May 2024

By | April 24, 2024

The MAY 2024 issue includes:

  • Silver Dollar City preserves original soul on new Fire In The Hole
  • Morgan’s Wonderland debuts the park’s biggest expansion to date
  • Sally Dark Rides brings SpongeBob to Las Vegas at Circus Circus
  • Vekoma supplying Oz-themed rides to Warner Bros. Movie World
  • Six Flags Over Texas celebrates milestone ride aboard Shock Wave
  • Adventureland opens with new rides, phase one of renovations
  • Legoland Florida guests build, race Lego Ferraris in new experience
  • Sunkid provides new Shipwreck Cove tower ride to Belmont Park
  • Amusement Expo expands showfloor, welcomes record numbers
  • EVA entertains wide array with first-branded North American arena
  • 2024 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo draws record crowds
  • Despite inclement weather, Miami-Dade County Fair performs well
  • Strong work ethic keeps Burback’s midway lights shining bright
  • Mega Mayhem ProSlide water coaster opens at Rapids Waterpark
  • After 70 years, Kay Park Recreation looks back and towards future
  • IAAPA Foundation refines focus on scholarships and furthering industry workforce development
  • Golden Ticket Awards host hotel reservations, award nominations open
  • Women of Influence: Dollywood’s Dolly Parton
  • SkyRide renaissance: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s attraction reopens
  • Texas’ Swannee River Railroad Company rolling out the trains
  • Party Center Software provides solutions for FECs and their guests
  • Pennsylvania amusement ride safety advisory board holds meeting
  • Sharing knowledge was the foundation of AIMS from its beginnings
  • Hersheypark opening day debuts new Comet trains from PTC
  • Wonderland’s 2024 season underway, officials confront challenges
  • Amusement Today‘s 2024 What’s New Guide … and much more!

TrainerTainment teams up with Adventure Kids PlayCare for leadership training

By | May 24, 2024

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas — TrainerTainment announced its partnership with Adventure Kids PlayCare to offer comprehensive leadership training for the FEC’s team and franchises. Adventure Kids PlayCare, is known for providing a safe, nurturing environment for children.

Founded by Dana Oliver, a single mother who experienced firsthand the challenges of finding childcare outside of traditional hours, Adventure Kids PlayCare is dedicated to offering a solution for parents facing similar struggles. Oliver’s vision and commitment to excellence have established Adventure Kids PlayCare as a trusted childcare provider known for offering a flexible and reliable solution for busy parents that is also fun and exciting for kids.

Recognizing the importance of leadership in childcare, Adventure Kids PlayCare has teamed up with TrainerTainment to offer training focused on essential leadership topics such as accountability, delegation, mastering difficult conversations to help all levels of management lead their teams in a more effective way that also benefits their customers.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with TrainerTainment to enhance our leadership capabilities at Adventure Kids PlayCare,” said Oliver. “Effective leadership is crucial in providing the highest quality childcare services, and we are committed to investing in the development of our team to better serve our families and community.” 

TrainerTainment’s Leadership Training program is designed to equip Adventure Kids PlayCare’s team with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in leadership roles. Through interactive trainings, discussions and practical exercises, participants gain valuable insights and strategies to enhance their leadership abilities, foster team collaboration and drive organizational success.

“At TrainerTainment, we understand the importance of strong leadership in driving organizational success. We are honored to work with Adventure Kids PlayCare to empower their team with the leadership skills and tools needed to make a positive impact in the lives of children and families,” add Beth Standlee, founder & CEO of TrainerTainment.

Adventure Kids PlayCare’s leadership training initiative with TrainerTainment reflects their ongoing commitment to excellence and dedication to providing the best possible childcare experience for families at their centers across the nation.

Cyan Park is redefining recreation with Saudi Arabia’s first gender-inclusive wave pool

By | May 23, 2024

COHOES, N.Y. — Aquatic Development Group (ADG) is proud to have partnered with Cyan Waterpark and ProSlide Technology to deliver three WaveTek wave systems to their outdoor water park in Jeddah, marking a significant milestone in Saudi Arabia’s leisure and entertainment landscape. Cyan Waterpark proudly stands as the first waterpark in the Kingdom to offer an inclusive in-water experience, welcoming men, women, and children together in a wave pool. With prime real estate in downtown Jeddah, Cyan Waterpark has quickly secured its status as a premier destination for entertainment and tourism for all!

ADG’s contribution to this project includes the supplying of their cutting-edge WaveTek wave generation Technology for the adult wave pool, kids wave pool, and figure 8 shaped action river for Cyan Waterpark.
Toheeb Abiodun Ajiboye, Head of Lifeguards at Cyan Waterpark revealed some insight on the journey towards inclusivity and the impact it has had on their park. Cyan Waterpark knew it was the right time to tap into the opportunity to allow people to come together no matter the gender, as people are beginning to view waterpark visits in a different way. This progressive shift not only reflects a strategic business decision but also underscores the park’s commitment to embracing societal changes. Supported by both government and local community, this change has assisted in promoting tourism. Although there has been a mix of opinions from visitors, the majority have been very positive.

The visitors have shown a wave of enthusiasm for the wave pool itself, waiting in excitement for the waves to come, speaking about the success of this change. Cyan Waterpark operators have stated that the guests have been transparent about their love for this wave pool, as it gives them a space to both play and rest all together, and it seems this change has aided in making the guest experience even more fun for Cyan Waterpark goers.

Cyan Waterpark feels they achieved a big goal with this initiative as their values are to give back to their community and provide all guests, including individuals, couples, and families, the chance to enjoy leisure time and relaxation in a fun-filled environment.

Toheeb states, “At the end of the day, the goal is to ensure that the residents, locals, and tourists that are visiting are happy and that everyone is on the same page.” With inclusivity at its forefront, Cyan Waterpark continues to set the standard for immersive and inclusive leisure experiences in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

Superplastic announces strategic partnership with AREA15 that will bring its character universe to life through an immersive experience in Fall 2024

By | May 23, 2024

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Superplastic, the IP factory renowned across animated entertainment, music, fashion and collectible art toys, announces a strategic partnership with AREA15, an immersive entertainment company, that will introduce its animated characters IRL for the first time. As part of the partnership, Superplastic will open an experiential space within the AREA15 entertainment district later this year, creating an all new type of experience, blending its signature brand of mischief and tomfoolery with art, hype culture and fashion.

Located minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, AREA15 is a vibrant playground that entertains more than 3 million visitors annually. The new Superplastic experience will join AREA15’s curated collection of interactive attractions, walk-thru art exhibits, tech-driven experiences, events and entertainment, unique food and beverage offerings, and globally recognized immersive experiences such as Meow Wolf’s Omega Mart, Illuminarium, Five Iron Golf, Dueling Axes and much more. 

“We’re thrilled to expand the Superplastic brand and characters to immersive entertainment,” says Superplastic CEO Jennifer van Dijk, “There is no better partner for us in this space than AREA15—we have a deep interest in growing intellectual property and entertainment that blends the digital and physical worlds. This is something we can powerfully scale over time.”  “We welcome the addition of Superplastic to our growing collection of top-tier, globally recognized brands who have selected AREA15 as the location for their first-ever experiential, brick-and-mortar attractions,” added Winston Fisher, CEO, AREA15. “Soon, our millions of visitors will have the thrill of interacting with Superplastic’s digital character universe in real life and in completely new and engaging ways.”

Illuminarium, a complete multi-sensory experience, debuting at Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier this summer

By | May 23, 2024

CHICAGO — Think VR without the glasses. Illuminarium, a breakthrough global experiential entertainment company created by worldwide leaders in cinematic immersion, theatrical design, and venue operations, is officially headed to Chicago’s iconic Navy Pier this summer. Set to open its doors on Friday, June 28, the immersive venue will debut with two breathtaking experiences: WILD: A Safari Experience and SPACE: A Journey to the Moon and Beyond. Known as “the place that can take you anyplace,” the awe-inspiring 32,000 square-foot entertainment venue will be located within the former Crystal Gardens venue, marking the company’s fifth Illuminarium location following Las Vegas, Atlanta, Toronto, and Macau, China.

“We are elated the time is officially here for us to introduce Chicago to what we hope will be an unforgettable adventure,” said Alan Greenberg, CEO of Illuminarium Experiences. “Illuminarium is a totally transportive experience with some of the most amazing, inspiring spectacles from around the world and beyond, and we hope audiences of all ages will come to Navy Pier to check us out and leave feeling inspired and wanting more.”

Using cutting-edge, innovative technologies, Illuminarium’s visually-stunning venue will transport locals and visitors of all ages to places they previously could only dream of experiencing. By enabling audiences to see, hear, and even personally affect an experience, Illuminarium will place patrons “inside” the narrative using techniques from traditional motion picture production and virtual reality, and pair it with interactive features that mimic that of the real world, all without wearable hardware.

WILD: A Safari Experience will provide attendees with an idyllic journey through the vast beauty and splendor of Africa, fully immersing visitors in the authentic sounds and scenes of an extraordinary safari experience ,allowing them to come face-to-face with some of the world’s most majestic animals in their natural habitats.

SPACE: A Journey to the Moon and Beyond will take patrons out of this world and onto a mind-blowing journey through space and time. Audiences will have the opportunity to experience firsthand what it is like to walk on the surface of the Moon, step inside a nebula, or see the remarkable James Webb Space Telescope unfurl in space, all while being completely enveloped in the beauty of our galaxies and Solar System.

The above spectacles are not seated showings, but instead, patrons are given the opportunity to walk through the space at their leisure. Designed to entertain ages 3 to 103, visitors will have the opportunity to choose their own adventure, as both experiences will be played each day. Illuminarium Experiences typically take about 45 to 60 minutes. Tickets to Illuminarium begin at $34.99 for adults and $24.99 for children, plus taxes and fees. Buy before June 1st and save $5 on select tickets with our exclusive Early Bird pricing offer!

For more information on Illuminarium @ Navy Pier or to plan ahead and purchase tickets today, please visit illuminarium.com/chicago. Once open, Illuminarium will also play host to show-stopping private events including birthdays, weddings and corporate functions, adding a stunning visual setting for special occasions of all types.

Universal Orlando Resort to debut all-new summer tribute store celebrating iconic films

By | May 23, 2024

ORLANDO — Starting May 24, Universal Orlando Resort guests can rediscover some of their favorite memories from Ghostbusters, Back to the Future, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, Jaws and Shrek as they shop at the new Summer Tribute Store. Inspired by some of the iconic movies featured in the upcoming collection of new experiences opening at Universal Orlando this summer, this new limited-time store will invite guests to explore a 1980s-themed retail space that celebrates these beloved classics with special props, photo ops, merchandise and so much more.

Located in the Hollywood area of Universal Studios Florida, this year’s Summer Tribute Store will transport guests to “The Tribute Store Plaza” – a 1980’s shopping mall featuring three highly immersive “mega” rooms – the nostalgic Mega Video Rental video store, a retro Mega Castle Arcade and the majestic Tribute Theatre. As guests explore the shop, they’ll discover various photo opportunities and countless Easter eggs inspired by familiar characters and moments from each of the films.

The new Tribute Store will feature a variety of new collections full of apparel, accessories, home goods and more themed to the films, including a colorful new Shrek assortment, an E.T.outdoors-inspired line, Ghostbusters out-of-this-world goods, Jawsnautical merchandise and so much more. Later this summer, the store will also carry the all-new interactive bubble wands inspired by DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls, Illumination’s Minions and Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s Jurassic World that include fun features that allows them to interact with each other as well as with specific floats in the Universal Mega Movie Parade when it debuts on July 3.

CaliBunga Waterpark is set to make colossal waves in San Jose this summer

By | May 23, 2024

SAN JOSE, Calif. — California’s newest waterpark, CaliBunga Waterpark, announces it will open this June on a 23-acre campus in the heart of San Jose. The first theme park introduction by the newly formed California Dreamin’ team, CaliBunga is set to make a splash this summer by showing NorCal guests of all ages that they are the experts in summer fun.

Located overlooking Lake Cunningham and the San Jose Foothills families will experience a renovated waterpark with more than 15 splash-tastic slides and attractions. Coming later this summer is an all new, year-round wine garden featuring live music, dining, drinks, and panoramic views of the lake. From thrilling rides, to refreshing pools, and splashin’ family play areas, the team at California Dreamin’ has invested millions of dollars in capital improvements to ensure guests of all ages will create memories of a lifetime all summer long.

“As a 40-year theme park veteran, I love creating iconic parks that help families build lasting memories,” said Steven Dooner, CEO, CaliBunga. “After acquiring the waterpark lease in March 2024, we have worked tirelessly to introduce San Jose residents to CaliBunga and showcase the improvements we’ve made to enhance the guest experience so that every person that visits the park has a full day of fun. We will continue reimagining this great Bay Area waterpark with plans to add even more new and exciting attractions.”

NorCal residents are welcome to enjoy a diverse selection of water rides at the area’s largest waterpark – whether you’re seeking thrilling water slides, kiddie rides, wave pools, or a ride down the lazy river. From Dragon’s Den, where guests can plummet into the mist-shrouded abyss of the dragon, to free falling one of two slides on Shotgun Falls, to Slide Creek Falls where guests can leisurely float down a moving stream – CaliBunga is sure to be this summer’s hotspot.

Also launching later this summer is Cal Soleil, a wine garden that will host special events, wine tastings, and live entertainment. Cal Soleil will feature a vast selection of local wines, craft beers and food trucks this season overlooking the picturesque Lake Cunningham.

CaliBunga is the first theme park introduction by the newly formed California Dreamin’ team, headquartered in Sacramento, California. California Dreamin’ is composed of experts in family entertainment with experience developing and operating entertainment centers, theme parks and waterparks in the U.S. and Asia, for brands including Disney, Knott’s Berry Farm, Raging Waters, Chuck E. Cheese, Malibu Grand Prix, Universal Studios and more.

America’s tallest waterslide to open this weekend in Wisconsin Dells

By | May 23, 2024

WISCONSIN DELLS, Wisc. — Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park is now welcoming visitors to brave its newest attraction—America’s tallest waterslide, “The Fall” on The Rise of Icarus, which opens this weekend. Towering 145 feet above the ground, The Rise of Icarus contains five body slides, one from its top platform, as well as four others from its 60-foot-tall middle platform.

The attraction is just one of several improvements in the park’s new outdoor waterpark expansion. Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park is also adding an outdoor children’s water play area, Icaria Splash ‘n Slide. Designed for small children to pre-teens, the new section will open July 4 and feature a 12,000-square-foot kiddie area with 10 slides, water play features and wading pool. Additionally, the park is adding eight air-conditioned cabanas, enhanced deck space with umbrella tables and lounge chairs, a bar, concession area and a retail and locker building.

“The Rise of Icarus will be the ultimate experience for thrill seekers in Wisconsin Dells,” said Owner Nick Laskaris.

Admission to The Rise of Icarus and other water and theme park features are free to Mt. Olympus guests for the entire length of their stay, as well as the day of check-out.

International Ride Training welcomes Lisa Howard Sitler as an associate consultant

By | May 23, 2024

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — International Ride Training (IRT), a leader in safety training and operational consulting for the amusement industry, is pleased to announce the addition of Lisa Howard Sitler as an Associate Consultant. Lisa brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the IRT team, further strengthening the company’s commitment to providing top-notch training and consulting services to amusement parks and attractions worldwide.

Howard Sitler joins IRT with over 20 years of experience in the amusement industry, most recently working for Hershey Entertainment and Resorts as both the Manager of Corporate Learning and Development and Manager of Attractions Training and Performance. She also has several industry certifications, including AIMS – Certified Operations Technician Level II, NAARSO Operations Level II Certification, NAARSO Ride Inspector Level I Certification, and Certified Pool Operator (CPO). Her deep knowledge and dedication to safety align perfectly with IRT’s mission.

“Erik, Cindee and I couldn’t be more thrilled with Lisa joining our company. Her vast experience in Operations and Training Development greatly compliments our company mission, while being a genuine powerhouse addition to our team,” said Patty Bealzey, Owner and Managing Member of International Ride Training.

As an Associate Consultant, Howard Sitler will play a crucial role in delivering IRT’s renowned training programs and consulting services. She will be instrumental in working with clients, making sure they receive the support and guidance in implementing safety and operational standards.

“I could not be more thrilled to join this amazing team of industry professionals! I am honored to have this opportunity to share my experience and passion and give back to an industry that has brought me so much joy,” said Howard Sitler.

Her addition to the team underscores IRT’s growth and ongoing commitment to expanding its capabilities and providing unparalleled service to its clients.

Universal Orlando Resort invites guests to seize the summer with a new ticket deal

By | May 23, 2024

ORLANDO — U.S. and Canada residents can now take advantage of a new ticket deal to seize the summer and plan an exciting getaway to Universal Orlando Resort filled with some of the most jaw-dropping theme park experiences ever created. On sale today, the “Get 2 Days Free with a 2-Park, 3-Day Ticket” offer gives guests access to five days of theme park fun across Universal Studios Florida and Universal Islands of Adventure for the price of a 3-Day ticket, starting as low as $255.99*, per adult, plus tax. Guests can also upgrade their ticket to include access to Universal Volcano Bay water theme park, where they can cool off in a tropical oasis that offers the perfect balance of thrills and relaxation.

With more than 60 exhilarating experiences across its theme parks, five days of admission to Universal Orlando Resort allows guests plenty of time to explore and enjoy all the destination has in store – whether that’s causing mischief with the Minions in Illumination’s Minion Land, racing alongside a ferocious Velociraptor pack on Jurassic World VelociCoaster or flying through the Forbidden Forest on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade.

Plus, beginning  June 14, guests can experience a lineup of exciting new adventures including DreamWorks Land – the vibrant new themed environment inspired by beloved characters from DreamWorks Animation’s Shrek, Trolls and Kung Fu Panda; CineSational: A Symphonic Spectacular – a riveting new nighttime lagoon show celebrating the iconic films that have inspired Universal Orlando’s past, present and future attractions ; and Hogwarts Always – an all-new castle projection show in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade that takes guests on a journey through iconic moments of a school year at Hogwarts. And on July 3, guests will enjoy the debut of Universal’s largest daytime parade to date, Universal Mega Movie Parade, where some of the most beloved stories from Universal’s films will leap off the screen and land on the streets of Universal Studios Florida.

Special offers are also available for Universal Orlando’s hotels, which offer something for every style and budget, and with exclusive theme park benefits, families get more access to the thrills while making their vacations more relaxing and convenient. Right now, guests can book a stay for four or more nights and save 20% at all eight hotels.

Slides and tides open this weekend at White Water

By | May 22, 2024

BRANSON, Mo. — A tropical paradise awaits at Silver Dollar City’s White Water as the largest water park in the Ozarks opens on Saturday, May 25 for the 2024 season. With over 13 acres of thrilling slides and relaxing pools, White Water celebrates 44 seasons of creating memories worth repeating under the sun — or shaded cabana — with summer-long adventures bringing families closer together. Plus, dive-in movies return with a bigger, brighter and bolder LED screen.

Towering slides at White Water include the seven-and-a-half-story Kalani Towers, the tallest pair of waterslides in the region, with speeds of over 40 mph. Next door, KaPau Plummet (that’s kuh-pow!) aims to leave riders breathless with a freefall experience courtesy of the slide’s 70-degree, trapdoor start — it’s 1, 2, 3… Ka-Pau! Nestled at the top of the park, Ohana Falls’ rafts careen down a massive halfpipe, accommodating an entire family of 4.

Relaxation is key in this tropical paradise where the Aloha River drifts tubers and swimmers alike more than 800 feet along a tranquil float, meandering past exotic fauna, lush greenery and plenty of shade. And, there might be a few fountains along the way for the unsuspecting lounger! Peacefulness and playfulness fuse at both Coconut Cove and Splashaway Cay, where plenty of slides, water blasters, bubbling fountains and tipping buckets entertain the littlest ones in the family.

While swimming and splashing works up an appetite, guests of White Water won’t go hungry. From tacos and pizza to fresh hand-cut fries and hand-breaded chicken tenders, there’s something for everyone in the family, along with iced coffees, frappes, smoothies, shakes and all-new freshly made mini donuts.

For a more private retreat, White Water’s reserved seating options and Blue Lizard Cabanas provide plenty of opportunities to unwind. From lounge seating at the most popular spaces in the park to private premium cabanas with meal service, satellite television and private lockers. Rentals are offered daily, and guests are urged to make reservations well before their visit.

Hours extended into the moonlight for Night Water on select Fridays and Saturdays in July (July 12-27), and select Saturdays in August (Aug. 13-17), with popular, family-friendly movies playing on the Surf’s Up Wave Pool’s big screen each evening, plus slides into the night.