September 24, 2014
The Tibbals Learning Center: The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, a project designed and managed by JRA.
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 www.teasate.blogspot.com. 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!
September 18, 2014
A look at last year's EAS show floor in Berlin. Photo courtesy IAAPA.
The leaves are turning, there’s a crispness in the air – it’s time to go to Amsterdam!
That’s right: “The JRA Conference World Tour – Fall 2014 Edition” begins with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Euro Attractions Show. September 23-25, More than 8,500 industry professionals will converge on the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, including 425 exhibitors from 33 countries showcasing over 100 products and services. On the 10,000-square-meter show floor (the largest in EAS history), attendees can browse everything from 4D and 5D theatres to rides, design and fabrication consultants, water park equipment, and games.
As always, in addition to the show floor, EAS offers a variety of networking opportunities, including receptions, 20 hours of educational sessions and a variety of pre- and post-show tours, as well as the IAAPA Institute for Attractions Managers and the IAAPA Safety Institute. Before the show, attendees will have the chance to experience the Netherlands’ beautiful Effteling theme park – the country’s largest – or explore Walibi Holland and Dolphinarium. EAS will open in grand fashion with Tuesday morning’s Opening Ceremony, featuring remarks from IAAPA President Mario Mamon and a look at what’s new in Europe in 2014, and Tuesday night’s Opening Reception at the Strand Zuid, featuring libations, Dutch food, and entertainment. Throughout the show, experts will offer sessions on such topics as technology, branding, crisis management, operations/facility planning, marketing/social media, and human resources, and young professionals, FECs and water park operators can enjoy forums designed especially for them. But the fun doesn’t end then the show officially closes. Post-tour ticketholders will explore some of Europe’s most unique attractions, including Phantasialand, Toverland, Burgers' Zoo and the Corpus Experience. Check out the Conference and Trade Show Programme, and download the EAS app if you are planning to attend.
“The Euro Attractions Show is an excellent opportunity to share best practices and trends with colleagues and network with potential clients, all while enjoying the beautiful Netherlands scenery,” said Dan Schultz, JRA COO. “Based on the success we enjoyed at the Asian Attractions Expo, we look forward to another busy show.”
Back by popular demand, JRA’s Chloe James Hausfeld will be documenting the presentations, parties and tours in her EAS journal, which we look forward to sharing with you after the show. In the meantime, stay fixed on the JRA Facebook and Twitter feeds for real-time updates on all the goings-on, and if you’re at the Expo, visit us at Booth 8545. JRA is proud to serve as a Gold Sponsor of the Euro Attractions Show.
Throughout the fall, we’ll be traveling not only to Amsterdam but also to Sarasota, Raleigh and Cannes before finishing up with the granddaddy of them all, the 2014 IAAPA Expo in Orlando, Florida. So stay tuned, and thanks for reading!
August 28, 2014
Photos courtesy South Carolina State Museum unless noted.
The South Carolina State Museum’s new planetarium, observatory and 4D theater is now open to the public. The State Museum hopes that this major transformation will help propel its mission to entertain, inspire imagination and creativity, and enrich the lives of visitors.
The renovated and expanded State Museum will be the first museum of its kind to house, under one roof, an onsite and online observatory and classroom, a 55-foot digital planetarium dome and a 4D multisensory theater. The museum also features an outdoor viewing terrace for its vintage 1926 Alvan Clark 12-3/8” refracting telescope, as well as new gallery exhibit space for the Robert B. Ariail Collection of Historical Astronomy telescopes and optics, considered the largest collection of historic American refracting telescopes in the world.
Photo credit: Brett Flashnick
Photo credit: Brett Flashnick
The State Museum is one of the largest examples of an astronomy/STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) educational facility connected to an interdisciplinary museum, and it will be the first organization in the nation to allow students and teachers to remotely control a digitized vintage telescope for distance education purposes.
JRA was retained by the State Museum as a thematic design consultant. JRA’s scope of work included planning and conceptual design, interior and exterior environmental graphics, concept and schematic design for the new retail store, materials and finishes selection, and design input for much of the common areas, which included enhanced guest services and meeting capabilities within the museum. The JRA-designed Main Lobby showcases iconic South Carolina artifacts representing the museum’s four disciplines: art, cultural history, natural history and science and technology and will also feature permanent exhibits occupied by the Columbia Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, South Carolina Educational Television and the South Carolina Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department. The Cotton Mill Exchange museum store, one of the cornerstones of the expansion project, embodies the essence of the old mill in which the museum is housed, and features newly uncovered brick walls and windows dating back to 1894.
Photo credit: Brett Flashnick
The new State Museum will have a significant economic impact on the City of Columbia and the State of South Carolina. The museum expects an additional 75,000 visitors in the first year and a growth in annual earned income from $1.5 million to $3 million. Longer visitor dwell times will result in increased spending both at the museum and at surrounding restaurants, retail outlets and hotels, and the expansion’s aggregate economic benefit will boost tax revenues for the city, county, region and state.
“JRA helped fulfill our vision and did a remarkable job creating a thematic design that celebrates South Carolina and our historic mill building,” said Willie Calloway, executive director, S.C. State Museum. “We are glad we hired the best-of-the best in the entertainment design industry to create a unique facility and experience for our guests.”
The State Museum is located at 301 Gervais Street, Columbia, S.C., 29201. For additional information and ticket prices, please visit scmuseum.org.
August 08, 2014
As we reported in June, Angry Birds Universe, developed by Imagine Exhbitions in partnership with Rovio and JRA, is taking its initial flight at the Dubai World Trade Centre this summer as part of the Dubai Summer Surprises festival. Thousands of Dubai residents and visitors are enjoying this life-size version of the popular game, but if you can't be there in person, consider these photos your admission ticket:
Animation Station - Create your own version of this global gaming phenomenon!
Guests can Be the Bird, flying through the air just like the Angry Birds!
Kids young and old can build their very own version of an Angry Bird in the Build-A-Bird area.
Meet the Birds!
Shoot Birds at obstacles just like in the game with The Slingshot. It's a "ph"un way to learn about physics!
From digital games to physical interactives, Angry Birds Universe offers a one-of-kind immersive experience, and a great way to beat the Dubai heat!
Next week, we add another project opening to our 2014 slate of announcements. Stay tuned!
July 31, 2014
2014 has been a great year for JRA thus far. We witnessed openings of our museum and theme park projects from Sochi to Singapore, and we celebrated the Thea Award for The Mind Museum. We also enjoyed attending one of the biggest and best IAAPA Asian Attractions Expos ever.
We invite you to read about all this and more in our latest "JRA Studio View". Inside, you can learn about our projects, meet some of our team, and read Keith James' thoughts on the future of the burgeoning China leisure market (many thanks to our friends at Blooloop for publishing this piece on their Bemusement blog this week!).
Just click on the image below to access the newsletter. We'd like to think these announcements are just a taste of great things to come this year, so we hope you'll continue to follow us right here on the blog, on our Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ pages and at @JRAtweets. Coming soon on JRA + blog, photos from the Dubai launch of Angry Birds Universe and a look at how theatre and themed entertainment really aren't that different. Thanks for reading!