July 2024

By | June 25, 2024

The JULY 2024 issue includes:

  • Kings Island expands Planet Snoopy
  • Tiana’s Bayou Adventure set to make a splash
  • Register today for 2024 Golden Ticket Awards ceremony, events
  • Kennywood has left no stone unturned for its 125th birthday
  • Nemesis Reborn: all-new makeover of Alton Towers’ B&M classic
  • Linnanmäki adds thrilling new Intamin Gyro Swing
  • Indiana Beach preserves famous Schwarzkopf triple-looping legend
  • Adventureland Resort’s 50th year sees exciting updates, activities
  • LA County Fair experiences a significant bump in attendance
  • Hurricane Harbor Maryland adds WhiteWater West water coaster
  • Hattiesburg Zoo opens first water park in Mississippi Pine Belt area
  • Wonderland Park family freshens atmosphere with new paintings
  • Six Flags Management holds 2024 Alumni Reunion
  • Women of Influence: Toni Caracciolo of Falcon’s Beyond
  • Audio Innovators helps ensure the industry gets the message
  • Franceen Gonzales appointed president of Legoland Florida
  • SkyRide renaissance: Cedar Point gives new look to Von Roll ride
  • Vigilance, focus key in avoiding slow days becoming deadly days
  • Precision Chains focuses on amusement industry and expansion
  • DMT creates new ride safety device to monitor rides in real time
  • Kinder joins AIMS International as seminar manager … and much more!

Palace Entertainment names new General Manager of Kennywood Park and Sandcastle Water Park

By | July 15, 2024

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — Palace Entertainment, a leading leisure park operator with more than 20 major entertainment venues across the United States and Australia today announced the appointment of Ricky Spicuzza to General Manager of Kennywood Park and Sandcastle Water Park. As a native of Pittsburgh, he brings more than 20 years of dedicated amusement and water park experience to the role. Ricky’s first order of business has been extending park operating hours, offering 20 days of 10 p.m. closes in July.

Spicuzza began his career at Kennywood in 2002 as a food and beverage team member in the park’s iconic Pagoda. Over the past 22 seasons with Palace Entertainment, he has worked in several leadership positions at each of the company’s Pittsburgh-based parks. In 2010, Spicuzza joined the team at Idlewild & SoakZone where he served as the aquatics manager for three years before being promoted to director of operations in 2013. In 2016, Spicuzza was named assistant general manager of Idlewild and in 2021, he was named the assistant general manager of Sandcastle Water Park. During his time at Sandcastle, he oversaw one of the water park’s largest capital investment projects ever, as it underwent a massive transformation completely redesigning the front gate, several food and beverage locations, retail stores and more.

Most recently, Spicuzza served as the assistant general manager at Kennywood Park. Since 2023, he has been instrumental in overseeing the operations, retail, maintenance, security and food and beverage departments. This season, Spicuzza led several park-wide upgrades as Kennywood continued its multi-year transformation project, including, the opening of the new Potato Smash bumper cars, the all-new Carousel Burger Company, the introduction of the new Jeeter’s Pub and much more.

“After more than 22 seasons with Palace Entertainment, we are thrilled to name Ricky Spicuzza as general manager of Kennywood Park and Sandcastle Water Park,” said Vice President of Operations, Mark Pauls. “I believe Ricky is the perfect person to lead each of these beloved Pittsburgh institutions as we continue to invest in these properties with new capital projects, robust event lineups and more.”

Based in Pittsburgh, Palace Entertainment continues to grow and shape its leadership team with industry veterans joining the Pennsylvania-based organization from across the country. Since 2023, the company has elevated several internal executives while also recruiting top-tier talent from the amusement industry. 

Noah’s Ark Waterpark opens reimagined water playground

By | July 11, 2024

WISCONSIN DELLS — A beloved family attraction is making a triumphant comeback after five seasons to Noah’s Ark Waterpark. Complete with a new look and modern enhancements, OctoExplorer has undergone a multi-year transformation project to bring the iconic bright yellow submarine attraction. Originally opened in 1994, OctoExplorer has been a family favorite at America’s Largest Waterpark for decades and is now open at the park for pint-sized guests to enjoy.

To bring back the under-the-sea theme attraction, Noah’s Ark worked directly with Fix Your Park, a company based in Seguin, Texas. The first order of business was to refresh the paint, adding more vibrant colors to the four slides and the center submarine structure. The park has also integrated new technology throughout the attraction to enhance the adventure. Inside the submarine, guests will now find a television and surround sound system, creating an immersive environment that transports guests deep underwater.

“Noah’s Ark offers a variety of attractions for our visitors of all ages, the return of OctoExplorer to our lineup offers even more variety for our smallest guests,” Noah’s Ark General Manager Christopher Mortensen said. “This attraction holds a special place in the hearts of many, and we are proud to honor its history while bringing it into the future with innovative updates.”

In addition to the technological upgrades, the OctoExplorer features four smaller water slides for the kiddos and a periscope, providing endless fun and exploration. These new elements, combined with the classic charm of the attraction, make for an unforgettable experience.

OctoExplorer is one of more than 50 attractions at Noah’s Ark, which was named the Best Outdoor Waterpark by Newsweek for 2024. Nominees were handpicked by experts across various industries, and voted on by its readers, the Newsweek award recognizes Noah’s Ark as the premier destination for water park thrills.

“Insidious: The Further” brings a terrifying realm of darkness to Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights in an all-new haunted house

By | July 11, 2024

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. and ORLANDO, Fla. — This fall, Halloween Horror Nights guests will travel deeper into the paranormal dimension of tortured souls and demonic entities when they enter “Insidious: The Further,” an all-new haunted house inspired by the successful Insidious film franchise. The terrifying journey through the darkness is set to begin Friday, August 30 at Universal Orlando Resort and Thursday, September 5 at Universal Studios Hollywood.

Produced by Blumhouse Productions in association with Sony Pictures, Insidious tells the disturbing story of the Lamberts, a family haunted by evil supernatural forces after their son slips into an inexplicable comatose state after becoming possessed by a demonic entity. In the all-new Halloween Horror Nights haunted house, guests will follow in the footsteps of the Lamberts, encountering familiar settings and scares as they are transported directly into “The Further” – the ethereal place where ghosts and demons lurk. And just like in the films, guests will quickly learn that the paranormal creatures are here to stay…

Guests’ journey into “Insidious: The Further” begins as they step through the iconic red door, where many of the tormented spirits and demons from the franchise await – determined to ensnare humans and steal their souls. Fans will come face-to-face with The Red-Faced Demon, who will attempt to lure them into his lair; the grim KeyFace, hoping to lock his victims in this dark dimension; the ghastly and dangerous Bride in Black; and the vengeful spirit of the Man Who Can’t Breathe. As guests make their way through the haunted house, they’ll go from red door to red door – traveling deeper into a dark and timeless astral world where they must evade this collection of sinister creatures at every spine-chilling turn, or their souls will be trapped here…forever.

All event tickets for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood are now available for purchase.

At Universal Orlando Resort, the popular Frequent Fear and Rush of Fear Passes are now on sale, allowing guests to enjoy more horror with access to the event on multiple nights. Fans can also get an early start by adding the Scream Early ticket to their Halloween Horror Nights ticket, which gives them access to Universal Studios Florida between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to face the thrills of the theme park before braving the chills of Halloween Horror Nights. Single-night tickets and event upgrades like Express PassR.I.P. Tour and the daytime Behind the Screams: Unmasking the Horror Tour are also available. Universal Orlando Annual Passholders can also take advantage of exclusive discounts on single-night tickets on August 30 and 31, and select nights in September. Tickets for Universal Orlando’s first-ever Premium Scream Night on Thursday, August 29 – an unprecedented, limited-capacity event that gives fans access to everything they love about Halloween Horror Nights before the event officially opens – are also now available. More information about all Universal Orlando’s current Halloween Horror Nights vacation packages, offers and entitlements can be found at www.universalorlando.com/halloween.

A variety of Halloween Horror Nights ticket options for Universal Studios Hollywood are also now available, including General AdmissionUniversal ExpressAfter 2 P.M. Day/Night, the Early Access Ticket,which provides access to select haunted houses beginning at 5:30 p.m. (subject to change), in advance of the scheduled 7:00 p.m. event opening time, the premium R.I.P. Tour and popular passes, Frequent Fear and Ultimate Fear, which enable guests to experience the scares again and again. Click here to purchase tickets and for Terms and Conditions.

Fans can get a jump-start on their Halloween Horror Nights gear with an all-new merchandise collection available for purchase now at Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, as well as online at http://shop.universalorlando.com. New items include a t-shirt and candle inspired by the all-original “Insidious: The Further” haunted house.

Electric Playhouse earns prestigious 2024 “Travelers’ Choice” Award by Tripadvisor

By | July 11, 2024

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Electric Playhouse, the social gaming destination featuring dozens of motion-activated experiences, announces its Albuquerque, New Mexico, location has been recognized as a Tripadvisor 2024 “Travelers’ Choice” Award recipient. Brilliantly merging the digital and physical worlds into one, the destination fosters human connection and gets visitors of all ages and interests moving through active play and healthy movement.

Each year, Tripadvisor celebrates travelers’ favorite businesses worldwide based on reviews and ratings collected over the past 12 months. Electric Playhouse’s stellar reviews earned it a spot in the top 10% of things to do globally, a testament to its commitment to excellence and visitor satisfaction.

Due to its ongoing success and increased demand for social gaming experiences for guests of all ages, Electric Playhouse recently opened a second location on the Las Vegas Strip. The new destination features all the notable and engaging motion-activated games the Albuquerque location is known for. 

“This award celebrates our team’s passion and innovation in crafting a space where play, exploration and imagination come to life,” said Brandon Garrett, chief executive officer and co-founder, Electric Playhouse. “We are thrilled to be in the top 10% of things to do globally and look forward to welcoming even more adventurers to our new location on the Las Vegas Strip, where the magic of Electric Playhouse continues to evolve.”

Galaxy Bowling switches up with Intercard for arcade refresh

By | July 11, 2024

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Intercard has installed its latest cashless technology at Galaxy Bowling and Entertainment Center in Richmond, Kentucky. The 32-lane center recently refreshed its 50-game arcade with 30 new games and replaced an older cashless system embedded by another manufacturer.

The Intercard system is fully integrated with Galaxy Bowling’s Brunswick Sync scoring and management system, allowing customers to buy game cards when they check in for bowling. It also runs Intercard’s latest PlusXL software, which allows easy customization of the touch screen on the arcade’s iTeller kiosk.

The center says it has the largest arcade in Richmond. Intercard’s Saul Scribner did the installation on-site in May 2024.

Splish Splash kicks off new Winter Wonderland event

By | July 10, 2024

It’s never too early to celebrate the holidays especially in the summer at New York’s Largest Water Park. Splish Splash Water Park will have a new special event called Winter Wonderland. The family-friendly event kicks off July 15 through July 21 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Winter Wonderland will have a DJ, giveaways, exclusive meet and greets with Peppermint Pixie, Santa, a Snow Fairy, a giant Polar Bear and Reindeer. There will be entertainment for kids of all ages from Candy Cane limbo, Freeze Dance, Jingle Juggle lessons and more. Winter Wonderland will feature festive limited-time food offerings, such as Candy Cane Dippin’ Dots and ICEE flavors including Santa Lemonade, Menorah Mango, Christmas Cherry, and Wintery Watermelon.

The park is encouraging guests who visit the park on July 17 and 19 to donate an unwrapped toy or make a monetary donation ($25 or more) and have a chance to spin a wheel to receive Splish Splash swag and even a free admission ticket to be used on a future date.

The park is partnering with Family & Children’s Association (FCA) to help their Adopt-a-Family campaign, which helps to brighten the holiday season for many Long Islanders in need. The campaign connects families who request support with donors who provide Holiday Cheer. In 2023, along with their generous sponsors, FCA helped over 950 local friends and families.

“As we celebrate our 140th anniversary, we are thrilled to partner with Splish Splash for their Winter Wonderland event.” – Paige O’Brien, Chief Development Officer & Vice President of Strategic Advancement at FCA.

Guests can save over 30% on tickets during the park’s Weekday Flash Sale from July 15-26 to visit the event.

World’s Largest Duck waddles to Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe in Greensboro, North Carolina

By | July 10, 2024

The Carolina’s Favorite Water Park is going BIG in celebration of the park’s 40th birthday. The World’s Largest Rubber Duck is waddling over to Wet ‘n Wild for a quacking good time beginning Friday, July 19 through Sunday, July 21.

Standing more than 61 feet tall, the Mama Duck has become an icon, making her way across the country to several cities including New York, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Austin. Now for the first time ever, Mama Duck and baby duck, Timmy, will make Greensboro North Carolina their home for three days in July.

Wet ‘n Wild Emerald Pointe is celebrating its birthday all weekend long with big duck and baby duck meet and greets, exclusive birthday treats and more. Plus, visitors can EAT FREE when they purchase a meal deal ticket now.

Story Land introduces the park’s first ever Halloween event Happy Hauntings

By | July 10, 2024

GLEN, N.H. — Story Land, The Place Where Fantasy Lives, is unwrapping one more gift for its 70th Celebration Season as it introduces New Hampshire’s Best New Way to HalloweenHappy Hauntings. Extending the park’s season to its longest ever, the all-new Happy Hauntings event will begin on Saturday, October 5 through Sunday, October 27. The family-friendly Halloween event will offer rides, meet and greets with beloved story book characters, an interactive trick-or-treat trail, Halloween-themed shows and more.

“Our 70th anniversary is a season-long celebration that’s highlighted by events like our 70th Birthday Bash block party and the debut of our new Moo Lagoon water play area. Happy Hauntings will be the icing on the cake,” said Chris Kearsing, General Manager. “As our first Halloween event, it will be our final birthday gift to anyone visiting the White Mountains this fall, close out our longest season ever, and give parents a new way to make Halloween memories for their children.” 

The park will be decked out in full Halloween decor and open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday in October as well as on Monday, October 14. Highlights will include:

  • Cinderella’s Pumpkin Patch invites kids to explore the patch, pick the perfect pumpkin and then artfully decorate it before heading to the Castle to show Cinderella herself;
  • Fairy Tale Trick-or-Treat Trail offers all treats and no tricks as visitors make their way through the park’s Story Book area trick or treating with their favorite story book characters including the Old Woman in the Shoe, Little Red Riding Hood and more; and
  • Halloween Shows feature a Halloween spin and villains taking over each show, guests can catch performances at select times throughout the day at Loopy Lab Theater and can end their day with an evil spin on a beloved show.

Happy Hauntings will also include Halloween décor throughout Story Land, a hay maze, costume character bubble dance party, rotating family activities like Scary-oke and more. Select rides will also be open throughout the event including the Polar Coaster, Antique Cars, Huff & Puff Whistle Railroad, Great Balloon Chase and many more. 

Story Land’s longest season ever with the addition of it’s first-ever Halloween event, Happy Hauntings completes the park’s massive 70th Celebration Season. Coming off the heels of the addition of the park’s largest capital investment in its seven-decade history, Moo Lagoon, Story Land continues to invest in the park and improve the guest experience with an extended season, all-new events, a brand-new water play area and more. 

Ruud Koppens, founder of ETF Ride Systems, retires

By | July 10, 2024

NEDERWEERT — Ruud Koppens, the founder of ETF Ride Systems, has announced his retirement effective July 1st. Ruud, who established ETF Ride Systems as a division of the ETF Group 26 years ago, has been a member of the ETF Group for nearly 51 years.

Retiring at the age of 67, Ruud Koppens made the decision to step down while in good health, hoping to spend more time with his wife, three children, and five grandchildren. Over the years, ETF Ride Systems has thrived under his leadership, becoming a prominent name in the industry.

Ruud is confident that he is leaving the company in capable hands. A well-established team will continue to lead the company, which has been acquired by a private family group deeply involved in the amusement industry. The new owners intend to maintain ETF Ride Systems as an independent company, keeping the same team and premises.

Ruud has been the driving force behind ETF Ride Systems’ success, particularly with the trackless dark-ride vehicles, of which over 750 units have been built to date. The company is renowned for its high technical reliability, with an impressive uptime of 99.5%, and low maintenance costs. In addition to amusement parks, ETF Ride Systems also serves various museums worldwide.

New ride vehicle
True to his innovative spirit, Ruud leaves the company and the market with a new product. Over the past few months, he led the development of a new high-end vehicle for the trackless range. The new vehicle, named “Dynamic Mover,” boasts higher speed, greater acceleration and deceleration, omni-directional driving capabilities, increased passenger cabin rotations, and the ability to navigate inclines. Notably, it no longer relies on the renowned ETF floor wire. The “Dynamic Mover” will be introduced and demonstrated live to the public at IAAPA in Amsterdam, followed by IAAPA Orlando.

A farewell reception for Ruud will be held on July 15th. He will also be present at IAAPA Amsterdam to personally bid farewell to his customers and colleagues in the industry. He has promised to remain available for advice and suggestions if needed by the ETF team.

The entire ETF team is grateful for Ruud’s contributions and leadership. They wish him all the best for the future and express their appreciation for the legacy he leaves behind.

Slick City Indoor Slide Park announces first Minnesota location

By | July 10, 2024

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Slick City, inventors of the world’s first indoor slide park designed for all ages, has just announced that the lease has been signed for their first franchise location in Minneapolis.  

The brand’s first Minnesota location will be in the Arbor Lakes district at 10900 Fountains Drive Ste 130 Maple Grove, MN 55369, and is slated to open in Spring of 2025. Franchise owners, Mike and Annie Kelly are thrilled to be bringing Slick City to their community and know that it’s the perfect fit for those looking for an action park experience everyone will love.

“As parents of three young children, we couldn’t imagine a better place for Slick City’s Minnesota debut than the Arbor Lakes district in Maple Grove,” said the Kelly’s. “Living nearby, we love frequenting the local restaurants, shops, and ice arenas, making us deeply connected to and passionate about this vibrant community.”

As Minnesota continues to see a rise in population, now is the perfect time for Slick City to enter the state. Unlike other out-of-home entertainment parks, Slick City is an all-ages brand. The unique attractions are created for both the young and young-at-heart to enjoy while having new experiences with their loved ones. Slick City has an unusually high rate of paid visits by adults and parents; currently more than 19% of revenue is generated from passholders over the age of 18! The all-ages appeal extends into exciting in-park events like Adult Night and Glow City. Slick City has received awards and accolades including “Best Place for a Kid’s Birthday Party” in St. Louis.

“We are thrilled to have the Kelly’s join the Slick City family as our newest franchisees,” said Bron Launsby, CEO and Founder of Slick City. “As Minnesota locals, they have unique insight on exactly what their community could benefit from and we’re lucky to have them spearheading our expansion into the state. Minneapolis’s flourishing and active environment aligns seamlessly with the mission behind Slick City and we can’t wait to bring a unique and thrilling adventure to the area.”

Slick City plans to grant at least thirty protected franchise territories across the US in 2024. Between franchise and corporate locations, eight openings are planned by year end, and even more in 2025. The initial investment for a Slick City location is $1.55m – $4.26m (depending largely on the size of the space between 25,000 and 55,000 square feet as well as the condition of the building selected by the franchisee and approved by Slick City).