Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lady Luck Reigns Over Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 21

You seek her… hoping she’ll be on your side.  She appears…an enchanting seductress…and you decide to take a chance.

But the more chances you take, the more she craves…you.  Her eyes grow cold.   Her face contorts into...something that is not human.  Her charming laugh turns to rabid growl.  Your luck has run out.  You have made your last choice.

For 25 nights beginning September 23, Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights returns as the nation’s best and most intense Halloween event. Guests will confront extreme Halloween entertainment that cannot be experienced anywhere else.  This year, they will scream as they become prey to fiendish creatures, panic as they come face-to-face with a horrifying “thing,” feel chills as they are haunted by deceased souls – and watch in paralyzing fear as Lady Luck transforms from a tempting seductress to a bloodthirsty beast.

Lady Luck is the force behind this year’s event, and she awaits those brave enough to challenge her and take a chance.  Her main weapon is choice, and her desire is for you to make yours.  But no matter what you decide, you can’t escape the terror she has in store at Halloween Horror Nights 21.

Click here to learn details about the event and to see the real face of Lady Luck.

For a detailed listing of each haunted house, scarezone and show featured at this year’s event, see below.

Halloween Horror Nights runs September 23-24, September 29-30, October 1-2, 6-9, 13-16, 19-23 and 26-31.  Tickets and vacation packages are on sale now and can be purchased at Due to the event’s popularity, tickets for weekend nights are expected to sell out and should be purchased well in advance. 

Guests can get updates and exclusive details on Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights on the event’s official Facebook page ( and Twitter handle (@UORHHN). 


Nevermore: The Madness of Poe
The madness of Edgar Allen Poe’s greatest works has come to life.  Step into the mind of the iconic writer, where every turn of the page takes you closer to the brink of insanity.

The Forsaken
Four ships began Columbus’s fateful voyage, only three became legend. Condemned to a watery grave, the mutinous and cursed crew of that fourth ship has returned with a vengeance.  For within the walls of a Spanish fort, a maelstrom has brought from the depths....death itself.

H.R. Bloodengutz Presents: Holidays of Horror
Join creature feature host, H.R. Bloodengutz, in his final televised broadcast as he presents a SCARE-athon of holiday-based horror that is guaranteed to cleave you screaming for more.

The Thing
Paranoia spreads like an epidemic among a group of researchers in an isolated Antarctic outpost as they are infected, one by one, by a horrifying creature from another planet. In a place where there is nothing, they found something.

Saws N’ Steam: Into the Machine
Spinning blades and massive, crushing pistons await you around every corner as you are forced deeper into the bowels of a mechanical nightmare.  Give yourself to “The Machine.”

The In-Between
An ominous portal reveals a 3rd dimension where all is not what it seems: a realm where our world and another collide.  Surrounded by fiendish creatures, your eyes will deceive you with every step through this phantasm of terror.

Winter’s Night: The Haunting of Hawthorn Cemetery
As snow falls on this normally serene gothic cemetery, the deceased souls that occupy its confines have their sights set upon you, insuring that the chill you feel up your spine is more than just the cold of night.

Nightingales: Blood Prey
Within every war, the Nightingales have appeared.  Able to transform themselves to fit any setting, these savage banshees feed on the weak and the helpless.  Patrolling WWI era trenches, you discover that you are more than just at war…you’re being hunted.


Acid Assault
For decades now the city has been degrading from the effects of Acid Rain that still falls today, caused by factories which sprung up on the city’s edges during the 20th century.  Those that have lived and survived the blistering decay are all alone in the city. Survivors have stripped the city of all life to sustain their own…dare to enter the ACID ASSAULT.

Canyon of Dark Souls
Upon entering into the Canyon of Dark Souls, you will feel like a small spec of humanity as the overwhelming sense of death surrounds you. Creatures that dwell within the Canyon are not welcoming so walk slowly as to not disturb them.

Grown Evil
Enter, if you dare, into our garden where Evil grows. Nature has taken this once well manicured sanctuary back from the humans who once kept it.  Now the creatures that inhabit the garden are making any human that enters their prey.

Journey through the ever changing maze of darkness.  This all black maze will morph and change as you walk through it. You will not be scared the same way twice.

As daylight shines upon our Temptresses, their appearance, though evil, allows you the spectacle of beauty.  As night falls, these 7 temptresses will show their true colors and take on their true Fatal Evil forms. Beware of your own temptations.

Your Luck Has Run Out
Enter if you dare into the lair of the LUCKY!  Your choices will determine if you make it out alive. Witness lucks deadly wrath, will she choose you to be her next victim?


Bill & Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure
Party on as those two most excellent dudes return to skewer the biggest names in entertainment and pop culture.

Death Drums
A seductive, hard-hitting and raw extreme drumming experience. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nemesis inverted roller coaster is the popular choice for Alton Towers' roller coaster "king"

Nemesis. Photo: Alton Towers
Nemesis was officially crowned ‘King of the Coasters’ at Alton Towers Resort on 29 August 2011, after 8 weeks of public voting in the ‘All Time Greats’ Rollercoaster Elections. The votes were registered over 8 weeks at the Resort and online, but Nemesis emerged victorious with 41% of the votes, followed by Oblivion (21%), Air (20%), TH13TEEN (10%) and Rita (8%).

The votes were registered over 8 weeks at the Resort and online, but Nemesis emerged victorious with 41% of the votes, followed by Oblivion (21%), Air (20%), TH13TEEN (10%) and Rita (8%).

Nemesis was Europe’s first inverted coaster when it launched in 1994 and was the oldest contender in the election. Over 50 million people have ridden it since it opened and experienced its top speed of 81km per hour and g force of 4.

Katherine Duckworth, head of consumer marketing at the Alton Towers Resort, comments, “Nemesis has always been a popular choice and the voting outcome just shows that it hasn’t lost its appeal, even 17 years after it launched. As Europe’s first inverted rollercoaster, Nemesis is still a groundbreaking ride and we are delighted to crown it King of the Coasters at the Alton Towers Resort.”

Alton Towers Resort was designated the Kingdom of Alton Towers Resort for the day to celebrate and the ride was officially crowned with a giant floating crowns. Riders wearing crowns marked the coronation.

Adventures by Disney® offers new historical tours in 2012

BURBANK, Calif., Aug. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Adventures by Disney, a leader in guided family travel, announces the addition of two new destinations to its repertoire of immersive family vacations – Greece: "Greek Odyssey" and Northern France: "Esprit de France" – available to travelers in 2012. The adventure continues in Egypt with "Pyramids, Pharaohs & Ancient Treasures," an unforgettable expedition. New for 2012, Adventures by Disney will feature distinct enhancements to its Australia, London and Paris and Galapagos Islands departures – details, dates and rates are available at

Over the last six years, Adventures by Disney has developed a collection of exhilarating tours with one goal in mind: help families experience the most sought-after and culturally stimulating destinations in the world. 

Three featured adventures for 2012:
"Greek Odyssey" Athens, Santorini and Crete  

"Pyramids, Pharaohs & Ancient Treasures" Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, the Nile and Sharm El Sheikh
"Esprit de France" Paris, Normandy and Loire Valley

Three enhanced itineraries for 2012:
"Discovery Down Under" Australia and Tasmania
"Grandiosos Galapagos" Galapagos Islands
"Cities of Knights and Lights" London and Paris

About Adventures by Disney
Launched in 2005, Adventures by Disney provides group guided-family vacation experiences to destinations in Europe, North America, South America, Africa, Asia and Australia.
Over the last six years, the brand has been recognized by numerous travel organizations for its excellence in family tourism and was ranked #1 among Tour Operators and Safari Outfitters for Families in Travel + Leisure's World's Best awards 2011 readers' survey.

John C. Racanelli Named CEO of the National Aquarium Institute (Baltimore & Washington DC, USA)

John Racanelli. Photo: NAI
John C. Racanelli has been named Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Aquarium Institute (NAI) by unanimous approval of the Board of Directors.

The aquarium industry veteran, who assumes responsibilities July 18, will oversee the NAI’s aquariums in Baltimore and Washington DC, as well as the National Aquarium Conservation Center (NACC), the Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation (CALC), and the National Aquarium Foundation.

A passionate advocate for ocean conservation, Mr. Racanelli was formerly president of Racanelli Partners, Inc., a San Francisco based consulting firm that serves the needs of non-profit leaders nationally and globally, focusing on cultural and conservation organizations. 

Harbor Market Kitchen at National Aquarium, Baltimore stresses fresh, local and sustainable fare and reflects the conservation culture of the facility

“With the confirmation of John Racanelli as the National Aquarium’s next CEO, the Board of Directors has clearly set an agenda for the future,” said Board Chair Jennifer Reynolds. “John’s wealth of experience in strategy development, change management, and fundraising provides the essential foundation needed to ensure the Aquarium’s national reputation and expand its conservation mission. His record of environmental accomplishments speaks directly to the organization’s goal of serving as a global voice for conservation.”

Racanelli has spent nearly 20 years in leadership positions at US aquariums. He was the first CEO of the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, where he built the facility, team and vision for Tampa Bay’s leading cultural attraction. Prior to that, he served for nine years on the leadership team of the Monterey Bay Aquarium as its VP of Marketing and Development, joining the aquarium a year before its opening.

“I believe the modern movement towards inspiring care for our blue planet can trace much of its origin to the National Aquarium, which set a new standard for appreciating the aquatic world 30 years ago,” said Racanelli. “I am deeply honored to be a part of carrying this mission forward. This opportunity to lead and support NAI is the culmination of my own life’s work, and I will bear that responsibility with great dedication and humility. I can’t tell you how excited I am to lead and support the team that will propel this organization to its rightful place as a global voice for ocean and aquatic conservation.”

Racanelli recently completed a three-year assignment as Executive Advisor to renowned oceanographer Sylvia Earle, with whom he co-founded the Sylvia Earle Foundation. In addition to helping Dr. Earle build the board, mission and vision for her new foundation, John assisted her in the 2009 development and launch of Google Ocean, and in the creation of Mission Blue, a long term partnership with the National Geographic Society.

Other recent clients have included the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, for whom he led development of a five-year Global Plan of Action; the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS); the Surfrider Foundation; Google Inc.; and numerous other businesses and organizations nationwide.

“By recommending John Racanelli, the Aquarium’s search committee selected an individual whose breadth of experience and environmental stewardship will ably address the multiple facets of the National Aquarium Institute,” noted Don Pettit, board member and search committee chair. “In its 30th year, the Aquarium is no longer a single entity attraction. Today, it comprises aquariums in two cities, nationally recognized conservation education programs, major community, government, and corporate partnerships, a beautifully restored brown field park on the Patapsco’s Middle River, and a newly established Conservation Center. Behind the glass and beyond the glass, the National Aquarium is positioned for new achievements and success– we look to John Racanelli to lead the way.”

Racanelli holds a degree in Strategic Management from Dominican University of California. He is a SCUBA diver, open water swimmer, sailor and surfer. Fluent in Spanish, he is a published author and commentator on NPR. The new CEO and his spouse, Susan, will relocate to Maryland from San Rafael, CA.

Racanelli succeeds David M. Pittenger who concludes 30 years of service to the National Aquarium, 15 of them as CEO. He arrives as the organization celebrates its 30th year on Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and launches its future with a commitment to providing transforming experiences that inspire people to enjoy, respect, and protect the aquatic world.

Harbor Market Kitchen at National Aquarium, Baltimore stresses fresh, local and sustainable fare and reflects the conservation culture of the facility

The newly renovated space offers an inviting atmosphere where guests can take a refreshment break from their Aquarium tour while learning about earth-friendly food practices. It doubles as a special event space.

BALTIMORE, USA Aug. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Visitors to the National Aquarium can make even more of their experience thanks to the opening of the Harbor Market Kitchen, a newly renovated dining experience offering fresh, local fare that is in perfect harmony with the Aquarium's green business practices and conservation education mission. Using sustainable and local products including seasonal produce, artisanal cheeses, grass-fed beef, humanely raised chicken, sustainably-harvested seafood and shade-grown coffee, the Harbor Market Kitchen is an extension of a visit to the National Aquarium and operated by Sodexo Leisure, a premier food provider to cultural destinations around the world.

The Aquarium's main cafe had seen the wear and tear of more than 1.4 million visitors per year since it opened in 2005. The newly renovated space offers an inviting atmosphere where guests can take a refreshment break from their Aquarium tour while learning about earth-friendly food practices. 

"We took the opportunity not only to renovate the space, but also use our cafe as another avenue to help our visitors make thoughtful choices about the planet in their daily lives," said the National Aquarium's Senior Director of Visitor Experiences Bill Minarik. "The concept complements the sustainable business choices we make throughout Aquarium operations, and helps visitors do the same in their daily lives."

The menu at the Harbor Market Kitchen was modeled from local farmers markets and offers wholesome, farm-to-table preparations showcasing that the food is farmed, not manufactured.

"Harbor Market Kitchen's menus are designed to feature the seasonal ingredients and celebrate the farmer – profiling the bounty that Baltimore has to offer in one of its most notable landmarks," says Sodexo Leisure's National Director of Culinary Development Chazz Alberti. "Harbor Market Kitchen is relaxed enough for families during the day, transforming itself in the evening into a backdrop for celebrations and events." 

Copyright All rights reserved by National Aquarium

Harbor Kitchen Market renovations also include composting stations that return valuable nutrients back to the soil and reduce our impact on the earth. The restaurant utilizes recycled, compostable materials, and offers alternatives to non biodegradable waste whenever possible such as sustainably harvested bamboo plates and bowls along with compostable potato based fork, knives and spoons.

Finally, visitors will enjoy an upscale, relaxing dining experience with a choice of seating at high stools or traditional tables, set in a backdrop of ocean-themed colors.

About Sodexo
Sodexo's Leisure team is a premier provider to cultural destinations around the world, including supporting the missions of many cultural institutions in the U.S. including the Houston Zoo, the Museum of Science and Industry and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, and Dallas Museum of Art.

About the National Aquarium

The National Aquarium is globally engaged in aquatic conservation from Chesapeake Bay to Costa Rica; a world-class entertainment attraction with engaging exhibits; committed to education with programs that connect children with the aquatic environment; a sought-after partner with alliances around the world; and the #1 tourist attraction in Maryland and unique in Washington, DC, with more than 16,000 animals in its living collections.

The National Aquarium Institute is a nationally recognized and respected conservation organization comprised of venues in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, DC, the National Aquarium Foundation, the Center for Aquatic Life and Conservation, and the National Aquarium Conservation Center.

Halloween 2011 at Ocean Park Hong Kong

With the celebration of Halloween becoming more popular across China, an increasing number of visitors from mainland China are making a pilgrimage to Ocean Park for an authentic taste of Halloween. 

Ocean Park Hong Kong announced the "Republic of Halloween," the 11th annual Ocean Park Halloween Bash. The new republic comes complete with inauguation ceremony, national anthem and national flag, presided over by park chairman Dr. Allan Zeman as emperor.

Dr. Zeman said, “The establishment of the Republic of Halloween will help us spread Hong Kong’s unique Halloween culture, engendered by Ocean Park, to all corners of the world. This year, we are introducing for the first time ever a locally-developed 3D technology in our Nightmare in 3D to plunge guests into a world where reality and illusion cannot be distinguished. We have also created a solo haunted journey in Fear Factory, where each guest would have to escape from a booby-trapped coffin factory alone.”

Dr. Zeman added, “We will also put on a Carnival for the Damned at Aqua City. The show will include the first-ever haunted spectacular on a water-screen. In addition, guests will have a chance to encounter 444 ghosts and ghouls, including Lady Gwai Gwai, a superstar in the underworld. We will also spread Halloween culture outside the Park to all of Hong Kong through a ghost car parde, haunted commercials, ghastly gifts, a macabre embassy and more. Kids visiting Ocean Park in the daytime can share in the Halloween spirit at Creepy Treats for Kids.”

Fear and trembling in the Republic of Halloween begin at the Waterfront. Joining the world-wide craze for 3D cinema, Ocean Park will take the experience outside of theatres with Nightmare in 3D. Guests will be plunged into a nightmare with images of horror and ghosts leaping towards them. Once awakened, guests will need to gather their wits to make it through Fear Factory, a solo haunted journey filled with tricks and traps.

When night falls, the Lagoon in Aqua City will be turned into what appears to be a pool of blood and the 360° water screen will play host to the first-ever Carnival for the Damned. Giant bizarre puppets and a ghoulish procession will come together for a party from the nether-regions. After enjoying the frightful frenzy, guests will be able to tour Macabre Studio, where they can revisit scenes from classic horror movies.

With the celebration of Halloween becoming more popular across China, an increasing number of visitors from mainland China are making a pilgrimage to Ocean Park for an authentic taste of Halloween. Therefore, Ocean Park has created Torture Chamber of the Dragon Empress, which features many eerie elements familiar to all Chinese people. An evil empress will burst out of her coffin to brandish notorious torture devices. Guests who manage to escape the Chamber can visit the Psychic Club to learn about their future from a fortuneteller who dispenses his wisdom in rap; they can also dance away their fears at Nightmare Prelude, Fury of Lights, Satire from the Other Side or Forbidden Dances.

Terror will also reign on the Summit during Ocean Park Halloween Bash. Zombies will be eager to engage guests in a laser tag game at Zombie Mayhem, a military camp setting with various interactive elements and zombies carrying their own laser tag guns. Lady Gwai Gwai, who rose to fame last year, will take to the stage with fright bands in Freaky Party of Halloween Republic, a spooky variety show that features hair-raising aerial stunts guaranteed to please the crowd.

At the Bloody Workshop, a deranged artist will use blood to paint on carcasses to create works for his exhibition, while paper dolls usually burned as offerings will band together and take revenge on humans at the Paper Doll Paradise.

Since legends have it that the final bus ride of the day is reserved for denizens of the spiritual world, guests visiting The Last Bus will learn about the nightmarish tales behind some of the most blood-curdling lore in Hong Kong. Those thirsting for yet more screams would do well to take in the various shows on offer at the Summit, including: Asylum Breakout, Haunted City Tales, The Cocoon Party, Dance of Paper Offerings and Lady Lucifer’s Revue. They can also strut their scary stuff at the Demon Street of Dance Competition and the Wicked Image Design Contest.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Intelligent Design advocates pursue lawsuits against science institutions

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 29, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The state-run California Science Center (CSC) has paid $110,000 to settle a lawsuit by American Freedom Alliance (AFA) against CSC for violating AFA's First Amendment free speech rights to advocate intelligent design (ID), according to Discovery Institute. 

CSC rented its IMAX theater to AFA to show Darwin's Dilemma, a science documentary advocating ID but later cancelled AFA's event. AFA filed suit in California Superior Court alleging viewpoint discrimination and breach of contract.

AFA was represented by William J. Becker, Jr. of The Becker Law Firm, who was supported in the case by the Rutherford Institute. The case number is BC 423687. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cultural institutions using Tessitura enterprise software meet this year in Orlando; next year in San Diego

DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Tessitura Network Inc.— leading global provider of enterprise software technology, services and community for the arts and cultural sector— welcomed close to 1,000 people to the annual Tessitura Learning & Community Conference (TLCC), held July 17-21 at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando. The theme “Inspire, Imagine, Innovate!” included examples of creative innovations at some of the world’s premiere arts and cultural institutions, such as technological advances in constituent management, connectivity to social media outlets and streamlined access to mission-critical data via new configurable user-defined Tessitura dashboards. The event offered over 180 topical presentations and discussions.

TLCC allows Tessitura Software users to share their ideas on utilizing the unified platform to manage customer relationships, ticketing, marketing, fundraising, memberships, educational programming, reporting and online transactions. Sessions were coordinated by a planning committee of Tessitura users, and topics in 2011 included such titles as “Trends in Digital, Social and Mobile,” “Going Green,” “Selling the Experience,” “Finding Your Donors,” “Segmentation for Marketing” and “Booking Education Events Online.” Conference attendees represented theatres, performing arts centers, dance companies, orchestras, opera companies, museums, university arts departments and more, and included cross-departmental delegates from over 200 organizations worldwide.

Attending organizations range in size from less than $1 million annual budget to well over $300 million. Jack Rubin, President of the Tessitura Network commented, “The Tessitura Conference is a cross-genre, cross-function, cross-size, global conference for arts and cultural organizations. Since part of our mission is to enable the sharing of ideas between peers and organizations we are focused on a knowledge sharing experience and not on selling services or raising revenue. Thus, it was incredibly refreshing to see the open exchange of ideas and the “light bulb moments” between arts and cultural organizations at TLCC2011. We look forward to TLCC2012 in San Diego.”

About Tessitura Network Inc.
More than 360 theaters, orchestras, performing arts centers, museums, festivals, dance companies, opera companies, and university arts-affiliated departments and venues in six countries are Members of the Tessitura Network. Tessitura Software, the flagship product of the Tessitura Network, is solution-specific to the arts and cultural sector. The software serves as a living repository of all patron and prospect information, plus processes ticket and admission sales, handles memberships and philanthropic relationships, powers Web transactions, manages customer relationships and creates reports.

Educational events, special events and group bookings are also handled by Tessitura Software. Companion products and services include N-Scan® for access control, TN Express Web® for an expressway to Web integration, T-Stats™ for data mining, RAMP™ for Tessitura deployment via a hosted option, and more.

Tessitura Network’s support services and development programs are guided by a team of highly-qualified industry professionals based in every continent where it has Members. As a non-profit corporation governed by an elected board of Tessitura Software users, the organization is focused on improving how it can best serve its users rather than a profit motive.

$150k federal grant to Sixth Floor Museum will broaden access to collection

DALLAS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza has received a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) totaling $150,000. Museums for America is IMLS’ largest grant program for museums, supporting projects and activities that help institutions better serve their communities.

The grant, awarded in the Collections Stewardship category, will support a comprehensive cataloging project that will broaden public access to important artifacts, images and documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and its aftermath.

“Building upon work that is already in progress, this project will dramatically increase awareness of the Museum’s wealth of historical materials and collections resources, not just items on display in the permanent exhibit, which represent less than five percent of our holdings,” said Nicola Longford, Executive Director of the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.

The Museum’s diverse, actively growing collection of approximately 35,000 items is one of the world’s most important sources of artifacts, images, documents, audio and visual recordings, oral histories and other documentation of the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy and the cultural legacy of that event. For more, visit

About IMLS
The Institute for Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development.

About the Museum
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history. Located at 411 Elm Street in downtown Dallas, the Museum is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday and 12 to 6 p.m. Monday. Audio guides for the permanent exhibit are available in seven languages, and a youth version is available in English. For more information, visit or call 214-747-6660.

SkyVenture Opens Indoor Skydiving Attractions at Sentosa Resort, Dubai Mirdif City Centre & Seattle South Center Mall

SkyVenture Orlando
SENTOSA, Singapore--A group of investors led by entrepreneur Lawrence Koh has opened what is said to be the world’s largest vertical wind tunnel on Sentosa Island. iFLY Singapore safely recreates true free-fall skydiving. Since opening in May, the indoor skydiving attraction is on track to generate more than $8 million USD revenue in its first year.

The indoor skydiving equipment was designed and built by SkyVenture International, LTD and is the company’s most ambitious installation to date. iFLY Singapore boasts a flight chamber 5 meters / 16.4 feet in diameter and 17.2 meters / 56.6 feet tall with four panoramic windows making up the entire circular flight chamber. At Mr. Koh’s request, SkyVenture added 3 meters / 9 feet of transparent acrylic panels above the flight chamber, allowing spectators to see flyers high in the tube and flyers to see famous Siloso beach less than 100 meters away. The attraction also employs SkyVenture’s patented air-conditioning system.

iFLY Singapore is an efficient wind tunnel requiring on average only 450 kilowatts. The flight chamber doors can be opened during flight to exchange groups without pausing. iFLY Singapore also features SkyVenture’s patented wall-to-wall airflow, completely eliminating the risk of “falling off” the air column. It is powered by four high-efficiency axial fans mounted in the upper leg of the tunnel—the optimum location for safety, efficiency and durability.

iFLY Singapore
is the newest addition to the iFLY global franchise. iFLY Singapore faces the ocean with a clear view of the South China Sea. The facility houses a snack bar and three restaurants, including a McDonald’s™. iFLY Singapore is sited within the Sentosa integrated resort, near the Universal Studios™ Theme Park, a zipline adventure park, a surfing attraction, a flying trapeze park and a marine life park. It is accessible by car, train, tram and bus.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates--With the opening of iFLY Dubai, the
Majid Al Futtaim Group brings indoor skydiving to the UAE’s newest mall at Mirdif City Centre. Mirdif is one of the largest malls in the MENA region, with a gross leasable area of 196,000 square meters, over 400 stores, 75 restaurants and 7,000 parking spaces. iFLY Dubai serves as the anchor of Mirdif’s entertainment offerings that also include indoor soccer fields, a bowling alley, a 10-screen multiplex, a spa, and a fitness center with swimming pool.

iFLY Dubai boasts two 3-meter/10-foot diameter wind tunnels capable of reaching speeds of 285 kmph/177 mph. The flight chambers are each monolithic, 10-meter/32.8-feet tall single pieces of acrylic with no metal or framing to block the spectators’ view. They are mounted so that they can be seen from the open atrium of the shopping mall.

All the equipment for the tunnel was designed and built by SkyVenture International, LTD. The iFLY Dubai tunnels are the third and fourth SkyVenture tunnels in the UAE and they are outfitted with the company's patented air-conditioning system. The tunnels also feature SkyVenture’s patented wall-to-wall airflow and multiple, high-efficiency axial fans mounted in the upper leg of the tunnel.

SEATTLE, Washington USA--
iFLY Seattle brings indoor skydiving to the Emerald City with the opening an indoor skydiving facility in the Pacific Northwest. This unique amusement attraction recreates free-fall. Located adjacent to Seattle’s South Center Mall, the facility features a fourth-generation SkyVenture wind tunnel capable of speeds of up to 257 kmph/160 mph.

Bill Adams, an avid skydiver and former green-beret, realized his dream of 20 years by opening the business this August. “I just knew that if you could make this safe people would love to do it. It’s skydiving without having to worry about jumping out of a plane and pulling a chute.”

The tunnel has a 4.3-meter/14-foot diameter circular glass flight chamber with SkyVenture’s patented wall-to-wall airflow completely eliminating the risk of “falling off” the air column. It is powered by four high-efficiency axial fans mounted in the upper leg of the tunnel—the optimum location for safety, efficiency, and durability. An airlock allows the operator to exchange flyers without pausing operation. The tunnel is also outfitted with an automated, state-of-the-art photo and video recording system letting customers take their flight experience home when they leave.

“There is a pent-up demand for indoor adventure in this area,” Adams concludes. “We have a young demographic of energetic people looking for fun and exciting things to do with their families. Combined with our notoriously bad weather, it’s like a perfect storm for a vertical wind tunnel.”

About SkyVenture

is a leading manufacturer of vertical wind tunnels. Twenty-three SkyVenture tunnels currently operate in nine countries around the world, under the brand names SkyVenture, iFLY, Airkix and Freezone. SkyVenture’s unique designs, innovative technologies and well-known brands are patented and trademarked in over 138 countries.

Over the last decade, SkyVenture has flown over 5 million people. The company has built or is building tunnels in the US, Canada, UK, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, Russia, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Italy, France and Brazil. SkyVenture tunnels currently operate in some of the hottest deserts (four in UAE, one in Spain, one in Arizona), in the coldest regions (Moscow, New Hampshire & Montreal), and at some of the highest elevations (2300 meters above sea level in Malaysia) in the world.

SkyVenture franchises the equipment in North America through iFLY Franchising, LLC. SkyVenture International sells equipment and licenses the technology throughout the rest of the world. SV Finance, BVBA, offers a variety of financing options for qualified buyers.

Hallmark stores in Merlin Entertainments properties will deploy Thunder Ridge greenscreen video

BURBANK, Calif., USA /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Merlin Entertainments Group and Hallmark announced a multi-year cooperative deal with Thunder Ridge Entertainment, an amusement-based video entertainment company, to provide the company's newest green screen greetings to Merlin's amusement park-based Hallmark stores throughout Europe.

The deal calls for Thunder Ridge to provide Merlin Entertainments Group's 41 European attraction parks with the company's latest i-Bobble Holiday Greeting Card System as well as the company's signature attraction, Bopping Heads, a green screen amusement which features guest's heads superimposed on dancing and animated bodies all to the beat of their favorite music.

"Previously we have had a couple of systems scattered throughout Europe, however, this alliance is fundamental to our strategy to gain presence in Europe and the rest of the world. This deal puts Bopping Heads on the map in Europe," said George Domaceti, chairman of Thunder Ridge Entertainment. "Because we have arrangements with independent owner/operators in the US and Canada, we cannot bring forward this same deal in their U.S. locations, however we will be speaking with our independent operators here in the U.S. and Canada in order to procure their interest in these types of locations. We now have almost 150 locations in the U.S. alone."

The plan calls for the subsequent implementation of these video entertainment systems to additional theme parks on 4 continents.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Busch Gardens Tampa shows new animal care center/visitor attraction in construction

It will be a working care facility that allows visitors to watch and even participate. The park opens its new Animal Care Center in winter 2011.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

250-room LEGOLAND California hotel opens 2013; construction starts in October 2011
The hotel will be designed for families with young children and will feature rooms and suites themed after the most popular LEGOLAND areas. The LEGOLAND Hotel joins the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa and the Grand Pacific Palisades already on Resort property. While this is the first LEGOLAND Hotel in the United States, it will be the third in the world following LEGOLAND Windsor Hotel opening in 2012 and LEGOLAND Billund which opened a 176-room LEGOLAND Hotel in 1991.  

CARLSBAD, Calif. USA (Aug. 25, 2011) – “LEGOLAND® California Resort is ready to grow again,” announced General Manager of LEGOLAND California Resort Peter Ronchetti. “In the summer of 2013, right where you are sitting, we are opening LEGOLAND® Hotel,” he announced to invited guests and media at today’s press conference.

The three-story LEGOLAND Hotel is being designed to give guests the interactive family experience that has brought success to LEGOLAND California, SEA LIFE™ Carlsbad Aquarium and LEGOLAND® Water Park. Created to bring children’s imaginations to life, the 250-room LEGO® themed hotel will feature brightly colored LEGO décor, a pool area and restaurant. LEGOLAND Hotel will be the first of its kind in North America and construction is set to begin in October.

The announcement was made at the site where the hotel will be built which is to the right of LEGOLAND California’s entrance in an area currently used for bus parking. Icons from each of the Resort’s attractions flanked the background as Ronchetti spoke to each one’s success. Ride cars from Safari Trek and Volvo Driving School and the costumed character “Buddy” represented LEGOLAND California which opened in 1999 and continues its stellar growth streak by having the most successful year in the history of the family theme park in 2010. A 12-foot acrylic shark along with two Aquarists represented SEA LIFE Carlsbad Aquarium which opened in 2008 and focuses on educating children on the wonders of the underwater world in a way specifically designed for their understanding. Two lifeguards wearing customized Build-A-Rafts represented the world’s first LEGOLAND Water Park which opened last year and was honored with the World Water Park Association’s prestigious Industry Innovation Award. And lastly, a six-foot tall model of a hotel bellhop built out of more than 37,000 LEGO bricks was revealed – the first model built for LEGOLAND Hotel.

Mayor Pro Tem Ann Kulchin from the City of Carlsbad congratulated Ronchetti on the announcement after she rode in on LEGOLAND California’s whimsical “Brick Mobile” pulling behind it a queen-sized bed decked out with colorful bedding and LEGO brick graphics. “We’ve been waiting for this and now it’s finally happening and I’m so pleased,” said Kulchin. “Carlsbad has the reputation of being family oriented and this is the piece of the puzzle that really needs to be here.” With that declaration, more than 28,000 thousand multi-colored DUPLO® bricks (a DUPLO brick is exactly twice the dimension of a standard LEGO brick) weighing more than one-thousand pounds were poured out of a big front loader onto the bed below. Children invited from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Carlsbad wore pajamas to the press conference to get in the “hotel mood” and squealed with delight as the bricks came pouring down on to the bed.

The City of Carlsbad Planning Commission approved LEGOLAND California Resort’s request for permission to build a hotel on Resort property in 2009. “Once the rest of the proper approvals were attained, we had to consider many factors including economic recovery, before establishing the perfect opening date for this remarkable hotel,” Ronchetti explained. “But now, we are ready to move forward in our development and I can’t wait to bring the LEGOLAND experience to the next level for our guests.”

Like LEGOLAND California and the SEA LIFE Carlsbad Aquarium, the hotel will be designed for families with young children and will feature rooms and suites themed after the most popular LEGOLAND areas. The LEGOLAND Hotel joins the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort and Spa and the Grand Pacific Palisades already on Resort property.

While this is the first LEGOLAND Hotel in the United States, it will be the third in the world following LEGOLAND Windsor Hotel opening in 2012 and LEGOLAND Billund which opened a 176-room LEGOLAND Hotel in 1991.

LEGOLAND® California Resort includes LEGOLAND California and SEA LIFE™ Carlsbad Aquarium, both geared for families with children between the ages of 2 and 12. At LEGOLAND California, you’ll find more than 60 rides, shows and attractions including the 5.5 acre LEGOLAND Water Park and the all-new Star Wars™ Miniland. SEA LIFE incorporates LEGO® models into a child’s voyage to the depths of the ocean and features play zones, fun facts, quiz trails and the new Octopus Garden. For more information, log on to or call (760) 918-LEGO.

MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS is a leader in location-based, family entertainment, and has seen dynamic growth of any company over the last five years. Merlin now operates 77 attractions, six hotels/two holiday villages in 17 countries and across four continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its 43.6 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and more than 16,000 employees. Merlin Entertainments operates the following attractions - SEA LIFE, Madame Tussauds, LEGOLAND, The EDF Energy London Eye, Dungeons, Gardaland, LEGOLAND Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park, Chessington World of Adventures Resort, Heide Park, Earth Explorer, Sydney Aquarium, Sydney Wildlife World, Sydney Tower Observatory and Skywalk, Kelly Tarlton’s Antarctic Encounter Underwater World, Oceanworld Manly and Hamilton Island Koala Gallery. Visit for more information.

SpongeBob & Dora on the Gold Coast: Nickelodeon & Village Roadshow ink licensing deal for Sea World, Australia
Queensland, Australia -- Village Roadshow Theme Parks (VRTP) and Nickelodeon announced a new partnership to bring a SpongeBob SquarePants parade to Sea World marine wildlife theme park on the Gold Coast this summer. A large-scale attraction for fans of all ages, the parade will be developed exclusively for Sea World by the creative team behind SpongeBob SquarePants and will feature key characters and design elements from the popular animated series.

The multi-year deal between VRTP and Nickelodeon will also include a live stage show of Nick Jr.’s Dora the Explorer that will feature character appearances to entertain pre-school aged kids at Sea World. The Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. brands will also be integrated into the Sea World Resort water park and kids’ club. Additionally, a range of SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer consumer products will be available as part of the Nickelodeon integration, including some items offered exclusively at Sea World.

“The Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. brands have a unique resonance with families and are the perfect fit for the Sea World and Sea World Resort properties,” said Dale Stratford, Executive Director of Marketing, Village Roadshow Theme Parks. “This is a fantastic union of world-class entertainment brands, which will be of great benefit to both parties.”

“Nickelodeon is thrilled to be teaming up with Village Roadshow Theme Parks on these new attractions,” added Ben Richardson General Manager for Nickelodeon Australia and New Zealand. “This is a major milestone for our burgeoning local recreation business and an important next step in our brand expansion across all facets of entertainment for Australians.”

"We are looking forward to bringing Nickelodeon attractions to kids and families in Australia,” said Gerald Raines, Senior Director, Nickelodeon Theme Parks and Attractions. “Sea World is a premier family park on the Gold Coast and the ideal location for a one-of-a-kind entertainment experience featuring the pop culture icon and the world’s most optimistic sea sponge, SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Further details of the SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer attractions and Sea World Resort attractions will be revealed in the coming months, with launch planned for late 2011 during the peak summer holiday period.

About Village Roadshow Theme Parks

Village Roadshow Theme Parks (VRTP) is Australia’s largest theme park operator with Sea World, Warner Bros. Movie World, Wet’n’Wild Water World, Paradise Country, Australian Outback Spectacular, Warner Roadshow Studios and Sea World Resort in its Gold Coast portfolio. VRTP brings people together of all ages, cultures and backgrounds to enjoy the highest international theme park standards of quality, fun and entertainment. VRTPs’ parent company is Village Roadshow.

About Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon, now in its 32nd year, is the premiere entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books, magazines and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in more than 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 16 consecutive years. Nick-branded attractions and parks around the world include the newly launched “Nickelodeon Land” at Pleasure Beach in Blackpool, England; “Nickelodeon Universe” in Minneapolis’ Mall of America; and “Nickland” at Movie Park Germany. Nickelodeon experiences are also offered at Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla. and Hollywood, Calif. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B).

SpongeBob SquarePants

A as a happy-go-lucky sea sponge living out his adventures in a wacky underwater world, SpongeBob SquarePants has emerged as a pop culture phenomenon. The TV show has remained a top-rating animated series for kids aged 2-11 for over 10 consecutive years, and the series has been syndicated across 171 markets in 36 languages. The SpongeBob SquarePants range of merchandise comprises books, DVD’s, clothing, footwear, accessories, homeware, manchester, stationery, confectionery and more, available through major and leading independent retailers.

Dora The Explorer

Dora the Explorer is a play-along, animated adventure series starring Dora, a seven-year-old bi-lingual Latina heroine, whose adventures take place in a tropical world with her best buddy, Boots the monkey. Developed in consultation with educational professionals, in each episode Dora calls upon the home viewer to help her to solve puzzles, overcome obstacles, and reach her goals. The TV show is watched by preschoolers all over the world, and consistently rates for Nick Jr. as the number one preschool program in the country. The Dora the Explorer range includes an array of books, DVD’s, clothing, footwear and accessories, homeware, manchester, stationery, confectionery and more, available from major and leading independent retailers.

Giant Screen Cinema Association to elect new Board members in October 2011

GSCA leadership at the March 2010 Film Expo. Photo: James Hyder, LF Examiner.
"This is an important election at a critical time in the industry," says GSCA executive director Tammy Seldon.

The GSCA (Giant Screen Cinema Association) Governance Committee is seeking nominations from among the association's membership for the GSCA Board of Directors election to be held October 10 – November 9, 2011. Six of the ten current Directors whose terms are expiring are ineligible to run for re-election per GSCA term limits.

Ten seats will be filled in this election, and candidates will serve a two-year term. Following this election, the Board of Directors will vote upon two seats as appointees. The following are the elected Directors whose terms are now expiring (with * meaning their 6 year term limit is concluding and as such, are ineligible to run in this election):
  • Michele Canto (Canadian Museum of Civilization): Institutional Theaters
  • Laurent Dondey (La Géode): Institutional Theaters
  • Rick Gordon (RPG Productions): Manufacturer/Supplier/Other *
  • Mark Katz (National Geographic Entertainment): Distribution *
  • Patricia Keighley (DKP 70MM, Inc) Manufacturer/Supplier/Other *
  • Don Kempf (Giant Screen Films): Distribution
  • Dr. Jeffrey Kirsch (Reuben H. Fleet Science Center): Institutional Theaters
  • Greg MacGillivray (MacGillivray Freeman Films): Production *
  • Toby Mensforth (Mensforth and Associates): Institutional Theaters *
  • Gil Perez (Destination Cinema): Commercial Theaters
  • Gordon Stalans (Tennessee Aquarium): Institutional Theaters * 
GSCA has opened its nomination period through the end of September, and candidates who step forward in time have the opportunity to be introduced during the association's upcoming meetings in Texas on 20-23 September 2011.

Candidates who are elected to the Board will take office effective January 1, 2012. They will be expected to attend the association's major 2012 meetings: the Film Expo in Poitiers, France in March (March 20-22) and the 2012 International Conference and Trade Show/Dome Day Sept 18-20/Sept 21 at the Esquire IMAX Theatre in Sacramento, Calif. and The Tech Museum in San Jose, respectively. 

Carowinds amusement park announces WindSeeker for 2012 - $6.5 million, 30-story swing ride with LED lighting & audio

CHARLOTTE, N.C., USA /PRNewswire/ -- To complement the recently added Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular, Carowinds' new WindSeeker swing ride will be built with an elaborate LED lighting system. Aside from the LED spotlights that will be located at the top and bottom of the tower, the carriage of the ride will be equipped with LED light strands that will run out from the tower and down each of the ride's steel arms. At night, as the ride ascends to the top of the tower, the light display will come to life with a kaleidoscope of colorful patterns and shapes. In addition, WindSeeker will be equipped with speakers located on the ride's carriage. This on-ride audio can play up to eighteen different music tracks. 

Carowinds will debut WindSeeker in the Spring of 2012 - a $6.5 million, thirty story tall swing ride designed to give riders the sensation of flying. WindSeeker has a ride capacity of 960 passengers per hour, a 52-inch minimum height requirement and is designed and manufactured by Mondial, a 24-year-old Dutch based company focused on developing unique and innovative amusement rides. 

WindSeeker will be located in the Carolina RFD section of the park near the entrance of Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular. A portion of the lake near the Nighthawk rollercoaster will be filled in to accommodate this massive tower ride.

WindSeeker's three minute ride begins when the ride's carriage, featuring 32 two passenger swings, slowly rotates while climbing to the top of a 301-foot tower. Riders will experience a sense of weightlessness as the swings reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour and the arms extend outward at a 45-degree angle. WindSeeker will give riders an astonishing panoramic view of not only the park, but also of the greater Charlotte region.

"The sense of soaring thirty stories in the air will be both exhilarating and breathtaking at the same time," said Bart Kinzel, Carowinds' vice president and general manager. "This new addition will give guests an unparalleled view, making it a must-ride attraction for both families and thrill-seekers alike. The immense scale of this ride alone will be truly stunning."

WindSeeker will climb sixty nine feet taller than Intimidator™, the roller coaster introduced by the park in 2010. Construction will begin later this Fall and continue throughout the winter months.

Video of Windseeker at Knott's Berry Farm, opened summer 2011

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: "FUN") is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio. The Company, which owns and operates 11 amusement parks, six outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels, is one of the largest regional amusement park operators in the world. Its parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, and Toronto, Ontario. Cedar Fair also operates the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in Gilroy, California under a management contract. Cedar Fair's flagship park is Cedar Point.

Arnold Palmer Golf Management will operate, manage, maintain and help promote Disney golf courses

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida USA /PRNewswire/ -- Walt Disney World Resort and Arnold Palmer Golf Management have signed a 20-year strategic alliance. Beginning Sept. 25, Arnold Palmer Golf Management will operate, manage, maintain and help promote all five Disney courses including Disney's Palm and Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista, Osprey Ridge and Oak Trail golf courses.

As part of this long-term alliance agreement, golf legend Arnold Palmer and his golf course design team will be actively engaged in implementing strategic and innovative design features to several of the golf courses. Future enhancements include plans for a full renovation of Disney's Palm under his direction to become an Arnold Palmer designed course.

"Drawing on Arnold Palmer Golf Management's expertise and experience enables us to build on our mutual strengths and extend our appeal both among leisure players and avid golfers," said Ken Potrock, senior vice president of Disney Sports Enterprises. "We're excited about this new collaboration."

The agreement gives Arnold Palmer Golf Management an opportunity to add a uniquely Disney, family-friendly golf destination to its portfolio of more than 70 private clubs and championship golf courses. Disney Golf will be promoted within the Palmer Advantage network of golf devotees, through a dedicated website and featured within the exclusive publication, "Kingdom Magazine," which celebrates Mr. Palmer's contributions to the game of golf and extensive philanthropic ambassadorship.

Since Walt Disney World opened with two 18-hole courses in 1971, golf has been a key component of the resort.

Monday, August 22, 2011

SeaWorld San Diego shares renderings & construction photos of Manta attraction opening 2012

Manta will open at SeaWorld San Diego for the 2012 season. All images from SeaWorld San Diego.

Universal invites public to vote on finalists of short horror film competition

Universal Studios Hollywood(SM) invited aspiring filmmakers to compete in its annual "Halloween Horror Nights" short film competition, offering budding directors an opportunity to have their most disturbing horror short films judged by a panel of industry insiders.

Contest entries were accepted from June 27 through August 1, 2011. The top 10 horror shorts, as determined by the panel, have been posted online at this link for public voting through Sept 9, 2011. The winning film will be announced on September 12, 2011.

The panel that selected the 10 finalists included film auteur Eli Roth, Daily Variety senior writer, Marc Graser and "Halloween Horror Nights" Creative Director John Murdy.

Eyegore Award recipient and horror filmmaker, Eli Roth said: "As a producer I'm always looking for new talent, and happy to help a first time director get their big break. New blood, so to speak, is vital for the continuation and growth of our beloved genre, and programs like this one can help deserving people get noticed. I am excited to see the competing films, and whoever makes me lose the most sleep will win." 

The winning film will be awarded a premiere showing on Chiller, a posting on, a cash prize of $1,000, and a trip for two to "Halloween Horror Nights'" opening night "Eyegore Awards" at Universal Studios Hollywood.