When a water park has entertained long enough to celebrate 35 summers of providing fun to its guests, it means they have done their job during that time, or the guests would not continue to come back as repeat customers.
Along the way it usually means the park has created a ride, or attraction, that becomes a park icon in the guests eyes. Such is the case with the community-owned Water World, part of the Hyland Hills Parks & Recreation District in Federal Heights, Colorado, just outside of Denver.
But in this case, the park created not one, but two unique rides that are truly entrenched into the park’s slide lineup, and labeled as “must-do” rides.
First up was the 1990 installation of Lost River of the Pharaohs, followed by the 1993 installation of Voyage to the Center of the Earth. Both of these family rafting type rides are indoors and are of dark ride in nature.
The creative minds of R&R Creative Design, Sally Corporation’s lifelike animatronic figures, special effects, and custom rockwork from National Rock & Sculpture allowed the park to create these two inconic attractions inhouse and with lasting success.
Now in 2014, these two guest favorite dark-ride attractions have been enhanced in a big way.
Voyage to the Center of the Earth, with its 1,600 foot-long course, now features a more realistic looking, life-sized T-Rex which underwent a complete overhaul this winter. The T-Rex is now able to take a six-foot leap towards the floating guests with four very intimidating movements. Also added were three animated prehistoric turtles and two birds featuring wingspans of 10 feet. The T-Rex Cave was enhanced with even more animation as well as all new lighting and sounds effects from R&R Creative.
At the 1,500 foot-long Lost River of the Pharaohs, the park added animation to the two scary statues in the Throne Room. It added laser effects to both a new mural and numerous mummies and added the off-the-wall water effects of the spitting Pharaoh hounds.
Hyland Hills Water World spent just $150,000 to upgrade these two classics for their guests to enjoy, proving that just a little effort can move the turnstile. The results have been phenomenal with guest feedback off the charts.
With their vision to enhance these two very unique icons through added storylines, visuals, animation, lighting and sound, Amusement Today is honored to name Hyland Hills Water World as our Publisher’s Pick for the 2014 Turnstile Award.
If ever an individual created a sea change in the amusement industry, it was George Millay. As the leading creative force behind the SeaWorld theme park chain and the father of the water park, Millay had a vision that was more than just adding water to fun — it revolutionized our business by using our most vital natural resource to engage parkgoers and enhance the interactivity of their experience.
Water, or at least his close proximity to it, was a constant in Millay’s life. Born in 1929 in San Diego, he grew up in Ocean Beach, San Francisco and Hawaii and served in the Navy for three years. Upon graduating from UCLA in 1955, he worked briefly as a stockbroker before he and a business partner opened the Reef Restaurant in Long Beach in 1956. That eatery became the cornerstone of Specialty Restaurants Corporation, with which Millay remained involved for another decade.
Even while enjoying that success, Millay partnered with two UCLA fraternity brothers, Dave DeMotte and Milt Shedd, and the wildlife curator at Marineland in Palos Verdes, Ken Norris, to begin developing a marine life park called SeaWorld on San Diego’s
Mission Bay. Today, half a century after that landmark opened in 1964, the
company encompasses 11 destination and regional parks across the U.S.
Millay’s enthusiasm for the business of fun did not stop with SeaWorld. At the start of the 1970s, he assisted with the development of Magic Mountain theme park north of Los Angeles. And in 1974, he formed another company,
Leisure Marine, in San Diego, with which he explored the feasibility of a new type of park featuring water-based attractions. From this, the national Wet ‘n Wild water park chain emerged.
“Water-oriented activities are among the fastest-growing forms of recreation in America,” Millay said at the time. “People are demanding activities that they can participate in.”
Millay left us in 2006, but he also has left us with a legacy of entertainment that has fulfilled the public’s desire for participatory fun while also promoting conservation and showcasing the natural wonders of our world. Like water is to humanity, his concepts will remain a life force in our industry — and for this, Amusement Today honors George Millay with its 2014 Legend Series Award.
Finding one’s dream job is a goal to which many of us aspire. Those able to attain it do so through desire, diligence and hard work. Jeff Pike is one of those people. He knew as a young boy that he wanted to design roller coasters. His unwavering resolve paid off handsomely when Great Coasters International, Inc. co-founders Clair Hain, Jr. and Michael L. Boodley recognized Jeff’s potential and hired him as he completed his engineering degree in the late ‘90s.
While Jeff brought with him the technical wizardry of modern
engineering techniques, he was able to flourish due to the assistance of Mike, who acted as his mentor. Mike and Jeff combined their talents, and along with the GCII team, they created some of the most amazing wooden coasters seen since the industry’s Golden Age in the early 20th century. During this time, a close bond between the pair developed, which further facilitated their inspired work.
When Mike decided to retire in 2000, he effectively passed the torch to Jeff, who was working his way up to a position as GCII’s lead designer. Thanks to Mike’s influence and tutelage, Jeff helped GCII become a respected global leader in finely crafted wooden coasters. Jeff would forever be grateful to Mike for taking the chance on him and allowing him to realize his dream.
Thirteen years later, Jeff faced a difficult decision when he learned that Mike’s health was in rapid decline with his kidneys failing due to complications from diabetes. He needed a kidney transplant. Many of Mike’s close friends stepped up to help by being tested to see if they were a match. Mike was adamant that Jeff not be a transplant candidate due to commitments to his wife and young children. Of course, Jeff would not be deterred. Against astronomical odds, he turned out to be a perfect match. After much testing and working to lose weight as the doctors ordered, both Mike and Jeff checked into a New Jersey hospital for the procedure in December 2013.
The surgery was a complete success, but the road to recovery was a difficult one, especially for Jeff. The pain he endured as he healed was substantial, but with the same fortitude that served him all his life, he persevered. Today, both Mike and Jeff are healthy and living life to the fullest with their enduring friendship intact.
For selflessly offering the ultimate gift — the gift of life to a dear friend — as well as helping to keep the traditional wooden roller coaster alive and well into the 21st century, Jeff Pike is AT’s choice for 2014 Person of the Year.
The 50th anniversary of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment this year celebrates a milestone beyond the creation of fun. It marks the fifth decade of the company’s unique commitment to conservation. This includes public education and — through the work of the nonprofit Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute, established in 1963 — species study and preservation, as well as environmental stewardship.
This commitment culminates with SeaWorld’s recently announced Blue World Project, a greatly expanded, state-of-the-art killer whale environment that first will be built at SeaWorld San Diego, plus more than $10 million in new matching funds for research and conservation projects related to killer whales and ocean health. These developments will enhance further the company’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care.
Behind the scenes, important work has long been carried out through SeaWorld’s animal and rehabilitation program, which gives ill, injured and stranded animals a second chance at life and with the goal of returning them to their ocean home. Nationally, SeaWorld Animal Rescue Teams have rescued and rehabilitated more the 23,000 animals. SeaWorld San Diego’s team alone has rescued more than 7,000 marine mammals and more than 8,000 marine birds since 1965.
In 2013, the SeaWorld San Diego team — utilizing a state-of-the-art medical and laboratory facility — rescued a near-record number of California sea lions as a result of an Unusual Mortality Event (UME) that caused juvenile sea lions to strand on beaches along the central and southern coastline of California. SeaWorld cared for more than 411 sea lions, the majority of which were part of the UME, in addition to other marine mammal species, including 10 elephant seals, 12 harbor seals, one fur seal and five dolphins. In addition, SeaWorld took in and cared for 267 birds. As of the first quarter of this year, the park had already rescued more than 185 marine mammals and more than 120 sea birds.
For their tireless dedication to animal welfare, Amusement Today presents its 2014 Persons of the Year Award to the SeaWorld Animal Rescue Teams based in San Diego, Calif.; Orlando, Fla.; and San Antonio, Texas.