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By IAAPA Press Release

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The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) presented the 2008 Souvenir Awards at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008 on Nov. 19. The awards honor excellence in merchandising by recognizing the most creative and innovative items offered at an IAAPA member facility during the 2008 season.

Judging is based on creativity, memory, impact, and theme. The awards were presented in the categories of Best Hat, Best Shirt, Best Toy, Best Keychain, Best Gift, Best Drinkware, Best Visual—Overall Store Design, and Best Visual—Feature or Focal Display.

In the Best Hat category, Elvis Presley,s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, United States, won for its black hat with a silver "EP" logo and Elvis, signature. The runner-up was Europa-Park in Rust, Germany, honored for its pink hat embellished with rhinestones.

In the Best Keychain category, Busch Gardens Europe,s Ireland keychain won first place for its inclusion of the Irish flag, a lucky clover, among others. Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri, United States, was honored as runner-up for its keychain depiction of the park,s "Wildfire" ride.

In the Best Shirt category, Xcaret! Mexico in Cancun, Mexico won for its tan shirt with a humorous graphic representation of a prisoner escaping from jail. Busch Gardens Africa in Tampa, Florida, United States was honored as runner-up for its illustrated tiger shirt with faux bite marks on the neck and sleeves.

In the Best Drinkware category, Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States, won with its gold-rimmed Espresso mug, emblazoned with a classic iconic drawing of a Hershey Kiss. Shenzhen OCT Holding Company,s Happy Kingdom in Shenzhen, People,s Republic of China, took the runner-up position with drinkware featuring multiple caroon characters.

In the Best Toy category, Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States won with its personalized Dutch Wonderland children,s board game. Busch Gardens Europe in Williamsburg, Virginia, United States, was the runner up with its furry white "Alpengeist" plush animal with blue claws matching the park,s "Alpengeist" roller coaster.

In the Best Gift category, first place went to Shenzhen OCT Holding Company for its deep purple tea set including an elegant tea pot, four cups, and a presentation box. SEA LIFE Aquarium in Carlsbad, California, USA was the runner-up with its picture frame featuring the different fish highlighted at the attraction.

In the Best Visual—Overall Store Design category, Busch Gardens Africa won first place with its African-theme store, where guests enter through the trunk of a full-sized decorative tree. Busch Gardens Europe was the runner-up with its intricate floral arrangements.

In the Best Visual—Feature or Focal Display category, SeaWorld San Diego won with its pajama window display surrounded by feathers draped from the ceiling, along with pillows and sheets. The runner-up honor went to Elvis Presley,s Graceland for its full-size print of Elvis Presley playing live, surrounded by red and black merchandise.


Five Spirit of Excellence awards were also presented by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008 on Nov. 19.

Warner Village Theme Parks, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Morey,s Piers, SeaWorld San Diego, and Wild Wadi Water Park took home Spirit of Excellence Awards, which recognize IAAPA members committed to excellence in training and professional development. This honor, focused on exemplary human resource programs, is presented in five categories. The awards, sponsored by Amusement Advantage Mystery Shopping Services, were presented during the World,s Best Training Practices seminar on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Warner Village Theme Parks (WVTP) (, a subsidiary of Australia,s Village Roadshow, in Gold Coast, Australia, won the Best Guest Services Training Program category with its "Be Our Guest" service philosophy. The program utilizes a multi-step process of "Welcome, Listen, Suggest, and Close." WVTP has incorporated this philosophy since 2007 at its multi-park properties, measuring its success with a mystery shopper program, which identified a rise in guest satisfaction ratings throughout the parks.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, ( won the award in the Best Safety Awareness Program category. The zoo included the tenants of "Safety, Secure, Sort, Sustain, and Sweep" in their "Five Safety Secrets" theme. Training staff engaged employees with video-, written-, and hands-on training, while covering topics such as CPR, Automatic External Defibrillator use, emergency action plans, and respirators. Cleveland Metroparks Zoo measured its success in a stellar emergency response record. They also achieved zero on-the-job accidents.

The winner of the Best Orientation Program category was Morey,s Piers Beachfront Waterparks ( located in Wildwood, New Jersey, United States. In its "Moreyentation" program, the company combines basic-knowledge like park history, procedures, and guest interaction, with energetic trainers and tools like Game Show Pro, which involves testing trainees in a game show setting. The program generated a 20 percent increase in positive guest comments at Morey,s Piers.

SeaWorld San Diego ( in San Diego, California, United States, won the Best Employee Recognition Program category. Their program, "Gratitude for Attitude," rewarded employees with more than 130 raffle prizes after recipients earned Gratitude Cards for exhibiting the park,s standards. Workers were also nominated as World Class Service Members, with six winners receiving a prize. At completion, SeaWorld San Diego saw a 36 percent increase in positive guest comments, exceeded all safety goals, and retained more than 350 additional seasonal employees.

Wild Wadi Water Park (, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), won the Best Supervisor Training Program category with its nautical-themed "S.S. Wild Wadi Walk the Plank Petty Officer Induction Program." During the one-week management initiation, trainers educate and test new employees on leadership. Employees emerge from the program a "Master," "Commander," "Captain," or "Skipper." The 79 graduates of the program developed a "family bond" with each other, gained an understanding of colleagues, responsibilities, and the program garnered a 100 percent satisfaction rating.

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