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After 112 years, the ride for ‘Amusement Business’ comes to an abrupt halt

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Advertisers expressed both shock and sadness about last week’s announcement by VNU Business Media that it was shuttering Amusement Business, a trade magazine that debuted in 1894. Its last issue was in May.

The magazine, which had a circulation of about 6,000, was distributed to owners and managers of amusement and theme parks, family entertainment centers, fairs, festivals, carnivals and other touring attractions, sports franchises and stadiums. It was also delivered to vendors that serve those industries.

“I know some customers who I spoke to who always looked forward to reading Amusement Business,” said Victor Wisdom, president of Wisdom Industries, a manufacturer of amusement park rides that had advertised in Amusement Business since 1969. “I’m saddened and disappointed to see it close. It was a great source of information for what was going on in the industry.”

According to Wisdom, the publication changed considerably when in June 2004 it reduced its frequency to a monthly from a weekly and tweaked editorial to focus more on the entertainment field and less on amusement-ride manufacturers. Asked if he felt the revamp may have alienated some advertisers, Wisdom said: “I’m sure it did.” Despite the changes, Wisdom continued to advertise in the magazine until its demise.

VNU Business Media reportedly tried to sell Amusement Business but decided to kill it after reportedly getting just one offer.

Tony Uphoff, president of the film and performing arts group at VNU Business Media, which marketed Amusement Business, said in a statement that “Industry consolidation in the core festival, fair, carnival and theme park markets continued to put the brand in a challenged position over the last several years.” He could not be reached to elaborate at deadline.

Amusement Business began as Billboard Advertising in 1894 by writing about posters and the advertising business. It later morphed into The Billboard and switched its focus to circuses, carnivals and the broader entertainment industry. In 1961, the publication split into Billboard, which covered the music industry, and Amusement Business, which focused on outdoor entertainment.

Readers particularly looked forward to the publication’s annual year-end review and its charts that gave estimated attendance figures for theme parks.

Although there are other titles in the space, including Amusement Today and Carnival Times, the absence of Amusement Business is likely to leave a void, said Marci Zambelli, CEO of Zambelli Fireworks Internationale, a family-run fireworks business that dates back to 1893.

For years Zambelli Fireworks was on Amusement Business’ ad schedule. “We always felt it was a magazine that kept readers informed about the entertainment and events business and was an asset to all aspects of an organization. There definitely will be a void,” Zambelli said, adding that the close “came as a real shock to us.”

The announcement of the shutdown came less than two weeks after a consortium of six private equity firms finally reached an agreement to buy VNU, parent of VNU Business Media, for $9.7 billion following months of haggling with shareholders.

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