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From the Floor - January 2017

Virtual Queuing Becomes Wearable with accesso’s New Prism Device

This year at the Expo, accesso unveiled new hardware for its line of LoQueue virtual queuing solutions. Called Prism, the new device uses watch-style wearable technology to put real-time data at guests’ fingertips.

“Technology has progressed so much, we realized it was time to step back and reflect on everything that’s available today and update our product offering with a new choice,” said Steve Brown, CEO of accesso.

The result is a device that combines society’s demand for wearables that provide easy access and functionality without the aid of a smartphone with parkgoers’ desire to avoid lines and carrying around wallets. The software that runs on Prism allows wearers to virtually queue (vibrating to announce notifications) and make cashless payments with just a tap. It also updates with ride or show announcements and can be used to push marketing messages.

Prism’s hypoallergenic adjustable band encases a Gorilla Glass screen; the device doesn’t rely on an outside information source like a smartphone or kiosk computer. Miniaturization was a priority and Prism’s sleek design offers a battery that can last more than 200 days.


ADG Introduces Six New Water Rides

Aquatic Development Group (ADG) unveiled six new water rides during Expo. The family of six “Premiere Line” products includes Breaker Beach, Twin Tides, and Adventure Lagoon.

Opened at Denver’s Water World Waterpark in June 2016, Breaker Beach is a dual-launch boogie-boarding surf pool that delivers new waves to riders every four seconds. It employs ADG’s WaveTek technology to generate waves best suited for boogie board riding. ADG won the 2016 IAAPA Brass Ring Award for Best New Product for Breaker Beach.

Twin Tides opened at Splash Cave in Shawnee, Kansas, in September 2016. It is a dual-entry wave pool, offering double the swimmer capacity compared to conventional single-entry wave pools. Twin Tides is a shallow pool design with 24-inch Diamond Waves and an immediate capacity of 245 users.

Slated to open at H2OBX in North Carolina in 2017, Adventure Lagoon is a compact, all-ages activities pool. It contains a range of skills-based activities for different age groups, including water cannons for interactive play.


Alcorn McBride Unveils RidePlayer

Do you face a challenge synchronizing the onboard audio in a ride vehicle with animatronics, effects, and other offboard audio/video features? Alcorn McBride, a company with more than 30 years of experience doing show controls for parks across the globe, has launched a new product called RidePlayer to solve this problem. It uses GPS and other wireless technologies, as well as a master clock, to schedule playback and maintain a lock between on-board and wayside systems.

“It takes a lot of cool design to make this happen reliably every time,” said Scott Harkless, the company’s director of sales. “It’s been tried a number of different ways, but we’re really attacking this using the Alcorn McBride methods—embedded design, special circuits, things like that—to make it happen.”

RidePlayer, which is suited for dark rides, coasters, parade floats, and tour vehicles, will be ready to ship in March 2017.


Andretti Indoor Karting Shares Features of New Orlando Facility

Start your engines. Andretti Indoor Karting and Games announced details for its new 164,000-square-foot Orlando location slated to open July 2017 on International Drive behind the Orange County Convention Center.

The facility will feature a high-speed, multi-level modular track, said Eddie Hamann, managing member. They spent about three years developing the design, and while he couldn’t get into many specifics yet, he promised it will provide a unique experience for riders. He anticipated 40 to 50 electric go-karts should be able to zip through at once, and guests will reach speeds of 40 mph.

Other highlights will include 120-plus arcade games, a two-level laser tag arena, an elevated ropes course with curved zipline, professional racing simulators, 12 lanes of boutique bowling, an interactive dark ride motion theater, and more than 10,000 square feet of event space. All the food in the full restaurant and bar will be made from scratch.

“We’re happy to be part of this wonderful city,” said Hamann, noting the facility should add approximately 360 permanent jobs to the area.

Andretti Indoor Karting and Games also has locations in Marietta and Roswell, Georgia.


Auxel’s Dummy Offers Realistic Ride Load Tests

Don’t use a sand bag or potato sack for amusement ride load tests, said Marco Savegnago, V.P. of engineering and sales at Auxel. Making its United States debut, the company’s dummy—developed after extensive ergonomic research—works with almost any ride seat and lap bar.

Operators fill the plastic polymer dummies with water at the head and, after the test is complete, empty them by the feet, making it simple to load and unload, Savegnago said. An accelerometer can be added to test the impact of the G-force on the passenger.


BeaverTails Debuts Mini-Container Store Concept

Based on feedback from franchisees, BeaverTails has designed a mini-container store concept. “They wanted something they could plop in and give them a turnkey operation,” said Stephanie Werbin of BeaverTails. “It’s a complete setup.”

The mini-container can be staffed by a total of four people and has the capacity to serve up to 200 BeaverTails pastries an hour. It houses all necessary food prep and storage equipment.

The mobile unit, at 10 feet high by 8 feet wide by 10 feet deep, is ideal for venues with space restrictions, Werbin said. In addition, the smaller size allows facilities to add bits of ambiance in front, like Adirondack chairs. “It really brings out that Canadian vibe that we love so much with our brand,” he said.


Billings Productions Brings 20-Foot Quetzalcoatlus Flying Reptile to Life

Living up to its slogan as “The Dinosaur Company,” Billings Productions has brought its new, scientifically accurate animatronic Quetzalcoatlus to life.

The largest creature ever to fly in the age of the dinosaurs, the mother Quetzalcoatlus is shown towering over her nest of three hatchlings; moving her head and beak and occasionally emitting frightening roars.

“This is a life-sized version, based on remains found in South America and Texas,” said Robby Gilbert, Billings Productions’ director of exhibition sales. “This was of the last known living flying reptiles—not a dinosaur—and is still currently the largest flying animal known to have lived on Earth.”

Billings Productions has a range of animatronic, pneumatic (air-driven) dinosaurs and reptiles.


The BobbleShop Turns Guests into 3-D Bobbleheads

The BobbleShop uses a compact 3-D-imaging camera—the EasyTwin Scanner—to capture images of customers’ heads and then craft them into 3-D bobblehead figurines.

But that’s just the beginning: The BobbleShop system allows customers to customize their captured 3-D headshot on a screen and lets them to select what kind of fun figurine the bobblehead will be connected to.

“Your very accurate features are put onto these 3-D characters,” said The BobbleShop’s Marvin Seligman.

A 2-D bobblehead photo is printed on site for the customer, while the image and an animated video (with theming connected to the park) is e-mailed to the customer for sharing on social media. The 3-D bobblehead is mailed to the customer in about 10 days.

The BobbleShop capture station/printer is available as an installed kiosk, or a portable model for use at parties and special events.


Breezer Mobile Cooling Keeps Guests and Employees Comfortable

The oscillating, mobile evaporative cooling units by Breezer Mobile Cooling help guests and staff beat the heat no matter how high the temperature rises. The Breezer Oasys Titan can cover a 1,500-square-foot space and effectively shoot a breeze 40 feet; the larger Power Breezer doubles both those measures.

“It’s an easy setup,” said Mark Scott, commercial sales director. “All you need are water and electricity, and then you’re ready to roll.”

Both military-grade, veteran-made units cool an area by up to 27 degrees Fahrenheit, use less than a gallon of water per hour, and cost just about $1.30 a day to run, he said.


Cavu Designwerks and DreamCraft Attractions Make VR a Social, Interactive Experience

Cavu Designwerks is on a mission to make the world of virtual reality (VR) a friendlier place with DreamCraft Attractions—a partnership between the media-based attractions company and One Bit Labs, a development studio that specializes in gaming.

Rather than a passive ride experience, DreamCraft uses real-time, full-body motion capture based on a map of participants’ skeleton to make their bodies appear in and interact with the virtual world. The decisions they make as they interact with the experience can change the narrative. They will also be able to see and interact with the avatars of other players—allowing family and friends to participate in the same adventure together.

“When we looked at the VR experiences on the show floor last year, we noticed they were all solo experiences—as you put the goggles on you’re in a world all by yourself. We felt that defeated one of the main purposes of going to a theme park with your friends and family—you want to enjoy the experience together,” said Chris Robertson, co-founder of DreamCraft.

To increase throughput, DreamCraft attaches the electronic portion of the VR system to the ride vehicle itself. Participants don easy-to-sanitize head-mounted displays while still in the queue and fit the VR device into the headset only when they’ve boarded the ride vehicle, eliminating a typical bottleneck for this type of ride.


Cesys Showcases Highly Realistic Motorcycle Simulator

Cesys introduced a cutting-edge Motorbike Simulator that offers several advantages. First, the Cesys simulator uses real Yamaha motorcycles. Not only do the controls, such as the throttle and brakes, really function, they manipulate the ride and affect the simulation. Further, Cesys recorded the sounds of actual Yamaha motorcycles in action and incorporated them into the simulator.

“Using real motorcycles positively affects the [realism] of the experience,” said Reinder Holtkamp, general manager of Cesys. “Also, since the leaning of the rider left and right actually affects the steering of motorcycles, we have sensors that detect leaning and [adjust] the motion response, and that affects what the rider sees in the headset.”

The Motorbike Simulator uses a high-end combination of steering-force feedback through the handle bars and body tracking technology in which multiple cameras monitor the rider’s position relative to the motorbike, as Holtkamp noted.


Christie Mystique Simplifies Multi-Projector Maintenance, Alignment

Christie highlighted its Christie Mystique Install—a suite of software, hardware, and services designed to simplify the maintenance and alignment of multi-projector video systems. Features include automatic stacking and edge-blending solutions, plus a simple approach to restoring multi-projector alignment.

Currently, operators have to manually realign their projectors to compensate for equipment shifting issues; an expert process that is time consuming. The tools built into the Mystique Install system mean this can now be achieved “with the push of a button,” said Curtis Mutter, Christie’s solution manager.

Mystique Install is currently available in four editions:

  • Mystique Install Essentials Edition (12 projectors on flat surfaces)
  • Pro Venue Edition (projection stacking and edge blending on flat and cylindrical surfaces)
  • Premium Edition (multi-camera warping and blending solution for flat, curved, and domed surfaces)
  • Large Scale Experiences (LSE) Edition (dark ride attractions and giant-screen dome theaters)


Digital Centre Bedazzles Photo Booths with LED Screens

Digital Centre has incorporated wrap-around, full-body LED screens onto three new digital photo booths, turning them into dazzling eye catchers that grab customer attention.

The full-motion LED displays “can show advertising, videos shot by customers, whatever you want,” said Digital Centre CEO Josep Tarres. All three units are equipped with 10-megapixel/full-HD cameras.

The Eclipse PhotoBooth features an open-sided digital photo booth with a nearly 12-foot, full-LED screen. The screen runs up the booth’s front wall and then curves around the top and back.

The Ledrix PhotoBooth is a freestanding cubic display with LED screens on six sides. It shoots photos outside of the PhotoBooth, enabling group shots of up to 10-12 people.

The NexusStrip is a portable photo booth. When deployed, it has a nearly six-foot vertical LED screen that also shoots individual and group pictures using an external digital camera.


Virtual Racing Thrills Hit the Road with CXC Simulations

CXC Simulations has added virtual reality to its Motion Pro II auto-racing simulators, providing competitors with a true-to-life experience.

“The drivers can look over and see the guy next to them as they’re passing them or getting passed,” said Chris Considine, who founded the company 10 years ago. “They can look around the interior and see the entire race car. It’s modeled within a submillimeter accuracy of the real race car and race track.”

Three to six machines are linked together, as racers compete in six-minute, 15-minute, or customized-length races. The simulators are nearly identical to the ones CXC produces for professional drivers. A scoreboard also tracks the drivers’ positions in the race and engages spectators. A set of six full-motion simulators, with a venue-management control system that enables one operator to run all six simulators simultaneously costs $386,000.


Evoqua Launches Blu-Sentinel Water Control

Evoqua Water Technologies launched the Blu-Sentinel family of advanced chemical controllers for aquatic facilities and water parks in North America. The Blu-Sentinel is designed to handle water-quality measurement and chemical dosing duties, to keep pool water clean and disinfected.

To cover everything from small pools to major water parks and aquatic facilities, Evoqua offers three levels of this product: the basic Blu-Sentinel, the intermediate Blu-Sentinel SE, and the large-scale Blu-Sentinel Pro. All are equipped with Wallace & Tiernan’s Strantrol HRR and pH sensors.

“The Blu-Sentinel Pro has disinfectant features to save chemicals and energy,” said Stephan Andree, Evoqua’s global product manager. “We have case histories that show 30 percent chemical savings and 20 percent energy savings.”

“The Blu-Sentinel perfectly complements our filtration and UV disinfection solutions,” added Andrew Creathorn, vice president of Evoqua’s Aquatics & Disinfection Division.


Double the Fun on Extreme Engineering’s Cloud Coaster

Extreme Engineering introduced new features to its cart-less roller coaster, the Cloud Coaster, which the company debuted last year.

“It’s a Peter Pan moment when you’re flying on one of these, and we’re the pixie dust behind it that makes it happen,” said CEO Jeff Wilson.

New features include an upgraded magnetic breaking system and a tandem kart allowing people to ride together. The latter element, which can double the capacity, came after customer requests for higher volume on its popular zipline-coaster hybrid. “We call it, ‘If you go, I’ll go,’” Wilson said.

The company recently announced the Cloud Coaster now will be jointly distributed by S&S–Sansei Technologies through a new partnership.


‘Heroes & Legends’ Attraction Will Honor Astronauts at Kennedy Space Center

A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at Falcon’s Creative Group for the opening of the $23 million “Heroes & Legends” attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC). On hand was NASA astronaut Jon McBride, who was a member of the first space shuttle astronaut class in January 1978 and now serves as a special advisor on projects at the KSCVC like “Heroes & Legends.”

Designed to be the first stop upon entering the KSCVC, the 37,000-square-foot “Heroes & Legends” uses the space program’s early years to explore the concept of heroism, and the qualities that define heroes, through cutting-edge technology, special effects, and priceless artifacts.

“The [KSCVC] really wanted ‘Heroes & Legends’ to be the hero’s journey, and we took that to heart,” said Cecil Magpuri, president and chief creative officer of Falcon’s Creative Group, which led the creative efforts on the project.

The attraction features nine exhibit modules separated into three distinct experiences: “What’s a Hero?”, “Through the Eyes of a Hero,” and “A Hero Is …”

Therrin Protze, COO of the KSCVC, said, “This has been a great collaborative effort with Falcon’s Creative, and a real key goal was to make the artifacts and stories come alive.”



Holovis Offers Personalized Augmented Reality

Holovis is taking augmented reality and gaming to a new level with its Extended Experience. After downloading an app, parkgoers can start playing multiplayer interactive games with augmented-reality effects by pointing their phones or tablets at targets that have been embedded on park tickets, merchandise, and walls. The media and intellectual property, which is bespoke for each attraction, can also be customized by demographic.

“When you go on your dark or media-based ride, you see different content than other people. Everybody has a different experience, and that connects to our real-time media capabilities and how we design all our media,” explained Holovis’ attractions development manager Mike Ross. “If you have a young child, that might be something a bit easier, so that they have a bit of a better experience. If you’ve got more points, you might unlock a secret route that only you go down if you’ve reached a certain level.”

The Extended Experience product can also be used to ease queue boredom and direct people to different spots in the park, like an underperforming food outlet, by placing augmented-reality targets there and sending guests push notifications.


Polin Waterparks Launches New Products, Venture

Polin Waterparks unveiled its Storm Racer water slide and Splash Cabin wet competitive game. Storm Racer is a family raft water slide anchored on a central vertical tower. It can be built in single- and mirrored double-slide layouts, and the second layout allows rafters to race against each other. In either configuration, sensors in the Storm Rider system measure the height achieved by the rafts as they peak on an upward slope of the track; rewarding them with lighting effects and their position on a scoreboard.

Polin’s new Splash Cabin is a fixed-location attraction. Two players enter a cabin to shoot water guns against animated opponents on a screen, which is also equipped with nozzles to fire water back at them. Losers receive an extra splash at the game’s end.

The company also announced it has formed a new venture called Polin Parks, which is focused on the amusement park segment.


Ropes Courses Showcases New Sky-High Elements

Using the IAAPA Attractions Expo 2016 show floor as its test kitchen, Ropes Courses Inc. showcased several new Sky Trail elements and technologies before they hit the open market.

“We really want to get feedback from anyone who goes up there—good, bad, and ugly,” said Lori Gunthorp, marketing. “This is the best place for it.”

Some new features include a rolling log, steps tilted at a 45-degree angle, and a plank walk where kids creep out 6 feet, hands free, and pull a handle to see an LED-lighted wheel spin.

Ropes Courses also showed off its curved Sky Rail, she said: “We only have one in the market. Not many people know about it yet.”


SeaWorld Unveils Ride Vehicles for New 2017 Attractions

SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment unveiled three different ride vehicles that will be part of its robust 2017 lineup of new attractions.

“We are very, very excited about the future of SeaWorld,” said SeaWorld President and CEO Joel Manby. “We have a lot going on in 2017—this is one of the biggest product launches in our company’s history.”

SeaWorld San Antonio’s “Wave Breaker” vehicle mimics side-by-side jet skis. The multi-launch coaster, from Intamin, will spend almost its entire length over water, SeaWorld officials said, as it re-creates the feeling of riding out into the ocean on an animal-rescue mission.

Chance Rides is collaborating with SeaWorld San Diego on a high-tech new vehicle for the “Submarine Quest” family attraction. SeaWorld’s Brian Morrow said “Quest” will involve interactive gaming elements using a touchscreen monitor as guests travel through a multi-faceted environment that evokes a deep-sea dive. “It’s not a dark ride because it’s not inside the entire time, but it does have indoor sections—so you can’t classify this in any particular category,” he said.

“InvadR” at Busch Gardens Williamsburg is a family-oriented wooden coaster from Great Coasters International. The ride will be in the park’s new France area where Vikings have come to invade a village; guests can choose between the villagers’ train and the Vikings’ train when they climb aboard “InvadR.”


Snacktops Puts Food Carriers on Top of Drink Cups, Cans

Talk about a much-needed solution: Snacktops has devised combination cup lids and clear plastic food containers that snap securely on top of existing cold and hot drink cups, cans, bottles, and even draft beer containers.

The drink-top food carrier was inspired by a customer who didn’t want to carry food in one hand and a drink in the other. “He said it would be great if he could safely put the food on top of his drink,” said Snacktops President & CEO Jeff Engel.

Four years and 70-plus patents later, Snacktops has developed a full line of drink-top carriers to do just that. “They allow customers to just grab and go—and to buy more food items,” said Mike Henry, Snacktops’ director of commercial operations.

Mindful of consumer food preferences, Snacktops has developed lid-based carriers to handle hot dogs, hamburgers, sundaes, and even combo meals. Because the carriers are made of clear plastic, they allow other customers to see the freshly purchased products, thus driving sales.


Low Riders:  Kids Welcome on New S&S Coaster

S&S - Sansei Technologies has unveiled a new inverted thrill coaster with a minimum height so low that even a 3-year-old can ride. Company officials say it is not a junior coaster but one that the entire family can enjoy.  At 39 inches, the minimum rider height should accommodate a wide range of guests.

“A lot of times, you have the family going to hop on the ride and you realise that the two youngest kids are under 48 inches and not able to ride, and the mom or dad ends up sitting outside the ride, waiting for the older kids to get off,” said S&S Project Manager Shawn Carlsen, adding that now everyone can ride and that “it’s still fun for the older kids and parents.”

One of the chief engineering challenges was designing safety restraints that would work for adults as tall as 6 feet 6 inches as well as young children. S&S also placed the seats closer together so adults could more easily comfort their children, if needed.

The first iteration of the coaster, known as “Merlin’s Mayhem,” will be a 20-seat themed experience with onboard audio; it will debut at Dutch Wonderland in Pennsylvania in May 2017.


Sunkid Debuts Sundancer Ride, Tube Conveyor Belt

Sunkid showcased its new Sundancer ride at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2016. This is a single car (two or four seats) mounted on an arm that spins the car around a central axis.

Controls within the Sundancer car allow riders to vary the spinning speed, elevation, and on-mount rotation of the car. In addition, since the car is set on a tilt, the ride experience on the high side of the car feels different than the low side.

“The Sundancer is targeted to relatively small parks,” said Georg Dobler, Sunkind’s sales and product manager. The two-seat single car version can handle 80 riders an hour; the four-seater can manage 160 riders an hour.

Sunkid also unveiled its first tube conveyor belt system at the Expo.


Talon Simulations Offers Affordable, High-Tech VR Motion Simulator

Talon Simulations is a new and growing company introducing itself to the attractions industry. Specializing in immersive and affordable out-of-home motion simulators, Talon is making virtual reality technology that once cost hundreds of thousands of dollars available to the attractions market for a fraction of that amount.

The company’s Atomic A3 simulator headset produces high-fidelity motion detail and can be used to create simulation experiences involving roller coasters, race cars, motorcycles, fighter jets, jet skis, or just about any other motion-centric encounter. The Atomic A3 is adjustable for guests of different sizes.

“Currently, the simulator provides 2 to 3 DOF (degrees of freedom)—left/right, forward/backward—and a 4 DOF system is being introduced next year,” said Brandon Naids, the company’s CEO and co-founder.

The Atomic A3 is available in packages starting at $10,000.


Triotech Announces Ghostbusters, Walking Dead Rides

Dressed as a member of the Ghostbusters, Triotech President/CEO Ernest Yale announced that the Montreal company is developing a 5-D Ghostbusters interactive ride. Scheduled to open at Germany’s Heide Park Resort in summer 2017, the Ghostbusters ride will pit teams of 3-D glasses-wearing riders equipped with laser proton pistols and a ghost trap against flying slimy ghosts.

Triotech is also putting together a “Fear The Walking Dead” interactive walk-through attraction in partnership with AMC. It is due to open on Las Vegas’ Fremont Street in summer 2017. 

A third flying 3-D movie ride, “The Flyer,” was announced, as well; the first one opens in San Francisco, also in summer 2017.


Vekoma Launches a Firestorm

Firestorm is a new 2,960-foot LSM launch roller coaster introduced by Vekoma Rides Manufacturing. The ride vehicles shoot to more than 62 mph in less than four seconds, then fly up 12 stories skyward, where riders float in the air as the trains slow down before dropping back to earth in a vertical drop.

The first Firestorm opened at Vinpearl Thu Thiem in Vietnam, and Peter van Bilsen, Vekoma’s global sales and marketing director, said, “The riders experience 12 maneuvers, and it’s an exciting new ride for the country.”

Those 12 maneuvers encompass at least two inversions, five airtime hills, and six forceful twists and turns. The individual elements include a twisted airtime hill, a station flyover, a camelback, a downward helix, a horseshoe, and a barrel roll. The finale is a carousel turn only a few inches above the ground. Firestorm can include either one or two trains.


Zamperla Announces New Park Partner

Zamperla has announced it will be the only ride provider for Owa, a new amusement park opening in Foley, Alabama. The park is part of a 520-acre destination resort that will also offer hotels, restaurants, and entertainment. Owa, which means “big water,” is a development project of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians. The park will feature 20 rides, from kiddie rides to three large-scale thrill rides, including one major roller coaster styled after Zamperla’s Thunderbolt. The kiddie rides will accommodate passengers as young as two, and the family rides will target tweens aged 11 to 13.