December 05, 2016
Woody, earthy, balanced, sweet and complex. These are the words often used to describe the world's premium rums. But they can also be used to describe the Appleton Estate Rum Tour, which recently broke ground in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica.
Appleton Estate has the distinction of being Jamaica’s oldest sugar estate and rum distillery in continuous production and is the producer of many of the world’s most premium rums, including the Appleton Estate 50-year-old Jamaica Independence Reserve.
The Appleton Estate renovation project includes approximately 23,000 square feet of new building construction, as well as an expansive outdoor tour of the Estate grounds, distillery, and aging house that highlights the history, ingredients, and process of crafting premium rum. In addition to the outdoor exhibits, guests will also enjoy a welcome theater, “Estate only” custom tasting experiences, a restaurant and lounge area with traditional Jamaican jerk fare, photo opportunities, and a retail store that features exclusive rum offerings. JRA is providing complete planning, design and project management for this attraction, which is scheduled to open in October 2017.
Ready to book your flight (or fill your glass)? Be on the lookout for more updates as construction progress, and check out our Facebook page for more groundbreaking photos.
November 28, 2016
JRA VP Shawn McCoy presents "Emerging Trends in Immersive Design as part of Museum Day at the 2016 IAAPA Expo.
For the sixth year in a row, JRA Vice President, Shawn McCoy re-capped the blockbuster attractions of 2016 with Thinkwell Principal, Cynthia Sharpe as part of "Emerging Trends In Immersive Design" at the 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo.
In their presentation, Shawn and Cynthia discovered that guests are craving community as much as personalization, quiet as much as noise, a step back to simplicity as much as modern technology. The result is an ecclectic mix of "Best of the Best" case studies, from London to Chicago, from a hilltop in Barcelona to the phone in your hand. While the techniques may differ, all of these projects aim to tell stories in unique and compelling ways.
As usual, the session played to a capacity crowd, to the point where dozens of eager audience members were turned away at the door (fire codes - not our fault!). If you were one of them, or if you couldn't make it to Orlando, you're in luck! Shawn was kind enough to record his presentation over the slide deck, so click below and enjoy.
If you are interested in a PDF version of the slide deck and script, please email Clara Rice at email@example.com.
November 22, 2016
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) has honored Space Center Houston’s one-of-a-kind exhibit Independence Plaza with two Brass Ring Awards: first place Best New Product for Displays and Sets and the Impact Award. The international awards were bestowed Wednesday, November 16 at the IAAPA Expo Brass Ring Awards Ceremony.
“We are extremely honored and appreciative that our world-class exhibit received the most prestigious attractions industry award from our colleagues at IAAPA,” said Space Center Houston’s President and CEO William T. Harris. “The exhibit complex would not have been possible without the exceptional support and expertise from JRA as well as the incredible generosity of NASA, Boeing and our community making it an unprecedented learning experience for generations to come.”
Image courtesy IAAPA
Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities worldwide. The organization represents facility, supplier and individual members from 99 countries. The IAAPA Brass Ring Awards recognize outstanding new products and services developed by IAAPA’s manufacturer and supplier members operating in an attraction.
The awards are divided into categories, and the Displays and Sets Award recognizes excellence in the theming and design of an exhibit or attraction. The Impact Award is one of the most prestigious of the Brass Ring Awards program. It is awarded to a category winner that, in the opinion of the judges, had or will have the most impact on the amusement parks and attractions industry. Independence Plaza is the 11th JRA-designed project to win the Brass Ring Best New Product Award and the first to receive the Impact Award.
Since opening in 1992, Space Center Houston has welcomed more than 18 million visitors and currently hosts 1 million visitors annually in its 250,000-square-foot educational complex. It is one of Houston’s top destinations, the area’s No. 1 attraction for international visitors, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center and the only Smithsonian Affiliate in the greater Houston area.
Earlier this year, Space Center Houston unveiled its largest project since opening – the $15 million Independence Plaza. Visitors can enter the original shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905, and the shuttle replica Independence mounted on top. It is the world’s only shuttle mounted on a shuttle carrier aircraft and the only one allowing the public to enter both.
Multiple exhibits grant a rare glimpse into the historic shuttle era and describe its impact on current and future exploration. Fitting Space Center Houston’s educationally focused mission, the exhibits explore problem-solving concepts, possible career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and examples of innovation from the shuttle era.
JRA provided complete planning, design and project management for Independence Plaza and is honored to be bestowed with such a distinguished recognition.
The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science and space learning center with extensive educational programs. Space Center Houston is the cornerstone of its mission to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration. The center draws 1 million visitors annually, was called “The Big Draw” by USA Today and generates a $73 million annual economic impact in the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is Houston’s first and only Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center. More than 100,000 teachers and students from around the world visit the center annually to take part in extraordinary learning opportunities. For more information, go to www.spacecenter.org.
Congratulations to all of the 2016 IAAPA Brass Ring Award Winners!
November 09, 2016
While next week's IAAPA Expo is known for its fabulous networking opportunities, stimulating educational sessions, and blockbuster parties, one of the most heartwaming aspects of the weeklong conference is IAAPA's partnership with Give Kids the World.
Give Kids the World was founded in 1986, when a little girl with leukemia was not able to raise the funds for an Orlando dream vacation before her passing. Henri Landwirth, a hotelier who had tried to help that little girl, vowed to never let a sick child's wish go unfulfilled again. With the help of his colleagues in the hospitality industry, he began arranging dream vacations for children with life-threatening illness and their families, sometimes at a moment's notice. As demand grew, Landwirth knew he needed a permanent home for this important project. Give Kids the World Village opened in 1989, and is now a 79-acre resort with 144 villa accommodations, attractions and activities, serving 146,000 families from all 50 states and 75 countries.
IAAPA holds a number of fundraising events for Give Kids the World during its annual Orlando Expo, including a Motorcycle Ride, an International Charity Golf Tournament, a raffle, and the Footprints from the Heart 5K. As in previous years, JRA staff members have formed a team for the race, which winds through the whimsical pathways of the Village, enabling us to see first-hand the impact of this amazing organization.
"Give Kids the World holds a large place in everyone in the industry's hearts," said Chloe James, JRA Director of Marketing and Business Development (and JRA team captain). "JRA takes part in the race every year because of just that. It's a morning where we get to see what this incredible place offers to its visiting families first hand. IAAPA Expo week is crazy, but this gives us all a reality check as to why we do what we do everyday, and we wouldn't miss it for the world." Chloe has reached the medal podium three of the last four years, so she's hoping for another victory in 2016!
You can help support the wonderful work of Give Kids the World by sponsoring the JRA Team. CLICK HERE to make your safe and secure donation, and help make wishes come true for critically ill children and their families.
November 08, 2016
Image courtesy Mascot Hall of Fame
Mascots Are Getting A Hall of Fame and It's Making Benny the Bull Emotional - The Wall Street Journal
Mascots on hand for lively start to hall of fame. - Chicago Tribune
With the help of some fuzzy friends, the National Mascot Hall of Fame recently broke ground in Whiting, Indiana. What was presented to Mayor Joseph Stahura as a fun and innovative idea back in 2014 is now on its way to making this Chicagoland town "the silly, wacky city that could!"
Located just 20 minutes from Chicago, and scheduled to open in spring of 2018, the 25,000-square-foot Mascot Hall of Fame will be brought to life as a state-of-the-art interactive family fun zone. The Hall will feature a number of interactive exhibit areas, including the "Department of Furry Arts", the "Science of Silliness Lab", and the "Phuzzical Education Department". The venue will also host Mascot Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremonies, as well as other original, memorable mascot interactions and performances that will entertain and enthuse children and their families year-round.
"The Mascot Hall of Fame is...honoring the true unsung heroes of sports - the mascots," said Hall of Fame Founder (and original Phillie Phanatic), David Raymond. "This is irreverent and silly and making us laugh even when maybe we don't feel like laughing, which is what the power of fun is all about." Rick O'Connell, JRA Senior Project Designer, added, "mascots exist to bring fun and wackiness to the sports world, so we thought it would be a good thing to bring that to the museum - aim it at children and families - and we think it will be great for the community especially."
JRA Senior Project Designer, Rick O'Connell, gets in the spirit of fun for the groundbreaking.
More than just a fun factory, Raymond and his team want to make sure the Mascot Hall of Fame is an educational resource for the local community. The MHOF will teach children about the roles, craft and science of mascots, creating opportunities for school groups and complementing state and local curriculums. "The project is based on education, so we are really looking to get kids in and school buses in the parking lot," said Stahura. "So we really want to make sure people know that this is a world-class children's activity or attraction."
The groundbreaking ceremony reflected this love of fun and family, featuring mascots such as Mr. Met, Clark the Cub, Tommy Hawk, Sluggerrr, Southpaw, and of course, The Phillie Phanatic, as well as the Hall's own mascot, Reggy. Also on hand were over 400 students from the Whiting School District and Whiting School Marching Band, who marched from Oil City Stadium to the groundbreaking site, where the mascots flipped the dirt to mark the commencement of the Hall's construction.
The Mascot Hall of Fame hopes to welcome 50,000 visitors per year, but Hall of Fame Executive Director, Al Spajer, is already sensing the excitement in the community: "By offering fun-filled learning opportunities for children and school groups, it's going to be a good, upscale family attraction that the city, this region and Chicagoland can really be proud of."
JRA is honored to be providing complete planning, design and project management for this whimsical educational attraction. Want to help decide the next inductee into the Mascot Hall of Fame? Visit www.mascothalloffame.com and place your vote.
Enjoy the video of the groundbreaking ceremony below, and stay tuned for future updates as construction on the Mascot Hall of Fame progresses!