High-Flying Fun: Angry Birds St. Petersburg Now Open

July 30, 2015

Angry Birds Activity Park - St. Petersburg, Russia

Angry Birds Activity Park - St. Petersburg, Russia

JRA recently worked with Rovio and FORTGROUP to develop the new Angry Birds Activity Park St. Petersburg within the highly anticipated Europolis Mall. The attraction is a first of-its-kind family destination that blends the exciting world of Angry Birds with the rich history and culture of St. Petersburg. Through a combination of scenic environments, theatrical lighting, dynamic sound, media and special effects, guests are immersed within the mysterious Piggy Island – home to the Angry Birds and their nemeses the bad Piggies.

Throughout the exploration of the Island, guests have the opportunity to participate in wide variety of activities that allow them to be the engine of their own excitement. The facility also features a number of learning opportunities that educate guests in a fun and engaging manner. In addition, guests can sit down for quick snack within a colorful café, purchase unique Angry Birds gifts, clothing and memorabilia within a specialty store, and even host their next birthday within one of attraction’s several themed party rooms.

The new Angry Birds Activity Park is now the premiere place in St. Petersburg for guests of all ages to eat, play and learn.

But don't take our word for it - have a look!  

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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Deconstructing Capacity - Get with the Program

July 29, 2015

What you want to avoid at your museum or theme park...

What you want to avoid at your museum or theme park...

Greetings! In last week's segment, we tackled the finer points of determining attendance and capacity for your museum or theme park. We’ll now introduce you to a special tool we call a program (not to be confused with programme, the European and Asian term for schedule).

The main purpose of the program is to ensure a comfortable experience for your guests. With this simple chart, you can make sure queue lines are manageable and attractions diverse. Let’s look at an example, shall we?

Let’s say that the peak on-site attendance (your park’s maximum attendance at any one time) is 10,000, and you have about 140,000 square meters of attraction space to play with. You want to make sure that your 10,000 guests aren’t all at Screaming Terror X roller coaster (unless you want your 10,000 guests screaming at you)! In fact, you want your visitors to be able to experience approximately 1.5 rides or shows per hour. Doing the math, your park needs to operate at an hourly capacity of 15,000.

So you come up with a mix of about 30 rides and shows, catering to families and singles, young and old, thrill-seeking to thrill-averse. To determine whether this satisfies your required hourly capacity, you’ll need to determine the hourly capacity of your individual attractions. For example, let’s say you are including a 4D theatre (with stunning visuals executive-produced by JRA ☺) in your attraction mix. The theatre has an instant (as in, per show) capacity of 150, and, including pre-show, has a total duration of 5 minutes. A five-minute experience means it can run 12 times per hour. Multiply that by your instant capacity, and you find that, in one hour, 1,800 people can funnel through your 4D Theatre. You would continue in this vein for all 30 of your shows and attractions to achieve your total theoretical capacity.

Let’s say that your total theoretical capacity for all rides and attractions is 27,000. Due to delays in loading/unloading riders or the dispatching of the rides from the station (guests need extra assistance, lap bar checks, safety checks, etc.), you almost never run at 100% hourly capacity. 85% is a number used as a more realistic hourly capacity. Thus, you would multiply your theoretical capacity by 85% to determine your total operating capacity, which in this case is 22,950.

From the looks of things, you’ve got more than enough rides, shows and surprises to ensure that your guest spends more time having fun and less time standing in queues. Congrats! As your attendance increases over the years, you’ll continue to use the program to determine your future expansion efforts.

Next week, we’ll close our series on capacity by borrowing some facts and figures from our good friend, Jim Higashi. Thanks for reading!


 

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Deconstructing Capacity - All in a Day's Work

July 22, 2015

As we mentioned last week, feasibility is the theme for our July blog series.  One main aspect of assessing feasibility is determing the capacity of of your museum or attraction.  Over the next three weeks, we'll look at the various aspects and calculations behind capacity so you'll be in the know when you talk to your feasibility consultant or operations team.

There are two standard units for measuring attendance – the design day and the peak day. A design day represents the number of people your facility is designed to handle. Once you have this information, you can define space requirements and operational flow, the way your guests flow through the space. If your facility is a museum, for example, you will want to design your exhibits so that there is 1 meter of space around each guest. Nothing ruins a guest experience more than feeling crammed into a gallery or pathway!

Peak day attendance, as the name suggests, is the number of people your facility can expect on an extremely busy day. Since you may only have 6 peak days per year (unless you’re Disney), you don’t want to design your facility to peak day attendance, as this would result in your museum or attraction looking empty the other 359 days of the year.

So how does one calculate design day attendance, you ask? Let’s perform a little exercise for a theme park (note, these are JRA’s standard theme park calculations based on our experience – other companies’ percentages may vary):

  • You expect the annual attendance for your park to be 1 million visitors.
  • Your peak month would be approximately 21.25%, or 212,500.
  • Divide that by 4.3 (the average number of weeks per month), and you get a peak week of 49,419.
  • While a peak day would be approximately 25% of your peak week, or 12,355, remember, we want to calculate a design day, which is slightly less at 18.5% or 9,142.
  • If you wanted to calculate the moment in time when you anticipate the park being the most crowded on an average day, you would take your design day and multiply it by 75% to get your peak in-ground, which would in this case be 6,857. This number helps you determine capacities for restrooms, changing rooms (for a water park), and other operational concerns.

By knowing your design day attendance, you can begin to develop your ride and exhibit capacities. You do this by creating a program, a chart that maps out the individual capacities for your rides, shows, attractions, retail and restaurants. An attraction or exhibit program helps you ensure that you have the right mix of experiences so you don’t end up with long queues and disgruntled customers. We’ll dive deeper into this valuable document in next week’s segment. In the meantime, we hope that this post helped lift the fog on calculating capacities and provided you with a useful tool in maximizing visitor satisfaction.
 

 

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Should I Be Doing This? Economic Feasibilty, Part Two

July 16, 2015

With a

With a "thumbs up" from a feasibility consultant, you can have confidence knowing that you are developing your museum or attraction project at the right time, in the right place.

Last week, Brian Sands, Vice President and Principal of Economics at AECOM, begain to lift the veil of the process of economic feasilbility analysis. We learned why a feasibility consultant was important, the right questions for you to ask them, and the questions you should be ready for them to ask you.

Today, we delve into the process itself, and how it can keep your project (and your capital in developing that project) on the path to success.

JRA: Without giving away any trade secrets, what is your process for determining whether a project is feasible?
 
Brian Sands:
 The general process of determining a project’s demand potential and financial feasibility is not a secret, as shown by the simplified approach which I outline below. However, that does not make it easy for anyone to complete – even experts like us can find it a challenge sometimes. What is needed is disciplined adherence to the process, but also creativity to ensure that the best can be made of the available information (which may be limited in some markets, or regarding the performance of a new concept) as well as the time and resources available to complete the study (which similarly may be limited).  When I say creativity, I don’t mean simply making things up, but rather combining the best available information within the time available, together with strong experience evaluating similar projects in other locations, and with good knowledge of the characteristics and performance of comparable projects.  Under ideal circumstances, the eventual answer becomes apparent during the study, but under less than ideal circumstances an experienced economic consultant eventually determines the boundaries of probable performance.

JRA and AECOM teamed up on The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan.
 
As to the process for a market and feasibility study, also sometimes known as a business plan, it is relatively straightforward and typically includes the following tasks:
·        Project initiation and client team consultation
·        Concept and location evaluation
·        Review of general markets, such as residents and tourists
·        Comparable and competitive projects analysis
·        Demand potential evaluation and client consultation
·        Preliminary physical planning guidelines
·        Ticket pricing and financial feasibility
·        Client consultation and report finalization
 
Frequently, we are asked to provide some additional tasks, which may include one or more of the following:
·        Design/planning team workshop(s) participation
·        Survey, focus group, or other primary research
·        Economic impact analysis
·        Discussions with public sector entities regarding public benefits for the project
·        Detailed temporal and/or physical capacity analysis
·        Pricing alternatives evaluation
·        Warranted investment analysis
·        Land/lease deal negotiation
·        Developer/operator solicitation and evaluation
·        Multi-location evaluation and roll-out strategy
·        Acquisition target analysis
·        Financing request evaluation
·        Ongoing monitoring
 
We also are oftentimes asked to provide suggestions regarding potential other consultants for the project, such as the following:
·        Design/planning
·        Branding and marketing
·        Fundraising
·        Operations and management
·        Intellectual properties
·        Specialized operations, such as retail, foodservice, events, traveling exhibits, ticketing, etc.
 

The AECOM One World Trade Center Team.

JRA: What happens if you (AECOM) determine that a project is a bad idea? 

Brian Sands: We certainly don’t like for this to occur.  When we first start discussing a potential economic study with a client, we try hard to quickly identify those projects that seem highly unlikely to reach the level of demand, scale, or performance that the client has in mind, so that we can then discuss with them as diplomatically as possible our initial thoughts and for both sides to consider what might be necessary for the project to succeed in its initially proposed form, or perhaps how the initial concept might be modified to increase its likely performance and success.  This is important since we, as an independent consultant with a track record of success that is over 50-years long in the industry, we need to ensure that we are able to maintain our integrity within the industry, and that we don’t waste a client’s money.
 
Despite taking the steps noted above, it does happen that sometimes we get some ways through an assignment and reach a point where we realize that the client’s expectations are significantly out of alignment with what the market and comparables are indicating is possible without some sort of extreme measure (such as a quality, scale, and/or investment level that is well beyond a precedence in the industry or available market).  In those situations, we complete documentation of our research and analysis as well as our conclusions, and then setup a discussion with the client about our findings and also are ready to talk about potential alternatives for the project, be it in terms of concept, scale, or even location.  Such conversations are never easy, but when given clear information, most clients will after some time accept the findings and eventually go on to be very appreciative of our candid assessment and advice.  Ultimately, our job is to ensure that the client and everyone involved with the project is not wasting their time or money, and they are grateful for useful advice that helps them to succeed in a very competitive and ever changing marketplace.

Another AECOM/TEA collaboration - Volkswagen's Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany.
 
Fortunately, the importance of integrity was instilled in me early in my family life and then continued in my work life.  Early in my career, after moving from GE Capital to the legacy Economics Research Associates (ERA) in London, I had an experience dealing with a client who was very disappointed with our findings, and despite the clarity of our findings, resisted accepting our results and recommendations.  However, in the room with me was Keith James, JRA's CEO/Owner, whose support of me and our views helped convince the client that our findings and recommendations were not only reasonable, but would help the client from making a big mistake in oversizing (and hence overinvesting in) a potential project, even though this meant a likely lower fee for JRA to design/plan the project.  This kind of integrity is good for everyone involved, and is critical to the success of an individual attraction and our industry as a whole.
 
JRA: Once you’ve determined that a project is a “go”, what is your continued role in the project, if any?
 
Brian Sands: After substantially completing our market and feasibility study, we are sometimes asked to provide ongoing services to the client, which may range from updating our study due to change in the market’s characteristics or competitive landscape, to evaluation of the potential for the use of new technologies, to comparison of the project’s actual performance versus what we had forecast and consideration of the reasons for variations.  We are also oftentimes asked to work again on projects years after they open as consideration is given to changing or repositioning.  Finally, successful attraction projects are oftentimes rolled out in new locations, and we may be asked to conduct studies to evaluate the potential for a project in one or more new locations.

JRA: Any other points you think our readers should be aware of?

Brian Sands: One of the best parts of the job is working with a broad range of other specialists in the industry, including designers/planners, architects/engineers, operations/management consultants and many others. We look forward to continuing to help our clients and colleagues in the industry to develop and operate successful projects, and we are always available to discuss projects and the industry more generally.

JRA offers a big thanks to Brian Sands and the entire AECOM team for this blog and for helping us on projects around the globe. We'll continue our feasibility month with a three-part series on determining capacity. How many people do you plan on entertaining with your theme park or museum? And how do you ensure that you have the right combination of amenities to accommodate them all? We'll answer these questions starting Friday, so stay tuned, and thanks for reading the JRA Blog.

AECOM celebrates at the Themed Entertainment Association's Thea Awards Gala, considered the "Academy Awards" of the themed entertainment industry.

 

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Should I Be Doing This? Determining The Feasibilty of Your Project

July 09, 2015

Brian Sands of AECOM demystifies project feasibility.

Brian Sands of AECOM demystifies project feasibility.

When developing a museum or attraction project, sometimes the biggest question is whether it should be developed at all. Even the best intentioned project can fall short if it does not fit the target audience demographic or is not situated in a geographical area with enough of a population to provide consistent attendance. Perhaps the entertainment market in a particular locale is already saturated, making it more practical (and profitable) for an attraction or museum to situate itself elsewhere.

For more than 50 years, our friends at AECOM have been helping attraction museum developers tackle these tough issues and set a course for success. Building off our summary of the AECOM/TEA Theme Index earlier this week, we've asked Brian Sands, Vice President / Principal - Economics at AECOM, to deconstruct the feasilbilty step of the project development process. In Part One of our two-part "Feasibility 101" course, Brian will explain the "why" of bringing on a feasibilty consultant, as well as the questions you should ask a firm like AECOM and the questions they will ask you. In next week's Part Two, he'll help us get down to the nuts and bolts of feasibility analysis and how a consultant can help you determine the "whether", "where", "when" and "how" of your project.

----

JRA: Thanks for talking with us today, Brian. Let's start with the obvious - why is a market and feasibility consultant important?
 
Brian Sands: The primary role of a market and feasibility consultant, also known as an economic consultant, is to provide an independent, experienced, and somewhat conservative assessment of the markets, demand potential, and financial feasibility of the proposed project.  Essentially, while every project developer, as well as all of the other parties working on a project, would like to think of themselves as having an unbiased and reasonable view of the potential for a proposed project, experience shows time and again that it is easy for many reasons to overestimate the potential or to mis-position the project, or both.  The economics consultant’s role is to help balance the natural enthusiasm brought to the project by the other parties with market realities to ensure financial success.

From left, John Robinett, Linda Cheu and Brian Sands of AECOM summarize their Theme Index Report at the annual TEA Summit Weekend.
 
JRA: When should clients bring an economic consultant onboard for a project? 
 
Brian Sands: Generally, the time for an economic consultant to start evaluating a project’s potential is relatively early in its development, once the general concept has been determined (at least in outline form) and a specific location (or multiple alternative locations) has been identified.  Involvement at this stage provides the opportunity to modify the project in various ways in response to the findings, which might include changes to the concept, location, target visitors, preliminary physical planning, pricing, and the like, and could even affect other key factors, such as the scale, phasing, investment level, land price or lease rate, licensing/branding deal, and management fees.  Typically, the economic consultant starts work a few months ahead of the attraction planning/design team, enabling findings from the economic analysis to inform their work.

JRA and AECOM have teamed on over a dozen projects, including Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
 
JRA: What questions should they ask you?
 
Brian Sands: The developers of projects range from relative industry newbies to very experienced developer/operators, but generally they are smart and experienced enough to know what kind of questions to ask.  This typically includes questions like the following:

  • ·        What services does your firm offer?
  • ·        How long have you been in the industry?
  • ·        Where does your firm work?
  • ·        What kind of project’s do you analyze?
  • ·        What projects like ours have you recently analyzed?
  • ·        How does your firm approach evaluating a project like ours?
  • ·        Who would likely be working on our project and what are their backgrounds?
  • ·        How long would it take to complete a study for us?
  • ·        What is a ballpark fee to evaluate our project?
  • ·        How quickly can we get a proposal from you?

JRA: What questions do you ask them?
 
Brian Sands: The exact questions will vary depending on the nature and status of the proposed project as well as the client’s profile, but generally we’d like to know the following before starting to put a proposal together:

  • ·        What is the preliminary concept or alternative concepts for the project?
  • ·        Where is the site and who controls it?
  • ·        Who are the parties involved in the project’s development and operation?
  • ·        What is the preliminary schedule for the project’s development?
  • ·        What studies or other work has been completed to date on the project?
  • ·        What are existing projects in the region and elsewhere that are competitive or comparable with the proposed project?
  • ·        How might the project’s eventual success be measured?
  • ·        What are key potential hindrances to the project’s development and eventual success?
  • ·        What other projects of this type have you developed/operated?
  • ·        By when do you need a proposal?
  • ·        How quickly do you need us to start and finish our study?

So we've determined the right questions. Tune in next week as we discover the process for finding feasibility answers.

 

JRA and AECOM also collaborated on World of Coca-Cola.

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