New Rides, important seminars
By Ron Weber, MCW Editor
Another sunny Florida day met visitors to the IISF Trade Show on Wednesday. Wisdom,s new Windsurfer ride made its appearance and caused a buzz on the midway.
While some have lamented the lack of new rides at the event, a closer inspection of many of the manufacturers have new rides to offer this year.
Jim Ziaja of World Wide Service and Supply is one such example. Zaija represents Preston and Barbieri as well as Tivoli here in the U.S. For the last several years, his main staple has been the Remix II ride. He said 2008 was a good year with lots of service work. Two Remixes were sold, one to Gene Dean,s Fiesta Shows and a second to Majestic Midways. In addition to the Remixes, a Flying Swing was sold to Talley Amusements.
World Wide will be offering several new rides in 2009 and beyond including a Spin Spider and a “Nascar”-type bumper car ride.
The Spin Spider has 12 arms and holds 24 people. It racks on only one trailer. A modern version of an old favorite, the ride should get plenty of attention in 2009. The other ride Zaija has in development is the “Nascar”-type bumper cars. The ride will have a track that the cars are driven around. The cars will be able to bump into each other as they go. The ride will be open topped with pickups in the floor. The ride should have a 48″ height requirement.
Zaija is hoping for a good year in 2009 with the new attractions and he has one open slot for delivery of a Remix II in June of this year that he hopes to sell here at the trade show.
Earlier this year it was announced that US sales of KMG rides would be handled by Rides 4-U. In Gibtown, KMG lent support for sales by way of Peter Theunisz from their headquarters in Holland. Theunisz was on hand last year when he was one of the few manufacturers to bring a new, unsold ride to the trade show. He was able to sell the Swing-It within a day of opening. Theunisz remains very optimistic about the industry both in the US and Europe. While the economy in Europe is much like the economy in the US, he said there would be “no influence from the economy on our (the ride) industry.”
For the past several years, the Fireball and Freak Out rides have been very popular in the US. At the trade show they have Powers Great American,s Freak Out ride. Since their introduction, they have sold 20 – 25 Fireballs and Freak Outs in the US.
The new ride they have introduced this year is the Inversion. The ride is similar to the Freak Out but the cars go all the way over the top. KMG sold an Inversion to Tim Casper of PBJ Happy Days Shows. This is the first model sold in the US and the 11th overall. Of the others, nine were sold in Europe and one in Australia.
Another new piece they have introduced this past year is the XXL Swing ride. This ride towers approximately 140, above the midway and costs 1.5 million Euros or about $2,000,000 US. One ride was recently sold to Switzerland.
Looking ahead to 2010, KMG is developing a secret new piece that will stand 200, tall in its largest version. Other sizes available will be 140, and 100,. Theunisz said the ride will travel on only two trailers but the retail price will come in at about 1.5 million Euros (2m US).
From a ride purchase standpoint, Theunisz said the economy has had its good and bad effects. On the bad side, banks are much more stringent in their lending practices, requiring more collateral and solid information. On the good side, he said interest rates had dropped significantly so the rides were more affordable.
Mike Knott From the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) stopped by the booth from his visit to the NICA and IAFE meetings. Knott is here to look for additional US food vendors for the CNE.
Knott was very excited about the CNE,s performance this year, up 6% from 2007. The CNE moved into the 4th spot on the MCW Top 50 fairs list.
Two special promotions worked very well for the CNE this year. The first was a $5 after 5pm promotion which increased night time attendance. Regular admission is $14 (CAN). The other promotion was the sponsoring of a Rib Fest where rib vendors congregated to offer their food and sauces. The event was a big hit turning a $10,000 revenue space into $250,000.
In the Carousel Pavilion, seminars were conducted throughout the day. One seminar, Equipment Financing 101, was moderated by Larry Yaffee of Firestone Financial. Yaffee discussed the ins and outs of financing, what to look for and why it is needed.
Instead of paying cash and dipping into personal lines of credit, financing can provide a company with a way to pay for capital items over time, so as not to cut into operating costs. Firestone matches the income potential of the equipment with the amount of debt the company is incurring in order to approve a loan.
Options for financing include banks, independent finance companies and in some industries, captive finance companies such as GMAC for car loans. Banks can present a problem for the amusement industry because they do not understand the business, they are slower to fund new purchases and the restrictions are much more stringent. Independent companies specializing in the industry offer attractive terms such as seasonal payments and they look at the larger picture when making lending decisions.
Yaffe then reviewed the 5 ?C”s of credit: capacity, or the ability of the company to replay the loan, capital, how much the company can put down or their “stake” in the loan, collateral, how the loan is guaranteed, conditions, what the purpose of the loan is and finally, character of the person asking for the loan. Yaffe said that the two most important “C”s for him were collateral and character.
In the amusement industry loan terms generally run from 1 to 5 years. Documents include a security agreement, promissory note, personal guarantees and proof of insurance. One positive aspect of the industry is that the equipment retains value for a long period of time.
Other things to watch for when taking a loan are pre-payment premiums, acceleration of payments or interest when a payment is late or missed, leasing versus a loan and the manner in which interest is calculated.
One of the best attended seminars of the show so far was sponsored by Bob,s Space Racers, “Safety Issues with Industry Merchandise”. The talk, given by Ari Ohnona of Peek-A-Boo Toys and Hank Mackin of Good Stuff Corp. The issue facing the industry is the recent legislation regulating the amounts of lead and phthalates in products marketed to children under 12 years of age. The law, signed on August 14 is a source of concern for stock manufacturers and game operators because all prizes must now be tested for the above mentioned substances and a certificate of compliance must be kept with stock purchases.
Most of the concern surrounds stock that has already been purchased and is sitting in warehouses or stock shelves. The CPSC has given mixed signals about the status of these items and the fear is that enforcement by CPSC or lawsuits, filed by individuals seeking to punish manufacturers or game operators, could result in large fines or payments.
While Ohnona said that all of his products, even before the new regulations, were well within compliance standards and Mackin said over 90% of products were probably in compliance there does exist a risk to your business in using items without a compliance certificate.
Later Wednesday night, a visit to the Florida State Fair elicited mixed reviews from concessionaires and ride operators. Ride gross is reportedly down slightly for the fair. Some concessionaires are holding their own or even up and others are down. There has been some cold weather and the impact of the Super Bowl on the fair was another consideration for its impact on the event.