Making Waves in Family Fun

Photo by Brian Pepper for IAAPA & Fun World Magazine 2013

Fifty-six years and 1.3 million birthday parties may seem impossible, but it sums up John Huish’s career. He’s had a hand in facilitating cake-and-candle celebrations across five states and has provided jobs for more than one hundred thousand people.

Huish is the president of Huish Family Fun Centers, a company he started with his twin brother, Jim, in 1958. The company got its start when three energetic BYU students sat in a Provo basement tossing around ideas for something to do. When the idea of starting a miniature golf course came up, the Huish brothers jumped on the idea. The resulting putting green—situated around the corner from campus—was a social hotspot. The two ran the course until they graduated in 1960—Huish in business management and Jim in industrial education.

With this powerful combo of expertise, they moved operations to San Diego, where Huish and his wife, Kathy, still live. As the company’s family fun centers expanded across the West, the brothers added batting cages, go-karts, and bumper boats in addition to miniature golf. After Jim passed away in 1984, John continued to head up the business.

Last year the two brothers were given hall-of-fame status by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). This makes them the second set of brothers to be inducted together by IAAPA, the first being Roy and Walt Disney, whom Huish excitedly refers to as “pretty good company.” The Huish business still runs in the family: three of Huish’s ten children are currently involved.

Huish is now facilitating birthday parties at Cowabunga Bay, the company’s first water park, in Draper, Utah. Its second debuted in Henderson, Nevada, this past summer. Complete with lazy rivers and wave pools, it’s just Huish’s latest way of making a splash.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2014 issue of Marriott Alumni MagazineRead more class notes in Alumni News.