Conference World Tour 2014: Thinking BIG at IAAPA

November 13, 2014

Next week, over 27,000 industry professionals will converge at Orlando, Florida’s Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) for the 96th Annual International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Expo. Over five days, attendees from 40 countries will stroll nine miles of expo floor aisles (540,000 square feet of space), attend 80 educational sessions and 23 exclusive tours, and enjoy networking mixers at the OCCC, Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando. This year’s theme is “Big Starts Here”, an appropriate moniker given the gradual rebound of the industry following the Great Recession and the current trend toward re-investment and re-invigoration in both attractions and cultural facilities.

JRA team members will be sharing big ideas with IAAPA participants throughout the Expo via two separate panel sesssions. The week begins with IAAPA’s annual Museum Day, which offers a day of presentations particularly relevant to museums and science centers, followed by an evening networking reception. For the third year in a row, JRA’s Shawn McCoy will present on the latest visitor experience trends and how the cultural sector can benefit from them. This year, Shawn will explore how today’s museums can better connect with their audience by breaking down barriers. Through a series of fast-paced case studies, Shawn will provide examples of how new exhibits, programs and technologies are being used to blur the lines between curators and the public, are redefining the space in which museums live and are helping foster deeper communication between cultural institutions and underserved audiences.

Shawn McCoy speaking at the 2014 Asian Attractions Show.  Image Courtesy Blooloop.

On Thursday, JRA’s Clara Rice will participate on the panel “TEA Presents Future Legends: Transforming Experience”, alongside Nickelodeon’s John Paul Guerts, Rhetroactive’s Steve Trowbridge, and BRC Imagination Arts’ Christian Lachel. Panelists will explore topics such as wearable technology, 3D printed worlds, and how the very nature of design is changing to meet the desires of a new generation of visitors. Each panelist will have three-and-a-half minutes to speak on each of three topics, and Rice will be exploring the future of interactive media, the rise of the telepresence robot, and the growing demand for ultra-luxe VIP theme park experiences. Through these rapid-fire mini-presentations, audiences will discover how the attractions industry is responding to the challenges and opportunities of the latest technologies and trends.

Clara Rice speaking at Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center.

Of course, you can also visit the JRA team at Booth 1354, and, as always, JRA will have seemingly round-the-clock coverage of IAAPA on the JRA+blog, our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and our Twitter feed. We’ll also have a special surprise for our readers the Tuesday following IAAPA, so be sure to stay tuned, and we’ll see you in Orlando!

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team , Outside the Studio

Add comment


No comments yet. Be the first!

Conference World Tour 2014: Retail on the Riviera

November 05, 2014

Image courtesy MAPIC

Image courtesy MAPIC

From November 19-21, international retailers, property developers and consultants will converge in picturesque Cannes, France for at the 20th annual MAPIC conference. MAPIC, which, for those up on their French, stands for Le marché international professionnel de l’implantation commerciale et de la distribution, is dubbed the “world’s leading retail real estate market”. Over three days, participants will enjoy an exhibition hall in Cannes’ Palais des Festivals, over 25 conference sessions and a variety of networking events.

MAPIC was originally launched in Cannes in 1995 by Reed MIDEM, a global leader in the organization of international professional conferences and events. That first conference welcomed 1,064 participants, 221 retailers and 3,600 companies from 69 countries. This year’s Cannes edition will welcome over 8,300 participants, including 2,300 developers, 2,400 retailers and 1,400 represented brands, from Apple to Gap to Marks and Spencer. These attendees will arrive from 67 countries covering five continents to identify new trends, new products and new partnerships.

Educational opportunities will abound at MAPIC. They include an Innovation Forum, where participants learn best practices for their retail spaces, and a Digital Summit, where 60 industry thought leaders will discuss the rapidly growing arena of digital commerce. Conference sessions will cover such topics as doing business in the emerging markets of Russia, Turkey and Africa; creating partnerships with chambers of commerce; pitching shopping center projects and retail concepts; navigating e-commerce; and leveraging analytics. One area of the exhibit hall will offer a dedicated “retailtainment” zone, where experts will discuss the emergence of this dynamic fusion of shopping and entertainment, while developers pitch their latest retail-based attractions.

In addition to the exhibition hall and conference sessions, MAPIC offers an array of dynamic matchmaking and networking events. In “Speed Matchings”, developers, retailers, franchisees and investors engage in a series of ten specially tailored, three-minute face-to-face meetings, structured to provide rapid-fire connectivity and promote deal making. At the pitching sessions, five different retailers and developers each have seven minutes to pitch their product or opportunity to the audience, showcasing their work in front of potential investors. But the activity doesn’t end when the sun goes down. MAPIC kicks off with a high-profile cocktail reception at the Majestic Hotel and closes with a special 20th anniversary fireworks display over Cannes’ famous Boulevard de la Croisette, followed by the MAPIC Party, a high-energy social and networking event. Whether in the Palais exhibit hall or over cocktails at the Majestic, retailers from all over the world will have ample opportunities to meet and greet.

And JRA is excited to be meeting and greeting at MAPIC for the first time! Team members Rob Morgan and Dana Everhart will be covering the event for the JRA+blog, so stay tuned later this month for their full report. In the meantime, check out the MAPIC preview video below, as well as this article from our friends at Blooloop.

Tags: JRA Journeys

Add comment


No comments yet. Be the first!

Conference World Tour 2014: SATE at the Circus

September 24, 2014

View Gallery

The Tibbals Learning Center: The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, a project designed and managed by JRA.

View full gallery

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 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!

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

Add comment


No comments yet. Be the first!

Fall 2014 Conference World Tour Kickoff – The IAAPA Euro Attractions Show

September 18, 2014

A look at last year's EAS show floor in Berlin.  Photo courtesy IAAPA.

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!

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio

Add comment


No comments yet. Be the first!

Newly Renovated and Expanded South Carolina State Museum Now Open

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

Tags: JRA Journeys , Outside the Studio , Project Spotlight

Add comment


No comments yet. Be the first!