Intamin co-founder Robert Spieldiener dies at 92, leaves legacy

By | September 6, 2020

WOLLERAU, Switzerland — Robert Spieldiener, one of three men who co-founded Intamin Amusement Rides in 1967, passed away Aug. 8. He was 92.


A statement signed by the company’s governing board, management and employees said: “[Spieldiener’s] large commitment and knowledge was the cornerstone of the company. His entrepreneurial dedication and passion for the leisure industry will remain an example for us. We will remember him honorably, and our condolences go out to the family.”

Spieldiener was the last surviving Intamin co-founder. His brother, Reinhold, passed in 2007, and their associate Alfons “Ali” Saiko died earlier this year. Reinhold’s son, Patrick, currently serves as the company’s CEO.

The founding trio and their growing, evolving company built a legacy of rides — from simple family rides such as Bounty swinging ships, boat tows, Flying Dutchman swing rides and Drunken Barrels to the world’s tallest roller coasters and countless rapids rides.

As the theme park business boomed in the U.S. and around the world in the late 1960s and 1970s, Intamin helped the industry innovate new ideas and attractions. Parachute and freefall rides gave parks high-profile thrills, while a complement of flumes, rapids rides and shoot-the-chutes provided popular splashing fun that became synonymous with a day in the park.

Harold Hudson, former executive vice president of engineering and development with Six Flags, told Amusement Today that the Spieldiener brothers paved the way for today’s cutting-edge attractions.

“It was my honor to work with Robert and Reinhold to develop some of the most innovative rides built in the 1980s and ’90s,” Hudson said. “Robert was a smart businessman, but he was even smarter technically. In all the years I worked with Intamin, whenever there was a design challenge, Robert was usually the one who came up with the solution. He was truly gifted, and we are lucky he chose this industry in which to work.”

Six Flags was an early partner with Intamin, buying the company’s first rides for Six Flags Over Texas. As the theme park chain grew, it returned to Intamin for flat rides, coasters and more.

“His contributions to the amusement park industry were many. He was a very gentle man. I remember him being a very honest and forthright person. If I called him with a question about something, I would always receive a prompt, intelligent and polite reply. It may not have been what I always wanted to hear, but I knew he was always being honest with me,” said Errol McKoy, former Six Flags GM and the president of the State Fair of Texas. “I remember [former Six Flags engineer] Fred Bigler telling me one time that he thought Robert was one of the smartest individuals he had ever known, and coming from Fred, that was quite a compliment. 

“May God bless Robert Spieldiener for being part of one of the most incredible companies both then and now, who have helped bring so much happiness to families from all over the world with their Incredible rides,” McKoy added.

With Intamin, the Spieldieners “built one of the world’s most successful amusement ride companies by partnering with people like Anton Schwarzkopf, Werner Stengel, Giovanola and Waagner Biro in their company’s infancy,” Hudson said. “Through their leadership, Intamin created beyond-cutting-edge rides and broke records every year.

“Robert was able to visualize technical challenges and fostered many innovations. His leadership and innovative philosophy influences Intamin today.”

—Tim Baldwin