BIG DEAL FOR MINI-GOLF: Bumper Action Amusements (BAA), located in South Melbourne, Australia, has signed a partnership deal with Castle Golf in the United States to build miniature-golf courses across Australia. BAA has operated in the sales, service, and hire arenas of classic amusement collectibles for 40 years. Castle Golf has designed, built, and contracted miniature-golf courses across the United States and around the world, including Europe and Asia, with more than 100 sites worldwide.
ACQUISITION: Aquatic attractions creator WhiteWater West of British Columbia, Canada, acquired Hopkins Rides (formerly O.D. Hopkins) of Palm City, Florida. Hopkins has operated since 1989 and delivers water-based rides to the attractions industry, and it will continue to operate under the same name. Hopkins Rides becomes WhiteWater’s 19th global location.
QUARTER CENTURY OF SUCCESS: President of the Dollywood Company Ken Bell is retiring after more than 25 years of directing the enterprise. Bell, who also sits on the boards of directors of Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and Pirate’s Voyage, led the company when it added Dollywood’s Splash Country water park in 2001 and when it received the Applause Award for industry excellence in 2010. Craig Ross, a 30-year industry veteran and current vice president and general manager of Dollywood, has been named the company’s new president, effective immediately.
FREE WI-FI ACROSS VACATION KINGDOM: Walt Disney World has begun offering free Wi-Fi service for guests in both the Magic Kingdom and Epcot parks, and says it plans to have complimentary Wi-Fi service at Downtown Disney and its other parks by the end of 2012. This follows a move earlier this year by the resort to offer free Internet service to guests in its hotels, following guest surveys indicating that free Wi-Fi is at the top of the list of things they want the resort to provide.
TRANSITION AT THE TOP: The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio announced its executive director, Dale Schmidt, has resigned. The zoo’s board of directors named Chief Operating Officer Tom Stalf as interim director. Stalf came to the zoo in 2010 on the recommendation of director emeritus Jack Hanna. He had previously been director of the Niabi Zoo in Coal Valley, Illinois. A search committee is being formed to find a permanent director, and Stalf said he will apply for the position.
NEW SALES MANAGER: Tait Technologies, creators of touring systems for entertainment acts and providers of automation and control equipment for the theatrical, themed attraction, motion picture, and touring production markets, announced Jessica Allan has been appointed sales manager for Tait Europe. She will be based in Tait’s London office and joins the company after working for 14 years with Martin Professional, serving as business area manager for touring and productions for Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.
NEW PACK LEADERS: Indoor water park resort company Great Wolf Resorts appointed James Anderson as general manager of the facility in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. He began his career with the company in 1999 as a lifeguard in Wisconsin Dells and most recently served as assistant general manager at the Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington. The company also announced Angela Brown has been named general manager of the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Virginia. Her career with Great Wolf also began in 1999, and most recently she was general manager of the company’s Wisconsin Dells resort.
STEPPING DOWN: After three years at the helm, David Eisner of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia said he is stepping down as president and CEO effective Oct. 31, 2012. Eisner oversaw the center’s FREEDOM! branding initiative—part of a long-term strategic plan to grow regional and national awareness of the center. A search for a successor has begun, and Eisner is assisting the effort. When Eisner leaves, Vince Stango, chief operating officer, will step in as interim president and CEO.
MORE WATER WARS: Water Wars will launch two new products at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2012. Downpour Derby pits players in a race to get one another wet. They crank a pump handle to fill a bucket over an opponent’s head, and whoever fills the bucket first gets the other player wet. The four-player unit can be customized to fit any water park, amusement park, or splash pad. The Water Wars inflatable version is the same water-balloon game players have experienced for years, except in an inflatable version using welded-seam technology. No need to run a blower continuously—just blow it up and cap it off.
pH TESTS GO MOBILE: Sensorex has developed a mobile accessory for pH measurements that is an industry first. The PH-1 pH meter accessory measures and records pH values in pools and is compatible with Apple iPod, iPhone, and iPad devices. The patent-pending accessory plugs into a standard Apple dock connector and uses a Sensorex pH electrode to measure pH with an accuracy of .01. The free app displays pH, millivolts, ambient temperature, and solution temperature in real time. When used with a GPS-enabled device, the app will record measurements with both a time stamp and geographic coordinates.
SAFE SURFING: Plastex Matting, a manufacturer of industrial and commercial matting, has created a new material to keep surfers out of harm’s way while riding wave-simulating attractions. PillogriD’s large open grid and soft-vinyl construction combine high-volume drainage with a soft landing. It’s placed over metal grates at the back and front of wave machines to help cushion surfers’ falls if they accidentally land outside the wave area. PillogriD comes in prefabricated rolls that are a maximum of 3.3 ft/1 meter wide and customizable in length. The large-roll format adds an additional safety feature by eliminating the need for joints in action areas.
INNOVATIVE ADVENTURE COURSE: Innovative Leisure announced a high-ropes “first” for the United Kingdom market with the installation of the new Navigator Sky Trail at Planters Garden Centre in Tamworth, Staffordshire. The course is 33 feet in height and features two levels, each incorporating challenging experiences. Climbers in full harnesses are attached to the continuous belay system throughout the two-level course. The lower level provides easier challenges than the upper level, and access between levels is available via two stairways. Participants are able to pass slower users at intermediate platforms, providing better throughput.
MEAN, GREEN, & CLEAN: CR Brands introduces Mean Green Industrial Strength Cleaner & Degreaser, with a unique blend of biodegradable detergents specifically formulated for challenging pressure-washing applications. With 40 percent more cleaning ingredients, 30 percent more solvents, and 20 percent more surfactants, it quickly dissolves grease and grime and lifts stubborn stains off all surfaces, including metal, fabric, concrete, carpet, and painted surfaces. It is packaged in sizes to suit any use, from 32-ounce trigger spray bottles to 55-gallon drums.