Three Attractions Industry Pioneers Inducted into Hall of Fame at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009

November 17, 2009

Three Attractions Industry Pioneers Inducted
into Hall of Fame at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009
Ricardo Castillo, Frederic Thompson, and Elmer “Skip” Dundy
Receive Industry’s Highest Honor

Alexandria, Virginia (United States) – Today, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) inducted Ricardo Castillo, Frederic Thompson, and Elmer “Skip” Dundy into the IAAPA Hall of Fame. Each year, IAAPA honors leaders who have made lasting contributions to the global attractions industry. The award was presented Tuesday, Nov. 17 during the Kickoff Event for IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“From the early development of Coney Island in the United States, to the pioneering efforts to create a unique and viable theme park model in a third world country, the Hall of Fame Class of 2009 colorfully personify the amazing pioneering visionaries of our industry,” said Tim O’Brien, VP Communications for Ripley Entertainment Inc. and chairman of the IAAPA Hall of Fame and Archives Committee. “We are quite proud to welcome them into this prestigious Hall of Fame!”

Ricardo Castillo
Inspired by a trip to Disneyland on his Honeymoon in 1958, Richard Castillo set out to improve Guatemalan tourism and attractions. A business man and industrialist, Castillo helped found the Institute for Recreation for Private Sector Workers in Guatemala (IRTRA) in 1962 and now boasts a more than 35-year presidency and 43-year directorship there. The organization provides recreation that benefits and is funded by the public sector and its workers with a host of parks featuring city center-plazas with engaging architecture, restaurants, and railways, and a hotel group which accommodates 2,900 people.

In his tenure, Castillo created two of Guatemala’s innovative and award-winning parks—Xetulul amusement park and Xocomil waterpark, both located in Retalhuleu on the Guatemalan Pacific Coast. As IRTRA continues to plan park expansions and attractions for the future, its current facilities feature attractions including zoos, amusement rides, theaters, sports areas, wave pools, and children’s attractions. One of Castillo’s proudest achievements is catering to a diverse crowd of laborers, professionals, and executives at different cultural levels and creating a unifying atmosphere all guests can enjoy. He leads IRTRA with strong virtues of hospitality, creativity, safety, and customer service. He is steadfastly achieving his goal to aid the Guatemalan economy with exemplary tourist attractions, and has greatly contributed to the industry at large.

Frederic W. Thompson (1872 – 1919) and Elmer “Skip” Dundy (1862 –1907)
From the late 1880s through 1911, Frederic Thompson and Elmer “Skip” Dundy served as luminaries in the birth of the attractions industry, founding Luna Park in 1903 along the Coney Island seaside in New York, United States. For Thompson, an architect, and Dundy, a businessman, the park was the pair’s most ground-breaking and successful undertaking, and one of the first heavily themed regional attractions of its kind. Luna Park featured architecturally whimsical spires lined with 250,000 incandescent lights, live shows, and rides themed to reflect lunar-landings, naval battles, coal mining excursions, and natural wonders; among them “Dragon’s Gorge” railway and “Captain Paul Boyton’s Shoot-the-Chutes.” Sitting on more than 38 acres of land and employing 2,000 workers, the seaside park attracted five million visitors annually.

According to Thompson, the creators worked to offer visitors a diversion from life’s serious nature, and a chance to experience “action, motion, sensation, surprise, shock, swiftness, or else comedy.” Their work set the stage for future industry classics, including a chain of Luna Parks opened by Frederick Ingersoll and later, Disneyland by icon Walt Disney. Over the years, Coney Island continued to grow into an attractions hub for the region, with the architecture and storylines conceptualized by Thompson and Dundy serving as a pivotal and essential foundation to the attractions industry.

A list of previous IAAPA Hall of Fame inductees can be found at

About IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009
IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 is the largest conference and trade show for the amusement park and attractions industry in the world. With its theme “Bright Lights, Big Show: The Main Attraction,” the show takes place for the first time in Las Vegas, and draws industry professionals from more than 85 countries to the Las Vegas Convention Center from Monday, Nov. 16, through Friday, Nov. 20. The trade show floor is open Tuesday, Nov. 17, through Friday, Nov. 20. IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 offers a solid week of business and fun. The event also includes educational sessions, behind-the-scenes tours, marquee social events, and networking opportunities. This is the marketplace where amusement and attraction industry leaders, decision makers, and visionaries gather to network, view the latest innovations, and plan for the future. For more information,

IAAPA is the premier trade association for the attractions industry worldwide. Founded more than 90 years ago, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities and attractions, and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the attractions industry. IAAPA represents more than 4,000 member facilities from 90 countries throughout the world.


Logos and images from IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 can be downloaded from the onlineIAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 press kit.

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