This week, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) announced that rides and carnival games developer Bob Cassata and legendary amusement park operator Richard “Dick” Knoebel were inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame. The IAAPA Hall of Fame honors individuals for their significant and lasting contributions to the worldwide attractions industry. The inductions were announced during the Kickoff Event for IAAPA Attractions Expo 2014 in Orlando, Florida, the premier annual conference and trade show for the global attractions industry.
“We are excited to welcome Bob Cassata and Dick Knoebel as the newest inductees to the IAAPA Hall of Fame,” said Ron Gustafson, 2014 chairman of the IAAPA Hall of Fame and Archives Committee and director of marketing and public relations for Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Connecticut. “The products and guest experiences they have created have thrilled and delighted amusement fans for years. Their passion for our industry is profound and they both deserve this prestigious recognition for their contributions.”
Games Innovator: Bob Cassata, Bob’s Space Racers, Daytona Beach, Florida, United States
Bob Cassata and his company Bob’s Space Racers (BSR) revolutionized the carnival games business and adapted it to the worldwide theme park business. The first game Cassata developed was a three-pin bowling alley game at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. From there, he built “Pitch-Til-You-Win” and “Balloon Dart” games that he mounted on a burned out house trailer he assembled in his garage. In 1970, Cassata developed one of the world’s first electronic group games, the “Space Racer,” just after the first Apollo lunar mission. The game was so popular people began asking for Bob’s “Space Racer” games, which led to the name of his company. In 1972, BSR sold the first mechanized group game, which for the first time, allowed players to compete against each other instead of against the operator. Throughout the 70s and 80s, BSR created several games including “Whac-A-Mole,” a game that’s still popular today. Cassata’s company is also credited with inventing and developing a built-in accounting and diagnostic system that allows park operators to know the number of games played, the number of players, revenue per location and per employee shift, price optimization, system faults, and more. BSR holds 22 patents and more than 50 trademarks and is currently doing business in 120 countries. Cassata earned the respect of the industry by developing games that were reliable, fair, and, most of all, fun.
Amusement Park Legend: Richard “Dick” Knoebel, Knoebels Grove Amusement Resort, Elysburg, Pennsylvania, United States
Dick Knoebel was raised in the attractions industry as his parents founded the Knoebels park in 1926 in Elysburg, Pennsylvania. In 1971, he was elected president of the Pennsylvania Amusement Parks Association and in 1984 was instrumental in the development and adoption of the Pennsylvania Ride Inspection Act. Since 1988, Knoebel has served as the president of the family business and has been at the forefront of preserving and restoring vintage rides ever since. Legendary projects include rebuilding “The Phoenix” roller coaster, which debuted in Texas in 1947 and was reopened at Knoebels park in 1985, and saving “The Twister,” which was purchased in Colorado and made its debut at Knoebels in 1999. He has also built first-of-their-kind attractions such as a flume ride with wood supports and the “Flying Turns,” the only wooden bobsled-style roller coaster in existence that was inspired by a similar classic attraction of the 1930s. In addition, Dick Knoebel has been an active IAAPA volunteer, including serving as a member of the Board of Directors from 1999 to 2002.
IAAPA Hall of Fame Honors Those Who Have Made Lasting Contributions to the Global Industry
The IAAPA Hall of Fame was established in 1990 to honor legends and pioneers for their significant and lasting contributions to the growth and development of the attractions industry. In the past 24 years, dozens of industry pioneers from around the world have been inducted to the Hall of Fame including P. T. Barnum (founder of the American Museum); Walt Disney (Walt Disney Company); Milton Hershey (Hersheypark); Bo Kinntorph (Liseberg); Will Koch (Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari); Franz Mack (Mack Rides/Europa-Park); Bob Rogers (BRC Imagination Arts); Jay Stein (Universal Studios Florida); Geoffrey Thompson (Blackpool Pleasure Beach); and Antonio Zamperla (Zamperla).