Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News


September 2008

The Australian city of Brisbane is the latest place to install a giant Ferris Wheel as a sightseeing attraction. The Wheel of Brisbane is a 60-metre semi-permanent construction by Ronald Bussink Professional Rides located at South Bank Parklands. The wheel is operated by World Tourist Attractions (WTA), which also runs wheels in five British cities, including London, Great Yarmouth, Manchester, York and Belfast. WTA has a two-year lease on the site in Brisbane.

The Fabbri Group has landed a contract to build an 80-metre Ferris Wheel for an as yet unnamed client in the Far East. The ride is due for delivery in April 2009 and will feature Swiss-designed 8-passenger gondolas fully equipped with air conditioning. “We have been wanting to enter the giant wheel sector for some time so we are really pleased with this order,” says Fabbri sales manager Edward Cromheecke.

A Florida land developer has purchased Wild West World, Wichita, Kansas, for US$2.15 million. Although no rides and attractions will be operational until next season, the AHG Group does plan to hold concerts in time for Labor Day (September 1). Best known for its work developing American Indian casinos, AHG bought the park from the US Bankruptcy Court and is now looking for a professional theatre operator to reopen the soon-to-be-renamed Johnny Western Theatre, plus an amusement operator to take care of the rides. Carnival proprietor Jerry Murphy’s Tulsa-based Spectacular Attractions is believed to be in the running for the latter. Former owner Thomas Etheredge famously closed Wild West World and filed for bankruptcy in July 2007, just 65 days after the park opened.

Universal Orlando reported a 5% slide in paid theme-park attendance and a 6% drop in operating revenue during its second quarter, compared with the same period last year. The resort’s parent company, Universal City Development Partners, reported that quarterly operating revenue of $244 million was down partly because of the shift of the lucrative Easter holiday season into the first quarter this year, instead of the second quarter n 2007.
British-based 4D and simulation specialist Simworx has appointed David Sanvoisin as a sales director. Now based at the company’s head office in Kingswinsford near Birmingham, Sanvoisin previously worked for CMP International, where he handled sales for the family attractions section of Leisure Industry Week (LIW).

Kirk Winterroth has joined California’s Garner Holt Productions as a project manager. Kirk has over 30 years of international experience in project management and development in theme parks and museums. For 26 years he was at Walt Disney Imagineering where he oversaw projects in Disneyland California, Walt Disney World, EPCOT and Hong Kong Disneyland. His work in China gave him invaluable experience working with contractors and vendors in the field. Meanwhile James Mulder has joined as the company’s technical design manager. He brings with him more than 20 years of extensive experience designing and executing projects for theatrical, theme park, and entertainment venues, and also has experience as a Walt Disney Imagineer.
British park Wicksteed held its first beer festival recently. Taking place for four days, July 31 to August 3, the event was run in association with the local Potbelly Brewery of Kettering. Over 30 beers and ciders were available to try, along with traditional festival food and quality live acts.

Entertainer and amusement park owner Richard Cadell has bought back the rights to the children’s puppet Sooty. Richard and his brother David Cadell, who Brean Leisure Park near Bristol, England, apparently paid a “high six-figure sum” to acquire the rights Hit Entertainment. The yellow bear, who turns 60 this year, was bought in Blackpool by Harry Corbett in 1944 and went on to enjoy a successful career on British TV. Cadell first acquired the rights from Harry’s son, Matthew Corbett, before selling them onto Hit Entertainment some years ago.

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