JRA CEO/Owner Keith James to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

November 19, 2015

Keith James, JRA CEO/Owner

Keith James, JRA CEO/Owner

JRA is immeasurably pleased to share that our CEO/Owner, Keith James, was named to receive one of the highest honors in the themed entertainment industry.

This week at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo, Steve Birket, President of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) announced that Keith will receive TEA's 2016 Buzz Price Award for a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements. The Thea Awards Committee unanimously selected Keith James for the award, considered one of the highest honors in the themed entertainment industry.  The award name refers to the first Thea Award recipient, renowned research economist and Disney Legend Harrison “Buzz” Price, and will be presented to Keith at the 2016 Thea Awards Gala at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California on Saturday, April 2, 2016.


Keith will be lauded for his professional achievements, including his work with Kings Productions/Taft Broadcasting, the Vancouver World's Fair, and Universal Studios Florida, as well as his 23-year tenure at JRA. But he will also be recognized for his personal interest in the growth and direction of the industry. He served as TEA’s President from 2000-2002, and as a member of the TEA’s Board of Directors, Keith helped form the Europe-Middle East Division of the organization. He has also served on the IAAPA Board of Directors and received IAAPA's Outstanding Service Award in 2011.

Keith James and Bob Ward

According to Keith, the news that he was to receive the Buzz Price Award came as a complete and very emotional surprise:

"I received a telephone call a few weeks back from my dear friend, Bob Ward," said James.

"I was overwhelmingly surprised;
I was totally humbled;
I was unbelievably honored;
I was tearful standing in the concourse in the Salt Lake City Airport, with people around me wondering what was going on.

I had just been told by Bob that I was to be the recipient of this years’s TEA Buzz Price Award for a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements. As my UK friends would say - I was gobsmacked! It was an unexpected telephone call telling me that I was being recognized for all of the things that so many people, especially my family, have helped me to do in the 44 years that I have had the privilege of being in this business!"

Keith James with TEA President, Steve Birket, and TEA COO, Jennie Nevin

But when asked about Keith's recognition, the TEA's Thea Awards Committee saw it as an obvious and well-deserved honor: "Keith James is best known for his tireless commitment, dedication and passion to our themed entertainment destination business.  His leadership and depth of knowledge achieved during his career continue to provide significant added value to his clients, his extended business family and the greater global, themed entertainment destination industry."

All of us at JRA congratulate our fearless leader as well as the other Thea Award recipients.

For more information on the 2016 Thea Awards Gala, and for a complete list of recipients, please visit http://www.teaconnect.org.

Thea Awards Logo

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Emerging Trends in Immersive Design, or the Day a Girl Turned Into A Gorilla

November 18, 2015

JRA VP of Marketing and Business Development, Shawn McCoy, co-presents

JRA VP of Marketing and Business Development, Shawn McCoy, co-presents "Emerging Trends in Immersive Design" at the 2015 IAAPA Attractions Expo.

As we previewed in last week's blog post, this week our own Shawn McCoy, along with Thinkwell Design's Cynthia Sharpe, took a capacity crowd on a whirlwind tour of the world's blockbuster experiences in their 2015 IAAPA Expo presentation, "Emerging Trends in Immersive Design." According to Shawn, a successful attraction's key ingredients are:

  1. Boldness
  2. An Interesting Story
  3. Personalization
  4. Immersiveness
  5. ...and a Touch of Magic.

Throughout his presentation, Shawn traveled from the Guggenheim in New York to the battlefields of Bannockburn to the Mogao Caves of China's Gobi Desert, breaking down the technologies and techiniques of truly memorable experiences.

If you weren't able to travel to the IAAPA Expo to see the session in person, below is a Slideshare version with a complete transcript. Hopefully it will provide you with some tips, tricks and inspiration for your next attraction project. If you are at IAAPA this week, be sure to visit us at booth 1353, and stay tuned for some more exciting news from JRA tomorrow!


Tags: Blog N Learn , JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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Fun Foto Friday: JRA Welcomes Two Tiny Team Members

November 13, 2015

Sometimes big changes come in small packages...

We are pleased to announce that in the past two weeks, JRA has added two pint-sized members to its family. On October 30 at 9:44 a.m., Director of Digital Engagement, Clara Rice, welcomed Lily Jane Hlavac ("LAV-ik") into the world. Lily was 6 pounds, 11 ounces and 19-1/4" at birth and has grown to a healthy 7 pounds, 2 ounces since.

Lily enjoys the "Lily Pad" her dad painted in her nursery.

Just twelve days later, on October 11th, Project Management Assistant, Kate Batt, gave birth to Nina Aleksandra Batt at 11:37 a.m. Nina is 7 pounds, 2 ounces and 20" long.

Nina's first photo!

Ironically, both girls were due November 14, but since their moms are both project managers, it's no surprise that they arrived on their own schedule!

The Rice/Hlavac and Batt families are both well and enjoying this new parenting adventure. Congratulations from JRA!





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IAAPA 2015 Preview: Emerging Trends in Immersive Design

November 11, 2015

Shawn McCoy

Shawn McCoy

  • What are the most incredible cultural and entertainment projects to open recently?
  • Why do these projects stand out, and what links them?
  • What techniques can museums and science centers take away from these projects and apply to their facilities?

For the fifth year in a row, Shawn McCoy, JRA Vice President of Marketing and Business Development, and Cynthia Sharpe, Thinkwell Group’s Director of Cultural Attractions and Research, will answer these questions and more during their 2015 IAAPA Expo Presentation, “Trends in Immersive Design: 2015 in Review”. Over a single hour, they’ll send attendees on a rapid fire, maximum fun, international tour of the latest standout attractions. From virtual reality and immersive media to personalization and storytelling, Shawn and Cynthia will explore a variety of recent projects and the techniques that make them uniquely memorable. They’ll also reveal that when it comes to creating personalized, compelling guest experiences, the ingredients for success are often the same for both attractions and museums.

"For this year’s presentation, I wanted to go beyond just detailing a series of cool projects to see if there were some underlying approaches and techniques that made each experience really resonate with visitors. What I found are some guiding principles that both attractions and museums can use to create truly breakthrough experiences.”  - Shawn McCoy

Emerging Trends in Immersive Design: 2015 in Review
A 2015 IAAPA Expo Presentation
Monday, November 16, 2015
3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.
Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), Room S310EF

To find out more about Shawn's presentation, read this interview in the latest IAAPA Attractions Issue of InPark Magazine.

Can’t attend? Either visit us at the JRA booth (#1353) or email Clara Rice, Director of Media Relations, at crice@jackrouse.com for a digital copy of Shawn’s presentation, available immediately following the live session. And follow @JRAtweets next week for our coverage of the 2015 IAAPA Attractions Expo (#IAE15).


Tags: Blog N Learn , JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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Demystifying Your Dream: The Top Ten Questions We Will Ask You at IAAPA

November 04, 2015

It’s officially November. The leaves are turning, store shelves are overflowing with shopping temptations, and we’re about ready to escape the Cincinnati chill and enjoy one of our favorite weeks of the year – the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo in Orlando, Florida!

From November 16-20, over 28,000 industry professionals will descend on the Orange County Convention Center, where they’ll enjoy over 100 educational opportunities, dozens of networking mixers, behind-the-scenes tours of the area’s latest and greatest attractions, and 30 hours of exhibit time on the Expo show floor.

As usual, the smiling faces of the JRA team will be ready to greet you! We’re eager to learn about your latest ventures, whether they be long-term ambitions or short term plans. To help us understand you and your projects’ needs and desires, here are the top ten questions we’re likely to ask when you visit us at IAAPA:

  1. Who is the client?  If you are not the client, please tell us about the client you represent – where they are from, what type of business they are in, and what they are hoping to achieve from their themed entertainment project.
  2. What kind of project is it? Is it a theme park? Museum? Branded visitors center? Sports attraction?
  3. Where is the project located?
  4. What is the budget of your project? How is it (or will it be) funded?
  5. When would you like the project to open? Are there certain milestone dates that you can share with us?
  6. How will the project be awarded? Formal RFP process? Creative competition?
  7. How much zoning work has been done? Has the project received the necessary government approvals?
  8. Has any feasibility work been completed? What is the anticipated scale of the project (optimal size and number of visitors)?
  9. Do you have any design consultants, architects or engineers currently involved in the project?  Will there be a local team working with you?
  10. Have you seen existing attractions that you think might compare or inspire the type of project that you are hoping to create?

These ten questions will help us a) assess where you are in your project development process, b) discover where we can best assist you, and c) set up your project’s next steps. The more detail you can provide, the more we can help you hone your vision for the future. Is your project is still just a faint glimmer in your eye? That’s okay! We can work with you to help answer the questions above and/or point you in the right direction.  

If you have a project that you’d like to discuss with us, please email Chloe James Hausfeld at cjames@jackrouse.com to set up an appointment during the Expo, or drop by Booth 1353. Safe travels to Orlando, and we look forward to meeting you!

Track our IAAPA coverage throughout the week on our blog, Facebook and via @JRAtweets on Twitter (#IAE2015).


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