November 22, 2016
The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) has honored Space Center Houston’s one-of-a-kind exhibit Independence Plaza with two Brass Ring Awards: first place Best New Product for Displays and Sets and the Impact Award. The international awards were bestowed Wednesday, November 16 at the IAAPA Expo Brass Ring Awards Ceremony.
“We are extremely honored and appreciative that our world-class exhibit received the most prestigious attractions industry award from our colleagues at IAAPA,” said Space Center Houston’s President and CEO William T. Harris. “The exhibit complex would not have been possible without the exceptional support and expertise from JRA as well as the incredible generosity of NASA, Boeing and our community making it an unprecedented learning experience for generations to come.”
Image courtesy IAAPA
Founded in 1918, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities worldwide. The organization represents facility, supplier and individual members from 99 countries. The IAAPA Brass Ring Awards recognize outstanding new products and services developed by IAAPA’s manufacturer and supplier members operating in an attraction.
The awards are divided into categories, and the Displays and Sets Award recognizes excellence in the theming and design of an exhibit or attraction. The Impact Award is one of the most prestigious of the Brass Ring Awards program. It is awarded to a category winner that, in the opinion of the judges, had or will have the most impact on the amusement parks and attractions industry. Independence Plaza is the 11th JRA-designed project to win the Brass Ring Best New Product Award and the first to receive the Impact Award.
Since opening in 1992, Space Center Houston has welcomed more than 18 million visitors and currently hosts 1 million visitors annually in its 250,000-square-foot educational complex. It is one of Houston’s top destinations, the area’s No. 1 attraction for international visitors, the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center and the only Smithsonian Affiliate in the greater Houston area.
Earlier this year, Space Center Houston unveiled its largest project since opening – the $15 million Independence Plaza. Visitors can enter the original shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 905, and the shuttle replica Independence mounted on top. It is the world’s only shuttle mounted on a shuttle carrier aircraft and the only one allowing the public to enter both.
Multiple exhibits grant a rare glimpse into the historic shuttle era and describe its impact on current and future exploration. Fitting Space Center Houston’s educationally focused mission, the exhibits explore problem-solving concepts, possible career paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and examples of innovation from the shuttle era.
JRA provided complete planning, design and project management for Independence Plaza and is honored to be bestowed with such a distinguished recognition.
The Manned Space Flight Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit science and space learning center with extensive educational programs. Space Center Houston is the cornerstone of its mission to inspire all generations through the wonders of space exploration. The center draws 1 million visitors annually, was called “The Big Draw” by USA Today and generates a $73 million annual economic impact in the greater Houston area. Space Center Houston is Houston’s first and only Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center of NASA Johnson Space Center. More than 100,000 teachers and students from around the world visit the center annually to take part in extraordinary learning opportunities. For more information, go to www.spacecenter.org.
Congratulations to all of the 2016 IAAPA Brass Ring Award Winners!
November 09, 2016
While next week's IAAPA Expo is known for its fabulous networking opportunities, stimulating educational sessions, and blockbuster parties, one of the most heartwaming aspects of the weeklong conference is IAAPA's partnership with Give Kids the World.
Give Kids the World was founded in 1986, when a little girl with leukemia was not able to raise the funds for an Orlando dream vacation before her passing. Henri Landwirth, a hotelier who had tried to help that little girl, vowed to never let a sick child's wish go unfulfilled again. With the help of his colleagues in the hospitality industry, he began arranging dream vacations for children with life-threatening illness and their families, sometimes at a moment's notice. As demand grew, Landwirth knew he needed a permanent home for this important project. Give Kids the World Village opened in 1989, and is now a 79-acre resort with 144 villa accommodations, attractions and activities, serving 146,000 families from all 50 states and 75 countries.
IAAPA holds a number of fundraising events for Give Kids the World during its annual Orlando Expo, including a Motorcycle Ride, an International Charity Golf Tournament, a raffle, and the Footprints from the Heart 5K. As in previous years, JRA staff members have formed a team for the race, which winds through the whimsical pathways of the Village, enabling us to see first-hand the impact of this amazing organization.
"Give Kids the World holds a large place in everyone in the industry's hearts," said Chloe James, JRA Director of Marketing and Business Development (and JRA team captain). "JRA takes part in the race every year because of just that. It's a morning where we get to see what this incredible place offers to its visiting families first hand. IAAPA Expo week is crazy, but this gives us all a reality check as to why we do what we do everyday, and we wouldn't miss it for the world." Chloe has reached the medal podium three of the last four years, so she's hoping for another victory in 2016!
You can help support the wonderful work of Give Kids the World by sponsoring the JRA Team. CLICK HERE to make your safe and secure donation, and help make wishes come true for critically ill children and their families.
October 21, 2016
To continue what has been a whirlwind fall conference season, Director of Marketing and Business Development (and birthday girl!) Chloe Hausfeld offers recaps of her two recent journeys. First up - last month's IAAPA Euro Attractions Show in beautiful Barcelona, Spain.
I had a short stint at home after a great weekend at Cedar Point for the Golden Ticket Awards, and then it was off to Barcelona, for IAAPA’s EAS. The fall is a busy time of year for industry events, and I have no complaints. It’s always a treat when you don’t have to wait months to see such great people again.
There was a nice little group of us that headed out on Friday afternoon together. Shawn McCoy (JRA, Vice President) and his wife, Kim McCoy, were great company for our “James Clan”. We made our usual pit stop at Natalie’s candy shop for booth snacks, and then were on our way. After a brief layover in ATL, it was smooth sailing to Spain.
Sweets, from Natalie’s, to get us through those siesta hours.
Shawn, being the gentleman that he is, gave Kim his upgrade. Between that, and me kicking KJ out of his seat so I could sit next to Mom, the ladies had a nice flight to ATL
We arrived early Saturday morning…the pool lounge chairs became entirely too comfortable, so I decided to take a run to wake up.
Could have worse views for my morning run.
After a brief (unplanned) detour, Michael Turner (Neptune Benson), and I made it to the convention center for the IAAPA Manufacturer and Supplier Committee Meeting. Committee Chair, Sascha Czibulka (Intamin Worldwide), called the meeting to order, and the group spent the next several hours discussing hot topics in the industry. The meeting was capped with a fabulous dinner, on site, with some of the wonderful members of the IAAPA staff.
RAC Carroll (Jeff Ellis & Associates) and I, ready for some serious deliberation.
First thing was first…time to check on the booth. The trade show floor was busy, and, from the look of the booths being built, it was going to be a great show.
First stages of the JRA booth, and our surrounding main aisle.
After a long walk, I was ready to do some sightseeing with the group. Gina Guglielmi (Intermark Ride Group) set up a fabulous day for us throughout the city. We fit more than I could have hoped for in the afternoon that we had and had the most beautiful day.
Incredible view of the port from Castell de Montjuic, and of the city from Jardins del Mirador. Then, there’s me, just posing with some of my new friends.
Castell de Montjuic
Pretending to be an Olympian at Estadi Olímpic Montjuic Lluis Companys.
Outside of the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and views of, and from, the Font Mágica.
Taking in a little Gaudí at the Sagrada Familia, Casa Milá and Parc Guell.
Top Left - They certainly don’t make hospitals like that anymore.
The other three pictures are from the magnificent St. Mary of the Sea church. Thanks for an unforgettable day Gina!
In true fashion, Shawn and I had our priorities and were in need of a sports’ bar…the Bengals were playing the Steelers. You can look up the score yourself though.
Cheering on my orange and black with Kim McCoy, at Belushi’s. Nice find, Shawn!
Linda Round (JRA, Marketing & Business Development) was lucky enough to visit with family that lives in Barcelona that day. After the Bengals game, we did some catching up with our friends from S&S Sansei, and IAAPA.
Never a dull moment with this group!
Linda and I headed over to the convention center to check on how the booth was progressing. We collected the JRA crews’ badges, and event tickets, and put our sponsorship brochures together, with the help of our wonderful booth project managers. We dropped the brochures off to the fabulous Emily Popovich (IAAPA) and were ready to do some exploring.
Linda with our amazing project managers from Artzfusion, Trixie and Pauline.
We were lucky enough to make it to a late afternoon tour of the Sagrada Familia. What an incredible place.
The time of day made the lighting even more magical than we could have imagined.
The best way to see is a city is to walk it…right? So, we decided to walk back to the hotel. It wasn’t the straightest route, but we saw a lot!
Top Left - Passeig de Lluís Companys
Top Right – An archway in an old convent
Bottom Left – El Born Centre Cultural I de Memória
Bottom Right – Port of Barcelona
Caption: There aren’t many people that I enjoy exploring more with.
We had a fabulous dinner…courtesy of our friends from Sally Corporation, and then found some more friends back at the hotel for a nightcap before the first day of the show.
Caption: Pete Barto (S&S Sansei), Ash Smart (Harbour Park), Linda Round (JRA), Tim Timco (S&S Sansei), Lauren Weaver (SALLY Corp), and Me
“Game Time”…ready for the show to start. Karen Staley (IAAPA), and her team sure know how to throw a party. Start to finish, Day 1 was exciting.
The Opening Ceremony was as exciting as ever, and the perfect way to get everyone ready to start the expo.
The show floor was busy, and it was great seeing clients and friends from all over the world. We could already tell that EAS 2016 was going to far exceed that of EAS 2015.
JRA CEO Keith James and I manning the JRA booth.
After a busy day, it was time for the evening event at Parc d’Attraccions del Tibidabo. Although the bus ride up and down the mountain was a bit sketchy, it was well worth it to see such a magical place, with even more magical views.
Top – Welcome signs for IAAPA guests from Tibidabo
Bottom Left – Dan Schultz (JRA COO) and me posing with a view
Bottom Right – Welp, James’ will be James’
Day 2 began with the Leadership Breakfast. JRA was one of the sponsors of the event, and Keynote Speaker, Carlo Bonomi, Owner of PortAventura, did not disappoint. It was a great way to start the day.
Getting ready to give out tickets to the night’s futbol match!
It was another great day on the trade show floor. The time was passing quickly, and that’s a lot to say considering the heels I was wearing.
Nothing but smiles from Shawn, Linda, and Dan at the JRA booth.
For me, Day 2 of the trade show ended with the IAAPA Young Professionals Forum and Reception, lead by fellow IAAPA YP Task Group Chair, Ash Smart. The rest of the JRA crew headed to the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) Party at L’Aquárium.
Top Left – The Officers of the IAAPA Board address the crowd at the IAAPA YP Forum; Andreas Andersen (Liseberg, Second Vice Chair), Paul Noland (IAAPA President & CEO), John McReynolds (Universal Parks & Resorts, Chairman), Hank Salemi (Six Flags Great America, Treasurer) and Greg Hale (Walt Disney World Resort, First Vice Chair)
Top Right – The panelists of the YP Forum; Jakob Wahl (Europa-Park), fellow IAAPA YP Task Group member, Neva Heaston (Wild Wadi Waterpark), Jeroen Holman (Vekoma), and Ash
Bottom – Fellow IAAPA YP Task Group member Will B. Morey (Morey’s Piers) and I having a little fun with the reception sign.
Thanks to my friends at Morey’s Piers, I was lucky enough to go to the Barcelona FC v. Atlético Madrid futbol match. As a former soccer player, this was a huge treat for me, and one that I’ll remember forever.
99,000 of my closest friends!
I couldn’t let my WhiteWater friends down, especially after hearing what a great party they threw all night. The night ended with lots of laughs, and a great time.
Fabulous selfie with Will (Morey’s Piers), and some of WhiteWater’s finest; Anthony Marinakis, Paul Chutter, Chris Perry, and Emily Colombo.
Day 3, the final day of the show, confirmed signs of a great EAS with heavy foot traffic, and great meetings. After a busy day, it was time to box up the booth collateral, and get some rest.
Here’s to a great EAS, and an hour on the beach with my Mama.
We always finish a show with a team dinner, and La Rambla did not disappoint. The theming in the restaurant was fabulous, and created a wonderful atmosphere.
Dinner and a show
Thursday was the start of an annual festival in Barcelona, and there was an incredible digital mapping experience on a historic palace, called the Palau de la Generalitat de Catalonia. Couldn’t have asked for a nicer evening to finish off the show.
The show was impeccable, down to the sound track.
Instead of heading home as planned, I was lucky enough to get a last minute ticket for the IAAPA Post Tour. So, Friday morning, I headed to Madrid for some more fun.
We were being hosted by Parques Reunidos all day, and began our tour at the Madrid Zoo and Aquarium. As an avid animal lover, we couldn’t have started in a better place for me. It was a beautiful day, our hosts treated us amazingly, and the animals seemed happy as could be.
Selfies with some of my favs…
Top Left – I named this one Leonard.
Top Right – Sandwiched by the rock stars that make these things possible, Diane Williams and Karen Staley (IAAPA).
Bottom Left – Cindy Emerick Whitson (Dynamic Attractions) and I, posing with the three bears.
Bottom Right – Mika Nur Faezah (JN Entertainment & Leisure Consultancy) and me, happy we were on this side of the shark tank.
After the Zoo, we headed to Parque de Atracciones. The rides were fantastic, and the staff was wonderful. But, the true highlight (for most) was the haunted house. The evening ended with a fabulous dinner reception, and a performance capped by members of said haunted house. To say that they were good at their jobs is an understatement…I had to jump from the door onto my bed that night because I was certain one of them had followed me home.
No caption necessary…
Parque Warner was the first stop for us on Saturday. We started with the adorable Scooby Doo dark ride, met several characters throughout the day, road some bada$$ coasters, and saw a spectacular stunt show. We were also hosted to an incredible lunch reception that provided unlimited amounts of delicious food.
Do they have anything but beautiful days in Spain?
Pete (S&S Sansei), Cindy (Dynamic Attractions) and me posing with some friends.
Braving the water ride.
Top – Lauren and Chris (SALLY Corp), Will (Morey’s Piers), Ash (Harbour Park), Pete (S&S Sansei) and Cindy (Dynamic Attractions).
Bottom – A couple Morey’s (Morey’s Piers), a few Hales (Disney), Johnny Mac (Universal), and me
They weren’t all smiles with me after the second water ride…
Rockin’ in Bedrock with my girls Joanna Guy (Premier Rides), Betty and Wilma.
Top Left - Our hosts posing with members of the Justice League and our IAAPA President and Chairman.
Bottom Left – Action from the stunt show.
Right - Karen (IAAPA), the REAL Wonder Woman, posing with Batman, and her twin.
Looks like I have a room whenever I want to move in…LET’S GO!
After our great day at the park, we headed back to the hotel for some free time in Madrid. We decided to head to the Museo del Prado, and then did some walking. Mom and Dad extended their EAS trip as well, with a weekend in Madrid. We couldn’t be in the same beautiful city and not see them, so, the Weavers and I headed to the Palace Hotel to catch up with them. After meeting up with some of the group back at the hotel, several of us headed to dinner, and a night out in Madrid.
Ready to explore with my girls Mika (JNE&LC) and Lo (SALLY).
San Jerónimo el Real, Museo del Prado and the Palace Hotel
I can’t imagine a better group to happy hour with.
Top Left – Me, and my sister from another mister, Lo (SALLY).
Top Right – Speaking of that other mister…there’s my other dad, John Wood (SALLY)
Bottom – I keep some fabulous company; Megan Noland, Amanda Allison, Lo (SALLY), Karen (IAAPA) and Diane (IAAPA)
Albeit not the easiest, but a crazy morning at the train station got us to Seville. We went straight to Isla and Agua Mágica Sevilla, had a lovely lunch, followed by a tour of the parks. You could certainly tell that the guests were having a great time, and we enjoyed watching them.
Mágica is the perfect word to describe this place.
I caught these two in perfect fashion. Lo, channeling her inner jaguar for game day, and Pete...obviously taking a selfie (I just had to be a part of it).
We headed back to the hotel to get freshened up, and then it was time for our final reception of the post tour. The atmosphere was magnificent, the food was mouthwatering, and the company was unsurpassable. It was truly the perfect way to end the trip. The IAAPA crew is never finished though, so we had to head out to explore a bit of what Seville had to offer. The night ended on the patio of a quaint café, with some of the best people from around the world.
Undoubtedly humbled to be standing with these women; Denise Beckson (Morey’s Piers), Bonnie Sherman Weber (Six Flags Magic Mountain), Franceen Gonzales (WhiteWater), Star Hudspath (the First Lady of IAAPA), Catalina Arteaga (Former First Lady of IAAPA), and Joanna Guy (Premier Rides).
Caption: Seville, Andalusia, Spain…I like you A LOT!
Top Left – Gerardo and Catalina Arteaga (Fantasilandia)
Bottom Left – Diane (IAAPA), Jim Seay and Sara Ingram (Premier Rides)
Right – ONE HELL OF A CREW
Monday, September 26
After a REALLY early flight out of Seville, and a terribly long connection at CDG, I finally made it home!
As I said, Mom and Dad extended their trip for the weekend, and had a fabulous time as well…
Well deserved time for two, for my two favorite people <3
The recovery time was a bit longer than usual after this one, but time well spent with friends is always worth it.
Just a couple weeks later, and it was off to New Orleans for the World Waterparks Association show! Check out our blog tomorrow for Part 2 of my Autumn Adventures as the 2016 Conference World Tour continues. Adios!
October 18, 2016
The City of Whiting, Indiana invites you to join them (and JRA!) on Friday, October 21st from 11:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m., to commemorate and witness the groundbreaking of the future Mascot Hall of Fame, with an opening set for late 2017.
Mayor Joe Stahura along with City officials, MHOF creator David Raymond, project and design consultants (including JRA), special guest speakers, and a few of our favorite furry friends (including the Phillie Phanatic and Mrs. Met) will begin the celebration with a short ceremony at Oil City Stadium. From there, Mayor Stahura will lead 500 community school students, residents and business leaders on a march to the construction site of the MHOF, at the intersection of 119th St. and Front Street to break ground for all to see.
What was presented to Mayor Stahura as a fun and innovative idea back in 2014 is now on its way to reality, making Whiting, Indiana "the silly, wacky city that could!" In successful partnership with Raymond Entertainment Group and multiple project consultants, the 25,000-square-foot Mascot Hall of Fame will be brought to life as a state-of-the-art interactive family fun zone with a wide range of exhibits, activities and events that celebrate mascot fun. In addition to providing entertainment, the MHOF will serve to educate about the roles, craft and science of mascots, creating opportunities for school groups and complementing state and local curriculums. This exciting new Whiting venue will host the Mascot Hall of Fame’s annual induction ceremonies, and other original, memorable mascot interactions and performances will entertain, teach and enthuse children and their families year-round.
Mayor Stahura, the City of Whiting, JRA and beloved mascots in attendance from around the country hope you’ll join us for this memorable event. Can't make it? Stay tuned to our blog and social media channels for photos, interviews and more!
October 04, 2016
How should we approach risk as creative professionals? How much risk is too much? How do we inspire our clients and collaborators to step outside of their comfort zone? What do we do when risk meets the realities of budget and schedule?
These are core questions to Experience Design that will be explored at the 2016 Themed Entertainment Association SATE conference, October 13-14 in New York City. SATE stands for Storytelling + Architecture + Technology = Experience, and the name alludes to the collaborative efforts of a diverse group of artisans, technologists and producers in creating themed entertainment projects.
The theme of this year’s SATE, which will be held at the AXA Event and Production Center in midtown Manhattan, is “Walking the Tightrope: Taking Risks That Transform Experiences,” and 2016 SATE Co-Chairs Michael Blau (Adirondack Studios), Chris Conte (Electrosonic) and Traci Klainer Polimeni (Luce Group) have assembled a dynamic group of speakers around the topic of risk: how to address it, how to incorporate it, and even how to embrace it.
In addition to the sessions, attendees will enjoy one-of-a-kind experiences, such as a hosted mixer at 30 Rock, discounted tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show on Broadway, and exclusive networking opportunities. New for this year, a specially ticketed, post-conference SATE Saturday Experience features tours of the 9/11 Memorial Museum and One World Observatory. Through these panels, sessions, and events, SATE seeks to inspire and challenge participants to redefine their relationship with risk, “walking the tightrope” with a newfound confidence.
Co-Chair Michael Blau took time out of his busy pre-conference schedule to give JRA's Clara Rice a preview of what attendees can expect when SATE meets the Big Apple.
CR: Why did you choose risk as your topic? Why was the theme of risk particularly relevant this year?
MB: When the three co-chairs first discussed the conference, we talked about what it takes to create a unique guest experience. (S+A+T=E) This means exploring the phrase “What if?” What if Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew were set in 1850s California Gold Rush? What if we traveled through time and saw Manhattan grow from a small settlement to a major city while riding up an elevator to an observatory? What if you give guests control of an experience rather than have a predetermined outcome? All of these things require taking a risk, stepping away from the expected and norm. And for the themed entertainment industry (museums, theatre, film as well as theme parks) to continue to grow, we need to continue to take chances. Creators must be ready – always – to step out of their comfort zones. Collectively, our industry must take the leap.
CR: What does risk mean to you?
MB: The SATE 2016 theme is “Walking the Tightrope: Taking Risks That Transform Experiences.” I think this imagery describes the balance one needs when creating experiences. If you lean out too far, you can fall. When you are in the middle of the tightrope, you only have three options – go back, push forward or fall. If you fall, did you put up a safety net? Consider if you work the wire without a safety net, then there is more of a thrill, but more to lose. The creator, and the audience, get a heightened experience. Where and how do you strike the balance?
You need commitment to reach a goal. You need a champion – whether it is an individual or team – that drives the process. You need expertise, training, technical knowledge and personal awareness, but you also have to have the faith and strength to take risks. You need collaboration – rarely do great successes happen without it.
CR: What do you think the NYC location will add to the overall SATE experience?
MB: Coming from a theater background, I have always associated NYC with emotional experiences. Years ago, when I first started working in NYC, I learned that the smaller venues (Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway) were the ones in a position to explore cool, new ways to connect with audiences without much financial risk. A successful performance, sometimes, was able to move up the production ladder and get funded for Broadway runs. For the most part, that was the hope and the challenge. We worked to explore new ways to suspend an audience’s disbelief without major repercussions. Producers have always tried to mitigate risk and balance it with the required creativity. It is the healthy tension that is present on every project.
To really answer your question, NYC is a fertile artistic environment, constantly looking for and providing new experiences. It has a vibrant, sometimes dangerous, personality. The well-known line, “If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere,” really does hold true. What better place to discuss balance and risk?
Our hope is to have all attendees learn from each other, to be inspired and to explore more creative ways to collaborate. We also hope people will try to make the most of the unique setting and the huge range of experiences available in NYC. Try a new type of food, whisper a secret to someone in Grand Central Station at the Whispering Gallery, see a Unicorn Tapestry at The Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park or follow a new interpretation of a love story at the musical Paramour. I could go on and on.
CR: What "nugget" do you want attendees to walk away with?
MB: Sometimes addressing your greatest fears head on, like walking across a tightrope, can get you to the other side… To a better place. But the real story… thrill…experience is the walk itself. Let’s hope it isn’t too windy up there!
CR: Anything else you would like to say about why people should attend SATE this year?
MB: The SATE conference is a forum for creative designers and producers to listen, learn, collaborate, and be inspired. It is also an opportunity to meet and network with like-minded professionals across all forms of entertainment. The hope is to have our guests participate and engage in this very unique two-day conference in one of the most amazing cities in the world.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk a little more about this year’s conference. I am thrilled to have been on this journey with my co-chairs, our segment chairs and the TEA.
For additional information and tickets visit the TEA website. Follow TEA and SATE on Twitter at @TEA_connect, hashtag #TEAsate.
SATE 2016 is presented by Brogent Technologies, Inc. with generous segment sponsorship from Barco (Storytelling), Chicago Scenic Studios (Architecture), McCann Systems (Technology) and USITT (Experience).