Fun Foto Friday: Happy Halloween from JRA!

October 31, 2014

From everyone at JRA, we wish you a boo-tiful and spooktacular Halloween!

L to R - Clara Rice (aka Bruce Jenner), Dan Schultz, Chloe Hausfeld, Colin Cronin, Dana Everhart, Teresa Johns, Irene Musgrive and Josh Schwartz



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Learning Through Side Doors: Redefining the Transit Experience

October 29, 2014

Design of Cincinnati streetcar vehicle.  The streetcar will begin operating in 2016 and will stop less than a block from JRA's offices.

Design of Cincinnati streetcar vehicle. The streetcar will begin operating in 2016 and will stop less than a block from JRA's offices.

Welcome to Part Two of our "Learning Through Side Doors" blog series, in which we investigate experiential design outside of "themed entertainment".  Today, we're discussing public transit experiences with local Cincinnati transit enthusiasts, John Schneider and Bradley Thomas.  John is a local property developer and considered the father of the Cincinnati streetcar project He has led various civic and political leaders on 32 separate tours of Portland, Oregon's expansive bus/rail transit system. Brad is a practicing attorney and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority (SORTA).

CR: What constitutes a good guest experience from a transit perspective?

BT: A good guest experience is one where the trip is seamless. They know where they are going and how to get there, and everything from buying the ticket or knowing where to board is obvious or intuitive. Good station design, way-finding and reliable service all contribute to a great guest experience. Reliable service is critical. If a trip is late, the guest may be late to work or miss a connection.

JS: On the bus or train, there needs to be common courtesy for everyone to have the best esperience - yield your seat to someone who is less able, don't put your wet umbrella on the seat, never, ever eat anything and only drink if you're on the smoothest-running train so you don't spill on your seat mate. The transit agency and its customers are in this together.

Cincinnati's new Metro Plus line connects major entertainment, employment and education zones. Photo:

 CR: How does technology play into that overall experience, extending the experience to the time the person buys a ticket to after they step off at their destination?

BT: Technology is great for attracting new riders to the system. Bus schedules can be confusing and if your system doesn't offer service that's so frequent you never need a schedule (i.e. NYC subway); then you will need to easily communicate how to get from point A to point B. Google Maps, and many other apps, go a great job of letting you point to a spot on the map and showing a variety of transit options to get there. Some even let you prioritize different elements of the trip--speed, cost, least amount of walking.

New Orleans transit app. Source: Silicon Bayou News

JS: Several ways, starting with trip planning. Some of the more developed U.S. transit systems have apps that work like other travel apps - put in your origin and destination and day and time of travel and let it plot a route for you. The best of them give you real-time departure and arrival information including advisories such as accidents that may slow the journey.

Real-time bus or train arrival at stops is gradually being adopted, but it is very expensive (even a medium-size city like Cincinnati has thousands of bus stops). This values the time of the customer rather than just making the customer think, "Hey, when we get there, you'll know." If your bus or train is running late, and you are so informed, you may be able to use the otherwise wasted time to get a cup of coffeer, open a spreadsheet or return a library book. Announcement of stops and intersecting transit lines is also very important, especially to the novice.

Being able to pay without cash is important, and just about every major transit system offers this now. Many now have stored-value cards, which don't require you to send-away or appear in person to buy a pass - you just load like you'd load a debit card. Some of these can be deployed across the board for all kinds of personal mobility. Some of the dreamers in the business would like to extend these cashless payment systems to bike rentals, Uber, even taxis.

CR: To what degree does the route play a part? In Cincinnati, streetcar developers chose to place the line in an under-developed area to boost development, but other cities have chosen to place rail or bus lines where there is already high demand. What are the pros and cons of each from an experience perspective?

BT: You want a mixture of both existing demand and development opportunity. An ideal route would link a demand driver on each end with underutilized land in between.

JS: It depends what the objective is. If it's repopulation, then you probably want the route to connect important destinations such as employment centers, entertainment, and shopping with underdeveloped areas. In cities trying to rejuvenate their cores - cities like Detroit, Cincinnati and Kansas City - this is objective, and these cities are going the modern streetcar route.

If you have a well-developed and highly congested city - Los Angeles, Washington and Seattle come to mind here - you're probably less concerned with attracting new residents than with moving the ones who are already there. These cities are opting for rail systems that run in separate lanes, have higher speeds and high-capacity trains. But on a micro-scale, each of these cities is also building streetcars in opportunity-rich neighborhoods.


Cincinnati Streetcar route. Source: City of Cincinnati

CR: In your travels, what have been some of the best transit experiences you've had and why?

JS: I was in Minneapolis/St. Paul recently, and I was blown-away by how excellent its system is. There are two light rail lines, one of them connecting the airport with downtown Minneapolis. This line shares a short section of track with another line that connects Minneapolis with St. Paul. And each of these lines will be extended, giving the Twin Cities two long routes that essentially criss-cross the region.

MSP light rail is extremely easy to use, and the vehicles are immaculate. They call out the intersecting bus lines at each rail stop. And the line to the airport is pretty fast, probably faster than driving and parking. And certainly cheaper.

But MSP is not stopping with light rail and buses. They are planning a modern streetcar on Nicollet Avenue, the retail/office/hotel spine of the city, and the bike share program is region-wide. Minneapolis has many bike trails that are separated from traffic, and it is regarded as one of the best biking cities in the nation with a high percentage of bike commuters - yes, even in below-zero weather. No hills, though.


Minneapolis Light Rail. Photo:

CR: What are the challenges to creating a great transit experience?

JS: One - customer familiarity with really excellent public transportation in benchmark cities they visit, which leads to ...

Two - taxpayers' willingness to pay the cost of building and maintaining great public transportation.

Three: political leadership that is willing to set in motion plans for best-in-class public transportation which probably won't start operating until they leave office - hence, high political cost, little political benefit. That is why you need great champions and why the United States trails much of the world in having these systems.

BT: The biggest problems are bureaucratic inertia (we've always done it this way so we'll keep doing it this way) and funding. The fundamental issue is that transit creates positive externalities, but can't recapture their value; while cars create negative externalities but the drivers don't have to pay for them. If automobiles were forced to pay the true cost of air pollution, roadway maintenance, and congestion, there'd be a lot more transit users and healthier communities. 

A rider checks out "Cincy Red Bike", Cincinnati's new bike share program. Photo: CityBeat

Tags: Blog N Learn

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Conference World Tour 2014: Alliance of Science-Technology Centers

October 24, 2014

ASTC Exhibit Hall

This past weekend, over 1,700 science education and museum professionals from 42 countries traveled to picturesque Raleigh, North Carolina for the Alliance of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) Conference.  Over five days, participants attended over 110 educational sessions, witnessed dozens of live product demonstrations, were inspired by two compelling keynotes, dined and danced at a "Party Through Time and Space" at the North Carolina Museum of Sciences, walked an Exhibit Hall teeming with product and service vendors and networked with their peers. Check out our full coverage of the conference on Blooloop, and enjoy the photos below. 

Chee-Kuen Kip of Macao Science Center, Tengku Nasariah Ibrahim of Petrosains and Tit Meng Lim of Science Centre Singapore present "The Evolution of ASPAC-member Science Centers: A Future Look".

Tom Zaller of Imagine Exhbitions and Shawn McCoy of JRA present a product demonstration of "Angry Birds Universe: The Art & Science Behind a Global Phenomenon", now touring the Middle East.

Themed Entertainment Association Party at Crank Arm Brewing.  Photo courtesy John Beckman, Museum of Science and Industry - Chicago.

We'll conclude our Conference World Tour 2014 next month at the granddaddy of them all, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo. If you're attending, visit us at Booth 1354, and if you're not, fret not - we'll have daily coverage of all the people, places and events on our blog, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages!

Tags: Outside the Studio

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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!



Tags: JRA Team

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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

Tags: JRA Team

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