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This Week's News

Gardaland to open new dive coaster

Gardaland, the 40-year-old theme park located in north-eastern Italy, is putting the finishing touches to a new, high-octane roller coaster in time for the 2015 season.

Oblivion: The Black Hole has been pegged as Italy's first dive coaster and the longest in Europe.

According to Gardaland, the all-white track - which reaches a height of 42.5m - has been successfully installed. Once the theming has been completed, Oblivion will plunge guests inside a 'black hole' with a series of inversions.

"The waiting line will be, in itself, an unforgettable experience," Gardaland said. "Special effects, sounds, light games and innumerable LED screens will open the way to the overwhelming and sensational journey."

Discussing the project, Gianluca Ghedini, Gardaland's creative manager, said: "We began from the concept one year ago, moving from a planning-creative phase to the realisation of important sculptures that we are currently positioning in the area."

Merlin plans 4D Lego movie

Merlin Entertainments is partnering with Warner Bros Consumer Products and The Lego Group to bring a new 4D animated film based on the popular characters of The Lego Movie to guests at Legoland Parks and Legoland Discovery Centres around the world later this year.

Using elements such as wind, water, smoke and special lighting effects, the larger-than-life experience will bring the film's main characters, Emmet and Wyldstyle, back together with their friends.

"More than a film, The Lego Movie became an anthem for creative building, inspiring families around the world to pull their Lego collections out and piece together their imaginations," said Jill Wilfert, vice president of licensing and entertainment for the Lego Group.

The new 4D animated film will open exclusively at the six Legoland Parks and 11 Legoland Discovery Centres in North America, Asia and Europe.

Magic Memories buys Sydney firm

New Zealand-based photographic solutions company, Magic Memories, has acquired Centryc Solutions, a Sydney-based developer of guest, event and sponsor management software.

Centryc's flagship MeTag platform provides personalised real-time communications and social media interactions with guests at tourist attractions, theme parks and one-off events, such as music concerts.

The acquisition, involving all Centryc assets and the transfer of staff to Magic Memories, comes after close collaboration over two years to establish the strong commercial and cultural synergies between the two companies.

Chief executive John Wikstrom says MeTag will enable Magic Memories to enhance, enrich and extend the experiences of the 50 million guests at more than 100 attraction sites around the world with which the company partners.

"This will increase our and our partner's revenue, marketing capability and guest experience as we utilise MeTag's real-time communications capability to strengthen the Attraction offer to guests before, during and after their visit," he said.

New waterpark for Mallorca

An over 18s waterpark is set to open on the site of the former Mallorca Rocks hotel on the Spanish island of Mallorca on April 30.

Developed by Cursach Hotel Group, the new $11m BH Mallorca venue will include a 360-degree human roller coaster and the world's first four-lane race slide.

JRA founder passes away

Amy Merrell, one of the original founders and owners of Jack Rouse Associates (JRA), died on February 16.

"Amy was one of the original founders and owners of JRA and considered to be one the cornerstones of the company," the company said in a statement.

"Her passion, hard work and pursuit of excellence in everything she did were major contributors to the success that JRA has enjoyed for over 25 years."

Keith James, chief executive officer and owner of the Ohio-based design firm, said: "We have lost a core member of the JRA family. More importantly, we have lost a very close friend."

Amy is survived by her husband, Yousef Aouad, and their sons, Gus and Quinn.

Six Flags toasts 2014 success

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, the world's largest regional theme park operator, has announced its fifth consecutive year of record financial performance, as the Texas-based company posted a 6% rise in revenues in 2014 to $1.2bn.

The company, which owns 19 Six Flags-branded theme parks in the US, Canada and Mexico, said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) totalled $459m in 2014 - another record for the company.

"I have never been more confident in our strategy and the long-term prospects for our company than I am today," said Jim Reid-Anderson, chairman, president and CEO.

"We are extremely well positioned as we enter the 2015 season, and we remain laser-focused on delivering our next long-term financial target of $600m of modified EBITDA by 2017."

Lego named as top brand

Danish toy company Lego has topped an international ranking of the world's most powerful brands, overtaking Italian motor group, Ferrari.

A new report from Consultancy Brand Finance sees PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Red Bull, McKinsey, Unilever, L'Oreal, Burberry, Rolex and Nike join Lego and Ferrari as the top 10 most powerful brands.

Lego's jump to the top of the ranking came as the toy company saw runaway success with its first feature film, The Lego Movie, which has taken more than $500m at the box office.

The news will be welcomed by Merlin Entertainments, which operates numerous Legoland Resorts, Hotels and Discovery Centres around the world.

Electrosonic opens new office

Electrosonic has cut the ribbon on a new office in the San Francisco Bay Area, which will support the audio-visual company's clients in the region and serve as a resource for new business development.

The Bay Area office is located in Livermore and features 3,000sq.ft of office and warehouse space.

"We are very excited to announce the opening of our new San Francisco Bay Area location," says Jim Bowie, President of the Electrosonic Group.

"Over the last few years, Electrosonic has steadily increased the number of our Bay Area clients," said company president, Jim Bowie.

"This office will support them, keep pace with their evolving needs and help us grow in the region."

Strong 2014 for HK Disneyland

Following the successful expansion of the resort, Hong Kong Disneyland has reported its fifth consecutive year of record revenue, attendance and guest spending in 2014.

Revenue for the resort, which opened its doors in 2005, totalled HK$5.5bn ($710m) in 2014, up 12% on the previous year. Net profit was up 36% to HK$332m ($42.7m).

During the year, Hong Kong Disneyland welcomed a record number of guests by adding appeal to locals - prioritising key mainland China markets and engaging southeast Asian markets.

These efforts helped the resort deliver attendance of 7.5 million, bringing the cumulative attendance since park opening well past the 50 million mark.

New FEC opens in Texas

Entertainment Properties Group has opened its first Pinstack family entertainment centre (FEC) location in West Plano, Texas, with the Sacoa PlayCard System to manage attractions and redemption throughout this new 50,000sq.ft venue.

Pinstack is a next-generation dining and entertainment complex, featuring 150 deluxe games and indoor mega attractions of laser tag, bumper cars, climbing wall and an elevated ropes course above the arcade.

The facility also offers guests a full service restaurant, two bars and 28 lanes for bowling.

"After an extensive review of card system providers, we chose to partner with Sacoa on our newest brand, Pinstack," said Brian Cohen, vice president of operations for Entertainment Properties Group.