England’s Drayton Manor theme park has added a third train to its Thomas Land children’s area to cope with anticipated demand in the season ahead. The new engine, Rosie, joins Thomas and Percy and ferries passengers back and forth between the Thomas Land, Farmer McColl’s Farm and the Tidmouth Hault stations. Since opening last season, Thomas Land has been an unprecedented success, helping Drayton Manor pass the one million guest mark for the first time. A “Discover Thomas & Friends Exhibition” will also open at the park this season, featuring original illustrations from the original Thomas the Tank Engine books by the late Rev W Awdry.
WhiteWater West has signed an agreement with Wave Loch to manufacture and sell the FlowRider “stationary wave” surf attraction outside North America. “The FlowRider is a highly popular and proven product which complements our existing waterpark attractions.” says WhiteWater president Geoff Chuter.
The National Ticket Company has announced the appointment of Jason Mauser as its US sales manager. Mauser joined the company in 1999 and plans to be an integral part of the management team. National Ticket recently opened two new sales offices. Chris Conroy will lead the sales team at his Chalfont, Pennsylvania, office, while Patrick Carter, will manage sales at the new St Charles office in Missouri.
HB Leisure, the specialist games operator headed by Tim Batstone, has appointed a new managing director. Alex Sparks joins from the retail industry, where he spent 10 years with the Virgin Group and 15 years with Blockbuster Entertainment.
Orlando’s Universal CityWalk has introduced three fast new dining options: Panda Express, Moe’s Southwest Grill and the world’s first Burger King Whopper Bar, a “hipper” version of the hamburger joint. The three outlets are located together on the upper level of CityWalk and share a communal dining area. “We saw a desire for quick, casual meals among our guests,” observes Ric Florell, Universal’s senior vice-president and general manager of resort revenue operations. Previously many of the CityWalk food outlets were full service themed restaurants.
Mtatsminda Park, Tbilisi, Georgia, should be open again this month (April), according to local press reports. Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili visited the site on March 4 and pledged the park would be open again in one month. The park will be operated by UAE-based Rakeen Development, which signed a 49-year management contract once it was announced the park would be reopened and its debts settled. Founded by deceased businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili, the rides and attractions opened in November 2007 but were seized a short while after. The park has stood idle ever since.
Merlin Entertainments continues to pair up its various attractions brands. Warwick Castle in England, until now about the group’s sober of its outlets, it to get a lot more gruesome with the announcement that a Dungeons attraction will open there in time for Easter. Guests will be greeted by “decaying bodies,” chanting monks, medieval medical instruments, leeches and a torture chamber.
Despite financial concerns, only one in six British residents (16%) say price will be biggest their biggest influence when choosing a holiday this year, according to a new survey by American Express Insurance Services. Around one in eight (13%) say they will choose to travel outside of Europe to get more value for money due to the pound hitting an all time low against the euro.
Plans for the world’s first “heritage amusement park” were due to unveiled in the English seaside resort of Margate last month (March). The Dreamland Trust has been working with Thanet District Council and the Margate Town Centre Regeneration Company to revive an amusement outlet on the site of the former Dreamland park. Its plans centre around the Scenic Railway rollercoaster, which will be complemented by a selection of rescued rides and attractions from parks around the UK, ready for a possible 2012 opening. www.savedreamland.co.uk