The Friday Fives: Traveling to the Moon (and Disneyland) with Elizabeth McClain

June 23, 2017

Elizabeth McClain

Elizabeth McClain

For the last of our co-op Friday Fives, we ask five questions of SCAD student Elizabeth McClain. Elizabeth, who holds a BFA in communication design from Syracuse University and is currently pursuing her MFA in Themed Entertainment Design, believes that "the best design is one that starts with a strong story and can incite positive change." Here's what else she has to say:











 My favorite entertainment experience...

Photo courtesy LA Times.

Earlier this month, I traveled to California with a group of SCAD students to learn more about the themed entertainment industry first-hand. On this ‘study abroad’ trip we were able to go behind-the-scenes of both Disney and Universal’s west coast theme parks, tour the offices of top creative companies, and meet an array of influential industry leaders. The most memorable moment was getting to see a tech rehearsal of The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts™, Universal’s latest, awe-inspiring projection show, which premieres at Universal Studios Hollywood this weekend! As a whole, the trip was an incredible learning experience that I will never forget.

My favorite part of the design process... 
I enjoy the creative challenges that the design process can present, but for me, the real reward comes when the design is implemented and the public can interact with and learn from it - and hopefully enjoy it too!

My favorite attraction... 

Photo courtesy SoCal Attractions 360

...Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean dark rides, hands down. I may be biased, as the subsequent franchise is one of my favorites, but the boat ride has many qualities that I enjoy in an attraction: a relaxed atmosphere, great music, and action-packed scenes rich with detail. Though I’ve only seen YouTube videos of the latest version, Shanghai Disneyland’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure”, I was amazed by the attraction's elaborate sets and technological feats and hope to experience it in person one day.

My favorite part about my career...
Being able to work on fun projects and always learning something new.

My dream vacation...

A trip to the moon! (It could happen someday, right?)

To learn more about Elizabeth, check out her TEA NextGen Profile. Many thanks to all of our summer co-ops for participating in the Friday Fives, and welcome to the team!

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Pork, Potter and...Mummies? The Friday Fives with Mengyuan Zhang

June 16, 2017

Mengyuan Zhang

Mengyuan Zhang

Happy Friday! It's the last day of the workweek, and that means another sit-down session with our superstar co-ops! In addition to fabulous University of Cincinnati DAAP students like Isaac and Mikaila who support us in the summer, we also employ two co-ops from the world-renowned Savannah College of Art and Design. This year, we welcome Mengyuan Zhang, a scenic designer who is working towards her Master of Fine Arts in Themed Entertainment Design. As always, we asked her to introduce herself to the JRA blog readers with a few simple questions. 

What is your favorite part of the design process?

Rendering! Because you can create a new mysterious world that is full of magic things and colors.

My favorite attraction is...

...Revenge of the Mummy at Universal Studios Florida (Photo Credit Orlando Observer)

My iPod/iTunes is full of...

...songs and photos.

What is your favorite food?

Sichuan spicy fried pork and beef.

What are your favorite movies?

Anything Harry Potter! (Photo Credit

 If you are interested in learning more about Mengyuan, check out her resume and portfolio, and stay tuned for our last interview in a few weeks with our other SCAD co-op, Elizabeth Danielle. 



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Flashback Friday: Chloe's Shanghai Adventures

June 08, 2017

Are you as excited about next week's IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo as we are? Not yet? Well, we're here to get you pumped up with Chloe Hausfeld's recap of last year's sojourn to Shanghai (and beyond). Here's a look back at her amazing adventures.


I remember starting the trip off finishing the book, Me Before You, followed by watching the movie, only to begin the second book, Me After You, all on the plane…there were lots of tears. Going for historical fiction this year. Don’t need “all the feels” before such a busy trip!

The first couple of days were spent in a charrette (brainstorming session), setting up the booth, and doing a bit of exploring. While the weather wasn’t great, it’s always nice to get a chance to see a bit of the cities that we travel to.

Exploring Shanghai with Keith and Patti James (aka, Mom and Dad)

The day and night prior to the show is always spent attending blooloopLIVE, and the infamous JNE&LP Party. It’s the perfect way to get the week started, and it's spent networking with colleagues and catching up with friends. It’s a well-spent day before the insanity of the week begins.

blooloopLIVE sponsors (Premier Rides), and JNE&LP hosts (Mika Nur Faezah & Jeroen Nijpels)

IAAPA always begins the expos with an exciting Opening Ceremony that highlights what’s new in the region. It helps to get everyone “jazzed up” before the taxing days on the trade show floor (this, and surprise latte visits from Lauren Weaver, Sally Corp).

Day 1 was spent with great company!

Day 2 is always extremely busy, from start to finish. The Leadership Breakfast, featuring Jim Seay (Premier Rides), was a great way to engage the attendees early on. I snuck out of the booth a bit early to head to the Young Professionals Forum and Reception, and then followed that up with the TEA, Kingsmen, and WhiteWater events. Being with great friends from all over the world is the best way to ignore how tired you get on days like this.

Said coffee savior…

I found a little part of Cincy at the WhiteWater party!

The final day continued to be busy and was a great way to finish the show. The best part, hands down, was that we spent the evening at Shanghai Disney. The timing of that opening could not have been more perfect, and I am still unbelievably grateful that I got to experience it.

You couldn’t have knocked that smile off my face if you tried ☺

Did I mention that we got to go back the next day as well?! Such an incredible park…I can’t wait to get back there!!

No trio does Disney like our trio…my favorite park pals; Lo (SALLY Corp.) and Bret Woodbury (LifeFormations)

My last several days were spent in the Philippines on the “Neverenda Tour”, hosted by Mario, Cynthia and Bea Mamon, along with several members of the Enchanted Kingdom team. What an unforgettable trip!

Great visit to Enchanted Kingdom

Quick visits to the The Mind Museum and the American Cemetery in Manila. Zamperla also hosted a great evening event filled with performances from the Kingsmen of Enchanted Kingdom and Victoria’s Way.

Fabulous adventures with some of my industry favorites!!

For anyone attending the IAAPA Asian Attractions Expo next week, please visit us at the JRA Booth, L617. Safe travels to Singapore, and be on the lookout for my blog post on this year's adventures!

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team

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Friday Fives: Design and the Blank Page with Isaac Busken-Javanovich

June 02, 2017

Isaac Busken-Javanovich

Isaac Busken-Javanovich

With summer comes the arrival of a new group of superstar design co-ops. Among them - University of Cincinnati Industrial design student, Isaac Busken-Javanovich. In the first of our three summer "Friday Fives" interview sessions, Isaac talks chess, road rallies and the challenges of the blank page.




 My favorite exhibit/attraction is…

Photo credit: United States Air Force Museum

...the United States Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Airbase in Dayton, Ohio. The first time that I visited, I was overwhelmed by the sheer scale and historical depth of this museum. Every year since, I have gone with my uncle and cousins in December. It has become a tradition for us, and the entire museum is engrained in my mind. Despite this, I always seem to discover something new. No matter how many times I’ve done it before, I still enjoy walking through eras of aviation history in the hangars, smelling that distinct paint aroma, and examining those magnificent machines.

Favorite board game?

I would say chess. It is as classic as a game can get. When you begin a game, you’re taking on the same role as countless players through history, from crusader kings to cold war competitors. In addition to this, playing always brings back memories of my father teaching me the rules of the game. It’s a logical game with a great emotional value. I’m open for a chance to play any time I find a challenger.

Dream Vacation?

Photo credit: The Adventurists

My dream vacation, if I had a few months to spare, would be to participate in the Mongol Rally. In brief, it is a long distance “race” from England to Mongolia of over 10,000 miles in a ridiculously small vehicle unfit for the challenge. The point is that there will be many hurdles over this continental journey and having a vehicle unsuited for them emphasizes the spirit of adventure and adaptability. This entire concept is insane, but that is exactly what draws me to it.

The biggest challenge facing a designer… the white page. Initially starting off is the hardest aspect of the design process in my opinion. Even the first approach to a new project requires a designer to explore a broad range of far-flung ideas to triangulate a viable concept. This stage is the most amorphous and the most vital, as it is where designs are born. How designers perform in this step separates the good from the bad.

If you could have any superpowers, what would they be?

Control over time would be the most exciting power in my mind. In the mundane life, time is the most critical element and all things fall before it. Having the power to pause time would enable one to have limitless potential for learning. Just the thought of how much could be read or what skills could be practiced while the rest of existence stood still is unimaginable. On the other side, after going through an experience, one could travel back and relive the experience again but now with the retrospective wisdom gained. At this point however, there are alternate timelines and paradoxes that complicate the logic of this power. Perhaps it is best that it doesn’t exist.


Thanks for sharing, Isaac, and welcome to the studio!

Tags: JRA Team

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Conference World Tour 2017: Advocating for the Industry on Capitol Hill

May 11, 2017

For our next Conference World Tour 2017 segment, Chloe Hausfeld recounts her adventures on "The Hill", as she travels to DC for IAAPA Advocacy Day.

While IAAPA is widely known for their expos, many are not as familiar with the efforts the association puts forth advocating for its members. I am currently an acting member of the IAAPA Manufacturers and Suppliers Committee. One of our annual meetings was held in Washington D.C. at the beginning of April. The meeting date was directly after IAAPA Advocacy Day, and so I piggybacked my trip, and partook at “The Hill” for my second year in a row.

The group got registered, and then we were bussed to the U.S. Capitol Building for a tour, and to check out the Visitor Center. Washington, D.C. always takes my breath away. We are truly lucky to have such a beautiful capital.

Will B. Morey (Morey’s Piers) and I sneak in a smile with the “Selfie King” himself, Pete Barto (S&S).

Our afternoon was lead by Safety and Advocacy Service Team members, Randy Davis and Austin Gold. They made sure everyone was knowledgeable about the issues that IAAPA wanted to cover, and that we were prepared for the next day’s meetings. Ms. Stephanie Vance, Founder of Advocacy Associates, featured the session. She was a fabulous speaker, and made the group even more comfortable for the awaiting day on The Hill. The daily schedule came to a close with an Opening Reception for the Advocacy Day attendees.

Networking with friends, old and new, is always the best part of any IAAPA event. Four of my favorites (clockwise order); Pete Barto (S&S), Jim Pattison, Jr. (Ripley’s), Ryan Strowger (IAAPA), and Jim Seay (Premier Rides).

Our day ended with a fabulous dinner, organized by Mr. Barto, at Joe’s Stone Crab. If you haven’t been, GO! Make sure to ask for David Major…he had to deal with a rowdy crew, and took it with ease.

Great time, with even better company; Pete Barto (S&S), David Major (Joe’s Stone Crab), Philip Wilson (Extreme Engineering), Will B. Morey (Morey’s Piers), Hank Salemi (Six Flags Great America), Keith James (JRA) and Paula Martins (APEX Parks Group).

Congressman Gus Bilirakis, and Congressman Tom Cole joined us, over breakfast prior to our day at The Capitol. Each provided captivating speeches to start the day. Meetings with representatives of the offices of Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Rob Portman, Representative Steve Chabot, and Representative Brad Wenstrup filled up KJ and my agenda. It’s always fun explaining our industry to people, and seeing their reactions. It seems that attractions’ guests kind of just think these things appear. They understand everything that goes into the planning/building/operating of the facilities about as well as I understood the logistics of getting from meeting to meeting in the underground tunnels of The Capitol. After giving a bit of background about the industry, IAAPA, and JRA, we lobbied for IAAPA, discussing four primary issues; Federal Oversight Over Fixed-Site Rides, the J1 Visa Summer Work Travel Program, Unmanned Aircraft Systems, and Animals in Human Care.

Members of the IAAPA Advocacy Days group

After a busy and productive day, we decided we were entitled to enjoy the beautiful afternoon from the rooftop.

Luckiest lady of the bunch being in the middle of this crew; Roger Berry (RS Alberts Company), Jim Pattison, Jr. (Ripley’s), Jim Seay (Premier Rides), and John McReynolds (Universal Theme Parks).

IAAPA had a dinner organized for the members of the M & S Committee that evening. It was great to have a chance to catch up with people who didn’t attend Advocacy Days prior to the awaiting

Trying to talk the guys into a later start in the morning…didn’t work. Regardless, nothing but smiles with Philip Wilson (Extreme Engineering), Paul Noland and Ryan Strowger (IAAPA).

I spent the following day participating in the IAAPA M&S Committee Meeting. The Manufacturers and Suppliers Committee develops programs to provide services to and recruit manufacturing and supplier members. The committee oversees the work of the Space Allocation Subcommittee (KJ is currently serving on this committee), which works to assign exhibit space locations to exhibitors for IAAPA Attractions Expo. That meeting followed the M&S meeting, so it continued to be a busy week for everyone.

As always, thanks for a great week IAAPA ☺

Tags: JRA Journeys , JRA Team

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