Meet the Team Monday: Irene Musgrove

October 13, 2014

Irene Musgrove

Irene Musgrove

As readers of JRA+blog know, we love to showcase our fabulous co-ops!  For this Meet the Team Monday, we're chatting with Irene Musgrove, a design student at the University of Cincinnati's School of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP).

Favorite entertainment experience?
Probably when my boyfriend and I went to see Avenue Q in Chicago. During “The Money Song,” the cast actually passed around hats in the audience for people to give them their money. It was hilarious and confusing all at the same time because we weren’t sure if they were being serious. At the end of the show, the cast announced that the money (and the Ventra card!) that the audience donated would actually go to youth theatre and creative arts programs in the city. That was probably one of the best musical performances I’ve ever been to!

I beat a creative block by …
Going for a run! Whether it’s a 12-mile run or a 3-mile run, my mind goes away from design for a while. Then I have “run-piphanies,” or “a-ha!” moments that I put onto paper as soon as I get done with a run.

My favorite part of the design process is …
Sketching! It’s my ultimate way to get all of my initial ideas for solving design problems from my imagination into some sort of physical space. Some of my strongest design solutions came from selecting from an array of initial sketches and developing them into something great.

My favorite exhibit/attraction is …
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville! It progresses through the history of country music up to today in so many engaging ways, including displays of outfits worn by certain musicians and sit-down educational shows. I especially enjoyed the Johnny Cash educational show and seeing an outfit on display that I remember Miranda Lambert wearing for a CMAs performance!

The best idea in the history of mankind was …
Rail Rapid Transit! After living in NYC and San Francisco, where there’s plenty of efficient public transportation options, I’ve come back to Cincinnati wishing that we had something like that. It makes me sad to see so many cars with only one person in them on the Interstates in the morning and realizing how much daily road traffic and air pollution would be reduced if we had rail transit.

Great segue, Irene!  Later this month, we'll be continuing our "Learning Through Side Doors"  blog series by looking at rapid transit experiences, so stay tuned for that!  But for more information on Irene, check out her portfolio at

Thanks for reading!



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Conference World Tour 2014: Chloe's Adventures in Amsterdam

October 10, 2014

Once again, we've called on our international conference correspondent (and JRA Executive Assistant) Chloe James Hausfeld to cover the ins and outs of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions' recent European Attractions Show, which took place in Amsterdam.  Here are her travel tales:

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Stopped at my “trusty” candy store, Natalie’s, at CVG. This has become a ritual of mine before trips, much to my dentist’s dismay.

Sour Jelly Bellies were my choice for this trip.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Keith, Linda and I were too early to check in, so we dropped our stuff at the hotel and headed to the Amsterdam RAI Convention Centre to check on the booth…ready to go in our hard hats and boots.

Can I get 5 takers to dress up with me as The Village People for Halloween??

Much deserved refreshments after setup. YUM!

After we had done all we could for the day, we decided to go for a looooong walk throughout the city.

Flower Market - I loved that you could bring tulip bulbs home to plant, since they aren’t in season.

Delft Shop - Beautiful earthenware

 VERY appropriate for our Owner/CEO Keith JAMES…and others ;)

Basilica - Absolutely breathtaking

Central Station – Wish we had more in the states!!

Clock Tower – Perfect lighting

Met up with great friends; Jim Seay, Sara Ingram, and Joanna Guy of Premier Rides & Gina Guglielmi of IRG Intermark Ride Group, for a fantastic dinner at Momo.

Momo – Nothing mixes with great friends, like GREAT food.

Used the famous Grasshopper as a meeting place to finish the night…

The Grasshopper

Monday, September 22, 2014

Linda and I spent the day supervising the JRA being constructed.

The booth ended up looking great. That’s all that matters. Right??

Finished off the day with a stroll through the area surrounding our hotel, and another fantastic meal at BOCINQ.

BOCINQ – Concierge = 2 for 2

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Day 1 of IAAPA EAS ☺

The day began with the Opening Reception that featured an unforgettable video featuring Karen Staley, Vice President of IAAPA Europe.

Opening Ceremony – Lookin’ good, Karen!!


Dad and I ready to greet people at the JRA booth.

Surrounded by two of my favorite men; Keith James (JRA Owner/CEO, and my preferred title…DAD) & Jim Pattison, Jr. (President of Ripley Entertainment)

Day 1 ended with the floor emptying out into a great luau Opening Reception.

Opening Reception – Partyin’ out with my girls; Genevieve Norris of Seabreeze Amusement Park, and Lauren Wood Weaver of Sally Corporation.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day 2 began with the IAAPA Leadership Breakfast.

Leadership Breakfast – COOOOOOFFFFFFEEEEEE

Another great day at EAS had begun…

Dan Schultz, JRA COO and I are all smiles and ready to go.

The TEA event was held at Madame Tussaud’s after Day 2.

Shawn McCoy, JRA Vice President, Marketing & Business Development, poses with my hubby, Edward Cullen (AKA Robert Pattinson).

IAAPA’s Young Professionals Event was held at The Heineken Experience. Cheers to the next generation of industry junkies!

Heineken Horses – Beautiful stables

We’re hungry now…The Marriott Hotel concierge did it again!!! Who can find a place open for dinner at 10:30PM for 17 people??

Great lap dinner, of delicious steaks, with fantastic people from JRA, Premier Rides, IRG Intermark Ride Group, Ralph S. Alberts Company, Ripley Entertainment, Harbour Park, Sally Corporation, Universal Studios Singapore, and JN Entertainment & Leisure Consultancy.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Day 3 was another success. It’s always bittersweet to end a show.

Had a great impromptu get together with several of the stragglers yet to go home at the “hoppin’” Palladium.



Until next time, Ms. Weaver...

Friday, September 26, 2014

I was lucky enough to have my husband, Eric Hausfeld (Assistant Controller for David J. Joseph Company), come over for the weekend. Dad and Shawn were still in town for the day, so the four of us went back to The Heineken Experience.


We had phenomenal food all week, but there’s nothing like a great burger when your stomach is craving home…

Hello, Hard Rock Café!

After a much needed nap, we hit the streets again.

Reminded me of The Lock Bridge in Paris from EAS 2013.

And, of course, why not finish Keith and Shawn’s Amsterdam trip in the Red Light District?!

The always busy, Old Sailor.

Always a fun night with Roger Berry (Ralph S. Alberts Company).

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Brunch, followed by a tour of the city…what better way to see it, than on one of the famous canal boat tours??

Amstel Hotel – Famous hotel for prestigious clientele.

The bell tower that Anne Frank heard day in, and day out.

Beautiful houses on the water…they don’t just look like they’re leaning…they were built that way!!


Eye Film Museum – Interesting architecture.

Maritime Museum – LOVED the ship!

Decided to stop at the ever-appropriate “Stoop & Stoop”...Eric and my endearing pet name for one another ☺

And boy was everyone right in saying that the line was well worth the wait at the moving Anne Frank Haus.


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Our last day was spent with more walking throughout the incredible city.

Vondel Park – Right next to our hotel…not a bad morning stroll.

Vondel Park Café – “Wish we had some of these in the parks by our house back home!

Van Gogh Museum


Loved the street are in Dam Square.

Pretty much impossible to see, but the most brilliant “patio” I have ever seen is in this picture. If you don’t have a yard/porch/etc., why not create one in the form of a drawbridge door?

Finished our trip with an impeccable dinner at De Waag.


Monday, September 29, 2014
Made it home sweet home…

I think Milton was happy to see me.

I am still impressed that I am alive because a week was spent literally tempting fate while dodging all of the different forms of transportation…but, BOY WAS IT WORTH IT!!! Amsterdam is a great city, and I can’t wait to get back there!!!

See you in Orlando!

Tags: Guest Blog , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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JRA's Newest Team Member: August John McDonald

October 07, 2014

We our happy to announce that CEO Keith James became a grandfather for the second time yesterday at 2:01 p.m. with the birth of August John McDonald. August is 8 pounds, 5 ounces and 20.65 inches of adorable! Mother Alexis (Lexi), father Emmett, big brother Emmett ("Little E"), auntie Chloe James Hausfeld and grandparents Keith and Patti are all thrilled to welcome this new member to their family.  And we at the JRA office can't wait for his first visit.

One can only imagine what theme park and museum experiences he'll be able to have 20 years from now!

Keith and August

August with Auntie Chloe

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Fun Foto Friday: OkTEAberfest!

September 26, 2014

Blogger-at-Large, Clara Rice here!  Last weekend, JRA and the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA)'s Eastern North America Board played host to OkTEAberfest – the first Cincinnati event in TEA history! Over 30 TEA members traveled from as far away as New York, Sacramento, Orlando, Nashville and LA to attend the two days of events, which included Oktoberfest Zinzinnati and the Cincinnati Comic Expo. And we were excited to show them our hometown on one of its busiest (and sunniest!) weekends.

The group began their visit with one of the most highly anticipated Oktoberfest events – the 8th Annual Running of the Wieners! Dachshunds raced across Cincinnati’s Fountain Square for treats, glory, and a case of beer for their owners while adorned in hot dog bun costumes (and occasionally, Tyrolian hats).


Notice her dachshund-patterned shirt.  Genius.

After the races, I was happy to introduce some of our out-of-towners to their first Cincinnati chili experience…

“What a fun event,” said The Nassal Company's Melissa Ruminot, pictured above in authentic Skyline Chili attire. “I was able to get a true sense of what Cincinnati is all about: from the cultural aspects of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, to wiener dog races, Comic Expo, and Skyline Chili. It was fantastic and well worth the trip.”

The afternoon took on a more contemplative note as the group toured the National Underground Freedom Center. Recently celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Freedom Center chronicles the stories of those who fled across the Ohio River in the 1800s, while emphasizing the struggles for freedom that still exist today. The tour, sponsored by The Nassal Company, was co-led by a Freedom Center docent and JRA’s Rob Morgan, offering an informative balance of content and design process.

Following the tour, the group returned to JRA’s office for an informal discussion on the challenges and opportunities surrounding culturally sensitive projects and topics. The panel included JRA’s Dan Schultz, LF Creative Group’s Rodney Heiligmann and The Nassal Company’s Marc Kish.

Friday’s festivities concluded with a JRA-sponsored wine reception at one of my favorite local haunts, the Plum Court Wine Room, followed by dinner in Cincinnati’s newly-revitalized Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. As you can see, folks definitely soaked in the city’s nighttime vistas.

Plum Court Wine Room

Walking through Washington Park on the way to dinner.  At dusk.

Saturday began with “From Page to Park: Transforming Comic Characters Into Blockbuster Attractions”, a panel discussion featuring JRA’s Shawn McCoy and Adirondack Studios’ Michael Blau at the Cincinnati Comic Expo. The panel answered the question, “how do you create an authentic attraction experience from a cherished intellectual property like Harry Potter or Transformers?” Shawn and Michael’s remarks attracted a sizeable crowd, and much to my surprise and delight, several young people in the audience approached me afterwards inquiring about TEA NextGen membership!

From left: Shawn McCoy, Michael Blau, Yours Truly.

After the discussion, the group was free to explore the Comic Expo, and they ran into a few well-dressed characters. Patrick Jeffers, a NextGen member, was even able to have a “Doctor Who” moment.

I myself had one mission – to get a hug from Henry “The Fonz” Winkler…

…Mission accomplished. ☺

The group moved from superheroes to suds on the “Bootleggers, Brothels and Booze Tour”. The tour began at Arnold’s, Cincinnati’s oldest saloon, and meandered its way through Downtown streets before arriving at an authentic, turn-of-the-century brewing cellar (fun fact – before prohibition, Cincinnati housed 2,000 saloons!).

Our tour guide was certainly dressed appropriately for the weekend!

Gerke Brewery Cellar

For the grand finale, attendees were treated to a VIP Oktoberfest Experience, featuring complimentary brews, a German buffet and a prime view of the World’s Largest Chicken Dance, led by former boy banders and Cincinnati natives Nick and Drew Lachey. Some folks definitely got in the Oktoberfest spirit:

Celebrating Oktoberfest (and OkTEAberfest) with Michael Blau.

Teutonic times and beautiful weather were enjoyed by all. “My wife and I had a great time: I got some good business accomplished, and we got to spend time with fantastic TEA folks, including the NextGens,” said Larry Howard of Christie Digital Group. According to newly-minted TEA NextGen member, Hannah Motz, the weekend provided valuable one-on-one time with company members: “Everything from the wine tasting to the Comic Expo were great opportunities to meet professionals in an industry that I am growing to enjoy more and more.”

For additional photos, check out the TEA Facebook page, and stay tuned for news of the next Cincinnati event, coming in Summer 2015!


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Conference World Tour 2014: SATE at the Circus

September 24, 2014

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The Tibbals Learning Center: The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, a project designed and managed by JRA.

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For the next stop on our Conference World Tour 2014, we’re heading to the campus of Florida State University in Sarasota, this year’s home of the Themed Entertainment Association’s SATE Conference. SATE (Storytelling Architecture Technology Experience) brings together creatives, producers, owners and operators in the visitor attractions industry, exploring issues, opportunities and possibilities relating to the creation of compelling guest experiences. The two-day conference takes place at the university’s beautiful John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art and is Co-Chaired by Aram Ebben of Exp and Stefan Lawrence of Rethink Leisure & Entertainment. SATE is generously sponsored by co-presenters Christie and Electronsonic.

Phil Hettema of The Hettema Group (left) and Al Cross of PGAV. All images courtesy of TEA unless noted.

The conference program begins with the Storytelling and Architecture segments, chaired by Phil Hettema of The Hettema Group and Al Cross of PGAV, respectively. The Storytelling session: “Orchestrating Desire: Using Story to Create Compelling Experiences”, will feature Raul Fernandez of Brainwave ThoughtProducts and Denise Weston of WhiteWater West. The session promises “an exploration of premise vs. promise, story vs. backstory, character reality, and how ‘story’ makes experience meaningful in both traditional and interactive theme park attractions.” For the Architecture segment, Dr. Timothy Parker will explore the intersection of Emotion & Architecture, lighting design pioneers Zack Zanolli and Abbey Rosen Homes will discuss how light evokes feeling (and vice versa), and ITEC Entertainent Corporation’s Jeff M. Sugar will investigate The Psychology of Place.

Kenneth Feld, Feld Entertainment

After the Storytelling and Architecture segments, Phil Hettema will conduct an “Inside the Actors Studio”-esque on-stage interview with Kenneth Feld, CEO of Feld Entertainment and SATE headline speaker. Feld believes that “our only limits are our imaginations.” When his father purchased Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey in 1967, Feld became his apprentice, learning every facet of the live entertainment industry he could. That sponge-like thirst for knowledge paid off, and Feld Entertainment has grown dramatically since he assumed the role of CEO in 1984. Today, the company presents live shows in 75 countries, with over 30 million people in attendance each year. The “Conversation with Kenneth Feld” will be a meeting of the minds between two dynamic industry leaders and promises to be a SATE highlight.

Adam Bezark of The Bezark Company and Mk Haley of Walt Disney Imagineering and FSU.

Day Two showcases SATE’s remaining segments: Technology, led by Mk Haley of Walt Disney Imagineering and FSU, and Experience, led by Adam Bezark of The Bezark Company. To kick off the Technology segment, UCLA Professor Mark Francis will moderate a panel on technology and guest entertainment in sports venues. Panelists include Johnny Miller of Bamboo Engine, Matthew Chaka Bainbridge Esq., of Bainbridge Sports Management, Bill Walsh of the Tampa Bay Rays, Daren Dulac of Extreme Networks and Larry Blocker of the Miami Marlins. Up next, Tommy Bridges of ATI, Stephen Villet of Smart Monkeys and Eric Cantrell of Medialon will participate in a panel moderated by Martin Palicki of InPark Magazine. The presenters will unveil how the latest and greatest show technologies taking over Las Vegas can be applied to theme parks. To close the segment, Peter Weishar, Dean of the College of Visual Arts, Theatre & Dance at FSU, will showcase the evolution of themed entertainment curricula at colleges around the country.  Speakers include Shirley Saldamarco of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and James Oliverio of the Digital Worlds Institute at University of Florida.

Tommy Bridges of ATI (left) and Stephen Villet of Smart Monkeys.

Friday afternoon's Experience segment will offer three sessions, "Interactive Experiences" featuring Joe Garlington, "Designing Cultural Attractions" featuring James Anderson and Michael Dawson, and "Legends of Frontierland" featuring Cory Rouse.  Garlington led visioning for EPCOT on projects such as Test Track 2.0 and Turtle Talk with Crush. He also co-founded Art & Technology, Inc., a pioneering special effects company involved in the creation of museum, zoo and theme park experiences around the world. James Anderson is the Lead Creative Director and "Story-Teller-in-Chief" of Forrec, Ltd. and has worked for such clients as Nickelodeon, LEGO and Universal. Matt Dawson is Forrec's Director of Museums and Science Centres, and has leant his design expertise to a global portfolio of museum projects. Cory Rouse, Creative Director of Walt Disney Imagineering, has been with WDI since 2007 and has played an important role in the company’s Autonomatronics division. All of these esteemed speakers will answer the question of what it means to create a compelling guest experience.

Among the Experience speakers are Joe Garlington and Cory Rouse of Walt Disney Imagineering.

In addition to the two days of intense, thoughtful discussion, attendees will be able to enjoy some light-hearted moments, including a Welcome Reception at Captain Curt’s Crab & Oyster Bar, museum tours, a Dean’s reception at the Ca' d’Zan Terrace of Dreams, and a sunset visit to Joseph’s Coat Skyspace. Skyspace, created by James Turrell, is a contemplative space within the Ringling Museum that features LED lights that change at sunset, altering the visitor’s perception of the sky.

Ca' d'Zan at The Ringling. Image courtesy of The Ringling.

As in previous years, the TEA NextGen Committee is presenting a variety of activities for students and recent graduates at this year’s SATE. Wednesday evening, NextGen members are invited to Captain Curt’s in advance of the official reception to get to know each other before the conference begins. Saturday morning, NextGen members will “Meet the Masters” at New College of Florida’s stunning Charles Ringling Mansion. There they will enjoy coffee and conversation with the SATE Segment Chairs and Co-Chairs. The adrenaline gets turned up a notch in the afternoon, as the group makes its way to Busch Gardens Tampa for a ride on Falcon’s Fury followed by a panel discussion on the making of the attraction and the spectacular Pantopia Animal Show. After the show, NextGens have the option of heading back to Sarasota or, for a nominal fee, staying for the park’s popular Fright Feast and Howl-O-Scream. More information on these events will be distributed to NextGen SATE registrants and scholarship recipients tomorrow.

View from the Charles Ringling Mansion, host venue for "Meet the Masters".

Overall, SATE promises to be part networking opportunity, part educational seminar and all enrichment for attendees: “SATE ’14 is going to build on our experience last year in Savannah to create an even better conference for our attendees," says Co-Chair, Stefan Lawrence. "The Ringling is a spectacular and inspiring venue, and we plan on having two days of truly top-notch speakers from both in and outside of our industry. Plus we’ll have karaoke on Friday night. Can’t beat that.”

For more information on SATE, and to purchase tickets, please visit And be sure to stay tuned to the JRA blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed (#TEAsate) for all the latest news.

We’ll see you in Sarasota!

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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