Thursday, November 21, 2013

Day 14: Last Day at IAAPA

My last day of IAAPA came quickly and quietly; by the time it arrived, I was most definitely not ready to be nearly done. It was easily the biggest day for me at the convention, with three classes on my schedule and still lots to see. I started the morning very early as I needed to be at the convention center by 9:00 a.m. for my first class.

The trade show floor wasn't open yet, so just the south concourse was open for classes. This one was titled "Young Professionals Panel," in which four panelists shared their stories on entering the industry and what they've learned. It was nice to hear from a younger perspective as they spoke about where they began and how they've found their way. The biggest take-away from the morning class was that being in the amusement industry takes passion & persistence, and the rest is a lot of fun. Everybody in the industry seems to really enjoy their jobs, and I know that I will want to work in a place where work and play can be the same thing.

After my first class, I wandered downstairs to find an IAAPA bookstore that I didn't know existed. They had shelves upon shelves of books related to the amusement industry, everything from managing parks to history to roller coaster calendars (I did buy one). I spent quite a while taking a look at all of the books before walking with three favorites: "The Global Theme Park Industry," "Poster Art of the Disney Parks," and "Dream It! Do It!"

These books were rather large so I grabbed a Coca Cola bag from their booth to carry every thing, taking the opportunity to get a drink at one of the free Coca Cola Freestyle machines they were displaying. My next class would not be until 3:30 so I decided to walk around the show floor and take pictures. All IAAPA photos are now online, by the way, right here. I started in one corner and proceeded back and forth through every aisle, each one a 10 minute walk. I took pictures of the most interesting booths along the way, namely coaster manufacturers or other prominent companies. Many of the booths also had product flyers or promotional pamphlets for visitors to take, which I began collecting (I'll be displaying many of these at Winterim Fair).

After getting through about half of the floor in no less than two hours, I decided to break for lunch. When I returned, I realized I still hadn't seen any of the outdoor exhibits. Most of these were just inflatables, but there were several portable zipline models that I tried. After that, it was back inside for more photography. I managed to get more than a few pictures of the trade show but before long it was 3:30 and time for my next class, "Consumer Special Events: Development, Operation and Management." After having learned a lot about the events that Cedar Point holds for various groups, I thought it would be interesting to hear how special events are planned at other parks. We learned a lot about a halloween event that Universal Studios Japan hosts and the various development challenges they faced due to cultural barriers. This session really stressed the importance of surveying guests and applying the results to your business strategy. For example, the Japanese are not very familiar with Halloween. When the park began the event, some of the scare tactics were too intense. Based on the results they saw in this initial stage, they determined that it was necessary to make the event a little more friendly.

My last class, however, was particularly inspiring. This one was titled "Theme Park Resorts: Business Planning for New and Expansion Projects," which is basically exactly what I was looking for. It has long been a dream of mine to find a way to start my own small amusement park venture, and this session confirmed my enthusiasm. By using Germany's hugely successful Europa Park as a case study, the two speakers showed the audience how to plan successful theme park expansions. They focused heavily on mixing leisure activities, such as shopping, entertainment, amusement parks, resorts, education, etc. Mixing any of the above will drive up attendance and profit, while actually being more cost-efficient to develop. They also encouraged us to follow an integrated planning process that would combine business planning with design planning to ensure success. Often times, one or the other is focused on almost exclusively, yielding a project that cannot be completed. I took notes like a madman through the entire session and I am very excited about everything that I've learned - I hope that I'll be able to apply this knowledge in a very real way in the future.

By the time the class concluded, the trade show floor had closed and most people were on their way out. It was the end of IAAPA for me, and I couldn't believe how quickly it had gone by! It's hard to believe that Winterim is already nearly over, but I've still got a lot to look forward to - time at Disney and Universal before I get to come home and share all of my work with you! I look forward to getting to show you all the exciting things I've been doing.

See you soon!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Day 13: IAAPA Continues

Day two of the IAAPA Attractions Expo got a slow start. After two full days of amusement parks and then walking the massive trade show floor all day yesterday, my body was exhausted. I took advantage of the opportunity to get a little bit of extra rest in the morning, seeing as I had no formal classes today. The only thing set on my schedule would be the Brass Ring Awards at 4:30, a celebration of the best hospitality in the amusement industry.

I started the day by doing some work on the iBook, but before long it was time to head over to the convention center. Even though the ceremony would be at 4:30, I did want to spend a bit more time on the trade show floor. There was a lot to see, as always - I enjoyed seeing several companies unveil their projects for the coming season at their booths: 4 new wood coasters for China, new roller coaster car variants, etc. It was all very exciting, but of course I also had to try a few more of the ride models on the floor.

The first stop was at the SBF Visa group, a prominent manufacturer for smaller rides and attractions. They were showing off a small spinning roller coaster, which was really quite fun for its size. For anyone who has not ridden a spinning coaster, they really are quite an experience! Next it was over to Zamperla, who easily had the most insane-looking ride. All lit up in full nighttime colors, this flat ride spun and flipped riders forward and backwards. Despite having the longest wait (no more than 5 minutes) of any ride on the floor, I insisted on trying it. I've gotta say, it was very fun but it's only time I've ever actually started to feel nauseous on a ride before. Zamperla makes some incredible rides and this is certainly one of them!

Before long, it was time for the Brass Ring Awards. This is a huge industry event every year and I was really looking forward to attending. As we entered the theater, they had provided goodie backpacks and  programs on every seat. Inside were Mickey Mouse ears, IAAPA mugs, Hersheypark chocolate bars, and other IAAPA-branded souvenirs furnished by the parks. Up and down the aisles, performers danced on stilts or marched around in British army uniforms. It was quite a show, and in a few minutes the program started. It was an hour and a half of the best live performances, marketing programs, customer service, and food offerings in the industry.

By the time the show ended, the trade show floor was closed for the day. After a quick dinner, I headed to Fun Spot America to see their new expansion. Fun Spot America has been around for a while with popular go-kart tracks, a SkyCoaster (think RipCord at Cedar Point) and a few small rides. This year, however, they doubled in size and added more rides and attractions, including two major roller coasters that I was excited to try. Both coasters were very impressive, but I was particularly surprised by the little wooden coaster from Great Coasters International, Inc., "White Lightning." Little did I know upon arriving the park that the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) were holding an event at the park. After noticing several of them marathoning White Lightning (I may have been doing the same), I realized that I had just joined an ACE event. ACE is an excellent enthusiast organization with a special focus on preserving historic roller coasters, and I have been a member for several years. I highly recommend joining ACE for anyone who enjoys coasters; their events at parks across the country are great fun and offer a lot of unique experiences for amusement park fans.

Fun Spot America's addition of these two coasters has done wonders for their attendance numbers, and after riding their new attractions I can completely see why. Both offer great experiences for visitors while costing the park relatively little to add. White Lightning cost $3.5 million, a relatively small amount for a wooden roller coaster and especially for one of its caliber. Where Fun Spot succeeds is in offering an experience that other Orlando attractions do not. While resorts like Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando offer fantastic multi-day experiences for no small fee, other attractions along Orlando's famous International Drive largely tend to be tourist traps, with perhaps a go-kart track or other small attractions. Fun Spot has risen out of this group into a new class with its additions, offering new experiences to the public at competitive prices. White Lightning is Orlando's only wooden roller coaster, and their pay-per-ride policy (with all-day wristbands available) offer flexibility to locals and other customers that don't necessarily want to pay close to $100 for a day at Disney or Universal.

After a great time at Fun Spot America, I headed back to the hotel. Thursday will be a big day - more IAAPA and three classes! I can't wait to share with you what I do tomorrow, come back soon for more updates!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Day 12: IAAPA Begins!

Hey guys!

Today was my first day at the IAAPA Attractions Expo and let me just say, it was incredible! I have followed coverage of the annual convention & trade show for years, and to finally be here was like a dream come true. I had one class today, "Marketing Plans for Attractions: Beyond the Basics," but I'll get to that in a minute.

I arrived at the Orange County Convention Center shortly after the trade show floor opened at 10 a.m. and the parking lot was already completely full. Literally, hundreds of cars were already here and they were parking people on the grass. Once I found a spot, I just walked towards the inflatables; in addition to everything that goes on within the building, there is a large outdoor section of inflatables and ride prototypes. Fortunately the line for registration was short, so I put on my fancy IAAPA badge holder and went inside.

Sensory overload. Lights and noise as far as the eye can see in every direction. The IAAPA Attractions Expo takes over nearly all of this massive convention hall, spanning over 9 miles of aisles. I figured that the best thing to start would be to just walk around and try to take it all in. It's really easy to get lost in here, but I did my best to deal with it and see as much as possible. Lots of roller coaster cars, inflatables, plush toys, coin-operated games -- everything an amusement park could ever need, right in one place.

Of course, there were a few things I made sure not to miss on my first trip around. For one, I wanted to see the B&M booth; on display there was the GateKeeper car that I saw being worked on last week. I made sure to stop by the Dippin' Dots and Coca Cola booths for free samples. I found a great little booth offering massage chairs that felt really nice after my first lap around the massive trade show floor. Next, however, I had to try the massive ropes course that was set up. The great thing about IAAPA is that many booths will set up their products for attendees to try, at no cost and usually with no wait! I was harnessed up in a matter of minutes and soon I was high above the trade show floor. Not only was it fun, but it was a nice vantage point to view the rest of the convention from. I didn't last long though; despite loving roller coasters, I'm actually quite scared of heights (as in a seemingly less-secured scenario like this). I quickly tried the new feature on the course, a very easy-to-use zipline, and made my way back down.

By the time I finished with all this (and grabbed a brief lunch), it was nearly time for my class. I took the escalator from the trade show floor up to the south concourse, where a number of classes were being held in various conference rooms. My class was hosted by a panel of industry leaders who advised the packed room on how to build a winning marketing plan and stick to it, with emphasis on media, partnerships, and sales tactics. I was very excited for the class after having enjoyed my time with Cedar Point's marketing department, and I hurriedly scribbled notes throughout the session. It was very informative and offered countless tips for how to have a strong marketing strategy, offering perspectives I had never even considered.

At the end of the day, I was feeling pleased but exhausted. It was a long day, of course, but I really enjoyed my first education session and seeing the trade show floor, of course. I'm really looking forward to the rest of these classes and I can't wait to see more of the thousands of exhibitors here over the next couple of days. Stay tuned for more!


Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 11: SeaWorld Orlando

So far, my time in Orlando has been absolutely wonderful! I spent yesterday visiting Universal Studios Orlando and Islands of Adventure, both of which are among my favorite parks and I always enjoy (I'll have more on that later). However, I had not yet visited SeaWorld so I made that my plan for Monday.

SeaWorld was a park I was particularly excited for, not only because it was new to me but because they have two world-class coasters, Kraken and Manta. While I was at the park, however, the thing that struck me most was how beautiful the park is. While of course both of the major roller coasters were very well done, it was nice to see the amount of effort put into landscaping and cleanliness. The pathways were spotless and there were beautiful flowerbeds and ponds throughout the park.

One thing I did not have the chance to do was see any of SeaWorld's aquatic shows (we did stop to see some of the marine life, including the orcas, outside of the shows). The times did not fit well with the amount of time we were there, but we still felt the effects of the shows; while they were going on, the rest of the park was nearly empty and most rides and attractions were walk-ons. As we walked around the park, however, a sudden flood of guests from the park's numerous aquatic stadium let us know that a show (or several) had just ended. Clearly the marine life shows are a huge draw for the park, if not the most important factor in motivating guests to visit. It seems that recent backlash against the park sparked by CNN's "Blackfish" has not been felt at the turnstiles (you can read SeaWorld's response to the film here). 

I'll be at the IAAPA Attractions expo this week and I'm looking forward to my first class tomorrow, "Marketing Plans for Attractions: Beyond the Basics." I'll be looking for ways to relate what I'm learning in these classes to everything I see and experience at the Orlando parks later this week. For now, enjoy these photos of SeaWorld and I'll have another report soon!

See you tomorrow,

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Weekend Photo Update

Hey guys, I wanted to let you know I posted a handful of photos from my day at Universal Studios & Islands of Adventure here. I'll be adding more soon, but for now please follow the link! Here are a few of my favorites:

Stay tuned for further posts and pictures!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 10: Wrapping Up

Today is my last day in Toledo before I head down south to the warm weather in Orlando! I'm really looking forward to the IAAPA Convention and Trade Show, as well as a few park visits I have planned. Unfortunately, most of today was spent packing and preparing for the trip rather than working on the iBook. I'll be continuing my work on it while I'm in Orlando nonetheless!

After spending the morning packing, I spent some time on the IAAPA website reviewing all of the info to make sure I wasn't forgetting anything. I also took this opportunity to look through all of the 100+ education sessions they would be offering. Many of them are so specific that they aren't quite relevant to me at this point, but I did find several good ones that I marked down on my schedule. I'm particularly excited for the Young Professionals Panel and the seminar on business planning for new & expansion projects.

I also took a moment to plan out the rest of my time in Orlando. Because the trade show only lasts from Tuesday to Friday, and nearly all the education sessions are over by Thursday, I'd be left with several days to fill. That's fine with me, as it will give me the chance to visit some of Orlando's world-class attractions and experience firsthand the best that the industry has to offer. Into my little planner I penciled in visits to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort, and a few other local attractions.

After all of this planning, I needed to make a trip to Maumee Valley for a few things. First and foremost, I needed to check in with my MV contact, Mr. Brown, to let him know how I'm doing and inform him of my plans. Once I said hello and let him know what I'd been doing and what I had planned for the following week, I headed up to Rollie's studio to check out some of the tech equipment. I knew that I would want a good camera for my time in Orlando, and fortunately he was able to hook me up with just what I needed. That means I'll have lots of photos from the parks and IAAPA, so look for me to post a link to those. I'll be leaving Toledo this weekend, so I'll have lots of very exciting updates to come. Keep an eye out for lots of fun posts and pictures!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Day 9: Lots of Writing

When I planned this Independent Study, somehow it hadn't occurred to me just how much reading and writing I'd be doing. Not only would I be writing the better part of a book on the evolution of amusement parks, but I also had a business plan on my schedule as well as daily blogs. With it comes a lot of reading, since of course all of this requires research. Yeah, it's a lot of work. But the good thing to remember about all of it is that at least it is something that I truly enjoy.

That said, the last few days I've been reading a lot of very interesting books as part of my research. I've been poring over Cedar Point's gift of Cedar Point: Queen of American Watering Places, as well as checking out a few others from my library (pun intended). A few of them have already helped me greatly to fill in a few blanks in my iBook.

As far as the iBook goes, I've been doing quite a bit of work on that too of course. Aside from my reading and research today, I've been reworking several sections to improve its organization. After much debate I've decided to keep a standalone interactive section that uses Kennywood as an example of a classic trolley park. It's one of the creative-writing style pieces from the original project and it does well to serve my ultimate purpose of showing the growth and change in the amusement industry. There was an interactive section that focused on Disneyland as well, but I've changed that slightly and instead demoted it to simply being a supplement to the textual section on Disneyland that had followed it. I've begun writing a section that will focus on the revival of wooden coasters with Kings Island's Racer, as well as the second wind that the industry felt in the 1970's not only with wooden coasters, but also with looping coasters.

Lastly, I've been revising a section that highlights the "coaster wars" beginning with Cedar Point's Magnum XL-200 in 1989. It had been written as a kind of news article to fit into the creative writing ensemble, but I wanted to remove that styling and leave it purely informational for the final product. After some reworking this afternoon, the coaster wars section is finished.

Before I go, I would like to share this "first look" at the project. Here is one page from the first section on the earliest roller coasters:

Tomorrow I'll be continuing to write and refine the various sections of this project. By no means will this be an exhaustive history of the amusement industry, so dont expect it to be a lengthy iBook; I am, however, very committed to making sure that it is of the highest quality. I look forward to continuing tomorrow. After that, it's off to Orlando next week for IAAPA and a few park visits! As always, stay tuned!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day 8: Home Again

I gotta say, after three great, full days at Cedar Point, it's been kind of quiet working back in Toledo. I started out the day by heading downtown to the library once again. I needed to take stock of my work and figure out what needed to be done. Unfortunately, it was a short day as I had separate dentist and orthodontist appointments this afternoon.

Knowing that time was in short supply, I grabbed a sheet of paper to jot notes as I looked through what exists so far. The book had been divided up into 9 sections: the earliest roller coasters, American trolley parks, an interactive section on trolley parks, an interactive section on Disneyland, a written section on Disneyland, looping roller coasters, the coaster wars, the industry today, and a conclusion summarizing the change in the industry. A few things were obvious from the beginning. As this had once been a creative writing ensemble, some of the too-creative bits would have to be reworked to be more information-based. I also wanted to move around some of the interactive elements and other graphics, as well as add to the existing sections. Related to that, I immediately updated the first section to include a paragraph on the Mauch Chunk Switchback Railway, as well as new photos of LaMarcus Thompson's patents.

I also wanted to see about adding a couple of new sections. Those will likely focus on Coney Island and the impact of the Racer at Kings Island, but I will have to do a bit more research first. I spent the rest of my time gathering books and other information to use as sources, and making touch-ups and minor edits throughout the book. After that, it was off to my appointments - I'll be back at it again tomorrow, however, so stay tuned for more!

See you soon,

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Day 7: Designing the Guest Experience

After the amazing time I had enjoyed with Planning & Design the previous week, I was greatly looking forward to a second afternoon with them. As I entered the low building, Mr. Decker once again came out immediately to greet me and shake my hand. Today, he said, my time would be spent with his associate I met last week, Mark Schoelwer. Mr. Schoelwer's office is located just down the hall, desks cluttered with papers and blueprints. While a large wall-to-wall drawing of the Castaway Bay waterpark takes up the back wall, along the side current projects are displayed, tacked up one on top of the other.

I started off by looking through old design concept books sitting on Mr. Schoelwer's shelves. Some of them had actually come from the original Paramount Parks, others were theme park concepts that Mr. Schoelwer had brought with him from his former company. There was a very interesting packet for Kings Dominion's Planet Snoopy children's area, with a very interesting breakdown for each ride and each scenery piece in the new area. It's amazing just how much thought must go into each individual piece of an attraction.

As I was looking through these packets, Mr. Schoelwer was busy working on Camp Snoopy renovations for Knott's Berry Farm. A few different times, one of his associates came in with revised blueprints for the area. The entire area is getting revamped to celebrate Camp Snoopy's 30th anniversary, and it was great fun to watch Mr. Schoelwer pore over the plans and sketch in revisions as he went. I've always wondered how long it takes for projects like these to come to fruition. Mr. Schoelwer told me that big projects are usually started a few years ahead of time, but work usually picks up for a project about a year before it will open. A lot of decision-making actually happens even after a ride or attraction is announced to the public, as was clearly the case with Knott's Camp Snoopy.

Mr. Schoelwer and I took a break from the office after that and headed into the back of the building, where the sign shop is located. I had been back here the week before but today it was mostly quiet in the back. Upstairs, there are rooms full of old concept art, designs, and blueprints. There was a very cool Magnum XL-200 poster from 1989, as well as 3D models of Raptor and Shoot the Rapids. There was even some old merchandise - Mr. Schoelwer was kind enough to give me a CoasterMania! 2008 sweatshirt. After that, it was back into the main offices, where I met Barb Wozniak in the art department.

Mrs. Wozniak manages all art concepts and print projects from start to finish, for each of the eleven parks in the Cedar Fair chain. These projects range from logos to merchandise design to park maps to web graphics. Anything artistic you see for any of the parks comes out of Mrs. Wozniak's offices. She works with a team of four designers, who split up the parks between them and then rotate them on a yearly basis. Some parks, as they explained, are easier to work with than others. Each park is responsible for sending the art department ride and park photos; often times, a park will request a graphic with photos of a particular ride, but they've forgotten to send in photos in the first place! Coordinating with each park is often the most difficult part of the job, as well as handling the sheer number of jobs that the department gets. Their favorite projects are when they get to announce a new ride or attraction; in those cases, the art department gets really creative in designing their invitations. As they were telling me this, they began to pull out examples of the invitations and soon they were loading me up with all sorts of creations to take home and display.

And just like that, my time at Cedar Point had come to an end. It was 4:00 and my time was up, but I thanked Mrs. Wozniak and Mr. Schoelwer again before I headed out. I've had an excellent time at the park and I've learned a lot about just how much work goes into a park - it's truly incredible. More than anything, my time at Cedar Point has confirmed that amusement parks are truly my passion. Looking forward with that in mind, I'm more excited than ever for the IAAPA Convention and everything else I'll get to do this week. I'll have more updates soon!


Day 7: Operating the World's Greatest Amusement Park

As I would quickly find out, Operations is the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink department at an amusement park. I arrived at Cedar Fair's corporate offices and had barely even sat down when in walked Jerry Niederhelman, head of Cedar Point's Operations department. Coat still zipped, he shook my hand and told me a bit about himself: Mr. Niederhelman began at Kings Island (Cincinnati) many years ago as a seasonal employee, working his way up through the park to become their Director of Operations. Cedar Fair acquired Kings Island and the rest of the Paramount Parks before the 2007 season; last year, Mr. Niederhelman traveled a few hours north to become Cedar Point's Director of Operations.

Rather than simply tell me about all of the millions of things that fall under his supervision, he had arranged for me to meet with a few of his most important employees. We started by heading into the frigid, empty park towards the Cedar Point Police Department. The park actually does have its own police force, with four vehicles (two marked, two unmarked) and numerous officers, as I would learn from Chief McMillian. As Mr. Niederhelman showed me into the CPPD offices, the Chief came out to meet us. He showed me around the building; the park's Lost & Found service is headquartered hear, where each year the officers process tens of thousands of lost items. Anything not collected at the end of the year is shipped back to its owner when possible. The Chief tells me they've seen everything from phones and wallets to prosthetic legs and cochlear implants! They also monitor cameras pointed at every gate to the park, as well as several that watch the resorts. Aside from that, the biggest challenge according to Chief McMillian is just maintaining security in the park. The CPPD gets several calls daily with reports of disturbances in the park, usually just unruly behavior. Saturdays are usually the most active days simply because they're the busiest, but the CPPD makes a point of having officers throughout the park each day to monitor security. I also made a point of asking him if we'd see metal detectors and full body scanners at the front gate, as some parks have. Right now, the Chief monitors front gate security by having officers stationed at the front gate each morning, and while he would like to see more preventative security measures added to the park, there aren't currently any plans for full body scanners at the front gate.

After saying goodbye to Chief McMillian, Mr. Niederhelman led me around the corner into Planet Snoopy, one of the park's four children's areas. Planet Snoopy is also home to the park's First Aid department and Family Care Center. Here I met with Ken Berryhill, who oversees guest safety among many other things. Because pretty much everyone in the park is writing up budgets for next season, there wasn't much exciting work going on; instead, Mr. Berryhill showed me around his facilities. The front of the First Aid building is the Family Care Center, where parents can bring their children to rest in the middle of a long day at the park. They have a play room for young children to enjoy, as well as private rooms for breastfeeding mothers. On the other side of the building, they have several small cots for guests to lie down; Mr. Berryhill says one of his biggest challenges here is making sure that tired employees don't monopolize the cots! The back room of the building is where all the action happens: here, first aid employees treat all sorts of guest needs. Mr. Berryhill says the most common injuries are simply cuts or bruises. However, the building is equipped with defibrillators, elevated stretchers, and all sorts of medical equipment should a situation require their use.

Our next stop would be Aquatics, but that would require a walk through the park's famous ballroom to get to the Park Operations offices. The ballroom (or Coliseum) is housed above the parks massive main arcade, and once hosted such headlining acts as Frank Sinatra; today, the ballroom is not open to the public, but during September and October the HalloWeekends staff uses the large space to prepare the "Screamsters" with costumes and makeup each day.

On the other side of the Coliseum, Cedar Point has numerous offices. Down the spiral staircase to the ground floor, Mr. Niederhelman led me past many of the Operations offices to that of Brian Short, Aquatics Director. Mr. Short oversees anything water-related at Cedar Point - that includes Soak City, Castaway Bay, the park's three water rides, the beach, and the fountains in the park. The largest part of Mr. Short's job is just maintaining water quality, but when it comes to Soak City and Castaway Bay, he runs the entire operation. He does his best to make sure that everything is running efficiently and that the parks are in top form. He did tell me a very funny story from the Cedar Point beach this season: one man decided to hang glide over the beach. This actually isn't uncommon, and the park even sponsors activities on the beach like this every so often. This man, however, began dropping miniature army men action figures (each with a parachute, of course) as he flew over the beach! This was a situation that Mr. Short had never had to address before; we both had a good laugh over it as he recounted the story.

Next we headed back upstairs to the office of Colleen Murphy, head of Ride Operations at the park. According to Mrs. Murphy, the biggest part of her job is "putting out fires," to use her words. The park does occasionally have small fires, but Mrs. Murphy doesn't handle the literal ones (those go back to Mr. Berryhill). Instead, Mrs. Murphy handles the more complicated sorts - namely, ride incidents. This year, the park had a few incidents with its water rides, and it was Mrs. Murphy's job to correct each situation. In one case, a boat on the first water ride had rolled back down the lift hill and flipped over after colliding with the wall of the boat's trough. While seven guests were injured in the accident, but fortunately only one was sent to a local hospital; all of them were treated and released shortly. As the incident occurred, bystanders jumped the fence into the ride's pool and helped to right the boat; by the time Mrs. Murphy arrived, only minutes later, it was already being resolved by park safety forces. It was her responsibility to call her supervisors, including the park's General Manager, John Hildebrandt, and inform them of the incident. She made sure that the guests were removed from the ride and taken to the park's first aid center for treatment. Fortunately, incidents like these are rare. Otherwise, Mrs. Murphy spends a lot of time with the ride operations staff. Her department hires all of the seasonal ride operators, and she helps determine which rides to run or not to run based on the weather. Being in charge of all dry ride operations, Mrs. Murphy indirectly plays a major role in the guest experience at the park.

My final stop was Matt La Foccia's office. Mr. La Foccia handles admissions for the park; that also includes the toll booths on the causeway. Leading me out of the office, he directed me to his little car and we drove up to the front of the park. Cedar Point remodeled the entire entrance plaza this year, complete with a new entrance gate, ticket booths, season pass center, and guest services building. Mr. La Foccia led me through all of them, showing off new features designed to make traffic flow through the area as efficient as possible. Cedar Point has been playing catch-up when it comes to technology, but the new entrance plaza is designed to be cutting-edge to serve guests even better. Over a dozen ticket booths means shorter lines to get in the park, and the season pass center was redesigned to shrink its wait time for processing from over an hour on some days to only 15-20 minutes. Next, we drove out to the causeway. Here, he oversees the tollbooths and manages parking. Over Columbus Day weekend, the park was swarmed with guests and every spot on the peninsula was taken. At that point, Mr. La Foccia was forced to park guests out on the causeway itself; it was a crowding nightmare for the park, you can read more about it here. Mr. La Foccia says that since the incident, the park has revised its parking procedures so that this won't be an issue again in the future.

When I finished with Mr. La Foccia, he was kind enough to drive me around to the back of the park so I could head into town for a lunch break. I'll have another post soon highlighting my second afternoon with Planning & Design. Thanks for reading!


Monday, November 11, 2013

Days 5 & 6: Home Sweet Home

After two long days at Cedar Point, I had the luxury of spending the next few days right here in Toledo. As much fun as it was to be at Cedar Point, I would not miss the hour-long drives in the early morning!

That said, I've spent most of my time doing a lot of reading. I've been scouring each branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library for books on amusement parks and roller coasters. The GateKeeper messenger bag that was gifted to me by the Cedar Point marketing interns is now stocked with no less than 11 books and 3 DVD's that I am steadily making my way through.

Most of this research is for the iBook that I'm planning to publish, which focuses on the evolution of the American amusement park. Currently, I have the book broken down into several chapters starting from the earliest Russian ice slides and going all the way to the present. The original book was actually a school project I completed a couple of years ago. However, that product is by no means worthy of publishing. So, I've been doing some heavy research and revising what I have, as well as expanding some chapters and adding new sections altogether.

In my research, I've come across a lot of great Disneyland history as well. Disneyland is a major force in the amusement industry and the park itself is widely credited as the first "theme park." Disneyland truly was a turning point for the industry, and I've greatly enjoyed reading about its development process, all the way from Walt Disney's original idea until its opening in 1955. For anyone who's interested, I would highly recommend checking out Disneyland: Inside Story by Randy Bright (with a great foreword by former Disney CEO Michael Eisner). It's full of great information and anecdotes from Disneyland's creation, as well as hundreds of fascinating photos. You can find it here on Amazon or at the Toledo Library (as soon as I return it!). However, because this is an iBook - meaning it's built specifically for all of your iDevices - I can add cool things like photos, interactive flyouts, and videos. Which lead me to find these great old commercials from Kennywood, a historic little park in Pittsburgh. Even if you haven't been out to Kennywood, the vintage commercials are cute - at least I think so!

Anyway, I'm continuing to work on this iBook but I'll be at Cedar Point again tomorrow (Tuesday). I'll have a lot more to share in the next few days, so stick around!


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 4: Awesome By Design

The Planning & Design building is a magical place, sitting in the shadow of its own creations right on the Cedar Point peninsula. Inside the low building, the walls are lined with past Cedar Point concept art. This is Corporate Planning & Design, however, which means that they are responsible for all ride concepts, creative direction, and final imagery that we see when a new attraction is debuted.

I learned that quickly as I stepped inside, only to be greeted immediately by Rob Decker. Mr. Decker is a creative genius in the amusement industry and a personal idol (there's a great interview with him here and an article on the Planning & Design team here, check them out if you're interested). As a long-time Cedar Point fan, I have him to thank for many of my favorite rides and attractions. Extending his hand, Mr. Decker introduced himself and invited me into his office.

With layers on layers of foam project boards leaning against very wall, I managed to catch a glimpse of some of the cool projects the Planning & Design team has come up with. Tacked up on one wall were current projects; Mr. Decker's desk was piled high with papers and the large drawing table against the back wall was overshadowed by a massive poster for Volcano: the Blast Coaster (at Kings Dominion).

Sitting down at the conference table just inside the door, Mr. Decker pointed me to a set of blueprints for a project out at Cedar Fair's northern California park, California's Great America. Mr. Decker has been finalizing plans for a new group dining facility for catered meals. Not exactly the most exciting stuff, but we were just getting started. In one corner stood a large framed drawing of what looked to be a major entertainment complex, something along the lines of Universal CityWalk (see here). Mr. Decker explained that this was a concept for California's Great America as well from back when it was owned by Paramount; unfortunately, the project never got off the drawing board. Next he laid on the desk two large boards, each showing a park in its current state and the same park with new attraction ideas labeled. The first was Carowinds (Charlotte, NC), with the park divided up into various areas for attractions, waterpark, resort, and future expansion. The second was Cedar Point with similar markings. Both of them had several spaces carved out for new attractions - and let me just say, the new attractions look incredible. For those of us right here in Ohio, we've got a lot to look forward to if everything does in fact come to fruition. I can't give away any specific details, but you won't be disappointed.

Before I could get caught up in blueprints and ride concepts much more, however, in walked Mark Schoelwer. Mr. Schoelwer is Mr. Decker's right hand man, next in line for the throne if you will. His arms full of photo boards, he stepped into the office and set them down gently on the conference table. These are for a new dark ride at Canada's Wonderland (Toronto), Wonder Mountain's Guardian. Today, Mr. Decker and Mr. Schoelwer had a conference scheduled with a company called Triotech, their partner in designing and executing the new attraction. Wonder Mountain's Guardian is a new direction for Cedar Fair and will incorporate a lot of new ideas and technology.

I was honored to take part in the conference call as the Planning & Design guys and the Triotech executives discussed anything and everything for Wonder Mountain's Guardian: the ride vehicle, interactive technology, the ride's pacing, digital content, characters and plot, and so much more. The basic premise of the ride is that a dragon has stolen a kingdom's gold, and it is the task of the riders to recover it. By aiming electronic "gun" devices at various points on the projection screens, they'll be able to recapture the gold and will emerge as heroes by the end of the ride. One of the points that needed to be discussed was how the players would distinguish themselves on the ride when shooting at the projection screens. One idea was to use a different-colored dot for each gun; I suggested that riders could choose from a handful of character avatars at the start of the ride, which Mr. Schoelwer seemed to like!

When the conference call finished, Mr. Schoelwer returned to his office and Mr. Decker was kind enough to take me on a tour of the building. We started in the graphic design offices; here, all logos, pamphlets, mailers, merchandise, etc. are created by a team of six talented designers (more on this in a later post). The company also prints nearly all of its own materials here in a massive printing room. They've also got a separate sign shop for making everything from ride signs to speed limit signs. Many of the signs and banners you see in the parks have been made right there, in the back room of the Planning & Design building.

Also in the back sat about 12 carousel horses. Planning & Design isn't a maintenance crew, but they are the chief creative force at Cedar Point. That's why they take a handful of carousel horses each year, strip them down, and then repair them and repaint them by hand. They also maintain some of the finer pieces in the park - one of these is the Snoopy statue that sits in Planet Snoopy. I had just seen it being removed from the park that morning, and now it was sitting in Planning & Design's warehouse as Mr. Decker explained to me how they service it. Because so many kids climb on the statue during the season, they take it in each winter, cut it open and reinforce it to maintain structural integrity, and put it all back together by spring.

By that time, my afternoon with Planning & Design had come to an end. I shook Mr. Decker's hand and thanked him for showing me everything. After such an exciting afternoon, I left trying to figure out how I could quickly turn myself into an architect! It was incredible to see everything that the company has planned for its parks and to be able to see how everything travels from conception to realization right here in this office. Unfortunately due to the super top-secret nature of everything in the office, I wasn't really allowed to take pictures. Still, I'll be back on Tuesday with more from Cedar Point!

Stay tuned for lots more updates very soon!

Day 4: The Nuts and Bolts of Cedar Point

"Uh-huh. Uh-huh uh-huh."

Eric Lapp continued like this under his breath, barely audible over the sound of the rusted-out pickup truck as it rumbled across the causeway. Mr. Lapp is a Ride Maintenance Manager, and I had the privilege of spending my Thursday morning with him on a tour of the Cedar Point maintenance department.

I started the morning by meeting Ed Dangler, the head honcho for all things related to maintenance and construction at Cedar Point. He advised me to grab a coat; I took his advice without question and stepped out of the frigid peninsula air into his truck for a short ride over to the maintenance offices.

Stepping into the low building, Mr. Dangler introduced me to several members of his team before coming to a stop in Mr. Lapp's office. Blueprints rolled up in one corner and walls covered with old Cedar Point posters and bulletins, Mr. Lapp's office wasn't much different visually from those of most employees here. It's quickly becoming clear to me that everyone here loves Cedar Point and loves their job.

From there, Mr. Lapp took over. We wasted no time getting out of the office; making the short trek to the Hotel Breakers parking lot, we hopped in his blue "Cedar Point Maintenance" truck and headed around and out of the park. Our first stop would be the park's new maintenance warehouses, located across from Castaway Bay on Cleveland Road. Mr. Lapp explained to me the process of off-season maintenance: each year once the park has closed, the maintenance team begins "winterizing" the rides. In some cases, rides are left intact in the park and covered with a tight blue shrink wrap. Most of the rides, however, are dismantled to some degree so that parts can be inspected, repaired, or replaced.

This is a particularly complicated endeavor for the park's sixteen roller coasters and other major thrill rides. As Mr. Lapp showed me into the Cleveland Road facility, the first thing I noticed was the stripped-down GateKeeper car sitting in the middle of the floor. GateKeeper is Cedar Point's newest roller coaster (opened in 2013), and this particular car was being disassembled, inspected, and refurbished to be sent down to the IAAPA Attractions Expo for display by the manufacturer, Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M).

Even though this was a special case, Mr. Lapp informed me that every major ride car is disassembled in a similar fashion so that each individual piece can be inspected and repaired or replaced when necessary. In the next room, several cars from Magnum XL-200 sat on wooden pallets while a Raptor car hung from a large metal support structure, ready to be worked on. Clustered in one corner sat every seat from Power Tower, the foam pads for which were being cleaned in a large pressure washer. Mr. Lapp also explained how adjustments are made from year to year; on the Magnum trains, for example, the carpet material that lined the floor of each car had been replaced with a sturdier material used in truck beds. On the GateKeeper trains, they had just determined a way to prevent the vest-like harnesses from tightening throughout the course of the ride after guests were complaining of pain in the shoulders or collarbones. We took a quick walk through the paint shop and outdoor storage, where several employees were repainting the Monster spinning ride and a few retired coaster trains sat dormant.

Across the street is Castaway Bay, Cedar Point's hotel and indoor waterpark for those who may not know. Castaway Bay is currently closed until mid-December as the maintenance crews perform work inside the waterpark. A cloud of concrete dust hung in the air as we entered through the back door, pink and green slides twisting overhead. All of the pools had been drained and several men were working around the facility; Mr. Lapp told me that their main project right now was refinishing all of the concrete in the pools. After taking a quick look around the place and stopping to check in with some of the workers, Mr. Lapp guided me back out of the building and we returned to the peninsula.

Back on Point, Mr. Lapp's truck took a sharp left turn back towards Sandcastle Suites after coming around the peninsula. The Sandcastle Suites parking lot actually conceals the entrance to Magnum's access road. The access road is exactly what it sounds like; all rides usually have one in case you'd need to get to a certain part of a ride in an emergency. Magnum's access road also serves as sort of the back entrance to Soak City Water Park. Last year, Mr. Lapp explained, all of the pieces for Soak City's new slide complex were brought in and unloaded this way. This year however, the most exciting thing we saw (or heard, rather) was one of Magnum's brake sections hissing at us. As Mr. Lapp quickly tried to stop it from hissing, I took a short walk over to where I noticed that a track rail had been cut away. The rails on each coaster naturally undergo a lot of wear and tear, and along the way maintenance makes sure that they check for stress or cracks and reinforce the track where necessary; at this point however, they had opted to remove and replace that section of rail with a new piece altogether. I asked Mr. Lapp how the maintenance crews check the track like that, with an idea forming in my head that I hoped he would confirm. "Well, they walk the track, of course," he answered, explaining to me how that process works. Every coaster in the park is given a track walk at least once a year, some more often depending on the age or condition of the ride. A track walk is exactly what it sounds like: one man with a double harness system hooks himself onto the track and climbs his way through the entire course, checking for any potential problems along the way. More intense rides like Top Thrill Dragster will only receive a track walk once a year - the ride is relatively new, and climbing up 420 feet of vertical track is no small endeavor. For Magnum, however, a track walk is performed usually once a month - Magnum is a bit older, has higher ridership, and is generally easier to perform a track walk on.

Next, we swerved the truck past the Planning & Design offices at the base of Mean Streak and into the park. Entering at the back of the park, we passed Gemini on our left and Camp Snoopy on our right as we saw asphalt being torn up and buildings being torn down. This was the home of "Gemini Children's Area," a nice albeit outdated section of kiddie rides. As we drove through, Mr. Lapp pointed out to me where the new children's rides will be installed and other renovations will be made to liven up this section of the park.

Our first stop within the park was Top Thrill Dragster's hydraulics room - the true holy grail of roller coasters. In this room lies the most ambitious, advanced technology for nearly any roller coaster in the world. Let's just say that "excited" doesn't even come close to describing how I felt. Inside the room, the massive launch cable is coiled around a spool, hooked to dozens of tubes on either side. A mechanical medusa, the system required a lengthy explanation from Mr. Lapp - which I will do my best to convey to you. As I understand it, each launch begins its process when hydraulic fluid fills several large chambers, separated from nitrogen gas on the other side of the tubular chamber by a piston. The pressure is increased to ~4000psi before being released; in an instant, the hydraulic fluid rushes back out of the chambers through thick black tubes into each of 32 motors (16 on each side). With this sudden rush of fuel, the motors fire up and cause the cable to begin spinning, launching the train forward at 120 miles per hour. In the adjoining room, a computer tracks every single launch the ride performs.

On the other end of Dragster's access road sits the electrical room. As Mr. Lapp showed me, this room contains mostly computers that oversee the ride, from train sensors to safety monitors. Stepping out of the little room and up onto Dragster's unloading platform, he pointed out the train sensors to me on the track. These little green sensors along the side of the track, spaced only a foot apart, keep track of the train's location along the track at all times. Similar looking green sensors in the center of the track monitor train movement so that they can move in synchronization through the load and unload stations. Walking around the track, past all of the individual Dragster cars waiting on the midway in individual wooden pallets, we came to the ride operator's booth. This booth houses two employees; facing the station, the first operator handles the largest control panel and is mainly responsible for the ride restraints and train movement. Only when each of the five ride operators (one at each corner of the station plus one in the unload station) are pushing their individual dispatch buttons will the train move out of the station to prepare for launch. At that point, the second ride operator in the booth monitors the trains for any unusual activity or potential problems. After making sure that everyone is in compliance with the "arms down, head back, and hold on" ride audio, the operator will launch the train.

Having seen everything at Dragster, we continued to drive around the park after that. Much of the work that goes on to prepare the park for winter happens within the first few days after the park closes. A Snoopy statue is removed to be touched up and stored, flags and banners come down from their posts, ride test seats are shrink wrapped. Making a full loop around the front of the park, we now headed back towards Millennium Force. Once again, ride cars sat jumbled on the midway as we turned in behind a bank of midway games and crossed the train tracks. As I learned from Mr. Lapp, almost all the ride maintenance is done in-house; the only two exceptions are the Blue Streak and Mean Streak wooden coaster cars, which are sent to a specialist in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Toboggan Company, Inc.), and the CP&LE Railroad, which has its own set of railroad mechanics that performs track and vehicle maintenance each year. Across the track, however, is access to Mantis, Shoot the Rapids, and Dinosaurs Alive. Stopping at Mantis, there was quite a lot of commotion as a ball bearing on one of the supports needed to be replaced. This would be the first time something like this had happened, and Mr. Lapp stopped to talk with the worker who was preparing to install the replacement part. While I was waiting, the new piece arrived; Mr. Lapp and the other maintenance employee together worked to move it into place to be welded together. As it turned out, angle iron pieces that the other worker had quickly welded onto the support to hold it in place were slightly too short; the new piece wouldn't simply slide into place under the track connector. It seems that this would take just a little bit of reworking before the piece could be installed.

Completing our loop around the back of the park now, the water rides had been drained and Wave Swinger, the swings at the back of the park, had been completely stripped down to the bare metal framework. Even after exiting the park, ride parts and cars sat in the parking lots waiting to be moved indoors for storage and inspection. The Cedar Point maintenance team does an incredible job each year of managing, maintaining, and repairing these rides; to be able to go behind the scenes with Mr. Lapp for the morning was truly an incredible opportunity.

My maintenance adventures described here actually only lasted until about noon; my afternoon was spent with Planning & Design. Rather than go on writing for another mile or so, I think I'll give my afternoon its own post. Stay tuned for that soon!


P.S. There's a lot more really cool pictures from my time at Cedar Point (including behind-the-scenes maintenance work) right here if you're interested!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Day 3: The Amazement Park

My third day was spent with the history makers themselves. I woke up bright and early this morning and made the hour-long trek to Sandusky for my first day at Cedar Point. My day would be spent learning the ins and outs of the fabulous marketing department. Hurrying out of the windy gray weather into their corporate offices, I took a moment to admire the portraits of each former CEO.

Before long, I was met by Billy Clark. Mrs. Clark is the Corporate Director of Human Resources for Cedar Fair, the parent company that owns Cedar Point and 10 other amusement parks across the country. I was pleased to find that they had made me my own Cedar Point nametag and were giving me a copy of Cedar Point: Queen of American Watering Places as a gift!

Mrs. Clark escorted me to the marketing offices and introduced me to the various members of that team. We arrived in the office of Tim Walsh, head of Group Sales; he invited me in and shook my hand. Soon we were joined by several other members of the marketing staff -- Scott, Jason, and Tony came in and introduced themselves, teasing Tim about how two trains somehow ended up on the Blue Streak lift at once while he was operating. After chatting with everyone for a few minutes, Jason took me back to show me the rest of the office. There I met Kristy, one of the Group Sales interns, who I would end up spending most of the day with.

She started by telling me a little about herself: after spending four seasons as a ride operator at Top Thrill Dragster, she took this internship in the marketing office. She explained how the marketing team works, and shared a lot of interesting facts. Apparently very few tickets are sold at the front gate now; most sales are done in advance, and one third of the park's ticket revenue actually comes from group sales!

Looking at the back end of their ticketing system, Kristy showed me how they book group reservations and also make catering reservations. Each week, the entire marketing department receives an email with that week's schedule: events, special arrangements, group visits, job assignments, etc. A typical week would include time in the office, surveying guests, supervising events and catered meals, or leading VIP tours.

By the time 11:30 rolled around, nearly everyone in the office was headed out to a retirement luncheon for the outgoing General Manager, John Hildebrant. I was actually invited to attend, but I ended up missing it after getting caught up in the work Kristy and I were doing in the back. There were several bags of old files that had been removed from their cabinets, and it was our job to take the contents out of each file to be shredded. Some of the files were group sales records from as far back as the late 80's!

When we finished with the files, we took a look around the office for fun. We found several rooms full of archived videos, including commercials, B-roll footage, and promo videos for attractions. We would've tried to watch some of them, but they were all on VHS; we did, however, find a cool documentary on the science of roller coasters that we popped into the computer a bit later. There was also a lot of cool limited-edition merchandise in storage, as well as old press kits and photos that we took a look at. After a bit of exploring, I headed out for a lunch break - but not before getting my photo taken with Snoopy and Woodstock in the office's old Wildcat roller coaster car (Wildcat was demolished in 2011).

When I returned to the office after a quick jaunt into Sandusky for Five Guys, most everyone had returned and everyone was working on sorting Meijer tickets. You know the discount tickets you can buy at most Meijer stores? Well, whatever's leftover at the end of the season gets sent back from each individual store to Cedar Point. It's their job to open each incoming package, sort by ticket type, and then repackage to be stored until spring. It doesn't sound too bad, until you consider that there are single-day tickets, waterpark tickets, two-in-one tickets, season passes, platinum passes, and then about 2-3 designs or styles for each one of those ticket types. It ends up being a lot of sorting, so I was recruited to help. We spent most of the afternoon counting out stacks of 25 or 50 (depending on ticket type) and repackaging them while we watched that roller coaster documentary on the office computer and discussed our favorite roller coasters.

For being my first day, it was a coaster lover's heaven. Getting to spend the day with the Cedar Point marketing team absolutely reaffirmed for me that I must go into the business of amusement parks. I know I'm posting this several days late, but I'll have more blog posts up soon (with lots of pictures)! It gets better and better, I can't wait to show you what I've been doing.

More soon!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Days 1 & 2: Research

The last few days have been simply incredible.

Let me start by giving you a quick recap of Monday and Tuesday. I had the privilege of spending my time on Monday and Tuesday at the Toledo library's main downtown branch. Though all the individual study rooms were taken, I holed up at a quiet partitioned-off desk in the back near all of the patent records. Curiosity getting the better of me, I ventured over to the shelf with all of the 1884 patents, searching through each volume until I found the patent for LaMarcus Thompson's "Gravity Switch-Back Railway."

The rest of my research time has been spent evaluating a project I worked on several years ago that discussed the history of the amusement industry in America. With the goal of publishing this small book by the end of the month, I've been making many minor edits and revisions to each section. Simultaneously, I've been doing additional research on the history of Disneyland, trolley parks, the revival of wooden coasters beginning with the Racer at Kings Island, and other key events that shaped the American amusement park. I'm very excited to be returning to this project and to hopefully be able to share it all with you very soon.

As for my activities today, I have LOTS to share -- stay tuned for that post very soon!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Welcome to (the new) Park Impressions!


For those of you who don't know me, my name is Wynn Turner and I'm a high school senior who is very excited to spend the month studying roller coasters and amusement parks! This is where I'll be posting daily progress updates on the many things I've been working on.

To start, this blog may look a little cluttered; let me explain. This is Park Impressions, an amusement industry blog that I began several years ago to feature news updates, park photos and reports, as well as research and opinion articles. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and other commitments I was not able to continue posting regularly. All of the old Park Impressions material is still here, and I invite my new (and old) visitors to read through it. I hope to revise the blog as part of my work this month, and finally make the transfer to a full website if all goes as planned.

For those who don't quite know what I mean when I talk about my "plans for this month," I mean Winterim. Winterim is a unique program at my school which gives me the opportunity to spend the month of November essentially taking an elective class of my own design. That's why this month I'll be studying the business aspect of the amusement industry. I'm very excited to spend three days behind the scenes at Cedar Point, learning what it takes to be the Best Amusement Park in the World year after year. After that, I'll be headed to Orlando to visit some of our finest amusement and theme parks and to cover the 2013 IAAPA Expo. Not only will I be posting photos from the trade show floor, but I'll also have the opportunity to network with industry leaders and attend numerous educational programs.

What does all of this mean? Park Impressions will be back at least through November, and I invite my family, friends, and former PI readers to follow along. I've set several goals for myself and for Park Impressions this month:

1. Update the Park Impressions blog at least every other day with news, photos, and videos of my work.

2. Revise and publish an iBook on the history of the amusement industry.

3. Network with industry professionals at Cedar Point and IAAPA 2013 to learn more about what business and operations side of the amusement industry looks like.

4. Research the environmental impact of the amusement industry; write a mock business plan for an amusement park with an emphasis on sustainability. 

The next three weeks should be very exciting as I work to fulfill these goals. I look forward to posting my progress on here and I encourage you all to follow along!

See you soon,