IAAPA names 2024 Hall of Fame inductees

January 26, 2024, 3:37 PM · Let's round up the latest personnel moves and news from around the themed entertainment industry, starting with top honors from IAAPA.

IAAPA has announced its 2024 Hall of Fame class. If you've been following the industry for a while, you might remember that IAAPA traditionally announces its new Hall of Fame members at the IAAPA Expo in Orlando each November. However, IAAPA has created a new IAAPA Honors ceremony, which will be held March 3 in Las Vegas. (Vegas was one of the regular sites for the annual IAAPA Expo before the theme park industry association signed its long-term deal with Orange County, Florida.)

The IAAPA Honors show will feature the presentation of the IAAPA Service Awards, the IAAPA Young Professional of the Year Award, and the IAAPA Hall of Fame. This year's Hall of Fame honorees include Barnette Ricci, the Disney Legend who directed the Kids of the Kingdom and Diamond Horseshoe Revue shows, choreographed the Main Street Electrical Parade, and wrote a little show you might have heard of called Fantasmic!.

This year's other honorees are August Busch III, the former head of Anheuser-Busch Companies who helped create the Busch Entertainment Corporation - the forerunner to today's SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, and The Hartman Family of Morgan's Wonderland, the accessibility-focused theme park in San Antonio.

In other personnel news this week, IAAPA has announced that Ahmed Zakaria will be the association's new Director of Operations for the Middle East as it establishes a new office in Dubai. Zakaria previously was the General Manager for MICE World, a Dubai-based exhibitions and conferences company.

"I am excited to have Ahmed join the IAAPA team and look forward to exploring new opportunities in the Middle East by having a local office available to interact with members and industry partners," IAAPA EMEA Executive Director and Vice President Peter van der Schans said.

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RWS Global has appointed Neil Palomba as its new Advisory Board Member charged with heading the growth of the company's sea division. Palomba comes to RWS with more than 25 years of experience in leadership roles at MSC, Costa Cruises, and Carnival Cruise Line.

"We are thrilled to welcome Neil Palomba aboard our team," RWS Global Chairman and CEO Ryan Stana said. "His bank of knowledge and experience in the cruise industry will be invaluable as we expand our offerings at sea and dive deeper into the market."

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Brite Management has announced the appointment of Joanna Hobday as its new CEO. A former manager at Merlin Entertainments and Coco-Cola, Hobday will head the location-based entertainment company, which operates Planet Playskool, NERF Action Xperience, and Crayola Experience.

"Brite Management welcomes Joanna Hobday's visionary leadership and looks forward to the continued success and innovation she will bring to the organization," Board Member Bill Pergolini of Good Vibrations Holdings, LLC, said. "Her appointment as CEO has Brite Management poised for an exciting chapter of growth within the ever-evolving, expanding landscape of location-based experiences."

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