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Memorial Day At Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Was Busy, But Great

giantdipper1May 27, 2014–Santa Cruz,
On a busy Memorial Day weekend, warm weather and a three-day weekend combined to bring thousands flocking to the shore on a sun-baked but otherwise uneventful weekend. Santa Cruz lifeguards estimated that on Main Beach alone, 60,000 brought their towels, picnics and umbrellas, leaving no inch of beach unoccupied.

“A lot of businesses around here said this was the busiest Memorial Day they’ve seen,” said Capt. Josh Coleman of the Santa Cruz Fire Department’s marine safety division.

At the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Memorial Day kicks off a summer of daily operations through Labor Day. Lines for everything from the Giant Dipper to Dippin’ Dots were long.

“It was one of those perfect Boardwalk weekends where people are on the beach having fun and everyone’s on the Boardwalk, enjoying themselves,” Boardwalk spokesman Kris Reyes said. “People are excited. … It’s been great.”

Temperatures throughout the weekend were in the mid to upper-70s along the coast, and in the upper-80s in the mountains. By early afternoon, sheaths of morning fog burned off to reveal blazing blue skies.

Business was brisk at places like Cowell’s Beach Surf Shop. Even as the waves petered out through Monday, customers kept up the pace when it came to buying bathing suits and other merchandise.

“It’s been really busy,” employee Cece Lynch said.

At the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor, pleasure-boaters and fishermen made it out to sea and back Ok, Deputy Harbormaster Blake Anderson said. But the beaches were busy, he added, echoing a theme.

“It’s definitely record crowds for us,” Anderson said.

The California Highway Patrol arrested about 10 people for driving under the influence and attended to about 25 crashes on area roads, neither number being out of line for a holiday weekend, officer Jeff Lutz said. And with traffic mostly gridlocked throughout the weekend, none of the accidents had life-threatening injuries.

“Traffic coming down 17 into the city was backed up for most of the weekend. Same with Highway 1 because of the Blues Festival down in Aptos,” Lutz said.

Coleman said lifeguards were busy helping swimmers throughout the weekend, but there were no drownings or serious injuries. Cal Fire Battalion Chief Jed Wilson said there were only a few moments of peril, including a North Coast water rescue that ended well.

Mike DeMars, a spokesman for the Central Fire Protection District, said the biggest thing to happen all weekend was the agency raising $12,000 in a fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

While Mother Nature was good to the tourists this holiday weekend, she also has a treat in store for locals: Over the next few days, temperatures are expected to rise even higher.

By Deborah Fitts

Port Royal Waterpark Resort & Conference Center Coming to Jasper, GA.

Port Royal 3May 27, 2014–Jasper, GA.
World Class Development Team Announces Plans to Develop $145 Million Resort in Jasper, Pickens County, Georgia.

Port Royal Holdings, LLC, a New York development firm whose principals include famed music and entertainment executive Mathew Knowles, held their first public meeting to unveil plans to develop Port Royal Resort, Jasper, Georgia.Port Royal 1

Over 400 enthusiastic guests, including government officials, local residents, civic leaders and business owners learned that Port Royal Resort will be the first North American, fully themed, year round, waterpark resort and conference center replicating the historic City of Port Royal, Jamaica – bringing the colorful Caribbean tropics to Georgia year round.

“Our business plan plots the course toward establishing Port Royal as the premier family and business leisure and convention destination in the Southeast as well as a local community hub and regional entertainment venue,” said Mathew Knowles, Chief Entertainment Officer.

Jasper Mayor John Weaver acknowledged the potential of Port Royal. “This project turns the switch back on to restart development in Pickens County,” said Weaver.

The new state-of-the-art waterpark resort and conference center will feature a 400-room, full service hotel with a day spa, two restaurants, indoor/outdoor lounges, sports bar and retail space, indoor and outdoor waterparks, family entertainment center, conference center, 16,000-seat amphitheater, artificial lake and lush gardens. The resort will be located on a 176-acre parcel of land along Highway 515 atop beautiful rolling hills in the City of Jasper, Pickens County, Georgia.

In addition to the waterparks, the resort will offer a number of indoor and outdoor recreational facilities and activities for families, as well as fully appointed executive meeting rooms and business facilities for corporate guests. The conference center’s flexible meeting rooms and banquet halls will accommodate business meetings and social gatherings of all sizes.

Damion Barrett, Chief of Development, added, “Port Royal, Jasper will set a new leisure industry standard and redefine the concept of a waterpark resort by providing a unique leisure and business guest experience.”

Operating Green
“We firmly believe that being a good steward of the earth is not only good for business, it’s also good for the community and our country,” said Timothy Smith, Port Royal Project Director. “Accordingly, our architectural firm is focused on using technologies designed to save energy and preserve resources. Moreover, construction and day-to-day operations are being designed for the lowest possible carbon footprint.”

Port Royal’s sustainability plan includes: local purchasing whenever possible; extensive day lighting; factory engineered components to reduce waste; a combination of permeable pavers, concrete and asphalt, bio swales and retention ponds for natural storm water drainage; low flow, energy efficient and solar powered fixtures; and no or low VOC carpeting, paints, adhesives, caulk and cleansers.

The new resort is estimated to cost $145 million, and within the first year create approximately 1,247 construction jobs, 395 permanent, full-time jobs, 600 permanent part-time jobs, generate approximately $11.9 million in additional county and state tax revenue, and an estimated $54 million of additional economic activity within the county, according to an independent economic impact study performed by Hotel & Leisure Advisers, LLC, a leading leisure industry consulting firm.

“These are significant job numbers and opportunities for a county with an estimated 15% unemployment rate, not including residents that have to commute outside of the county for employment,” said Eric S. Lund, COO of waterpark industry pioneer S & L Hospitality, LLC, and the former founder of the Great Wolf Lodge chain of waterparks, whose new firm will manage the Port Royal Resort’s day-to-day operations.

The development will be financed by a combination of developer and investor equity, debt and existing federal and state economic development programs the project is eligible for.

“This project would not have been possible without the City of Jasper and Pickens County’s hands on assistance, which was instrumental in developing the site,” said Barrett.

To fully articulate their vision, the developers have assembled a world class, globally recognized development team of leading local, national and international professionals that include: Architectural Design Consultants, Inc., Horizon Construction Group, Weber Group Inc., Aquatic Development Group, S&L Hospitality, Hotel & Leisure Advisers, LLC, Ross Consulting Engineers, P.C., and Acts of Creation, Inc.

The project is scheduled to break ground in 2014 and open in 2016.

By Deborah Fitts

Modelled On The ‘ London Eye ‘, The ‘ Kolkata Eye ‘ Coming Soon!

Modelled-on-the37235May 27, 2014–Kolkata,
Kolkata will soon have its ‘Kolkata Eye’ modelled on the ‘London Eye’, a giant ferris wheel, providing a magnificent view of the metropolis from a height of 120 metres.

The ‘Kolkata Eye’ will be constructed at Millennium Park on the bank of the River Hooghly, Urban Development ministry sources said.

“It will be an icon of the great city of Kolkata and will enrich the ongoing river-front beautification project,” Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said.

“This project, the first of its kind in size and magnitude in India, is already underway and is expected to be ready in a year’s time,” she said in a Facebook post.

The view of the skyline of metropolis from the ‘giant wheel’, she said, would be a tourist attraction. The contract was awarded on Wednesday to a UK-based company for the construction of the ‘Kolkata Eye’ for Rs 300 crore, the sources said.

It would have 36 air-conditioned capsules which would rotate slowly affording a wonderful view of the skyline.

The London Eye, standing 135 metre tall on the south bank of the River Thames in London was erected in 1999.

By Deborah Fitts

Wild Adventures Invites Military To Theme Park For Memorial Day

Wild+Adventures+logoMay 27, 2014–Valdosta, GA.,

“To come out and spend time with other military people away from the post and everything.. it’s good”, says Aaron Rogers, U.S. Army Veteran.

Veterans, active members of our military, and their families flocked to Wild Adventures Theme Park this weekend for their Memorial Day Celebration. The park offered free admission to all active, retired, disabled, and reservists on Sunday and Monday, and discounted tickets to family and friends.

“It’s just a small way that Wild Adventures can say thank you to all those folks that have given so much to our country”, says Laurie Windham, with Wild Adventures.

As part of the Wild Adventures Memorial Day Celebration, guests were invited to grab a piece of chalk on their way in and leave a message in honor of their favorite military member right at the front gate.

Rogers says he lost friends in Iraq and appreciates that Wild Adventures gives him… and other vets… the opportunity to spend time together on these important holidays.

“There aren’t really a lot of places that do a whole lot for the military, but it’s coming around a little more than what it used to be”, says Rogers.

Windham says guests were in for a special treat this weekend, as the park introduced many new shows, including Swifty Swine Racing pigs.

Windham says the Celebration comes with a new 7-day-a-week park schedule. It includes some evenings and other special events. For more information on the Wild Adventures summer and holiday schedules, visit Wild

By Deborah Fitts

Ferris Wheel Now Rolling Along The River In Davenport

QC-wheel-2May 23, 2014–
The Quad Cities has a new landmark and tourist attraction, a giant ferris wheel that’s a permanent addition to the Mississippi riverfront in the park beside Davenport’s minor league baseball stadium. The wheel is 105-feet tall with 20 open-air gondolas offering a spectacular view.

Dave Heller, the owner of the Quad Cities River Bandits, borrowed one million dollars to pay for the attraction. “I know this, that long after all of us standing up here are gone, this ferris wheel will still be turning and generations and generations and generations of children will still be enjoying it and that’s a wonderful legacy to leave for this wonderful community.”

Heller had hoped to have the wheel running a year ago, but flooding postponed the project near the foot of the Centennial Bridge until this spring. Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba says only Wrigley Field in Chicago and Fenway Park in Boston have longer histories than Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport.

Mayor Gluba says: “You know what they don’t have, these two big legendary parks? This setting, this river, this bridge, this town and our people.”

Gluba and Heller were among the first passengers to ride the new ferris wheel. It passed a state inspection Wednesday and will start offering rides on Saturday as a benefit for a Quad Cities hospital foundation.

By Deborah Fitts

Harembe Nights Street Party to Bring Out Your ‘Wild Side’ at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

HMR070641-613x368May 23, 2014–
The citizens of Harambe, the African village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, are preparing to welcome you this summer to a special event like none ever held before. Among other things, Harambe Nights will feature an all-new show, “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild,” celebrating the 20th anniversary of Disney’s “The Lion King” with a live orchestra, choir, dancers, animation, special effects, and a celebrity guest narrator.

I’ll have an update soon on everything happening behind the scenes to bring “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild” to life. While this theatrical experience will certainly be a highlight of the evening, once the show comes to its dramatic conclusion, the celebration is just getting started!HMR070642

Following the show, everyone is invited into the village for the Harambe Nights Street Party, a festive gathering of music and fun with a delicious, all-inclusive African-inspired menu.

“Harambe Nights Street Party is a totally immersive experience,” said Show Director Forrest Bahruth. “There will be opportunities for guests to get involved, to dance, to be entertained or just to relax and enjoy the evening.”

The Harambe Nights Street Party fills the village streets with Afro-pop music from the Harambe Nights Band and DJ Khalifa, beloved Disney characters, stilt walkers, and specialty performers, encouraging everyone to join in and “Go wild!” You can even show your true wild side with some cool, glow-in-the-dark face painting and other opportunities to join in the fun.

“Our guests are going to come away from Harambe Nights, not only with memories of the 20th anniversary of ‘The Lion King,’” said Forrest, “but also the tastes and excitement of Africa and a feeling that they are a part of the great ‘Circle of Life.’ It’s going to be fantastic!”

Harambe Nights takes place every Saturday from June 7 – August 9, 2014, with a Welcome Reception starting at 7 p.m. and a 7:30 p.m. show time for “The Lion King – Concert in the Wild.” Tickets are $119 for adults, $79 for ages 3-9, plus tax. Great seats are still available for all nights, but capacity is limited. For tickets, visit

By Deborah Fittts

DelGrosso’s Salutes Service Members ‘Memorial Day Weekend’

park_sign_verticle_shot.450x0May 23, 2014–Tipton,
DelGrosso’s Amusement Park would like to say “thank you for your service” to the many active members of the military and to veterans.

Service members and veterans who show a military identification can ride and slide for free Saturday, Sunday and Monday May.

The Tipton Waterworks & Rapids Water Park opens for the season on Saturday.

“This is just our small way to say thank you for all that our service members have done for our country,” said Carl Crider Jr., DelGrosso’s Amusement Park president and general manager.

All-Day Fun Passes, which include the Water Park, are $14.95 per person for the month of May. DelGrosso’s Amusement Park offers free parking and free admission.

There is also a special $3 off coupon for Memorial Day that can be found on the park’s Web site.

The 28th “Keystone” Division Military Band will be performing at the park on Saturday. The band, based in Hollidaysburg, is among the top performing Army National Guard Bands in the nation today.

The band has represented the 28th Division at events in the eastern United States, Canada and Europe. The band will perform two stage shows at 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and the Marching Band will be performing shows in the park at 2:15 p.m., 2:40 p.m. and 3 p.m.

On Saturday night, there will be a sky high salute for Memorial Day weekend with a free fireworks show. Galliker’s Dairy and DelGrosso Foods are presenting the show around 8:45 p.m.

The DelGrosso’s Amusement Park team will also celebrate the grand opening of a new gift shop in the Park. “La Famiglia Gift Shop – The Family Store With So Much More” will open on Saturday.pharaoh_s_fury_ride_bottom_4_delgrosso_s_tipton_pa.900x0

The former gift shop, which was located inside the park, only had approximately 300 square feet of retail space. The new store is more than 2,400 square feet.

“Park guests have been asking us for years to have more retail selections of souvenirs and gifts . . . Customers will be delighted in the new items they can purchase to help them take a little piece of the park home,” said Jim Mayall, gift shop director.

On Sunday, car enthusiasts can enjoy the 21st annual Jaffa Antique & Classic Automobile Show on the front lawn of DelGrosso Foods. The car show will take place from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

DelGrosso’s Amusement Park will open at 11 a.m. Memorial Day.

A full 2014 event schedule for DelGrosso’s Amusement Park can be found online at

By Deborah Fitts

Construction-Themed Park Opening Next Month Will Let Kids And Grown-Ups Move Some Earth

-02c5a180b66cef2cMay 23, 2014–West Berlin, New Jersey,
A theme park opening next month in New Jersey will let kids, and adults, move some earth with excavating equipment.

The owners of Diggerland USA outside Philadelphia say it’s the first theme park of its kind in the U.S., though many of its plans are based on four similar parks in the United Kingdom. Unlike a more intense heavy equipment playground in Las Vegas called Dig This, Diggerland caters to both kids and adults.

Visitors who are at least 4 feet tall can take a turn driving a backhoe around a course with the help of a staff member or they can dig in sand piles with a 7-ton excavator.

Besides letting customers dig, the park also has the Spin Dizzy, a ride where passengers can spin at high speed strapped into the bucket of a specially designed earth-mover or go around more slowly in a digger-themed carousel.

The machines are the real thing, not miniatures or replicas. But they are modified to limit their functionality — and danger.

The them park scheduled to opening in June is said to be the first theme park of its kind in the U.S., though many of its plans are based on similar parks in the United Kingdom.

Unlike a more intense heavy equipment playground in Las Vegas called Dig This, Diggerland caters to both kids and adults.

Guests ride in modified earthmoving equipment buckets during a preview day at Diggerland USA Thursday, May 22, 2014, in West Berlin, N.J.

The them park scheduled to opening in June is said to be the first theme park of its kind in the U.S., though many of its plans are based on similar parks in the United Kingdom.

The machines used for digging are not able to be driven. Those that can be driven have safeguards so they won’t go too fast. And park employees can remotely shut down the machines.

The New Jersey park is owned by Ilya Girlya and his family, who also run a nearby water park. The new theme park is set to open June 14, and full-day tickets are $35. It does not cost extra to go on any individual rides.

At a preview event Thursday, the Spin Dizzy zipped in quick circles; its starts and stops were as jerky as earth-moving equipment is.

Unlike most spinning amusement rides, the operator also spins in circles. Park marketing director Chris Peters said that adds a requirement for the job: The workers who do it can’t get woozy from spinning in circles.

Lisa Rupertus, from Pine Hill, took her 3-year-old son Jace on the Dig-Around, for a spin on the carousel. Jace, whose T-shirt said “I make dirt look good,” is perhaps at the target age for excavation infatuation.

“He’s very excited,” Lisa Rupertus said, pointing to her other sons. “So is my 13-year-old and my 11-year-old.”

Other attractions include standard carnival games reimagined, including a duck pond and a bowling game using a small excavator.

By Deborah Fitts

Six Flags Great America Brings Out ‘Goliath’ For New Season

SixFlags-LCN-083013-1May 23, 2014–
Roller coaster fans it’s time to take on Goliath.

The new giant in the world of wooden roller coaster, the Goliath “opening soon” is a triple-world-record-breaking coaster, said Six Flags Great America communications manager Katy Enrique.
“It will be the fastest wooden roller coaster, and features the tallest and steepest drop 180-feet of any wooden roller coaster in the world,” she said. “We’re very excited about it.”
Wooden roller coasters have a certain cache among coaster purists. They’re intriguing to a lot of theme parks, she said.
“For one, they’re a staple,” she said. “Every major theme park has at least one wooden roller coaster. Secondly, it also is undergoing probably some of the biggest roller coaster innovations. Our American Eagle roller coaster for instance, was the longest, tallest, fastest wooden roller coaster of its time.

“But now with Goliath, the track offers a smoother ride and getting the trains to do elements that they’ve never been able to do before. Including overbanked turns, which means your feet will kind of go over your head a little bit when you tilt over to the side, so you’ll be beyond 90 degrees on the track, and then you’re actually going to go upside down two times on Goliath, which is something not many wooden roller coasters do.

“There’s only two others in the world right now that actually go upside down. I think that’s the major draw to these wooden roller coasters — they can do these amazing elements that nobody’s ever seen before, and that’s really due some engineering innovation out there.”

**Season pass**
In addition to the 14 heart-clenching roller coasters and 20-acre water park, Six Flags Great America boasts live shows and three children’s themed areas with more than 30 rides. So how are you supposed to get through the two parks in one day? The season pass is recommended.

“It’s definitely challenging for people to come in and do both parks in one day,” she said. “Our season passes are such a great value; we find most of our guests are turning over into seasonal pass holders. It’s nice for season pass holders that there is almost too much to do in one day. It gives them the flexibility to come and experience the park a bunch of different ways throughout the summer and even into the fall.”

Six Flags also offers a monthly payment plan for families, and discounts for online daily ticket sales. There’s also a no-frills Thrill Pass that costs the same as a daily ticket and lets you come back as many times as you want but it does not include admission to Hurricane Harbor or Fright Fest.

Now, if you are coming to Six Flags with the singular goal of doing all the thrill rides, it is possible to have that kind of an experience.
“We usually tell people to go into the left once you enter the park and start your day that way, because a lot of people tend to go into the park towards the right for whatever reason. We tell them to go against the flow,” Enrique said.

“Then if they want to do the big coasters, try to get those done in the morning, because that’s when we have the fewest amount of people in the park. ”
If you’re coming with a minivan full of ankle biters, rest easy. The park was laid out with you in mind.

“Say that you go into Southwest Territory. If you have teenagers with you, they can ride Raging Bull, they can ride Viper, they can ride Giant Drop. Now if you have little kids with you, there are smaller rides in that same area,” Enrique said. “A lot of our territories[have] features for all ages. You will see a big coaster and some of those in-between rides like Revolution, Home Town Fun Machine and Triple Play. Then you’ll see kids’ areas throughout the park — Kidzopolis and Camp Cartoon and Little Dipper. So the family can kind of stay together as a unit but still venture off and do their own thing.”

Hurricane Harbor!!
In 2011, Great America underwent a major expansion to its water park, Hurricane Harbor, called Riptide Bay. The five-acre expansion included four new drop slides, a surf rider, an activity pool and another family raft ride.
The Harbor opens at 11:30 a.m. daily starting May 24 and closes around sunset;it closes for the season Sept. 1. If you want to do both parks, figure out what’s most important to your family and hit that first. If it’s the water park, going there first might be a good thing you’ll be dry before the ride home.

“Enjoy all the bigger thrill rides … the drop slides are very popular. The surf ride is very popular. Some of the body slides over by the wave pool are extremely popular, so we recommend people tackle those things first,” Enrique said. “Then if you just want to bob and float the rest of the day, then you can go into the wave pool and do the lazy river after you’ve gotten everything checked off your to-do list.”

Fright Fest!!
One of the park’s biggest phenoms is Fright Fest, which takes over Six Flags from the end of September through Halloween weekend. This season, look for Fright Fest Six Six Six.
“It’s going to be six weeks of terror, those six weekends starting Sept. 27 to Nov. 2 , six haunted houses and six live shows,” Enrique said.

Live shows!
The entertainment department puts on a live singing and dancing show in the musical hall, plus a character show in the Mardi Gras area (that’s where you’ll find Tweety and Bugs and Sylvester). Then there’s a Southwest show in the Mooseburger Lodge, and there’s usually something playing the Victorian.

Additionally, adults might enjoy a “Screams and Dreams, Volumes 1-3.”
“It’s basically a history of the park, back in the ’70s when it was built and then through the ’80s and ’90s and into today,” she said. “It’s a fun show for adults who have grown up going to the park, with different owners and expansions. It’s really an interesting history of Great America.”

By Deborah Fitts

The Land Of Make Believe Opens For It’s 60th Season Saturday!!!

logoMay 23, 2014–Hope, New Jersey
The Land of Make Believe will open for its 60th season at 10 a.m. Saturday. The park is at 354 Great Meadows Road.
First a little about this wonderful family park….The Land of Make Believe is a family amusement park catering mostly to children under 12 years of age. Opened in 1954, it is located in Hope Township, New Jersey. [1] It centers itself around “Safe and wholesome recreation”, with entertaining rides and attractions that are enjoyed mostly by children under 12 but also has some attractions for people of all ages but not so extreme that it scares off young children mixed in. The Land of make believe is located on County Route 611, two miles from exit 12 off of Interstate 80.220px-Train_at_the_Land_of_Make_Believe

Some of its most prominent attractions are the civil war train (which loops around most of the park), the Buccaneer Pirate & Wading Pool, and the Black Hole waterslide. The Land of Make Believe has many of the standard amusement park rides like a junior sized roller coaster, and a Tilt-A-Whirl as well more unique attractions like a hay ride and a petting zoo. Some more of the water attractions include the Pirates Plunge, Blackbeard’s Pirate Fort, The Sidewinder, Blackbeard’s Action River Ride, and three waterslides.
Train at Land of Make Believe

Initially, the park featured only attractions for small children, adding some water attractions for children in the late 1980s. In the past 10 years, the park has begun to add rides that adults can enjoy but yet are not too extreme for children. These included standard intermediate adult flat rides found in carnivals and amusement parks as well as larger waterslides found in major waterparks. The park is similar to what Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana was back in the early 1990s.

The amusement park will unveil a new waterslide, the Pirate’s Escape, on which riders will be plunged downward when the bottom drops out from underneath them.

Other attractions include a hayride, the “Thriller” roller coaster and a river tubing adventure ride in Pirate’s Cove Water Park.

Land of Make Believe will be open weekends until June 21, when it opens daily through Labor Day weekend. In celebration of its 60th anniversary, Land of Make Believe will give away a free Ford Escape at season’s end.

For more information visit:

By Deborah Fitts


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