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October 17 2014
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This Week's News

Industry leaders celebrate IAAPA success

The annual IAAPA Attractions Expo took place in Orlando, Florida, last week, with amusement and leisure industry leaders from around the world coming out on top at this year's Brass Ring Awards.

Although event organiser the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) has yet to release final attendance figures, around 27,000 people from 100 countries are thought to have attended the Attractions Expo in 2014.

The expo, which will be held at the Orange County Convention Centre every year until 2025, once again offered participants a plethora of products and services - indeed everything an attraction venue might need for successful operations.

While the trade show itself was the focus of attention, a host of other activities were also held alongside the exhibition.

"A comprehensive education programme allowed attendees to learn from the experts and covered key subjects of park and attraction operation, while numerous networking and social events have all contributed to another highly successful IAAPA Expo," said InterPark editor, Andrew Mellor.

Highlights of the event included a keynote address from Ripley Entertainment president Jim Pattison, at the GM and Owners' breakfast; the new IAAPA Connects event at New Fantasyland at Disney's Magic Kingdom; and IAAPA Celebrates at Universal Orlando, where visitors got the chance to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley during an exclusive visit for expo attendees.

As ever, IAAPA singled out the industry's leading lights at its annual Brass Ring Awards, which took place in conjunction with the Attractions Expo.

The awards were presented to amusement parks, waterparks, zoos, aquariums, museums, family entertainment centres (FECs) and suppliers from around the world to honour excellence in food and beverage, games and retail, human resources, live entertainment, marketing, new products and operations.  

Boondocks Food and Fun in Kaysville, Utah, scooped the Top US FEC award, with TimeZone in Queensland, Australia, taking the top spot in the international category.

In the Games and Retail Excellence category, the 'Old Hong Kong Coca-Cola Ring Toss' at Ocean Park in Hong Kong was named as best game experience, while Tokyo Disneyland's 'Once Upon a Time' light show taking the Brass Ring for Best Multimedia Spectacular.

This year, Triotech was chosen as the 2014 award recipient for the Best New Product in the Major Theme/Attraction Park category for its Interactive Dark Ride. The specific ride is Wonder Mountain's Guardian that was installed at Canada's Wonderland in May 2014.

"This is second year in a row that we have won a Brass Ring Award and we are extremely honoured," said Ernest Yale, president and CEO of the Canada-based company. "We continue to push the envelope and create thrills for guests and it is especially nice to be acknowledged in such a way."

ProSlide Technology took the Best Waterpark Ride award for BehemothBowl 40 + TornadoWave, which combines bowl and funnel elements in rapid succession to make an unforgettable ride.

Click here to view the full list of 2014 Brass Ring Award winners.

InterPark will be publishing a full report and pictures of this year's IAAPA Attractions Expo in our January/February issue.

Aquatopia to open next year

In March 2015, Camelback Resort in Tannersville, Pennsylvania, will unveil the new Camelback Lodge and Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at the base of Camelback Mountain.

The $163m, 453-suite lodge will be coupled with the largest indoor family entertainment centre and indoor waterpark in the northeastern US.

The resort will occupy 170,000sq.ft, including a 53,000sq.ft transparent roof, 13 slides and the world premier of the Venus SlydeTrap signature family waterslide and Storm Chaser indoor water coaster.

Complementing the existing seasonal outdoor waterpark, skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing, ziplining, treetops obstacle course, alpine mountain coaster and more.

Aquatopia will offer more year-round excitement in one location than any other mountain resort in the country.

Smurf theme park plans collapse

The principal investor in a $5.3m Smurfs Village theme park in Bahrain has pulled out of the project following a two-year delay.

Mushroom Villaggio, named after the mushroom-style houses in the popular children's cartoon The Smurfs, could now be built in another Gulf state.

Bahrain's Central Municipal Council, which approved the project in September 2012, has yet to be given an explanation for the "unexpected" move, despite sending requests to the Central Municipality and the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry.

"We are sad that the investor has decided to pull out despite it being an ambitious project that we were eager, keen and enthusiastic to have," council chairman Abdulrazzak Al Hattab said.

Efteling partners with Dutch DJ

Together with the world-famous DJ Tiësto, Efteling theme park in the Netherlands has created a new co-production of Aquanura, the third-largest fountain show in the world.

The new Aquanura show is a spectacle that lasts 12 minutes to a dance mix of well-known Tiësto and Efteling classics.

The Tiësto-Aquanura show will take place during special events including New Year's Eve, the spring holidays and the 'Saturdays of the Efteling Summer' festival.

The premiere of this new show will takes place during a private event on December 16.

Efteling's chairman and CEO, Fons Jurgens, said: "The partnership with one of the world's most popular international DJs has been top of our wish list for quite some time.

"Tiësto was born and raised in Brabant and has been a fan of the impressive Aquanura fountain show right from the start. In view of that, the logical step of forming a partnership with him soon became a done deal."

Texas city mulls waterpark proposals

The city of El Paso in Texas has two proposals in hand for a multi-million dollar project that includes a waterpark, adventure park and athletic complex.

One proposal came from Dallas-based Harvest Family Entertainment, which has built and operates seven Hawaiian Falls waterparks in Texas.

David Alvey, the spokesman for Harvest Family Entertainment and its Hawaiian Falls parks, said those cities have benefitted from the operations.

"If we build in El Paso, we will be successful in El Paso," Alvey told local press. "Otherwise, we wouldn't be bidding."

The second proposal came from Fieldhouse USA, which built and operates a huge indoor sports facility in Frisco, near Dallas.

"We see a lot of good growth opportunities in northeast El Paso and thought it was just a really a good fit," Westin said.

"From a strategy point of view, we're trying to continue to focus on our quality of place by adding amenities that make El Paso a great place to live and work."

Zehnder's waterpark re-opens

After more than a year of construction, Zehnder's Splash Village Hotel and Waterpark opened its new $20m Atrium Waterpark to the public on October 31.

Located in Frankenmuth, Michigan, Splash Village is now the only entertainment centre in the state to offer two distinct family waterparks.

"Nine years ago we opened Splash Village with a 20,000sq.ft waterpark," said Al Zehnder, chairman and CEO of the waterpark operator.

"The Atrium Waterpark is our new 29,000sq.ft expansion that includes a retractable roof, an outdoor pool, two, six-storey thrill rides, family cabanas and more."

The Atrium Waterpark also features a 20-person hot tub; a six-storey family raft ride; a six storey super loop body slide; zero-entry activity pool with water geysers; water basketball and volleyball; action river; and various fun family aquatic activities.

The original waterpark area that opened in 2005 is highlighted by a lazy river, whirlpool hot tub, 400-gallon dumping bucket, water geysers and sprays, a four-story tube slide and the Elf Hollow Café.

"We also expanded our hotel accommodations with an additional 32 guestrooms, 22 of which offer panoramic views of the waterpark," Zehnder added.

Splash Village offers a total of 178 guestrooms including 74 deluxe suites. The expansion project also doubled the number of waterpark locker rooms and expanded the indoor arcade to offer 45 games.

Costa Cruises selects Cruden

Passengers on board Costa Cruises' new flagship, the Costa Diadema, will be able to enjoy a high end motorsport experience, thanks to a Cruden Hexathrill Full Formula Style race car simulator.

The 4,947-passenger ship, nicknamed 'Regina del Mediterraneo' (Queen of the Mediterranean), was christened at a ceremony in Genoa, Italy, on November 7.

The simulator is the same equipment used by professional race car drivers to improve their skills, and is part of the ship's plentiful entertainment provision.

"A simulator is a great idea for a cruise," said Frank Kalff, commercial director at Cruden.

"Drivers can only get better and better the more they practice; a seven-day cruise is therefore ideal for both novice and more experienced racers looking for an adrenalin rush and a great holiday challenge."

Leaving from Savona, Costa Diadema's seven-day cruises in the western Mediterranean Sea, call every week at Marseille, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Naples and La Spezia, allowing guests to visit cities such as Florence and Naples, Barcelona and Marseille, in a single cruise.

Merlin CEO takes BHA role

Nick Varney, chief executive officer of Merlin Entertainments, will take over the role of chairman of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) when incumbent Alan Parker CBE steps down on January 1, 2015.

In his new role, Varney will join the BHA board of directors, working with chief executive officer, Ufi Ibrahim, and the executive team in the important lead up to the country's general election and the new political environment that will follow.    

Already leading the Cut Tourism VAT Campaign, which strives for the UK to be more competitive in Europe with a lower tourism tax, Varney's immediate priority will be to make all political parties aware of the importance of the hospitality and tourism sector both in economic terms and as a key employer.
"The BHA is to be congratulated on the excellent work done to date to build relationships and raise the profile of the key issues which affect all our businesses," Varney said.

"Now with a general election imminent we have a very short window of time to build on this, and to make sure that the economic and social importance of the hospitality and tourism sector is understood by all political parties; and that our issues are on their agenda for the future."

UK park planning a Magical Christmas

Drayton Manor Theme Park in the UK is set to give its visitors a fun filled day of festive fun, as it counts down to the official opening of its popular Magical Christmas event on November 22.

Visitors will be transported to a winter wonderland when they enter the Staffordshire park. Thomas Land has received a Christmas makeover, with the attraction embellished in spectacular decorations, festive music, fairy lights and snow - thanks to a machine that will ensure a flurry at least three times a day.

Brand new for this year is an outdoor ice rink, a 30ft lightshow Christmas tree and a new, 15-minute 4D cinema show based on The Polar Express, a popular children's book that was adapted into an animated film in 2004.

A fireworks display will also take place at the end of each day.

Aquamagica chooses NB filter

Aquamagica Waterpark in Khopoli, India, has completed its integration of a new filter system from Neptune Benson (NB).

NB's award-winning Defender regenerative media filter removes particles down to one micron or less.

In 2013 Defender filters received certification by the Australian 'Smart Watermark Programme' in recognition of its water saving qualities.