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Bob Masterson is Keynote Speaker at Hotel Waterpark Resort Workshop
March 10-13, 2009

Ripley’s Retiree Talks About Good News Ahead Believe It or Not

February 16, 2009 --- Bob Masterson, past chairman of Ripley’s Believe It or Not, owner of the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls ON and past chairman of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions, is one of three keynote speakers tapped to address waterpark resort developers, owners and operators at a major conference scheduled for March 10-13, 2009 in Wisconsin Dells WI.  

Several hundred existing waterpark resort owners from across the USA, Mexico & Canada are expected to meet at the Chula Vista Resort conference center in March to learn more about How to Survive & Prosper in Turbulent Times.  Resort developers will hear about raising equity in today’s environment and when banks will start lending again on hotel projects.  Other topics include marketing-effectiveness, energy-efficiency, operational-improvement and how to add more adventure to the waterpark experience.  More information can be found at  

“The current economy is like eating this chocolate-covered bug --- hard to swallow but it can be good for you,” says Bob Masterson, immediate past chairman of Ripley’s Entertainment.  “There’s good news ahead, believe it or not!”
“The current economy is like eating this chocolate-covered bug --- hard to swallow but it can be good for you,” says Bob Masterson, immediate past chairman of Ripley’s Entertainment.  “There’s good news ahead, believe it or not!”

Bob Masterson, who served Ripley Entertainment as president for 19 years, will speak at the Friday, March 13th luncheon following morning sessions on Understanding Economic Impacts on resort designers, raising private equity for new developments, changing capital markets and identifying who’s got money to lend and when.  His topic is “Good News Ahead: Believe It or Not!”

“Bob Masterson is a dual citizen of both Canada and the US and has lived much of his life in Europe and Asia.  He has a lot of experience in leisure concept design, development and construction on an international scale.  Bob served as chairman of the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions (IAAPA) for 2008.  

Today, Bob is the immediate past chairman of both Ripley’s and IAAPA and has agreed to speak to us about what he has learned from the past and what he sees for the future of travel, hotels, waterparks and attractions,” according to workshop co-producer and industry consultant Bill Haralson of William L. Haralson & Associates of Alto NM.  

Masterson joined Ripley Entertainment in 1973 and served as president since 1989.  During those years, he successfully guided the odd little company through a period of unprecedented growth to become a leader in the global leisure industry.  

Ripley’s has over 70 attractions in 12 countries, draws millions of visitors and sells millions of books annually.  Attractions include the Ripley’s Believe It or Not odditoriums, aquariums, haunted adventures, Guinness World Record museums, moving theaters, interactive mini-golf, arcades, a syndicated TV show and a 90-year old cartoon that is still seen daily in nearly 200 newspapers in 42 countries.  The most recent addition to the Ripley collection is the Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark in Niagara Falls Ontario Canada.  

“Prior to hearing Masterson speak, the workshop’s Friday morning agenda is focused on surviving the current recession but also on understanding the investors who are sitting on the sidelines and determining which banks are strong enough to lend money to hotel developers by mid 2010,” according to workshop co-producer and industry consultant Jeff Coy who heads JLC Hospitality Consulting in Phoenix-Cave Creek AZ.  

Mike Conaghan of Capital Square Partners of Madison will explain the bank crisis and bailout.  Mike Kwiatkowski from equity-raiser Virchow Krause of Madison will be a panelist along with Jon Bernander of the Bank of Wisconsin Dells and Merlin Zitzner of Baraboo National Bank to offer their opinions on equity and debt financing.  

Top planners, designers and engineers from the waterpark, theme park, ski, recreation, entertainment and leisure industries will be on hand to discuss the current challenges and share strategies about reviving the hotel & travel industry.  Over 40 experts are scheduled to speak.  Sessions include:

  • What’s New from the Hotel Waterpark Resort Designers?
  • Waterpark Resorts: How to Finance Your Vision in a Changing World
  • Who’s Got Money to Lend?  Debt Financing Options
  • Plus 5 roundtables, 3 luncheon keynote speakers and 3 sponsored receptions.
Workshop attendees will be able to talk about their projects with speakers and sponsors at two 3-hour receptions on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.  

Sponsors include:  Agilysys of Fort Lauderdale FL, American Structurepoint of Indianapolis IN, Architectural Design Consultants Inc of Lake Delton WI, Cloward H2O Design & Engineering of Provo UT, Counsilman-Hunsaker of St Louis MO, Firemans Fund Insurance of Milwaukee WI, Fish & Schulkamp Inc of Wisconsin Dells WI, The Neuman Group of Beaver Dam WI, Precision Dynamics Corp of Las Vegas NV, ProSlide of Ottawa Canada, Rain Drop Products of Ashland OH and Resort & Recreation Magazine of Grand Rapids MI.  

About 300 hotel, resort and attraction owners, managers and developers are expected to attend --- along with investors, lenders, city council members, economic development directors, CVB staffs and tourism officials.  

For conference registration, go to or call Chula Vista Resort at 608-254-8366.  Speakers, contact Jeff Coy at 480-488-3382 or email  Sponsors, contact Bill Haralson at 575-802-1522 or email  



Hotel Waterpark Resorts Workshop:
How to Survive & Prosper in Turbulent Times
Development, Financing, Energy, Operations & Marketing
March 10-13, 2009
Chula Vista Resort, Wisconsin Dells, WI
Also See: Hotel Waterpark Resort Industry Report 2004; Growth Accelerates, Projects Get Bigger / Jeff Coy & Bill Haralson / February 2008
Hotel Waterparks Construction Report 2008; 33 Hotel Waterparks Opened in 2007, 55 Scheduled for 2008 / February 2008
Hotel Waterpark Resort Growth Accelerates, Projects Get Bigger / February 2008

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