Alberto Zamperla Obituary, Death – Please make use of the sharing options available through the share button located at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to distribute to others is against FT.com’s terms of service and copyright policy. To purchase more rights, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Using the gift article service, subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles each month. As we travel to Alberto Zamperla’s flat in Vicenza, close to Venice, I congratulate him on his black BMW 4×4. He replies, “We all need our toys. He has more than most because he is the biggest amusement ride manufacturer in the world.
The revived Coney Island theme park in New York was the brainchild of fifth-generation carnival showman Zamperla. Born in 1831, his great-great grandpa Angelo fell in love with a circus rider and trained as an acrobat. Zamperla’s have since performed as human cannonballs, stuntmen, and showmen, among other things. The family-run business, now known as Antonio Zamperla after Alberto’s father, who established it in the 1960s, builds theme parks anywhere from Guatemala to North Korea. For customers like the Disney parks and Alton Towers in England, the business constructs 200 rides annually. 1,200 people work for the company, which was taken over by Zamperla in 1994. It generated €70 million in revenue in 2015.
The industrialist splits his time between Vicenza, where his plant is located, and New York, where his residence resides. After parting peacefully from his wife and having a son, Adriano, now 11 years old, with a Brazilian woman, Zamperla relocated into a pied-à-terre in the city. He wants to construct additional thrill rides like the Thunderbolt that elicit “feeling,” or, to put it simply, panic. The apartment was constructed in the 17th century and was previously a section of a monastery where babies born to unmarried women were abandoned in order to shield their mothers from public humiliation. Despite the structure’s religious past, the apartment is unmistakably a bachelor pad with dark wood and leather seats. The sound system is playing “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode.
I have reheated cheese crepes made by his not entirely estranged wife as Zamperla talks about his fifty or so attempts to invent the merry-go-round. Evidently, it’s all about staying in touch with his inner child. He says he “understands the tastes of youngsters” because he was “born and raised in the industry” and rode roller coasters “before I could walk.” He chuckles, “I am a little boy and I will always be a little boy. I don’t argue because I saw a sizable collection of rubber ducks in the bathroom.