial client-facing tool, and the launch of our new site helps us better share our story and inspire new connections – and projects – ahead.”

Big Cedar Lodge, Top of the Rock and RWS Global brighten up home for the holidays this season in a whole new light

By | November 28, 2023

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Big Cedar Lodge, America’s premier wilderness resort, nestled in the heart of the Ozarks is thrilled to announce a magical partnership with RWS Global, a leader in creating live experiences around the world. Together, Big Cedar Lodge and RWS Global are set to transform the holiday season into an unforgettable Christmas experience for families and friends of all ages.

This holiday collaboration promises to bring the Spirit of Christmas to life in a spectacular way, combining the rustic charm of Big Cedar Lodge with the theatrical expertise of RWS Global. Guests can expect a captivating blend of holiday traditions and modern entertainment, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

Craig Laurie, Chief Creative Officer of RWS Global states that both experiences are unique and amazing in their own way, “When you enter the property, no matter what season, you are transported to a magical place, but this holiday we have created experiences you will never forget. At Top of the Rock, we take you on a story – a journey of history, culture, light and sound and when you get to Big Cedar, we celebrate the traditions that everyone loves, and it all comes with amazing instagrammable moments. It truly is a holiday experience that you cannot get anywhere else.” 

Highlights of the Experience include:

Top of the Rock

  • An over 2-and-a-half-mile experience interweaving lights, sculptures and stories
  • Animal sculptures that tower 3 stories high
  • An original soundtrack incorporating classic holiday themes and Native American influences.
  • A natural cave which houses a bar for refreshments

Big Cedar Lodge  

  • Oversized festive holiday sculptures
  • A new original soundtrack featured in the guest tram tour that guides the experience
  • Sculptures inspired by the animals of the Ozarks, including elk, bears, bison and deer
  • A new Nativity Scene

“The partnership between Big Cedar Lodge and RWS Global truly embodies the holiday spirit,” said Debbie Bennett, President of Hospitality at Bass Pro Shops. “Our collaborative efforts have created an unparalleled Christmas Experience for our guests, offering them a memorable way to celebrate the season with their loved ones.”

The Christmas Experience at Big Cedar Lodge, in partnership with RWS Global, will run until December 31, with some winter offerings extending through February 2024.

Extended offerings include:

  • Big Cedar Lodge: Home for the Holidays ice rink- available to be booked through February 5th.
  • Top of the Rock: Nature at Night on the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail- dates are available daily through January 7th and then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday dates available through February 25th.

This collaboration is set to become an annual tradition, bringing joy and wonder to all who visit.

ProSlide concludes a highly successful week at IAAPA Orlando

By | November 27, 2023

ProSlide, the leading water park designer and manufacturer, is thrilled to wrap up an incredibly successful week at IAAPA Expo Orlando. The week was marked by exciting announcements, notable projects, industry recognition and incredible client connections.

Highlights of the Week:

  1. Accessibility and Inclusivity Panel: The week kicked off with a thought-provoking panel on “Accessibility and Inclusivity in Water Park Planning & Design.” Exploring the current state of accessibility in water parks, trends in accessible park planning, and the benefits of inclusive play areas, the discussion set the tone for a week of innovation.
    Ray Smegal, CCO ProSlide was joined by Lori Gogel, Holiday World and James Anderson, Forrec
  • 2024 Projects Unveiled: ProSlide announced an impressive lineup of upcoming projects for 2024, including ventures in the USA, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Greece, Spain and more. The diverse range of projects reflects ProSlide’s global impact and commitment to delivering top-tier water park experiences.
  • SeaWorld + ProSlide: ProSlide was honored to welcome SeaWorld for a joint press conference, unveiling the names of three new projects and celebrating the strong partnership between the two companies. ProSlide has worked on nearly 60 projects over 20+ years with SeaWorld parks, showcasing the enduring collaboration between the two industry leaders.
    Jeff Janovich, SVP Global Strategic Partnerships, ProSlide and Conner Carr, Manager, Rides & Engineering, SeaWorld
  • IAAPA Brass Ring Award 2023: ProSlide proudly received First Place for Best New Water Ride for SAIFA – Dueling RocketBLAST, located in the award-winning Siam Park, This water coaster garnered recognition for its groundbreaking design, speed, and commitment to safety.

Christoph Kiessling, Founder and GM of Siam Park, shared his enthusiasm: “The debut of SAIFA, the World’s longest Dueling RocketBLAST at Siam Park, not only surpassed my expectations but also marked a groundbreaking moment for thrill-seekers among our visitors. The innovative design featuring two parallel slides delivers a unique and exhilarating experience. Standing at 29.8 meters tall and stretching over 300 meters (about 984.25 ft) in length, this slide has not only met my criteria for speed and excitement but has also prioritized the highest safety standards. The meticulous craftsmanship and the use of cutting-edge materials ensure a flawlessly smooth ride, setting a new standard in waterpark experiences. For all those who relish adrenaline-packed adventures and harbor a love for water parks, SAIFA stands as an absolute essential. I am thrilled at the prospect of sharing this exceptional experience with the countless thrill-seekers who will now encounter the zenith of water slide excitement at Siam Park with SAIFA. My heartfelt congratulations and gratitude to Rick Hunter and his team for this invaluable addition that SAIFA brings to Siam Park.”

  • IAAPA Water Park Social: ProSlide capped off the week with an amazing night at the IAAPA Water Park social, connecting with clients and partners. As a proud sponsor of IAAPA, ProSlide is honored to be recognized as leaders in water park design and manufacturing.

This week has truly been a testament to the passion and dedication of the entire ProSlide team. From groundbreaking projects to industry recognition, we continue to push the boundaries of water park design and innovation. Our collaboration with SeaWorld and the success of SAIFA further solidifies ProSlide’s position as a global leader. We look forward to shaping the future of water park experiences and continuing to exceed the expectations of our valued partners and clients.

Changing the narrative: Embed redefines customer success at IAAPA Expo Orlando 2023

By | November 21, 2023

DALLAS, Texas — Embed, the ultimate cloud-based, cashless solutions provider for the amusement, entertainment, and leisure industries launched industry-firsts like Embed Success Squad™ and Embed GoTrain™ as the ultimate testament of their customer-centricity, championing customer success of the Embed Family of FECs.

“We’re so excited to see the Embed Success Squad meet our customers, build a relationship, and plan the course towards transformative growth!” says Renee Welsh, CEO at Embed. “Customer-centricity is at the very centre of everything we do as a company; it informs every strategic and operating decision. With the addition of the Embed Success Squad and its dynamic training arm Embed GoTrain, we are future-proofing our customers’ businesses via transformational growth results with the Embed solution. We’ve changed the narrative and elevated the conversation to focus on the ecosystem of driving value growth and not volume; it’s 80% less expensive to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one, so we enable our customers to know who their customers are and drive return visits with higher reloads, and 60% of customers reloading before they even arrive at the FEC – shortening the revisit cycle!”

“This dedicated team of consultants, champions, and trainers – a mix of growth gurus, SaaS experts, and payment specialists – brought their A-game at the show and started sharing their expertise with our customers – the members of the Embed Family. The best part is it’s all complimentary offerings, like 1-year FREE Mobile Wallet and 3-months FREE STATS subscriptions, with complimentary payment gateway cost-saving analysis, free best practice training from the industry’s best FECs, free marketing kits or printed assets that cover the entire customer journey in an FEC, and the Embed GoTrain™ which is in-venue training to drive consumer uptake of Mobile Wallet. This has shown wild reload value increases from $30 to $50 for our customer Tilt Studio, and some FECs are reporting up to a 200% reload value increase!” shares Sara Paz, CMO and Embed Success Squad™ Transformation Guru.

“This is all an example of how Embed layers value for the Embed Family. And the feedback we’ve gotten is universally enthusiastic; there’s no other company in the industry that has hired an entire team with the single mission of helping their customers maximise their product and system and doing it for free. The very epitome of customer-centricity!”

All the action happened at Embed’s refreshing new booth – another step towards transitioning from traditional to digital to set the standard for sustainable practices among exhibitors. The modular stations in a fresh layout housed the demos of Embed’s breakthrough innovations, drinks over daily Happy Hour, and the game cards and wearables showcase at the show-stopping Bling Trunk. Here are other highlights from the show:

Press Conference
The Embed Mavericks held a press conference at the new booth to acknowledge Embed’s first Top 100 FECs – a list cataloguing businesses across the globe that vary widely in size, number of locations, and type of FEC, but share one thing in common: they are the most admired and respected in the industry.

“In this Membership Economy where our customers are more than just partners and friends, it is our privilege to recognise the FECs that built the industry to what it is today,” says Welsh. “We hope to continue skyrocketing these fellow trailblazers’ businesses in the years to come.”

Following the recognition, Welsh officially kicked off the launch of Embed’s new breakthrough innovations, namely: the smarter, faster, and supercharged smartTOUCH+ that’s everything customers love about the current smartTOUCH but more; the Embed eSHOP, which accelerates parts purchase and replacement with a doubled product and parts range and new functionalities so customers can simply select, ship, and pay; and the enhanced Embed Help Centre, boasting of fresh features like MY TICKETS on the main menu for easy access to ticket status, and expanded content with embedded videos – all designed and developed to solidify Embed’s position as the FEC solutions trailblazer. With a customer service approval rating of 99%, Embed’s complete customer support ecosystem enables, empowers, and eases the business of fun.

After-Party at Andretti’s
The Embed Mavericks ended IAAPA Expo 2023 Day 1 with a blast at its after-party at Andretti’s, gathering 250 customers, partners, and industry friends from all over the region to network over drinks and canapes, celebrating the ever-growing Embed Family.

What’s Next?
Catch the Embed team and the roster of integrated hardware and software solutions such as the Mobile Wallet, STATS, smartTOUCH+, KIOSK+, and TOOLKIT suite, and a showcase of game cards and wearable media at the EAG International Expo (16 to 18 January 2024), DEAL Show (5 to 7 March 2024), and Amusement Expo International (20 to 21 March 2024).

WhiteWater’s AquaForms 12 wins first place Brass Ring Award for Best New Product

By | November 20, 2023

ORLANDO — At IAAPA Expo 2023, WhiteWater was honoured with a Brass Ring Award for First Place, Best New Product, Water Park Ride/Attraction under $2 million, for its unique aquatic play structure: Elevated AquaForms 12.

Reflecting “the innovation and unwavering spirit of our industry,” Elevated AquaForms 12 is part of a highly configurable aquatic play system designed to fulfill the different needs of children, parents, operators, as well as aquatic designers. Meticulously engineered with standardized parts that are interchangeable and upgradable, it demonstrates features and benefits not found anywhere else in the water park industry.

An Adventurous Trail on an Aquatic Play Structure—World’s First
Elevated AquaForms 12 is a large, raised modular multi-level aquatic play structure with a monopole design and a sleek, modern look. Similar to a treetop canopy walk, it consists of 12 platforms each held up by a pole and interconnected by paths and stairs. Perfect for exploration, it has over 85 meters (280 feet) of decks, bridges, and stairs for guests to roam while discovering the structure’s 98 water features, many of which are true cause-and-effect interactives. Combined with a thrilling selection of body slides, Elevated AquaForms 12 provides a range of experiences for guests of all ages. 

Clear Sightlines and Freeing Up Floor Space
With each platform supported by a central pole that can raise the unit up to 7 meters, Elevated AquaForms 12 opens up space below for a bigger play area. Together with translucent polycarbonate guardrails, the structure offers clear sightlines to make it easier for parents to keep an eye on their children, for children to look back at their parents for reassurance, and for lifeguards to keep track of everyone.

The elevated nature of this AquaForms clears the floor area, which makes a water park look more spacious, especially in an indoor environment. This flexibility also means that Elevated AquaForms 12 can be built above and around other attractions and amenities, such as a splash pad or a lazy river.

True Interactive Features for Play That Wows
Elevated AquaForms 12 features interactive elements that satisfy young guests’ sense of curiosity, discovery, and even learning, such as Surprise Spray, Staccato Blaster, and Tumble Bucket. Exclusive to AquaForms are handprint and footprint activators, which are true cause-and-effect play features that require an action from a guest that triggers a reaction. These activators require no electricity. Instead, valves are used to operate these buttons, which trigger a delightful spray when pushed.

Thoughtful Design for Cost-Effective Operation and Maintenance
Not only is Elevated AquaForms 12 designed with great play in mind, it also takes operator concerns to heart. For example, with each feature having its own adjustable valve, water flow management is optimized, whether for slides or play elements. Maintenance is also easier with slides made of RTM fiberglass, which are smooth and shiny on both inside and outside surfaces. In addition, clear sightlines help with safety and reduce the number of lifeguards needed around the corners.

“Elevated AquaForms 12 is a great example of WhiteWater’s approach to engineering a product that is beneficial from so many different angles. It is flexible, answers to space constraints, makes operations easier, and at the same time, incredibly fun for young guests,” said Onno Meeter, President, Water Parks. “We want to thank the hard work of our teams listening to client needs and designing this innovative play structure. We’d also like to thank the beautiful Island Waterpark at Showboat for being a great first venue to showcase an Elevated AquaForms.”

Intercard guests have a hot time at IAAPA’s hottest party 2023

By | November 20, 2023

ST. LOUIS — Intercard’s “muy picante” annual IAAPA Expo Customer Appreciation Party brought together more than 400 members of the company’s global family of customers, staff and industry colleagues for pre-show festivities in Orlando on November 14, 2023. Guests came from as far away as Asia, Australia, the Middle East and South America to celebrate the launch of the year’s biggest trade show.

“The Hottest Party at IAAPA” was the evening’s theme and Intercard staff were sporting chili pepper-shaped hats with their red outfits. “Intercard continues to spice up the amusement industry,” says Scott Sherrod, Intercard CEO. “As the industry continues its return to growth worldwide, we are happy to be back at the biggest IAAPA Expo of the year celebrating with our global family of customers, partners and friends. We enjoy heating things up and having some fun to get everyone ready for the hard work of the show.”

The guests enjoyed special Spicy Hot Margaritas at two bars and feasted on a lavish Mexican buffet with Spicy Salsa Stations at Rocco’s Tacos in the upscale Dr. Phillips entertainment district. The private party space overlooking the lights of ICON Park across Little Sand Lake was buzzing until late in the evening. 

Hownd CEO Brandon Willey, chair of IAAPA’s FEC Committee, was on hand to promote another hot IAAPA event, the FEC Summit in San Antonio, Texas. Intercard is a sponsor of the summit, which will take place January 21 – 23, 2024.

Vertical Dark Ride from RES wins 2023 Brass Ring Award at IAAPA Expo

By | November 17, 2023

ORLANDO — During IAAPA Expo 2023, Ride Engineers Switzerland (RES) was awarded the 2023 Brass Ring Exhibitor Award: Best New Product > Category 2: Family Ride / Attraction for its Vertical Dark Ride installation at Conny-Land Switzerland.

This is only the latest of numerous awards earned by the attraction — dubbed “The Crazy Professor” — since its April 2023 opening!

The attraction took First Place by the prestigious European Star Award 2023 from Kirmes & Park Review for “EUROPE’S BEST NEW ATTRACTIONS.’ The company was also awarded First Place by Parkscout/plus Award 2023 for “EUROPE’S BEST NEW ATTRACTIONS IN 2023” — often considered the “people’s choice award” as it is selected by theme park fans — for the Vertical Dark Ride installation at Conny-Land. Furthermore, The Crazy Professor was nominated for the Park Excellence Award 2023 for Best Dark Ride with Media.

The Crazy Professor tells the story of a mad scientist that succeeds in defying gravity, kind of. Conny-Land built a beautiful building to house the 20-meter (66-foot) drop tower and is paired with a large multimedia screen installed over different levels of the tower. As the story unfolds, guests are thrilled with multiple unexpected freefalls and special effects. Since the ride’s opening, Conny-Land social media has been flooded with positive feedback.

The ride utilizes RES’s Vertical Dark Ride concept. The Vertical Dark Ride offers additional freefalls per ride cycle, by moving up and down various times. A fantastic option for multiple indoor storytelling at different levels. Depending on the story, the ride can even start with a freefall.

RES has a variety of tower rides that range from 50 passenger observation towers as tall at 75 meters (246 feet) and tipping towers that move back and forth as well as side to side while rotating 360 degrees.

RES’ newest generation of drop towers deliver unexpected freefalls without sensing any warning in advance of the drop, leaving riders surprised and thrilled. Multi drop towers offer additional freefalls per ride cycle by moving up and down the vertical track various times.

RES is an award-winning global leader in design, manufacture, and installation of amusement and water rides and are showcasing the company’s newest ride concepts at booth #4508 at the IAAPA Expo 2023.