February 2023

By | January 30, 2023

The February 2023 issue includes:

  • 2023 IISF Trade Show preview
  • Australia’s Sea World unveils Leviathan
  • Hersheypark, RMC partner on new-for-2023 Wildcat’s Revenge
  • Funtown-Splashtown, Sally partner for Haunted Hotel
  • Palace Playland, Preston & Barbieri jumping into 2023 
  • Wisdom Rides introduces multi-national company: Noble Rides, LLC
  • Altitude Park is bouncing into new Arizona location
  • 2022 State Fair of Louisiana attendance dips
  • Western Fairs Association announces HOF, Barham recipients
  • Two iconic slides from ProSlide highlight Warner Beach expansion
  • Farm tourism businesses adding entertainment, amusement rides
  • Nichols retires after more than 40 years in the industry
  • Silver Dollar City investing in employee housing by Holtz Builders
  • Great Coasters completes wooden coaster rehab at Arnolds Park
  • Baynum Solutions working on multiple industry coastal projects
  • Universal announces attractions for Las Vegas and Texas … and much more!

Embed brings its latest breakthrough innovation – STATS insights data visualisation platform to DEAL Show 2023 and Amusement Expo International 2023

By | February 6, 2023

SINGAPORE — Embed, the ultimate cashless solutions provider for the amusement, entertainment, and leisure industries, will showcase its latest breakthrough innovation – STATS, insights data visualization dashboard, at the upcoming DEAL Show 2023 in Dubai and Amusement Expo International 2023 in Las Vegas. 

Launched at the recent IAAPA Expo Orlando 2022, STATS was the demo-in-demand at the booth. Attendees witnessed the benefits of cloud-based solutions such as STATS and the virtues of other Software as a Service (SaaS) products Embed offers. “Research shows that staff who are assigned data analytics work spend 90% of the work week on nitty-gritty data-related tasks – and this does not include the analysis required to gain actual insights that drive business decisions. STATS was designed specifically to produce customizable, tailor-fit, real-time reports in a snackable, easy-to-access format according to specific business needs – minus the tech intimidation and data overload”, shares Renee Welsh.

Developed with and powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), STATS is a powerful data and report visualization tool designed to help family entertainment centers worldwide transform guest experiences, improve operational efficiency, and boost revenue using data. With STATS’ in-depth, dynamic visualized data reporting, operators of all business sizes can best manage their business, improve staffing levels and scheduling, reduce manpower waste, and forecast revenue based on data. Built with AWS’s global cloud infrastructure, this cloud-based solution offers accessibility, security, and low latency.

New Breakthrough Innovations
Joining STATS in the Tech of Transformation roster are: eShop, the online shopping portal where Embed customers can conveniently purchase hardware, parts, and accessories anytime, anywhere in just a few clicks; and Staff Merchandise, a series of customizable wristbands, key fobs, and lanyards to match an FEC’s theme – giving the manpower a makeover with a consistent look that stands out. 

Save the Date
Catch the Embed team and the Tech of Transformation at the DEAL Show, booth #3-C24 (March 14-16, 2023), and Amusement Expo International, booth A542 (March 29-30, 2023 and get free demos of these latest releases from the Embed Mavericks, along with the rest of the breakthrough innovations like the KIOSK+, the award-winning Mobile Wallet, the integrated cloud-based software solution TOOLKIT, the smartTOUCH arcade debit game card reader, and a full range of wearables and game cards from Embed’s famous Bling Showcase! 

Kennywood, Sandcastle, and Idlewild announce opening days and year-long lineup of special events

By | February 6, 2023

WEST MIFFLIN, Pa. — Kennywood, Pittsburgh’s Thrill and Entertainment Destination, will open for the 2023 season on Saturday, April 22 to continue its 125th Celebration. Sister parks Idlewild and SoakZone and Sandcastle Waterpark will open May 20th and May 27th respectively. All three parks have an exciting event lineup for the upcoming season, including new experiences and exclusive Passholder Perk Days.

  • Kennywood will takeoff with the all-new 125th Celebration Weekends event, starting opening day, April 22. Daily summer operation begins Memorial Day weekend, along with the launch of Spinvasion, the first ride of its kind in the United States. Summertime will also feature the return of night rides with select 10 p.m. closes and an expanded Bites and Pints Food & Drink Festival in June and July. Plus, all-new exclusive Passholder Perk Days each month all year long. Phantom Fall Fest and Holiday Lights cap off the upcoming season.
  • Idlewild and SoakZone will welcome guests and Passholders starting Saturday, May 20 with more family fun than ever before. SoakZone opens Memorial Day Weekend, then The Best Kids’ Park in the World debuts a revamped Kids Fest in June, Celebrate America during Fourth of July weekend, and Neighbor Days in July with expanded Daniel Tiger and his Neighborhood Friends meet-and-greets. The park will offer a series of Passholder Perk Days throughout the summer and the season will wrap up in the fall with the return of the popular HALLOWBOO!
  • Sandcastle splashes on the scene Saturday, May 27 for Memorial Day weekend – Better, Brighter and Fresher than EverJammin’ July returns with live entertainment poolside in July, plus the debut of new Passholder Perk Days all summer long. With stunning park enhancements, 16 water slides, 4 pools, a lazy river, and signature food offerings – Sandcastle is Pittsburgh’s Hometown Waterpark.

All three parks are now accepting applications to fill more than 2,000 positions available for the upcoming season. Job opportunities include Food & Beverage Attendants, Ride Operators, Lifeguards, Admission, and Security among others. Kennywood, Sandcastle, and Idlewild and SoakZone offer their employees competitive wages, growth opportunities, flexible schedules, and several great perks. Select positions at all parks start at $15 an hour.

All applicants must be 14 years of age or older. Applicants can apply online for Kennywood, Sandcastle, and Idlewild jobs right now. In-person job fairs are scheduled for March 11 and April 1. Interested candidates should visit each park’s website for additional details.

Arcade pro Jeff Tash joins Intercard

By | February 6, 2023

ST. LOUIS — Intercard, the world leader in cashless technology, has hired arcade industry expert Jeff Tash as a sales rep. Jeff is based in Intercard’s St. Louis headquarters and will represent Intercard to arcade owners and route operators west of the Mississippi River.

Jeff knows the arcade industry. He comes to Intercard with more than 15  years of experience in sales and business development for such leading companies as Elaut Group, Moss Distributing, Raw Thrills and TouchTunes Music.

“Jeff’s extensive experience in route operations makes him a strong addition to the Intercard team as we are steadily growing our customer base in this important category,” says Bill Allen, North America sales manager for Intercard.

A gamer from an early age, Jeff first played arcade games during family vacations to Florida’s Busch Gardens. His education in games began with behind-the-scenes visits to play the machines at Games Warehouse in St. Louis, which was owned by a friend’s father. Jeff loves Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter and his favorite game is still Midway’s Area 51 shooter, which he will play “until the cows come home.”

Wiegand.Waterrides continues Van Egdom product range

By | February 6, 2023

Wiegand.Waterrides is known for highly innovative novelties in the water slide segment. Interactive games on slides, individual and sustainable stainless-steel creations, combinations, the revolutionary SlideWheel and currently the spectacular SlideCoaster with rapid LSM acceleration technology.

A combined 90 years of experience in the waterslide industry
With over 40 years of experience, the Wiegand family business has now been given the opportunity to take over the proven products of the Dutch company Van Egdom. Van Egdom Recreatietechniek B.V. was founded in 1965 as a family business and initially offered filter systems for pools. When Berend Klaassens bought the company in 1977, the market had changed. Pool operators wanted more! The very first water slide was created for the then Sporthuis Centrum – now CenterParcs Het Meerdal – and was only 35m long. Since then, 7,500 projects have been implemented in 55 countries.

Owner of Wiegand.Waterrides, Hendrik Wiegand, says: “Both their classic and latest products combined with the European experience with consideration of all applicable EU standards convinced us. We have been very strong in the field of stainless-steel water slides for 40 years and started building GRP (glass fibre reinforced plastic) slides 15 years ago. We are excited to combine Van Egdom’s long experience with ours and now significantly strengthen our portfolio in this field. Existing Van Egdom customers can count on us when it comes to product care and replacements.”

There will be intensive one-on-one meetings with Van Egdom staff now shortly. In future, the slides will additionally be manufactured at Wiegand.Waterrides’ existing production facility.

The molds for spectacular and proven water slide concepts will be retained, including:

  • Europe’s unique giant 4-person funnel slide “Cyclone” with a diameter of 19m (57ft)
  • White water rivers with several special features
  • Cone water slide: with 2-person slide hoops through several funnels in the slide course
  • Children’s water play concepts with towers, various slides etc.
  • Bowl water slide for 1-person and 2-person tubes
  • Water wave slide with boats for amusement parks

For these new slides in the Wiegand.Waterrides product family, the exciting theming usual for Wiegand is now possible with elaborate GRP patterns (e.g. zebra stripes!), themed elements, sound, gaming, the latest LED effects, Wie-Spray water surprises and the innovative Wie-Glow black light technology!

Of course, the insulation options are also now available such as the sandwich insulation or the new Insuflex flexible insulation.

Promising future ahead for Family Kingdom under new ownership

By | February 6, 2023

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. — Family Kingdom Amusement Park, home to the classic Swamp Fox wooden roller coaster and more than 30 other rides, will be charging into the 2023 season under new ownership.

The seaside property has been purchased by industry veterans Les (Corky) and Debbie Powers and Bill Prescott.

New rides and many property updates are in store when the park opens on April 1.

See the complete story and photos in the March edition of Amusement Today.

Themed Entertainment Association selects RWS Entertainment Group to produce 2023 & 2024 Thea Awards Gala

By | February 3, 2023

NEW YORK, N.Y. — The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), the international non-profit association representing the world’s leading creators, developers, designers and producers of compelling places and experiences, has selected global Emmy Award-winning experience company RWS Entertainment Group to provide full creative and production services for its 2023 and 2024 Thea Awards Gala. The 2023 Thea Awards Gala will take place Saturday, April 15th at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California.

TEA’s Thea Awards have become internationally recognized as a symbol of excellence, bringing recognition to achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry. As Producer of the Thea Awards Gala and a TEA Premier Global Partner, RWS’ services will include scripting; stage design; media, graphic and video elements; entertainment; technical, production and stage management and oversight of AV, lighting, sound, construction, rigging and engineering.

New for 2023, the Thea Awards will serve as the culmination of TEA INSPIRE Week. Other events throughout the week will include the TEA INSPIRE Leadership Forum, which offers executive level networking and knowledge sharing, and the TEA INSPIRE conference, which features a deep dive into each of the TEA Award recipient projects.

“We are honored to be entrusted with such a high-profile, globally recognized event as TEA’s Thea Awards Gala,” said RWS Founder and CEO Ryan Stana. “For the next two years, not only will we have the opportunity to inspire gala attendees as part of TEA’s new INSPIRE Week, but we will also have the great privilege of producing an event that celebrates the immense talents of our clients, colleagues and friends.” 

“TEA is thrilled to be embarking on this multi-year partnership with RWS Entertainment Group,” said Lindsey Nelson, TEA Executive Director. “As both a long-time member and dedicated global partner of the TEA, RWS understands the TEA membership and what the Thea Awards Gala represents to the global themed entertainment industry. Because of that wealth of industry knowledge, they also recognize the untapped potential of the Theas and will utilize their expertise as a world-class event producer to help TEA elevate and grow this global brand.”

Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show ready to set sail for fifth season in Pigeon Forge

By | February 2, 2023

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — When visiting the Smokies in 2023, the first step in charting a course for adventure and fun begins at Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show. This swashbuckling show brings guests close to the exciting exploits of pirate legends and lore as its fifth season sets sail on Friday, February 10. The always daring and dramatic tale features pirates, mermaids, high seas escapades and romance, complemented with a captain’s feast to fuel the epic voyage.

From the show’s Buccaneer Bay, a colorful and fearless crew of characters combine acrobatics, pyrotechnics, animals, music and all things pirate for a treasure chest of memories. The uniquely-exciting Pirates Voyage showcases the thrill of sword fights, cannons blasting and pirates scaling high above two full-sized pirate ships in a “fight” to win Davy Jones’ coveted sunken treasure. Beautiful mermaids gracefully perform high above the water in Buccaneer Bay, while a couple of castaways that include a “Salty” sea lion win a battle with Captain Blackbeard through clever antics and pirate wit. An adventurous crew of characters then combines heroics and high-flying fun that will have guests cheering and experiencing thrills around every corner in an epic battle for lost treasure on land, on deck, and in the water of the show’s 15-foot-deep indoor lagoon.

“The entertaining elements of our Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show really put our guests into the action, as Captain Blackbeard and the entire crew navigate an adventurous journey that our visitors will certainly remember long after they leave,” said Jeff Thomas, General Manager of Pirates Voyage. “Families tell us how much they love experiencing all of these unique elements that are part of our show – the pirate ‘battles’ and acrobatics, amazing mermaids, cannons and pyrotechnics, the antics of our sea lions and dog, and a feast fit for a captain!”

As visitors enter the hideaway lagoon for this Dinner and Show spectacular, guests are served a hearty four-course feast straight from Captain Blackbeard’s galley that makes Pirates Voyage the most unique place to eat in the Smokies. The meal begins with voyager creamy vegetable soup and buccaneer bread. The feast fit for a pirate – or mermaid – continues with the crew’s secret recipe cracklin’ pan-fried chicken, swashbucklin’ sugar-cured ham, buttery corn on the cob and an herb-basted potato. Walk the plank specialty dessert and unlimited Coca-Cola® products, tea or coffee complete the meal. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals are available by request.

Show times and reservations are available by calling (865) 505-2469 or visiting www.piratesvoyage.com.

Universal Orlando Resort launches epic ticket offer

By | February 2, 2023

ORLANDO, Fla. — Universal Orlando Resort invites U.S. and Canada residents to take advantage of its “Get 2 Days Free with a 3-Day, 2-Park Ticket” offer. Starting as low as $234.99 per adult, plus tax, this epic offer allows guests to enjoy five days of access to some of the world’s most thrilling theme park experiences across Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure for the price of a 3-Day ticket. And for just $35 more, guests can upgrade their ticket to include access to Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park, a tropical oasis that offers the perfect balance of thrills and relaxation.

With more than 60 exhilarating rides and attractions across the award-winning theme parks, plus the upcoming summer debut of the all-new Minion Land and Illumination’s Villain-Con Minion Blast – an interactive blaster game experience where guests put their villainous skills to the test – this is the perfect offer for guests to explore all that Universal Orlando Resort has to offer. Guests can also use this incredible offer to enjoy seasonal festivities across the destination that are included with theme park admission, including Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval – which runs daily February 4 through April 16, 2023 at Universal Studios Florida and features mouthwatering cuisine inspired by global Carnaval celebrations from New Orleans to Brazil to Belgium and beyond, a spectacular parade filled with vibrant floats where partygoers can catch beads by the handful, and live concerts by top names in music on select nights.

Exclusive U.S. and Canada Resident Offer

Buy a 3-Day, 2-Park Ticket for as low as $234.99 + tax per adult and Get 2 DAYS FREEIncludes the following benefits:Five days of access to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure with purchase of a 3-Day Base or Park-to-Park ticketFor $35 more, add access to Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme parkThis offer is valid for any five (5) calendar days during an eight (8) consecutive calendar day period which commences on and includes the date selected.

Get ready to party beyond The Bayou and let the good times roll!

By | February 2, 2023

ORLANDO, Fla. — Universal Orlando Resort guests can let the good times roll and party beyond the bayou starting this Saturday, February 4 during Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval. The fan-favorite event returns to Universal Studios Florida with a dazzling parade, mouthwatering cuisine inspired by global Carnaval celebrations and star-studded live concerts on select nights.

Running daily through April 16, this year’s festivities invite guests to:

  • Enjoy eight live performances by top names in music like Sean Paul, Maren Morris and Goo Goo Dolls at the Music Plaza Stage on select nights (see below for full concert lineup)
  • Catch beads by the handful during this year’s dazzling “Mythical Realms of Mardi Gras” parade – featuring six new floats inspired by fantastical creatures like dragons, phoenixes, unicorns and more that will join Universal’s traditional lineup of New Orleans-inspired floats – such as the iconic, two-story Riverboat and nearly 50-foot-long King Gator. Plus, guests can take the celebration to the next level and be part of the festivities by tossing beads to fellow partygoers by purchasing the new Mardi Gras Float Ride and Dine Experience, which includes a 3-course meal at one of four participating restaurants and one Mardi Gras parade float rider reservation.
  • Taste the mouthwatering flavors of global Carnaval celebrations from New Orleans to Brazil to Belgium and beyond with an expansive menu featuring more than 50 tasting-sized items. Plus, guests can enjoy more for less with the purchase of the Universal Orlando Resort Food and Beverage Card by paying $65 for a $75 card, and Universal Orlando Passholders have exclusive access to a $150 card for only $120.
  • Stock up on the latest Mardi Gras merchandise at this year’s Mardi Gras Tribute Store, located in an all-new space in the Hollywood area of the park. The highly immersive retail location is themed to represent an international jazz celebration that leads to the traditional alleyways of New Orleans and ultimately into a speakeasy where the Mardi Gras festivities continue.
  • Keep the party going at Universal CityWalk with special Mardi Gras menu items at select restaurants, including a new Masquerade Milkshake at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, along with food kiosks located throughout the complex featuring delicious menu items that offer a taste of the Mediterranean, the Islands and popular Mardi Gras fare. Plus, guests can attend a Mardi Gras After Party at Pat O’Brien’s on select nights and enjoy special entertainment and theming at the Red Coconut Club – which will transform to the Cursed Coconut Club for the Mardi Gras season.
  • And more!

Access to Universal’s Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval is included with admission to Universal Studios Florida or with an Annual or Seasonal Pass (blockout dates apply). Florida Residents can take advantage of a new offer to partake in the festivities that gives them two days of free admission to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure with the purchase of a 2-Park, 2-Day ticket (valid for use through June 29, 2023; blockout dates apply) – and for just $25 more, they can add one day of admission to Universal’s Volcano Bay.

Sharon Parker joins Gateway Ticketing Systems, Inc. as senior manager of marketing

By | February 1, 2023

GILBERTSVILLE, Pa. — Gateway Ticketing Systems, Inc., the world leader in ticketing, admission control and revenue-generating solutions within the attractions industry for more than 30 years, is happy to welcome Sharon Parker as its Senior Manager of Marketing. Her expertise in the attractions industry will be a great addition to the Company as it continues to grow its branding and marketing footprint.

Before joining Gateway, Sharon spent 15-years at Six Flags Over Texas and Hurricane Harbor serving in various roles, more recently General Manager. She also served as the Director of Marketing and Entertainment, as well as Manager of Communications. While there, Sharon managed the development and execution of all aspects of marketing the Six Flags brand for the original theme park location, developed short and long-term marketing plans and oversaw all aspects of external communications. As General Manager, she was responsible for leadership and execution of strategic park operations.

Prior to Six Flags, Sharon was External Communications Coordinator of The Fort Worth Independent School District, where she was the primary spokesperson. In addition, Sharon brings 10 years of on-air news anchor, general assignment reporting and editing experience from her tenure at KWTX-TV. Those familiar with Gateway may recall the Company’s International Women’s Day discussion last year where Sharon gave impressive insight and contribution.

Gateway’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Peter Wolf, shares his excitement about the newest member, “Sharon’s impressive marketing experience in the attractions industry will most definitely be a boon to Gateway’s continued success. Even more so, her compassion and positivity will add much to Gateway, both internally and with customer satisfaction and dedication.”

Of her new role, Sharon says, “It is an honor to join a premier brand such as Gateway Ticketing Systems. It has been the leader in technology development for customers throughout the world. I am thrilled to be able to join my passion for marketing and communications with this beloved brand.”