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companies in southwest ohio

Amusement Project Services of Loveland (Maurer Sohne U.S)

 

Bruce D. Robinson Architecture Design of Cincinnati provides a full range of services including theme and concept development, master planning, site and landscape development, and design of architecture, interiors, graphics and signage. Our project experience includes theme parks, water parks, family entertainment centers and cinemas, retail centers, museums and aquariums, sports and fitness facilities, and gaming attractions.

 

Carousel Creations, Ltd. of Cincinnati

 

Curtis D. Summers, Inc. of Loveland, founded by former Kings Island engineer Curtis D. Summers.  Summers moved to Cincinnati in 1958 and joined a firm that did design work for Coney Island. When Coney announced plans to build Kings Island in the late 1960’s, Summers was retained to help design many aspects of the park, including the Eiffel Tower.

 

In 1972, he opened up his own engineering and architectural firm bearing his name at 7800 Laurel Avenue in Loveland, Ohio. Much of the firm’s work involved amusement and water parks but Summers also helped design office buildings, manufacturing plants commercial buildings. Throughout his career, he only designed wood coasters. It was there that Summers met Charles Dinn, who served as the Director of Construction at Kings Island.  In 1976, the firm was retained to help design the legendary Beast at Kings Island.  In the mid 1980’s, Dinn left Kings Island and formed Dinn Corporation and joined Summers on a number of coaster projects. The duo combined their talent to design and build 10 wood roller coasters across the country. They included:

                        Georgia Cyclone – Six Flags Over Georgia

                        Hercules – Dorney Park

                        Mean Streak – Cedar Point

                        Predator – Darien Lake

                        Psyclone – Six Flags Magic Mountain

                        Raging Wolf Bobs – Geauga Lake

                        Texas Giant – Six Flags Over Texas

                        Timber Wolf – Worlds of Fun

                        Thunder Run – Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

                        Wolverine Wildcat – Michigan’s Adventure

 

In 1992, Summers passed away and his partners ultimately dissolved his company in 1994.

Custer Speciality Company of Dayton was founded by Dayton resident Levitt Luzern Custer. As a young boy, he frequented the Wright Brothers’ Bicycle Shop and established a life-long friendship with the Wright family, especially Orville.  Custer graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1913. After briefly working for the National Cash Register Company, he founded the Custer Specialty Company in 1916 and opened his factory on North Ludlow Street and Franklin Street across from Chaminade-JullienneHigh School in downtown Dayton. On the fourth floor, he built the first indoor miniature golf course. The second floor became an oceanarium, with more than 100 tanks filled with tropical fish. In later years, a large arrow was painted on the roof of the factory, which helped guide pilots to nearby McCook's Field.

About 1925, Custer produced the Custer Park Car, a battery-operated car that could be used on any track. It quickly became very popular since the only installation needed was a flat surface. Custer then developed the Custer "C" Cycle, a small, paddlewheel-propelled watercraft, similar to a bicycle. The pedals turned the paddlewheel in the rear of the ride and it too quickly became very popular.

 

In 1940, Custer moved to a larger plant to Linden Avenue on Dayton’s east side. While Custer’s work was mainly aviation related, his heart remained active in the amusement park industry up until his death. He was a member of the National Association of Amusement Parks, Pools, and Beaches (today known as the IAAPA) for many years.

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In the mid 1950’s, Custer moved his factory to 139 Bradford Street just a mile away from his former location. Custer, 74, passed away August 30, 1962. The company remained in business until September 11, 1965 when a fire gutted the building and destroyed all of Custer’s drawings, models and files. 

 

Dinn Corporation of West Chester was formed in 1982 by Charles Dinn, who had served as Kings Island’s Director of Construction, Maintenance and Engineering in the 1970’s. His most notable project was The Beast roller coaster.  He presided over an in-house team that included Jim Nickell, Al Collins, and William Reed. Along with assistance from Philadelphia Toboggan Coaster designer John Allen, The Beast was born and opened in 1979. A few years later, Dinn left Kings Island and opened his own firm, Dinn Corporation. For engineering services, he teamed up with Curtis D. Summers, Inc. of Cincinnati.

The duo combined their talent to design and build 10 wood roller coasters across the country. They included:

                        Georgia Cyclone – Six Flags Over Georgia

                        Hercules – Dorney Park

                        Mean Streak – Cedar Point

                        Predator – Darien Lake

                        Psyclone – Six Flags Magic Mountain

                        Raging Wolf Bobs – Geauga Lake

                        Texas Giant – Six Flags Over Texas

                        Timber Wolf – Worlds of Fun

                        Thunder Run – Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom

                        Wolverine Wildcat – Michigan’s Adventure

 

In 1992, Summers passed away and Dinn retired.

 

Custom Coasters International, Inc. was founded in 1991 by Denise Dinn Larrick (daughter of Charles Dinn), Randy Larrick (Denise’s husband) and Jeff Dinn (son of Charles Dinn). Their main designers were Larry Bill, Chad Miller, Korey Kiepert, and Michael Graham. At one point, the company produced more wood roller coasters than any other company in the world.  The company dissolved in 2002 due to personal issues. 

The Gravity Group of Cincinnati was founded in 2002 by former Custom Coasters Incorporated staff Lawrence Bill, Chad Miller, Korey Kiepert, and Michael Graham.   After consulting on a few coasters, they began building their first new coasters in 2004 at Mt. Olympus and Holiday World.

International Theme Park Services, Inc. of Cincinnati

 

Jack Rouse Associates of Cincinnati

 

National Amusement Devices  (NAD) / International Amusement Devices Co. (IAD) was founded by Romanian immigrant Aurel Vaszin, who migrated to the United States in 1904. He moved to Dayton in 1913 and got a job as  craftsman employed by an amusement park development firm headquartered in New Haven, Connecticut. After completing an assignment at Lakeside Amusement Park in Dayton, he established his own business and opened the Forest Park Zoological Gardens on 43 acres located on North Main Street near Frankie’s Forest Park. The Depression set in and Vaszin closed the gardens in 1935. Undaunted, Vaszin established the National Amusement Device Company, located at 139 Hatfield Street. For more than 60 years, NAD was one of two leading manufacturers of amusement park rides in the country. In 1964, Vaszin designed and developed the world’s largest roller coaster, called “Russian Mountain” for Chapultepec Park in Mexico City, Mexico.

 

The business was sold in April, 1973 and the name changed to International Amusement Device, Inc. Despite the company’s move out of the area, Vaszin stayed on as a consultant until his death in 1979.

Streifthau Manufacturing Company was created in 1958 by Middletown resident, Edgar Streifthau. At the time, Edgar was the majority owner of LeSourdsville Lake Amusement Park. A few years earlier, Edgar, Edgar's son Lindy and Oxford resident Frank Dodd teamed up to develop the "Streco Turnpike Cruiser." The cars were manufactured in a red brick building on the grounds which would later become Fantasy Farm amusement park. Cars were sold to parks around the country. The company also manufactured Erie Motorbikes.

Dodd visited the newly built Disneyland and was impressed by the gas powered cars running on the Disney turnpike. Upon his return home Frank sculpted the body of a car to resemble the features of the average car of the time. Frank then turned to Sam Neihoff also of Oxford. Sam built the chassis for the first generation car. They found a frame of a cart with a wheelbase of 47 inches and the overall width of 32 inches. The first chassis used 1 inch square tubing, as did the King Midget Junior that the chassis was somewhat copied from. The early cars from the late fifties had two headlights and tall narrow tail fins and were steered by the driver. Some of the earliest runs for the cars were through a maze of straw setup on High Street in Oxford for a street fest in the late fifties.

A number of engines and clutches were experimented with but the Cushman engine and clutch combination was found to be the combo of choice to handle the heat of running in an enclosed box all day for years. Once setup in amusement parks kids would drive them hard and run into guardrails and each other. The frame was not up to the rigors of amusement park service so Lindy set out to build a second generation car that had a frame built from angle iron and was much heavier. The chassis had rack and pinion steering and grease fittings on the bearings. The bodies had four headlights and wider but shorter tail fins and a fiberglass floor plan. The company continued to produce cars until the early 1970s.

The company was dissolved in 1985.

Taft Broadcasting Company of Cincinnati entered the amusement park business in 1969 when they purchased Coney Island amusement park in Cincinnati. Shortly after the purchase, the company purchased 1,600 acres near Mason, Ohio that would become the home of Kings Island. Coney Island was closed after the 1971 season and many of its rides were moved to Kings Island to begin the 1972 season. Those rides included the Turnpike, the Log Flume, the Carousel, the Tumble Bug, Monster, Scrambler, Giant Slide, Round Up, Flying Scooter, Galaxi, Sky Ride Rotor, Cuddle Up and Dodgem.

In 1975, Taft opened Kings Dominion in Virginia and Canda’s Wonderland in Toronto in 1981. In 1983, senior executives with Taft Broadcasting purchased the theme park division of Taft and formed Kings Entertainment Company (KECO) comprising of Kings Dominion, Carowinds (Charlotte, North Carolina), Kings Island and Canada's Wonderland.

In 1985, KECO obtains a managing contract for Great America in Santa Clara, California and buys it outright a few years later. In 1993, KECO is acquired by Paramount.

William H. Robinson, Inc (WHR, Inc.) of Hamilton was formed by former LeSourdsville Lake / Americana Amusement Park executive William “Bill” Robinson.

Robinson began his ascent in the amusement park business in April 1962 when he took a job as a ride operator in Kiddieland at LeSourdsville while still in high school. During his 21 years at LeSourdsville, he headed nearly every department at one time or another (and many times simultaneously), from group sales to marketing to operations to opening its in-house advertising agency. I

In 1983 Robinson left LeSourdsville (then known as Americana) and along with a partner, started the marketing consulting group—Adelman, Robinson & Associates, Inc.—to provide a variety of marketing services to amusement parks, water parks and others in the industry. In 1991, his partner left the industry, and Bill formed his own company William H. Robinson, Inc.

Robinson has not only directed his firm but also has supported the industry by serving two terms as a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Board of Directors, the IAAPA Public Relations Committee, chairman of the IAAPA Promotions and Advertising Scrapbook Committee, and formed and co-chaired the first IAAPA Brass Ring Awards.

Since 1974, Robinson has received six service awards from IAAPA for work in the amusement industry. As CEO of WHR, Inc., Robinson's clients have won over 100 Brass Ring awards from the IAAPA, Wave Review awards from the World Water Park Association and Golden Token awards from the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry. WHR, Inc. has also received advertising industry awards for creative and production excellence including the CLIO, ADDY and TELLY awards.

Robinson's past and current clients include Indiana Beach (Monticello, Indiana), Lake Winnepesaukah (Chattanooga, Tennessee), Trader's World (Monroe, Ohio), Knight's Action Park & Caribbean Water Adventure (Springfield, Illinois), Fantasy Farm (Monroe, Ohio), the New Blue Diamond Amusement Park (New Castle, Delaware), Cliff's Amusement Park (Albuquerque, New Mexico), Custom Coasters International (West Chester, Ohio), Americana (Monroe,Ohio), Cincinnati Zoo, Erieview Park (Cleveland, Ohio), Holiday World (Santa Claus, Indiana), Joyland Park (Lubbock, Texas), Kiddieland Amusement Park (Chicago, Illinois), Paramount Parks (Charlotte, North Carolina), Lake Compounce (Bristol, Connecticut), among others. Robinson is the creator of Indiana Beach's world renowned slogan, "There's More Than Corn in Indiana!" as well as its popular mascot, IB Crow.

 

 

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Photo credits: Top: soaphs file, T.Rhein, park archive.