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Herschend Family Entertainment to Manager Newport Aquarium


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HFE Acquires Controlling Interest in Newport Aquarium

Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation (HFE) today confirmed the company has joined the management and ownership of sister aquariums operated by Steiner + Associates -- Newport Aquarium in Newport, Kentucky, across the river from downtown Cincinnati, and Adventure Aquarium in Camden, New Jersey, across the river from downtown Philadelphia.

“For nearly half a century, HFE has successfully operated theme parks and attractions throughout the U.S. Given the broad appeal of animals, and our desire to create experiences that can be shared by the entire family, these aquariums are a nice fit for Herschend,” said Joel Manby, chief executive officer, HFE. “We will operate business as usual, with a focus on making the operating transition as smooth and transparent as possible for the Aquariums’ guests and employees.”

HFE will assume day-to-day aquarium operations including overseeing nearly 300 full-time and part-time employees. Dudley Taft, one of the founding partners of the Newport Aquarium, will continue as a minority investor there, while Steiner + Associates will continue as a minority investor in Adventure Aquarium.

Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation (HFE) owns, operates or partners in 18 properties in seven states. Properties include Branson, Missouri’s Silver Dollar City theme park, Showboat Branson Belle lake attraction, White Water water park, Talking Rocks Cavern, The Wilderness at Silver Dollar City campground and Celebration City theme park. HFE is an operating partner with Dolly Parton in the Dollywood Company, which owns the Dollywood theme park and Dollywood’s Splash Country water park, both in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The Dollywood Company is also the largest shareholder in the Dixie Stampede dinner attractions located in Branson, Pigeon Forge, Myrtle Beach and Orlando. In Georgia, HFE operates Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park in conjunction with the State of Georgia, and owns Wild Adventures Theme Park in Valdosta. HFE owns Ride The Ducks amphibious tours in Branson, Baltimore and Philadelphia, and Ride The Ducks is also an attraction at Stone Mountain Park in Atlanta. Since the company was founded in the early 1960s, the many properties have been internationally awarded numerous times for excellence in theme, presentation and operations, including the worldwide Applause Award for excellence and the THEA Award (Themed Entertainment Association).

Newport Aquarium showcases thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water. This state-of-the-art facility was named the No. 1 aquarium in the Midwest in the Zagat Survey’s U.S. Family Travel Guide in 2004 and the Best Rainy Day Outing in 2006 in Cincinnati Family Magazine. Like its sister aquarium, Adventure Aquarium, on the Camden Waterfront, Camden, NJ, Newport Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), a leader in global wildlife conservation. The Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located only two minutes from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee. For more information, visit www.newportaquarium.com or call 859-261-7444.

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:blink: Wow, this is surprising news! As a Newport Aquarium volunteer, I really want to know how this turns out, and hopefully for the better. Hershend seems like the company for the job, but I hope they don't lay off any full time employees, as I know several of them quite well. I also wonder how this will affect me as a volunteer. Anyways I really hope this is a smooth transition, I want our little gem of an aquarium to remain number 1 in the midwest!
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I find it odd that you have to cross a river or a body of water to get to most if not all of their attractions.

Monroe, who wants to participate in their attractions but also wants to protect his sea sick body.

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This has been in the works for a while...I have a friend who works for Steiner who confirmed the sale was occurring back in September. Steiner owned a few aquariums (including one in Philadelphia) as well as some other entertainment venues. They've divested (or, are in the process of divesting) their whole entertainment division. I haven't heard whether Herschend will end up with their other aquariums, or if the details of those sales have been announced yet...

Edit: Duh, I just went back and (carefully this time) read the press release. The aquarium in Philly was included.

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I hope so, I personally found the aquarium to be a "you've seen it once, you've seen it all" experience. I hadn't gone since 2003 when I took a girl to see the "otter" exhibit which was not as hyped up as they made it. I took my little cousin this year and after 4 years, not much changed at all. Its definently a neat tourist attraction, but unlike the zoo, it doesn't change much. The zoo is one of my favorite places to photograph in the summer.

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Maybe add motion simulator seats to the Duke Energy Theater? But then that could get in the way of other venues, such as Scuba Santa and the various underwater proposals that happen in there. Not to mention private after-hour parties. We do have a kids play area though, by the entrance to Hidden Treasures of the Rainforest Islands, albeit it is a little small.

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It's pretty popular. Shore Galleries is always jam packed with people waiting to get in before the show starts. I have never actually seen the show myself, though. But its even more funny when you see a half dressed Santa walking to the locker room after the show! Lol, "Hi Diver Dan, uhh, I mean Santa, how's the water? Has Denver been naughty or nice today?" :D (Denver is our loggerhead sea turtle in Surrounded by Sharks)

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The children need to know that their sea faring friends are not forgotten during the Holiday’s and this show reassures them that they are not.

Santa talks to the guests in the audience and even poses for pictures after the show. Wife forgot to turn the flash on in this picture.

file.jpg

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For those who have not went to the Newport Aquarium I would recommend it, especially during these colder months as it’s to cold to enjoy the zoo and KI is closed. I think if you go in with the attitude of looking for a casual afternoon of doing something different and not rush through it you will have a great time. But if you try to critique the exhibits and compare it to other entertainment venues then you will find short falls and probably walk away with a so so experience.

Ryan I know your schedule is hectic (especially last year) this time of year but I think as a inspiring marketing field you should try to make an effort to go to see how other types of venues need to promote their offerings. I think you would gain more out of a trip to the Newport Aquarium than most casual observers.

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