Raging Waves, the largest waterpark in Illinois, has announced it is to introduce a new waterslide attraction to the park in 2020.

The Aussie Mat Dash is a six-lane mat racing slide, which allows riders to see and hear each other.

The Aussie Mat Dash will be located close to Raging Waves’ Cyclone and the Boomerang rides. Developed by ProSlide, the six-lane waterslide is one of just three of its kind in the world. The attraction will feature RallyPOINTs, which enables riders to see and hear one another as they race down enclosed flumes on mats.

The combined slides cover 2,500 ft. Raging Waves commented on the new attraction, stating: “Get ready for the race of a lifetime. Introducing the Aussie Mat Dash – a six lane RallyRACER that is just on of 3 in the world!”

Raging Waves opened in 2008. The 45-acre waterpark is located 45 minutes to the south west of Chicago. The waterpark features a new interactive play area known as Quokka-Nut Island, the Kookaburra Kreek lazy river that stretches for a quarter of a mile, and the huge Great Barrier Reef wave pool.

The waterpark is also home to numerous slides and attractions, including a 600 ft.-long family raft ride known as the Crocodile Miles and the Three Sisters triple-tube ride.

The Aussie Mat Dash is due to open at Raging Waves in the summer of 2020.



Animax Designs, creators of animatronic and interactive characters, costumes and puppets, has unveiled a new, industry-leading technical design team, as the company continues to establish itself as a leader in themed entertainment innovation.

Chris Lee has been appointed director of technical design, and will work alongside four other talented individuals who will serve as managers of the technical design team.

The technical design managers include, Thomas Ring, a veteran in the animatronics industry, Michael Shupbach, a master puppeteer with more thn 20 years’ experience in the industry, Paul Fly, former assembly manager at Animax Designs and a classically trained sculptor, and Tommy Schatz-Thompson, a seasoned fabricator, rigger, animator and award-winning director.

Talking about the direction that will be provided by Chris Lee as director of Technical Design, Steve Andersen, vice president of operations, said: “It’s the combination of career and personal experience that made Chris a standout candidate for the director position. He has a unique skillset that will assist us in our rapid growth as we continue to innovate the future of animatronics.”

Lee brings almost three decades of experience leading award-winning teams, including chief technology officer of Anode Inc. and senior product owner at The Dalton Agency.

Animax Designs’ new director of Technical Design commented on the appointment: “I’m excited to bring my experience in digital storytelling, product management, and guest experience to the Animax family.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead this dedicated and resourceful team of Technical Design Managers as we work to advance our company’s capabilities and processes. It’s a dream come true to be a part of such a talented group of creative professionals working together to bring characters to life.”

Chuck Fawcett, president and CEO of Animax said, “It has taken 30 years of continuous growth and building significant scale to afford us this opportunity, and Chris has the ideal credentials to lead us there!

“The level of complexity in the characters we are now designing and building, requires a team to help drive non-conventional thinking, while at the same time understanding the fundamental components required in bringing three dimensional characters to life in the most life-like ways.

“The addition of Chris Lee and team is a unique approach in the industry and one we believe will keep Animax Designs ahead of the competition,” Fawcett added.



2020 will see the much-loved Tennessee theme park Dollywood, commemorate its 35thanniversary. To mark the special year, the park is to host a vibrant calendar full of must-see events, including a new festival and entertainment featuring well-known international performers.

The 35th anniversary season will start on March 14, 2020 with the Festival of Nations, which will run until April 20. Headlining the Festival of Nations will be a stage production of Namaste India and Ole! The production takes guests on a journey across India. Well known acts will feature on the stage, including JigJam, Drumstick and the Invaders Steel Orchestra.

The park’s celebratory Flower & Food Festival is to take place from May 8 to June 14 and will feature a colourful mass of spring flower displays, crafted by talented horticulturalists.

Expert chefs will also be heading to Tennessee to create a diverse selection of culinary delights to provide plenty of food for guests to tuck into over the spring festival.

Spring beef sprinkled over crispy potatoes, tomato and feta cheese galette, savoury lime chicken legs over rice pilaf and caprese skewers with a balsamic, are just several of the culinary items on the menu at the Flower & Food Festival.

From June 20 to August 2, a Dollywood guest favourite, the Gazillion Bubbles Show, will return to the theme park during the Summer Celebration event, when “gazillions” of bubbles will float through the air.

The park’s Harvest festival featuring Great Pumpkin LumiNights and the Southern Gospel Jubilee will bring some autumn and Halloween fun to the Smokies from September 25 to October 31.

The 35th anniversary season ends with Smoky Mountain Christmas beginning on November 7 and ending on January 2, 2021. Humana, the 12-time Golden Ticket winner for the Best Theme Park Christmas event, will present this much-loved festive occasion.



DEAL, the show for the entertainment, amusement and leisure industry in the Middle East and Africa region, is to host a huge event in 2020, hailed to be the biggest in the exhibition’s history.

Next year’s DEAL will be the 26th edition of the event. The 2020 exhibition will feature a number of innovative categories, designed to establish DEAL as a catalyst for growth in the industry.

Around 20% new exhibitors will be exhibiting at the event. Visitors will be able to witness a wealth of innovation within the industry at DEAL 2020, including theme park rides, admission systems, AR/VR games, theming consultants, coin operated games, F&B, adventure courses, gifts and souvenirs, waterpark and snow park products, costume and show production, inflatables, and much more.

Talking about the forthcoming show, Sharif Rahman, CEO of International Expo Consults, organisers of the DEAL 2020 show, said: “Exhibitors who will be showcasing some of the best innovations from across the globe next year would include Warehouse of Games, Amusement Services International, Embed, Intercard, Innovative Concepts of Entertainment, Al Hokair Group, Mammamia Rides, Polin Waterparks, Semnox Solutions, UDC and Zamperla among several others.

“The show is expected to attract more than 300 exhibitors and thousands of visitors from across 75 plus countries.”

Noting the appeal of conducting business in the Middle East, Rahman added: “The prospect of doing business in the Middle East has attracted exhibitors from all around the world to come and showcase their products and services to buyers not just Middle East but neighbouring African, Eastern European, CIS and South Asian countries. DEAL 2020’s popularity is at its peak in its two-and-a-half-decade existence, with more than two-thirds of the floor space being booked with barely 5 months into its preparation.”

DEAL 2020 is taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from March 23 to 25.



Holovis, specialists in the design of immersive and mixed reality to engage audiences, is expanding, with new offices and facilities in the US, UK and Ukraine.

Part of the company’s international expansion includes the acquisition of a 7,000 sq. ft. warehouse next to its current offices in Orlando. The warehouse will be used for demonstrations and project builds, to create mock-ups of projects.

In Manchester, UK, Holovis is to launch an Innovation Hub and new offices, joining a creative co-working space at the innovative Media City. Holovis joins as an anchor partner, supporting digitally centred small businesses, providing them with collaboration opportunities and access to new data capture and interrogation platforms.

In Kyiv, Ukraine, Holovis has launched a Development Hub, predominantly focused on the development of software. A local and high specialised team of software experts are working on tools and next generation propriety platforms to revolutionise connectivity of data and collaboration.

Stuart Hetherington, CEO of Holovis, spoke of the global expansion, stating: “This is a very exciting time, the scope and scale of work we are winning and delivering is growing significantly in all territories, something that we feel is reflected by the current buoyancy of the industry.

“We are continuing to expand and recruit on a global basis for our UK, Orlando, Ukraine and China offices, as we continue to push the boundaries of themed entertainment with world-first solutions and applications of emerging technologies,” said Hetherington.



The All Seasons Ice-Show project at the Harbin Ice and Snow World, a snow tourist and cultural festival in the city of Harbin, China, has been given the green light.

The Harbin New District Management Committee and Harbin Sun Island Group Co., Ltd. recently signed an agreement with the Chinese property developer Sunac, for the Ice-Snow Project to go ahead.

The project will cover an area of 1.57m sq. mt. 150,00 sq. mt. will be used as an indoor venue, 720,000 sq. mt. as an outdoor playground, and 700,000 sq. mt. as a wetland park.



IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai, hailed as the world’s largest indoor theme park, is playing host to its Halloween event ‘Festival of Fright.’

To mark the spooky season, the theme park’s Cartoon Network zone has been adorned in giant cobwebs, bats, dinosaur bones, hay bales, a fountain of bloody water, blood-stained handprints, zombie mannequins, hanging ghosts, damp fog and thousands of pumpkins, to create a blood-curdling environment for guests.

The entrance to IMG Worlds of Adventure is decorated in giant-sized pumpkins to invite visitors to embark on a harrowing journey, beginning at the Zombies of Haunted Hotel.

Around 500 zombies will roam aimlessly around the park and into the Haunted Maze, chilling forest and towards the IMG Boulevard zone, where there are further spooky attractions, including the Creepy Graveyard.

In addition to the eerie ambiance, visitors to the Dubai indoor theme park can experience a number of Spooktacular rides and attractions.

Live music will be blasting into the night air, as DJ Bliss plays the Halloween classics. Guests can watch as a Haunted Parade passes by, alongside dance performances in the Lost Valley Zone.

The Festival of Fright is taking place at IMG Worlds of Adventure on October 31, 2019, from 8pm until 1am.



The location of the new Sesame Place theme park has been announced. According to theme park operators SeaWorld Entertainment and the educational organisation, Sesame Workshop, the new theme park dedicated to the much-loved children’s programme will be located on the West Coast in San Diego.

Sesame Place San Diego will be the second theme park devoted entirely to Sesame Street to open in the United States. The first Sesame Place opened just outside Philadelphia in 1980.

The new theme park will provide young guests with the opportunity to engage and enjoy immersive attractions and shows, as well as going on family rides, water slides and more.

Talking about the new park, Steve Youngwood, president of media and education and chief operating officer at Sesame Workshop, said: “As we celebrate Sesame Street’s 50thAnniversary, we are excited to share the news of a major opportunity for kids and families to connect with and learn from the brand and its beloved characters.

“The opening of Sesame Place San Diego will give guests a unique and powerful way to experience Sesame Street, enable us to connect with even more families, and further our educational mission.”

Marc Swanson, interim chief executive officer at SeaWorld Entertainment, shared his excitement for the opening of the second Sesame Place in the US. “We share Sesame Workshop’s goal of educating and entertaining generations of children, and the opening of a second park, the only one of its kind on the West Coast, furthers our company mission to provide guests with extraordinary experiences.

“We are thrilled to be able to grow the presence of Sesame Place theme parks in the United States, and San Diego is the perfect complement to our Philadelphia location,” Swanson added.

Sesame Place San Diego is due to open in the spring of 2021.



Dollywood has announced plans to host a Flower and Food Festival as part of its continued expansion and investment in bringing new experiences to visitors.

The festival is planned to take place from May 8 to June 14, 2020, to mark the theme park’s 35th anniversary.

The vibrant event will see Dollywood team up with the Mosaicultures flower sculpting specialists, to make flourishing spring flower and topiary displays a key feature throughout the Great Smoky Mountains theme park.

Chefs will also be busy working on creating culinary delights for visitors.

Speaking of her love for spring, Dolly Parton said: “When I was just a little girl, spring was a wondrous time.

“I imagined having my own special field of flowers that were a fragrant home to my favourite animal friends in the woods.

“Now, my Dollywood becomes that special place with everything made of flowers – I can’t wait to share it with everyone just in time for our 35th season!” added the singer.

During the festival, the Showstreet area of the park will feature an ‘Umbrella Sky’, comprising of hundreds of multicoloured umbrellas. Dollywood will also be geared up for some selfie moments, with Instagrammable locations alongside interactive activities.

“With these umbrellas, it’s sure to be a sunshine kind of day no matter what!” said Dolly Parton.



SeaWorld Antonio, Orlando and San Diego have introduced a new, All-Season Dining Pass for 2020, designed to enable guests to enjoy greater value on a range of dining options when they visit the theme parks and Aquatica waterparks.

The 2020 All-Season Dining Pass allows holders to combine a new or existing pass product with the new pass. The All-Season Pass can also be customised with options, such as an All-Season Beverage Plan.

A diverse range of culinary options are available with the All-Season Dining Pass, including BBQs, Asian-inspired dishes, hamburgers, pizzas, chicken, salads, sandwiches, and more.

Christopher Ivy, corporate vice president of In-Park Revenue and Strategic Partnerships, commented on SeaWorld’s new dining pass: “We are excited to offer our guests a new product that will allow them to enjoy lunch and dinner with every park visit.

“And with incredible events planned in the coming months, including our popular Halloween and Christmas celebrations, All-Season Dining will pay for itself after just a few park visits,” Ivy continued.

To mark the launch of the new All-Season Dining Pass, for a limited time only, guests who purchase the new pass will eat free at the SeaWorld resorts for the remainder of 2019.