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Park News

The new enlarged layour for the Skyscarper (Polercoaster)

Combination tickets to all four of the group's Orlando attractions, including Legoland, will be offered once the Eye and its neighbouring facilities are open later this year. Meanwhile construction work has already begun in Winter Haven on a 152-room Legoland Hotel, which will debut in summer 2015 right alongside the park's main gate. Asked by Park World why Merlin has plumped for a more conventional

Ferris Wheel design than the unique architect-designed structure of the London Eye, Merlin's Orlando head of marketing Todd Andrus replied that the Intamin-built construction offers a more “viable” option. “Whereas the London Eye offers some amazing views of famous local landmarks, our experience will be more about unplugging inspiring views of Central Florida landscapes,” he adds.

Set to appear elsewhere along Interntional Drive in the next 18 months or so will be Vue 360, which will take the title of world's tallest Star Flyer from the existing new England Sky Screamer at Six Flags New England in Massachusetts.

Built for client Unicorp Developments by Funtime in Austria, it will stand 20ft (6m) taller than the Six Flags ride. At 420ft (128m), it will also dwarf the 230ft StarFlyer already operating just down the street at the small Magical Midway park. Opening late 2015 or early 2016, Vue 360 will twirl 24 passengers high above I-Drive in 12 twin seats. Tickets are expected to cost around $10 per person.

shake-up SeaWorld Entertainment president and CEO Jim Atchison is stepping down as the US-based park group lays off employees (around 300, Park World understands). As from 15 January chairman David F D'Alessandro will serve as interim CEO until a permanent successor is appointed by the board. “Jim has helped the company realise its vision of becoming a leader in the theme park industry, one of the world's foremost zoological organisations and a global leader in animal care," said D'Alessandro in a press statement. Atchison will serve as a consultant to the company with respect to international expansion and various conservation initiatives. In the meantime, two new independent directors have been appointed to the board, Ellen Tauscher and William Bray. SeaWorld Entertainment, which also operates the Busch Gardens and Sesame Place parks, has suffered attendance declines at its three SeaWorld properties. In August, the company’s stock took a 33% dive after it admitted that bad publicity resulting from the film Blackfish had taken its toll on performance, something it had previously tried to play down. A group-wide cost-cutting initiative now aims to deliver savings of approximately $50 million. A restructuring programme is in place across its 11-park (including waterparks) portfolio. In a quote given to the Orlando Sentinel, analyst Bob Boyd of Pacific Asset Management said that the SeaWorld board will probably look for a replacement who is “less about the operations of the park and a lot more about how do we … get people to understand the product better, how do we handle the public relations and the media.” Read the full Sentinel analysis at

Out: Jim Atchison Upside-down bumper cars

The new Laser Fury 360 from Amusement Products combines full vertical and horizontal motion with interactive game play. Riders/players strap into their ride vehicles, spinning and flipping around the arena/track, shooting lasers in all directions at opponents' vehicles as well as ceiling and wall targets in an attempt to score points and win the game. "For 2015 we have created a radically different ride experience for FECs," says Amusement Products president and CEO, Dutch Magrath. "The Laser Fury 360 is as extreme and exciting as they come." Park World wishes the US firm well, but sometimes it's hard to successively reinvent a classic, and the demo set-up on show at IAAPA Attractions Expo last month seemed to feature a lot of frustrating stops and starts for the riders.

CEO exits in SeaWorld

This is not the world’s

tallest Star Flyer – but a ride on I-Drive called Vue 360 soon will be

JANUARY 2015 9

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