Friday, February 29, 2008

Waterparks Going Green: Some Tips to Get You Started

Chris Perry, general manager of Wild Wadi Water Park, is a member of the IAAPA Waterpark Committee. The committee met in February to discuss a variety of industry issues and association objectives. Opportunities and ideas for going green in parks is just one of the many “hot topics” facing waterparks today. Over the next several months, you will see a number of these issues addressed in articles by IAAPA Waterpark Committee members. We've included Chris' thoughts here, and for more on waterparks, click over to their community page at We welcome your comments.


This is a hot topic in all industries right now, and I believe it is here to stay rather than the latest fad. Many people think of going green as being environmentally friendly, so they start recycling. This is very noble, and a great start, but there is so much more to look at, and instead of just focusing on the environmental side, I believe the staying power and value to any facility lies in being Corporately Socially Responsible (CSR). So, let’s discuss the environmental aspects of CSR.

On the environmental side there are numerous ways to be responsible:


Plastic (water/soft drink bottles), cardboard, paper (in the offices), cooking oil, ink cartridges, and I’m sure there are others.

Use Recycled Products and Find Suppliers Who Provide Them

• Use recycled papers in your offices and F&B operations.

• Use recycled plastics for signs, picnic tables, garbage cans, and sun loungers.

• Use cleaning equipment and supplies that are environmentally “safe” or organic.

• Ban the use of Styrofoam in your operation and suppliers shipments.

• Buy local supplies when possible to cut down on the fuel emissions of transporting supplies across the country (or across the world).

Water Savings

• Filters: Re-use your backwash water or look into the new generation of filters that use considerably less water (and energy) than ones of old.

• Toilet/sink/shower sensors: Instead of having sinks, showers, and toilets that flush, utilize the latest technology in sensors to reduce your water consumption.

• Investigate how much water is consumed per flush in your toilets and investigate more efficient toilets.

Energy Savings

• Start an Internal campaign to turn lights, air-conditioning, and computers off when not in use.

• Use fluorescent light bulbs vs. incandescent. I know a park that went from 470 kW/day to 15 kW/day (this is probably why California is banning incandescent light bulbs).

• Put air-conditioning on timers (so it isn’t used as frequently in off-peak hours).

• Shut down heat exchangers/calorifiers at night (often they can retain the heat through the night).

• Look at your parking structure exhaust fans. Energy can be saved in the evenings when the parking garage is not in use (exhaust settings to be looked at).

Earn a LEED Certification

• LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, as developed by the United States Green Building Council.

• This certification “is designed to promote design and construction practices that increase profitability while reducing the negative environmental impacts of buildings and improving occupant health and well-being.”

• For more information, visit, or grab a copy of the March issue of FUNWORLD, where the cover story on the Las Vegas Springs Preserve discusses LEED certification and green design.

Other Options to Consider

• Use “gray” water for landscaping where practical.

• Become ISO 14001 certified for Environmental Management (

• Use solar panels to heat your pool water. (

These are just some ideas to get your creative juices flowing as to how you can begin this “green” process at your park.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

IAAPA Attractions Expo Ranked Among 2007's Largest Fourth-Quarter Shows

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2007 received some positive pub this month from Tradeshow Week. In the Feb. 18 edition of the magazine, which reviewed results from fourth-quarter trade shows throughout North America, Attractions Expo was rated among the largest and fastest-growing shows in the business.

According to TSW, Attractions Expo 2007 was one of just five shows in the fourth quarter—traditionally a slow period for trade shows—with more than 500,000 net square feet sold; No. 1 was the SEMA Show with 1,063,970.

Fifty-seven shows were included in the TSW report, and of those Attractions Expo was also one of only eight to experience growth of more than 30 percent in one category over the previous year (the Expo was up 34.2 percent in attendance).

So, thanks again to all our exhibitors and attendees for making Expo 2007 such a smashing success; for those wondering what you missed, check out FUNWORLD's coverage of the event here. Also, plans for IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008 are well under way; if you submit an exhibitor contract by March 14, you get to participate in this year's Space Allocation Meeting to find the best possible booth location.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Watch for FUNWORLD's March Issue

The March issue of FUNWORLD is out and should be in your mailboxes soon, if it's not already. Just to whet the appetite, here's some of what you can find in this edition:

• My cover story on the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, a new off-the-Strip attraction that combines elements of a museum, nature center, botanical garden, science center, and more into something unlike anything Vegas has ever seen.
• On-the-scene coverage of EAS 2008-Nice from Editor Amanda Charney.
• News Editor Keith Miller examines some common funding challenges museums face, and looks for ways to solve them.
• Waterpark officials discuss how they handle stray animals that wander into their facilities.
• FEC operators discuss budget-conscious marketing tips.

And much more …

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

More from FUNWORLD with Stuntman Red Horton

For the March issue of FUNWORLD, I interviewed Red Horton, a stuntman currently appearing in “The Great Diamond Heist” at Discovery Kingdom in Dalian, China. Below is my extended interview with Horton, and a little more information about other stunt shows put on by Mirage Entertainment.

FUNWORLD: Tell us a little bit about “The Great Diamond Heist” and how it differs from other shows.
Red Horton
: In the show, a bumbling and blundering inspector and the local police force joined with the city mayor to capture thieves who have stolen the world’s largest blue diamond from the city’s museum. In the end they all save the day and return the diamond to the Museum. The show is like “Police Academy” meets “The Pink Panther.”

It is the first stunt show of it is kind to have a 60-foot ramp-to-ramp motocross jump performed three to four times a day, seven days a week. Besides being very funny and entertaining we have both men and women in every aspect of the show. They act, they do the stunts (high falls, full fire burn, Aussie-style repelling), and they participate in knockdown, drag-out stunts fights. In “The Great Diamond Heist,” I get kicked, punched, knocked to the ground 12 times, and I hang out of a police car window as the car spins backwards!

FW: Is there any audience interaction in the show?
RH: At the beginning of the show, two-thirds of the cast is in the audience—thieves hiding from police, police searching for criminals, and the inspector slipping and bumping his way through the crowd. The audience loves every minute of the pre-show slapstick.

FW: What are some of the perks of being a stuntman, and how many years of training does it take to become one?
RH: I get to travel, meet people, and experience other cultures, but most of all I enjoy making the audience—especially the children—happy. The main reason I keep doing this job is because I love the industry and am always honing my skills—even at 50 years old! Not only do I keep up, but I pass by those that are less than half my age.

It takes two to five years just to learn the basic of stunt performing, and five to ten years of hard work and a lot of luck to possibly make it as a full-time stunt person.

FW: How much danger or risk is involved in your job, and have you ever gotten hurt before?
: I’ve only been injured once in 30 years. I broke my foot on my birthday in the middle of a show, but finished the show before going to the hospital! In movies and television, stuntmen take the chance of getting seriously hurt or killed. However, in live shows, it’s different and the stunt performers are a different breed. They still have the chance of getting injured but they have to perform these stunts three to five times a day, 365 days a year. Mirage Entertainment looks at every aspect of the action stunt show and puts the cast through extensive training by leading professionals in the industry. Performers are chosen to do specialized stunts that are extremely exciting, but always safe. Safety is the name of the game in live action shows.

FW: What is the most memorable situation your job has gotten you into?
: I have many stories, but my favorite is when after entertaining a group of children with cancer and physical injuries a reporter told me a couple of the boys told him the reason they liked watching me perform was because it made them laugh and that made the pain go away.

“The Great Diamond Heist,” which Horton currently stars in, is put on by Mirage Entertainment and has just started its third year of production. Mirage also produces “The Great Candy Caper” at Hersheypark, which is in its third year as well. The show features two Patagonian Sea Lions and combines the animals’ talents with comedic diving and stunts. “The Great Candy Caper” was nominated in the edutainment category of IAAPA’s 2007 Big E awards.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Capitalize on the ‘Kong’ Effect

Last month a fantastic documentary was released on DVD, “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters.” You can check out the movie’s official site here, but essentially the film follows one gamer’s quest to capture the world record score for “Donkey Kong.”

It’s a fascinating character study on many different levels, but what stuck out to me in reference to our industry is the apparently still-vibrant fervor for classic arcade games (I’ve certainly seen some retro cabinets popping up on the IAAPA Attractions Expo trade show floor the past few years). While “King of Kong” obviously focuses on “Donkey Kong,” the film touches on the sustained popularity of several other titles from the early 1980s, including “Ms. Pac-Man,” “Q*Bert,” “Burgertime,” “Missile Command,” and many more.

Even though the documentary was released last summer, almost no one saw it; its widest release was just 58 theaters and it made less than $700,000 at the U.S. box office (though this still makes it the highest-grossing documentary about a video game of all time). But now that "King of Kong" is out on DVD the movie’s getting all kinds of pub, especially with next month’s U.S. release of the first “Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition,” which is referenced in the movie (the European edition is already out). Just anecdotally, I know several of us here at IAAPA have seen the movie and can’t stop raving about it.

So here’s my question: It seems there’s a bit of a groundswell for classic video games right now, so how can family entertainment centers capitalize on the release of this movie and the hubbub it’s generating? Here’s my idea: Host a classic arcade gaming tournament. Licensing issues would probably prevent you from crowning your own “King of Kong” (or directly referencing the movie in any way, really), but I’m sure you can come up with something catchy and clever—“Retro Gaming Championship,” or something much better than that. It seems like an event that would draw kids and their parents; my dad doesn’t know a “Halo” from a “Guitar Hero,” but he can still run power-pellet-munching circles around me on “Ms. Pac-Man.”

If anyone out there has already tried something like this, please drop a comment to let us know how you did it, how it went, what worked/what didn’t, etc.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Guten Tag, Muenchen!: A look ahead to EAS 2008-Munich

Blog contributed by Emily Popovich, Exhibition Sales and Services Executive

Here at IAAPA it is never too soon to begin planning ahead for our future shows. Before EAS-Nice had even come to a successful end two weeks ago, my colleague Pete Barto and I had the opportunity to visit Munich for a one-day site tour of its convention center in preparation for the second EAS show this year. EAS 2008-Munich will be Sept. 30-Oct. 2, and although it’s still two full seasons away, our Exhibit Sales team has already assigned more than 100 exhibitors to the trade show floor in hopes of filling at least two halls worth of amusement goodness at the huge Messe Muenchen Trade Fair Centre.

After arriving at the airport in Munich, Pete and I took an autobahn-style cab ride for 30 frightening minutes before arriving at the Messe Muenchen center, where we were greeted by the director of exhibitions. What immediately struck us was the enormity of the convention center itself, as well as its surrounding outdoor area. Messe Muenchen is comprised of 16 halls, each of which is larger than an American football field. The surrounding outdoor land holds more than 360,000 square meters of potential exhibit space—approximately 45 times more space than the entire trade show floor at EAS-Nice! Here’s a look at part of this outdoor area and the large front lobby:

After exploring the grounds, Pete and I made it through the lobby area to check out the two exhibit halls that EAS will be taking over. We were pleasantly surprised by the brightness and airiness of the halls, and we were especially delighted to see there are no columns whatsoever on the floor—this will make things much easier for us, and, more importantly, for our exhibitors!

Adjoining the two halls we’ll be using are indoor atriums, as well as an outdoor courtyard area that can either be left as-is be transformed into a beer garden for special events. According to our guide, the weather in Munich in October is usually mild and pleasant… so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for warmth and sun in hopes that EAS attendees and exhibitors will be able to take full advantage of this beer garden proposal!

Wrapping up our brief site tour was a visit to some of the meeting rooms and areas that will hold many of the events at EAS 2008. Once again we were impressed by the excellent condition of these rooms (all are clean, bright, and spacious), as well as their close proximity to the show floor (some rooms have windows that actually overlook the halls). The EAS staff should have no problem finding ample and adequate space to host its meetings, education sessions, and press conferences. Our last stop was a large room dedicated solely to the press, complete with a full bar and lobby area adjacent to the tables you see below:

Brief as it was, that about wraps up our whirlwind site tour of Messe Muenchen. Pete and I were there for only a couple of hours before jetting back to Nice to finish up the first EAS 2008 show, which I must add was a fantastic success. With one down and one to go, it’s time again to plan ahead … and with Oktoberfest and IAAPA’s Summer Meeting happening in conjunction with EAS this fall, there’s sure to be a lot of action going on to keep everyone busy. We hope to see you in Munich. Until then … auf wiedersehen!

For more information on exhibiting at EAS 2008-Munich, please contact Emily Popovich at, or you can view the most up-to-date floor plan and download your contract at

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A Couple Questions from Gillian's Island Waterpark

Earlier today I spoke with David Miller from Gillian's Island Waterpark in Ocean City, New Jersey. He has a couple questions for fellow waterpark operaters and asked if I could pass them along to you for some input. Here's what David had to say:

We want to start a program where guests would be able to use a smart card to purchase admission, concessions, arcade games, miniature golf, etc. We were wondering what kind of experience other waterparks have had with such a program, and if any have suggestions as to vendors who have worked out well in getting such a program off the ground and providing technical support.

We were also wondering if any waterparks have instituted a drug testing program for employees. If so, what kind of costs have been involved, has the program been successful, how was the program received by employees, and was the testing done in-house or through a local agency?

We appreciate any advice, suggestions, etc., that you might have. General information would be great for the blog, but if anyone has specific names of companies or vendors, we would appreciate it if you could e-mail this information to with a cc: to Thanks for your ideas and suggestions.