IAAPA Recap, Part 1: Restore the Shore

November 27, 2013

IRecently, we shared a video of Casino Pier’s 1-year rebuilding process in the wake of the devastating Super Storm Sandy. Last week, Vincent Storino, Owner of Casino Pier, brought these images to poignant life in his presentation, “Restore the Shore”, at the 2013 International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo. Presenting alongside Storino was Nate Bliss, Interim Executive Director for the Alliance for Coney Island, who offered his own story about the rebuilding of not just an historic attraction, but an entire Brooklyn neighborhood.

Vincent Storino, Casino Pier

Storino began by saying that the “storm could have been much worse”, and offered three points of advice:
1. “Heed the warnings”: luckily, the warnings began nearly a week before the storm was scheduled to hit shore.
2. “It’s never too early to prep”: Storino and his team began preparations nearly six days before, which included raising critical items off the floor and finding homes for foreign employees. It also meant keeping detailed records for the insurance adjusters to hopefully make for easier claims. “Have the best insurance company, document everything and hope for the best,” advised Storino. The team finished just in time – one day before landfall.
3. “Expect the worst”: Storino became emotional when he shared how he lost contact with his brother due to cut power lines and cell phone service (luckily, no one in the family was hurt). He had no power for two weeks, and even though the storm had dissipated by October 31st, he could not return to the site until November 12th.

Most of the damage to Casino Pier was caused by water, as the winds were minimal. The waves surged 11.5 feet above sea level, and the flood height reached 7.9 feet. A car featured in Casino Pier’s haunted house attraction actually washed 8 miles north and into one of the Storino family’s arcades. “It was a big mess,” said Storino. “That’s the only way to describe it.” Casino Pier’s power was not restored until May 15th, and the basement “was a toxic wasteland.” But the Storinos were determined to re-open the boardwalk and pier in a miraculous 6 months. It took 1,000 man hours per day to re-open the park, but on May 24, 2013, Casino Pier welcomed visitors to its arcades, restaurants and retail, and two months later, 15 rides (including the aptly-named “Superstorm”) were up and running.

The Storino family was determined to build Casino Pier “bigger, better and stronger.” That meant spacing more and larger pilings closer together, raising transformers from the basement to the first floor and including galvanized steel walls to keep out the waves. Some of the greatest challenges to completing the work were the seemingly constant visits from the media, politicians and even Prince Harry. “It was great,” explained Storino, “but it was a big inconvenience.” While Casino Pier was able to somewhat recover from the storm, the beach houses, hotels and restaurants weren’t as lucky (over 650,000 homes were damaged). As a result of this lack of infrastructure, Casino Pier’s 2013 attendance was less than hoped for. “If you build it, will they come? Well, they didn’t come, but they will.”

Nate Bliss, Alliance for Coney Island

Nate Bliss of the Alliance for Coney Island also began his presentation with three valuable tenets of wisdom:
1. “Mother Nature always wins. Water seeks its own level.”
2. “Everything comes out in the wash.”
3. “The only way to deal with hard luck is hard work…we fought back.”
Unlike Storino, Bliss’ team was able to get to Coney Island the morning after the storm and begin its rebuilding efforts, but historic buildings took a beating, and “Surf Avenue literally became Surf Avenue.” Bliss recalled a “huge outpouring of support,” and a year after Sandy, his prevailing memory is of the “inexhaustible drive” of those who pitched in to help. “There was no time for wallowing,” said Bliss. “It was a marathon at a sprint’s pace.”

In unprecedented fashion, Coney Island’s businesses, community, not-for-profit organizations and residents banded together to form the Alliance for Coney Island and to launch the fundraising effort, Coney Recovers (#coneyrecovers on Twitter). The effort raised $700,000, and the monies were funneled not towards business losses, but to a local neighborhood that was “reeling”. The various attractions on Coney Island saw the post-Sandy era as an opportunity to re-invest, while they worked tirelessly to make opening day business as usual. The Alliance engaged in an aggressive marketing campaign, with such slogans as “Keep Calm and Visit Coney”. As a result, only a few months after “Frankenstorm” descended on the East Coast, Coney Island welcomed its biggest opening day crowd ever. The 2013 Coney Island season offered a remodeled, iconic Nathan’s Famous hot dog store, a new carousel (which opened on schedule), and a $2 million upgrade to its iconic parachute tower, including the addition of 8,000 programmable LED lights to the tower’s exterior. Alliance member organization Coney Island Generation Gap trained dozens of area students as Tourist Greeters, communicating the message that Coney Island was ready and welcoming for visitors.

So what’s next for Coney Island? According to Brooklyn Borough President, Marty Markowitz, “the future is unlimited!” Among the attraction’s plans are a concert venue, a new coaster and expanded programming at Coney Island’s New York Aquarium. Farther on the horizon are proposed resiliency initiatives to prevent future hurricane damage, such as the addition of a tidal gate. But for now, Bliss credits the success of Coney Island’s recovery to the fundamental human need for escape:

“Coney Island has a beautiful beach; it’s in a 20-million-person metropolitan area and it has access to public transportation. But more than that, it speaks to the innate human desire to escape to the seashore. No storm can take that away.”
 

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

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The Mind Museum to Receive 2014 TEA Thea Award

November 20, 2013

The Mind Museum, located in Taguig, Philippines, has been named to receive the coveted Thea Award in the Museum Exhibits category. The Thea Award is presented annually by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), and the 2014 award will mark the fifth time that a JRA-designed project has received this honor. The award will be presented at the 2014 Thea Awards Gala on Saturday, April 5 at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.  The Thea Awards, celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2014, were created to bring recognition to achievement, talent and personal excellence within the themed entertainment industry. From a modest beginning in 1994, the Thea Awards have become internationally recognized as a symbol of excellence.

Part of the Bonifacio Global City, The Mind Museum hosts over 250 interactive “minds-on” and “hand-on” exhibits, making it the first world-class science museum in the Philippines. JRA, in collaboration with the Bonifacio Arts Foundation Inc. (BAFI), provided master planning, conceptual and schematic design for this 4,900-square-meter facility.

“When choosing the design team that would work with us in The Mind Museum,” said Manny Blas II, Managing Director of BAFI and The Mind Museum, “we looked for both talent and chemistry. We had to make that judgment based on videoconference interviews. It turned out that the JRA designers were more than telegenic – they are designers that could help us visualize our vision; they understood our limitations; and they were just a fun team to work with.”

Visitors begin their journey in the spacious Mariano K. Tan Hall lobby, where they are greeted by a robot, created by Japanese company Kokoro, Ltd., who introduces them to the overall mission of the museum. They can then choose among five gallery spaces, all of which offer compelling stories related to science and technology: The Universe, The Earth, Life, The Atom, Technology and How We Work. The galleries are linked (both spatially and contextually) by a series of exhibits and audio-visual presentations called “Nature’s Webways,” and each gallery features a diverse mix of interactive exhibits, graphic displays and media-driven experiences.

The Mind Museum also takes the science and technology story outdoors with “Science in the Park.” The 800-square-meter park offers a variety of entertaining experiences entitled “Natures Artful Play” and offers four play pockets: Water, Math, Music and Living, where guests can climb a curved wall, play indigenous drums or chase bubbles. All of these indoor and outdoor educational attractions bring the guests closer to themselves, their planet and their technology future.

JRA strived to design these galleries as dynamic and engaging spheres of learning that would inspire the youth of the Philippines to explore the realms of science and technology and bolster the country’s growing reputation for innovation.

“The JRA people didn’t just do great work for The Mind Museum,” said Blas. “They became great friends. After they completed the contracted work, they kept in touch with us to check on our progress, and to just spur us on. When we opened five years later, JRA was there to celebrate with us.”

“We are ecstatic that The Mind Museum has received this prestigious honor from the TEA,” said Keith James, JRA Chief Operating Officer/Owner. “Our team very much appreciated the BAFI team’s passion for the museum, for science education and for their home country, and the Thea is a fantastic reward for all of their hard work and dedication to the project."

Other Thea Award recipients include Garner Holt of Garner Holt Productions, The Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland Resort, Oceaneering's Revolution Tru-trackless Ride System, Marine Worlds Carousel at Les Machines de l'Ille, Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland, Enchanted Tales with Belle at Walt Disney World, The Railway Museum in Utrecht, Netherlands, Polynesian Cultural Center Revitalization, Titanic Belfast, Gardens by the Bay, Michael Jackson: ONE at Mandalay Bay, and The Song of An Angel at Universal Studios, Japan.  JRA congratulates all of the 2014 Thea Award recipients.

 

Tags: Project Spotlight

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Rovio Teams with Imagine Exhibitions, JRA on Angry Birds Universe

November 19, 2013

Tom Zaller of Imagine Exhibitions and Shawn McCoy of JRA celebrate the Angry Birds Universe announcement at IAAPA's Museum Day Reception.

Tom Zaller of Imagine Exhibitions and Shawn McCoy of JRA celebrate the Angry Birds Universe announcement at IAAPA's Museum Day Reception.

Rovio Entertainment announced today at the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions conference that it is developing a 10,000- square-foot traveling exhibit called ‘’Angry Birds Universe: The Art and Science of a Global Phenomenon.”

The exhibit, which will be designed, produced and toured by Imagine Exhibitions and JRA (Jack Rouse Associates), invites guests to explore the world of Rovio’s Angry Birds and will feature a variety of immersive environments and interactive media activities. Angry Birds fans will not only learn about a wide variety of educational concepts in an entertaining manner, but will also have the chance to experience Angry Birds in real life.

‘’We are really excited about bringing a new kind of Angry Birds experience to life with key players of the exhibition industry,” said Dan Mitchell, Rovio’s Director of Location Based Entertainment. “From astronaut Don Pettit demonstrating physics concepts using our characters while aboard the International Space Station, to stories about physics teachers using our games in their lesson plans to inspire their students, Rovio is always proud to be part of fun learning. The experience uniquely helps foster the science, technology, engineering, art and math initiative by creating a dynamic environment where the whole family can enjoy themselves and learn together." Tom Zaller, CEO and President of Imagine Exhibitions, Inc. concurred: “Imagine Exhibitions provides inspirational, thought-provoking and immersive exhibitions, making this partnership with Rovio a perfect fit. The Angry Birds brand provides an excellent opportunity for Imagine to bring to market a blockbuster exhibition that will educate and entertain visitors around the world.”

"JRA is looking forward to bringing the world of Angry Birds to science centers, museums and other venues around the world. The brand is not only immensely popular, but its natural ties to education will make the exhibit experience one of learning as well as entertainment," says JRA Vice President Shawn McCoy.


For media inquiries, please contact media@rovio.com
For booking information, please contact ddonohue@imagineexhibitions.com, or
+1 404-808-7578.

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About Rovio Entertainment Ltd.
Rovio Entertainment Ltd is a global industry-changing entertainment media company headquartered in Finland, and the creator of the globally successful Angry Birds™ characters franchise. Angry Birds, a casual puzzle game, became an international phenomenon within a few months of its release. Angry Birds has expanded rapidly into multifaceted entertainment, publishing, and licensing to become a beloved international brand. Rovio's animated Angry Birds feature film is slated for July 1, 2016.
www.rovio.com

About Imagine Exhibitions
Imagine Exhibitions is the global resource for all things related to exhibitions. From design to creation, placement to presentation, marketing and operations, Imagine has the experience and inspiration to bring the best possible exhibition to any venue. Imagine is currently producing 20 traveling exhibitions. In the last year, Imagine Exhibitions has worked in cooperation with the Andy Warhol Museum, Dali Universe, Georgia Aquarium, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and the Mob Attraction in Las Vegas. For more information, visit www.imagineexhibitions.com or visit its Facebook page.

About JRA (Jack Rouse Associates)
JRA plans, designs and realizes exceptional visitor experiences for museums, theme parks and cultural, sport and corporate clients around the world. JRA has provided design and project management services for a variety of high-profile branded projects, including The Crayola Experience, World of Coca-Cola and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi.
www.jackrouse.com
 

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JRA Debuts New Trade Show Booth (With a Side of Footwear Flair)

November 19, 2013

JRA unveiled its new trade show booth at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo today.  According to JRA Creative Director, Randy Vuksta, the new booth will offer greater adaptability and flexibility, while also offering a stronger resonance with JRA's brand colors.  "This new booth is really a kit of parts," said Vuksta.  "We'll now be able to expand and contract based on the specific show."  In addition to the vibrant banners and graphics and programmable, colored lighting, the new booth features an interactive touchtable, which includes a searchable database of JRA's projects.

In honor of the new booth, Vuksta will be sporting a different pair of fancy footwear for each day of the IAAPA Expo, so be sure to check our Facebook page and Twitter feed to see what he's wearing next!

Tags: JRA Team , Outside the Studio

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New Project: JRA, The Petroleum Museum to Take Guests on an Epic Energy Quest

November 18, 2013

In honor of IAAPA Museum Day, we are happy to announce our new museum project!

The Petroleum Museum has hired JRA  to provide project management and art direction for its comprehensive exhibit renovation.  Completion of the $18 million update is scheduled for September 2015, in conjunction with The Petroleum Museum’s fortieth birthday.  It will include 15,000 square feet of completely re-imagined gallery space, a series of high-end visitor experiences and refreshed and refocused core content.  JRA formerly completed master planning, concept development and schematic and detail design for this groundbreaking project.

Founded in 1975 by George T. Abell, The Petroleum Museum has welcomed over one million visitors from around the world, and this renovation marks the first comprehensive program update since its founding.  The museum shares the petroleum and energy story and its impact on daily life through educational programs, interactive exhibits, an archival center and its Petroleum Hall of Fame.  Located in the heart of the Permian Basin, the renovated Petroleum Museum will offer a host of new interactive educational and entertainment experiences for adventurers of all ages.

From the depths of the Permian Reef, to Midland’s Boomtown era, to a futuristic voyage through the depths of the earth in the PetroTrekker interactive theatre, the renovated attractions of The Petroleum Museum will take visitors on a half-billion year quest for the ultimate energy solution.   Brave explorers can try their luck at locating, drilling and exploring oil and natural gas at You Are the Field Commander, while littler adventurers can learn about conservation in the brightly-hued Energy City.  Other new features include an introductory film unveiling the facts and fiction behind petroleum and energy science, multimedia interactives revealing the extreme science behind global energy production, and a refreshed Hall of Fame.  The renovation will address new technologies within the industry, objectively explain the pros and cons of supplemental energies and give visitors an overview of the highly advanced job opportunities within the industry.  Along the way, guests will be introduced to the rich geological history and pioneering people of the Permian Basin, and to the region’s importance in the global energy story.

“We are thrilled to be continuing our work with The Petroleum Museum,” said Rob Morgan, JRA Senior Project Designer.  “Together with their team of experts, we look forward to creating a dynamic museum that inspires visitors to want to learn more about the petroleum industry and energy science.”

“The Museum began with a fairly long list of design firms for this project,” said Kathy Shannon, The Petroleum Museum’s Executive Director. “What we found with JRA was a firm with incredible depth and talent. That and their commitment to the guest experience confirmed our belief that they were the perfect match for our project.  We are thrilled with the work they have done and are looking forward to getting the project underway.”

Stay tuned for another project announcement tomorrow - we'll guarantee it will have you seeing red...
 

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Conference World Tour 2013: Penguins, Parties and "Miles of Aisles"

November 13, 2013

Photo courtesy IAAPA.

Photo courtesy IAAPA.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

For many, this song verse conjures images of snow-covered rooftops, Thanksgiving turkeys and Black Friday shopping.  For our industry, the most wonderful time of the year is November 18-22: the annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo in Orlando, Florida.  With its theme, “Imagine the Possibilities”, this year’s show promises to be the largest on record, welcoming over 26,000 attendees from 100 countries.  With 522,000 square feet of exhibit space (think 13 football fields) and nine miles of aisles, IAAPA President and CEO, Paul Noland, is warning attendees to “wear their comfortable shoes” and cites “too many business-building ideas to count” among the 1,100 exhibitor booths.

But the Expo offers more than just an expansive exhibit hall – IAAPA has planned more than 80 expert-led education programs throughout the week, from marketing to operations to HR to the latest industry trends.  Also on the menu are networking receptions, full-day tours and evening festivities at world-class attractions, and heartwarming charity events benefiting Give Kids the World and children with life-threatening illnesses.  “Get ready to take full advantage of the new innovations, learning opportunities and networking experiences the Expo has to offer,” said Noland.

With all of these options, it’s hard to know what to choose!  When not at (brand new!) booth #854, here’s a few the places where JRA will be during IAAPA week:

Monday – JRA proud to sponsor of IAAPA’s annual Museum Day.  As part of the festivities, JRA’s Shawn McCoy and Thinkwell’s Cynthia Sharpe will offer a rapid-fire look at the most incredible attractions to hit the industry this year, and how these attractions’ design approaches can help museums and science centers refresh and engage.  JRA will also be announcing its newest project, so be there, and be the first to know!

Tuesday – Entertaining and unpredictable, the morning's IAAPA Kickoff Event is a must-see.  With live performances, project unveilings, and exclusive sneak peaks, the Kickoff is the place to learn what’s new and now in the attractions industry.

Wednesday – Tim O’Brien. Marty Sklar. Jack Lindquist. Lee Cockerell.  Combined, these four men bring nearly 200 years of experience to the themed entertainment field.  At “Legend and Their Legacies: The Authors Speak Out” these pioneers will celebrate the release of Sklar’s book, Dream It! Do It!, My Half-Century Creating Disney Magic Kingdoms, while offering their own words of wisdom to industry novices and veterans alike.

Thursday – From the great achievers of today, the topic shifts to the prodigies of tomorrow with “TEA Presents: Future Legends of the Industry”.  Attendees will learn about the projects, philosophies and industry forecasts of four of the themed entertainment’s sharpest young leaders.   And an IAAPA Expo would not be complete without its annual Thursday night celebration.  This year, “IAAPA Celebrates at SeaWorld”, and ticket holders will be treated to lavish hors d’oeuvres, beverages and exclusive access to the newly opened Empire of the Penguin attraction.  But the big question of the day: will our own Chloe James be able to repeat her medal-winning performance at Thursday morning’s Footprints from the Heart 5K?

Friday – One more day to visit us before another IAAPA Expo comes and goes!

But don’t just take our word for all that IAAPA has to offer – check out this video to learn what attendees have to say about their experience.  See you at the Expo!
 

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio

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Jersey Strong: Casino Pier One Year After Sandy

November 06, 2013

One year ago, Superstorm Sandy laid a powerful swath of destruction, from Jamaica all the way up the East Coast of the United States.  It levelled homes, flooded subway tunnels and cut power, resulting in $68 billion in damages.  Among those structures demolished was the beloved Casino Pier amusement park in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.  The boardwalk and pier had been welcoming guests to its rides, games and attractions since 1960, but the hurricane washed all that history away in an instant.

But if Hurricane Sandy was strong, the owners of Casino Pier were stronger, and they immediately saw the tragedy as an opportunity to revisit the amusement park's attractions mix and refresh its food, beverage and retail outlets.  Six months later, on May 24, 2013 the attraction re-opened its boardwalk, and by the end of July, visitors could enjoy 15 new and renovated rides.  "That's what we do on the Jersey Shore," said Vincent Storino, Owner of Casino Pier.  "We fight and we come back."

JRA was honored to provide master planning and programming services for this important project and wishes Casino Pier many more seasons of memory-making to come.

For a look at how Casino Pier literally rose from the Sandy's ashes, check out the time lapse video below. If you're attending the upcoming International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo, don't miss the session "Restore the Shore" on Thursday, November 21, which features Storino, and be sure to pick up the November issue of Funworld Magazine, which features a story on the re-building of Casino Pier and other parks affected by the storm.

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