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Magic Money
Blue Sky Amusements: A Family Business Thriving with Local Events
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Bill and Sue Reiss formed Blue Sky Amusements and Entertainment in 2003, due to the outgrowth of Bill's long-term partnership in Silver Dollar Shows, along with Bob and Kathy DeStefano, who currently operate their own amusement company, Dreamland Amusements.

While Sue regrettably passed away in 2022, Bill continues to work in the business along with other members of his family: Reiss's brother-in-laws, John Keffas and Steve Maroulis, his two sons, Michael and Billy and his daughter, Catherine.

“Billy and Michael have taken the reins. Billy does food and games, Michael handles the rides and getting things on the road. Catherine is keeping the food concessions going. I recently purchased an ice cream trailer for my late wife, and Catherine is handling it now. All three of my kids run the office and Steve runs a second unit for me. I take care of the office and payroll, but I am semi-retired,” the elder Reiss explains. “It has always been a family business, but I'm going to step back from it a little. I'm hoping to go fishing a little.”

Reiss has been in the carnival business along with his late wife since the 1970s. Today, the business is a thriving enterprise with thirty-seven rides. “Our best and most popular rides are the Gondola Wheel and the Himalaya. After that, I would say Vertigo and the Zipper and Gravitron are our best. The slide and roller coaster do well, too,” he states.



The enduring popularity of the Gondola Wheel is due, he says, to the fact that “it offers a great view, and it's a big family ride. Mom, dad and two kids can all get on and enjoy it. It holds 72 riders; it can turn over a lot of people. It's my number one ride for over 7 years. The Himalaya gets close there but never quite beats it.”

Blue Sky recently purchased some new rides, chosen as upgrades to the company's kiddieland attractions. “I bought a Pound Puppy from Rides 4-U, and we bought the new Mini Breakdance ride which was shown at IAAPA this past November. There was a little pause in production due to supplies which delayed delivery. That's something that so many manufacturing companies have experienced.” Reiss calls this new ride a “tweener ride. An adult can ride on it with a kid.”



The company also went to a new ticket and payment system this year, Magic Money, which he calls “fantastic for us. Our grosses were up from when we used traditional ticketing. I'm from the old school and I thought the change could be a problem for us, but that wasn't the case at all,” he enthuses. “Now we still have cash, but we also have debit and credit, and this is just phenomenal for us. I think the convenience of the system was a big attraction for riders as well as for us.”

Physical infrastructure has not received short shrift either. “We bought two new bunk houses. We purchased them from Used Rides.com, and I needed them like yesterday. That company really pulled a rabbit out of the hat for us and got us the bunk houses,” Reiss reports.

And that's not all. “We're buying another big piece, maybe trying to move a couple of other pieces we have had on the route for a while. The new piece is a Street Fighter, made by Technical Park,” Reiss says. “It will be similar to Freak Out, a giant claw ride. That's going to be a nice addition for us.”

The most popular games for Blue Sky are the water gun, derby, and Fishy-Fish game, according to Reiss. “As to food, the cotton candy trailer and our new ice cream trailer are both very popular.”



While the company's route used to include all of New Jersey, Long Island, and some Upstate New York locations, today they focus on North Jersey and Long Island. “We have a good rapport with everyone in these locations. This year we got hit with a lot of rain, we have had 7 weekends of it, which won't help our bottom line, but you can't control the weather,” Bill notes. “I pay my bills and that is the biggest part — getting those bills paid.”

This year Reiss also experienced some difficulty obtaining workers through the H2B program, but says that it all worked out, it just took a while to get there.

The company puts on approximately thirty events a year. “We do a lot of churches in New Jersey, a lot of fire departments in Long Island. We used to do county fairs, but we gave them up because of the long hours. We still do street fairs however, such as the Bellmore Street Fair in New York.”



Reiss is rightfully proud of the ever-growing family business. “I've been in the carnival business for almost 50 years now, and my boys will be taking over Blue Sky Amusements and hopefully running it as successfully as their mother and I did, carrying on that legacy.”
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