Thursday, March 31, 2011

LIGHTCONVERSE Visualization scores at Asian Winter Games


Light Converse Ltd.’s LIGHTCONVERSE 3D SHOW PLATFORM performed to high expectations at the recent 2011 Asian Winter Games, held between January 30th and February 6th, 2011, in Astana and Almaty, Kazakhstan. 

The three-hour opening ceremony of the games, staged at Astana’s 40,000 seat indoor football stadium, demanded a visualization system that could match the highly-tuned athletic performances that would come to be from the 1,100 competitors from 27 countries participating. With over 30 DMX universes, 586 moving light fixtures and multiple moving scenery, static and video elements to contend with during the ceremony, LIGHTCONVERSE  was chosen as the go-to visualizer for all pre-show programming and on-site touch ups.

Powered by a LIGHTCONVERSE SERVER-1536 hardware (recently released at LDI 2010), the software effortlessly provided a highly realistic real-time environment for the designers and programmers to work in even though the stadium 3D model and all of its objects consisted of well over 9,000,000 faces. Modeling of the stadium began in October and the majority of programming was done well in time for the actual move-in. Once rehearsals began, final touch-up programming was facilitated by the use of bi-directional capabilities with the Wholehog-3 operation systems (32 universes connected with OEM connectivity driver) that were used for the show ceremony.

With the upcoming release of ESTA award winning version 51, the LIGHTCONVERSE 3D SHOW PLATFORM continues to provide a powerful photo-realistic solution for integrating and visualizing multiple show related disciplines in real-time, including lighting, video (in and out), laser, pyro, water effects and moving objects. Among the most anticipated features in this release will be the accurate pixel-mapping capabilities. On the hardware side of things, the new LIGHTCONVERSE SERVER-1536 and SERVER-STUDIO offer a formidable way to visualize up to 1536 fixtures (96 Universes) virtually, in addition to providing 3 to 15 live DVI outputs for real-world projection once 3D mapping is completed to perfection within the software. Visit www.lightconverse.net.

Electrosonic Expands AV Systems and Video Conferencing Business with Acquisition of New York-Based Excel Media Systems

Jim Bowie and Robert Menell
Burbank (March 31) – Electrosonic is pleased to announce its acquisition of systems integrator Excel Media Systems Inc. The company will become part of Electrosonic’s corporate solutions business, offering meeting room and video conferencing systems with full after-sales services from offices in New York City.

The acquisition expands Electrosonic’s corporate solutions business in the New York tri-state area and allows the company to better serve its international clients with local offices. Electrosonic’s breadth of AV systems knowledge and project management expertise will ensure that Excel Media’s customers will continue to receive the highest level of service and support.


“We are excited to bring Excel Media’s talented team to Electrosonic,” says Jim Bowie, President of Electrosonic Group. “Together we will continue to expand and develop our systems and service offerings.”


“Both our companies have decades of systems experience. By building on our strengths we will provide the highest value for our customers,” added Robert Menell, founder and owner of Excel Media, himself with more than 30 years of experience, who will continue within Electrosonic as the Director of Sales for Corporate Solutions.


“Excel Media has many long term clients and an excellent reputation acquired over many years for supplying quality meeting room systems,” adds Colin Lemmings, VP of Corporate Solutions. “This fits well with our goal to provide our global clients with local support and to deliver innovative, standardized, high-quality systems and after sales services in any region at competitive prices.”


Electrosonic­ continues to expand and invest in its core markets of entertainment, control rooms and corporate solutions, providing custom integrated systems and a variety of service offerings including on-site personnel and maintenance contracts.


About Electrosonic

Electrosonic is an international AV company with a strong reputation for working on complex projects, both large and small, and has through its 47 year history developed lasting partnerships with customers and suppliers. Electrosonic brings a unique breadth of experience to each project; backed by solid engineering skills, project management and quality production facilities. Beyond complete integrated systems, Electrosonic can provide a wide range of services including consultancy, technical design, maintenance and operational support. Visit
http://www.electrosonic.com

AirTran Airways and Georgia Aquarium Unveil Dolphin 1

AirTran Airways Dolphin 1 aircraft. (PRNewsFoto/AirTran Airways, Chris Rank)

Airline Celebrates Georgia Aquarium Partnership with Specially-Designed Boeing 737



ATLANTA, March 31, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AAI), and Georgia Aquarium today unveiled a custom designed aircraft celebrating their long partnership. The Boeing 737-700 aircraft, named Dolphin 1, is uniquely adorned with dolphins and an aquatic theme to celebrate the airline's partnership with the world's largest aquarium while highlighting the facility's newest attraction, the AT&T Dolphin Tales gallery and theater.


The one-of-a-kind aircraft was introduced to the AirTran fleet with a water cannon salute from the Atlanta Fire Department and festive music from the Tri-Cities High School Marching Band. Executives from AirTran Airways and the Georgia Aquarium gathered with AirTran Airways Crew Members and other guests to commemorate the launch. Dolphin 1 will serve AirTran's growing national and international network of more than 70 cities and will be seen by millions of travelers. 


"AirTran Airways is so proud of our long partnership with Georgia Aquarium," said Bob Fornaro, AirTran Airways' chairman, president and CEO. "We are excited to add Dolphin 1 to the AirTran fleet and look forward to helping raise awareness of this world-class destination in our largest hub city." 


The unveil is part of the community's celebration of Georgia Aquarium's $110 million dolphin exhibit, which features a 1.8 million gallon habitat featuring bottlenose dolphins. The gallery includes a lobby featuring an expansive underwater viewing window, and an 1,800-seat theater featuring a live production with dolphins, human actors and singers, and special effects and lighting. To help underscore Georgia Aquarium's commitment to marine mammal conservation and research, in 2008 the Aquarium donated $1.5 million to build a new marine animal rescue, care and research facility, the Dolphin Conservation Field Station at Marineland, Florida


"AirTran's early commitment to supporting the Aquarium began in 2005, and continues to this day," said Bernie Marcus, Benefactor, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Georgia Aquarium.  "We're very grateful to AirTran for their ongoing support and we're very excited to celebrate the unveiling of Dolphin 1."

About AirTran Airways:

AirTran Airways is a Fortune 1000 company and has been ranked the number one low cost carrier in the Airline Quality Rating study for the past three years. AirTran Airways is the only major airline with Gogo Inflight Internet on every flight and offers coast-to-coast service on North America's newest all-Boeing fleet. Our low-cost, high-quality product also includes assigned seating, Business Class and complimentary XM Satellite Radio on every flight. To book a flight, visit http://www.airtran.com.


About Georgia Aquarium:

The Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, is the world's largest, with more than ten million gallons of water and more aquatic life than any other aquarium. The mission of the Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards, offering engaging and exciting guest experiences and promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity. The Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit http://www.georgiaaquarium.org.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Virtual Aliens, Squid and Rainbow Coming to Philadelphia as Augmented Reality Exhibit Opens in April

Miro Alien Chest-Burster by Jon Rafman will be placed "virtually" at the top of the "Rocky Steps" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art as part of the VPAP Augmented Reality exhibit, which opens April 7, 2011. The exhibit, which was organized by Breadboard and the Virtual Public Art Project, and features 25 virtual artworks, is part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA). (Photo: Business Wire)
PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Imagine running up the “Rocky Steps” of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and being greeted by an alien creature that could have been designed by Joan Miro – but is visible only through your smart phone. The alien will be joined by a giant squid floating above the Schuylkill River waterfall, a faceted rainbow above the Delaware River and 22 other pieces of virtual art throughout the city when the VPAP@PIFA Augmented Reality exhibit opens on April 7 as part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA). The exhibit can be viewed via a free smart phone app that overlays 3-D images on top of real-time screen visuals as seen through the smart phone camera lens. 

The VPAP@PIFA Augmented Reality exhibit is a collaboration between Breadboard, a hybrid program at the University City Science Center dedicated to exploring the intersection of art, science and technology, and the Virtual Public Art Project (VPAP). Augmented Reality or AR interlaces the physical real-world environment with virtual computer-generated imagery in real-time. VPAP is an augmented reality platform for the public display of digital works of art and the first mobile augmented reality outdoor art experience of its kind. VPAP merges the real-world physical environment of public spaces around the world with site-specific virtual sculptures that can only be viewed in-the-round using the iPhone and Android phones when one is at the sculpture's real-world location. 

The site-specific virtual art works included in VPAP@PIFA can be viewed throughout the city by smart phone users. Local and international artists have created unique AR art works, such as the giant squid, that will be geo-tagged to specific locations around Philadelphia and visible via a free Layar App that can be downloaded to iPhone (3GS and above) and Android operating systems. Viewers then have the unique ability to experience an emerging art form as well as new media technology that has a growing influence on our social and commercial interactions. 

To complement the VPAP@PIFA Exhibit, a free panel discussion titled Augmented Reality Check: Seeing the Future Now will be held on April 26 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Van Pelt Auditorium. The panel of experts including cutting-edge artists, software developers, gaming specialists, sociologists and social historians will discuss the future of augmented reality and how it may play into our everyday lives. The discussion will be followed by an interactive demonstration and virtual art tour that blurs the line between the real and the virtual. The walking tour and demonstration will include site-specific AR content developed by artists and designed to interact with locations and landmarks along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. 

Moderated by Dr. Mimi Sheller, Director of Drexel University’s Center for Mobilities Research and Policy, the panel will include: Deb Boyer, public historian and project manager, Sajara and the Philly History Project; Dr. Paul Diefenbach, associate professor, Digital Media and co-founder of Drexel’s RePlay Lab; John Craig Freeman, artist and professor of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College; Chris Manzione, artist and founder of the Virtual Public Art Project; Josh Marcus, software developer and technical lead for Decision Tree; and Mark Skwarek, new media artist. Opening remarks will be offered by Gary Steuer, Chief Cultural Officer of Philadelphia and director of Philadelphia’s Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. 

Augmented Reality Check: Seeing the Future Now is also part of Philly Tech Week and the Philadelphia Science Festival.
 
About Breadboard
Breadboard is a hybrid program at the University City Science Center that facilitates cross-disciplinary art exhibits, community outreach initiatives and special programs offering public access to a new generation of fabrication technology and workspace in an effort to empower individuals and convene communities around creative applications of technology. Through a unique partnership with NextFab Studio Breadboard engages groups and communities at all levels of interest and experience. Breadboard programming combines 3-D printing technology, CAD-operated equipment such as laser cutters and milling machines with a collaborative workshop environment where artists, DIY enthusiasts, fabbers, hackers, community groups and students can share a computer station or a circuit board with business entrepreneurs, engineers, and industrial designers. www.breadboardphilly.org
 
About the Virtual Public Art Project
The Virtual Public Art Project is an Augmented Reality platform for the public display of digital works of art. VPAP is the first mobile AR outdoor art experience ever, and maximizes public reception of AR art through compatibility with both iPhone 3GS and above and Android phones. Unlike current AR smart phone utilities that enable users to view a location with an additional layer of information about that location – i.e. information about a restaurant, VPAP creates site-specific sculptures at a location that invite viewers in for close observation from all sides and from multiple perspectives. 

About The Science Center
The University City Science Center accelerates technology commercialization, regional economic development, and the market availability of life-enhancing scientific breakthroughs by bringing together innovations, scientists, entrepreneurs, funding, laboratory facilities, and business services. Established in 1963 and headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, the Science Center was the first, and remains the largest, urban research park in the United States. For more information www.sciencecenter.org

Carowinds Opens for 2011 Season on April 2

Season highlighted by extended summer hours and new night time entertainment 
 
CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- With the debut of the 2011 season, Carowinds celebrates the one year anniversary of Intimidator™ - billed as the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in the Southeast. In its first year of operation, Intimidator™ delivered over 1.5 million rides to guests and was nationally featured in several popular television shows, including the season finale of Bert the Conqueror on the Travel Channel and Intersections on the SPEED Channel.

"We know guests have been anxiously counting down the days to get revved up all over again," said Bart Kinzel, Carowinds vice president and general manager. Intimidator™ is a visually impressive ride and dominates the park skyline. The statistics speak for themselves and have helped position Carowinds as the thrill leader in the Southeast."

With the opening of the 2011 season, guests will notice a multitude of projects that took place during the off season, including: 



  • Vortex, which was the Southeast's first stand-up rollercoaster when it opened in 1992, was re-painted.
  • A new picnic shelter has been built in the Plaza Pavilions to accommodate additional company picnics.
  • This spring a new food stand, called Chippery, will open serving up fresh cut potato chips. In addition, a new Minute Maid® smoothie kiosk to help guests cool-down on hot summer days will be added.
  • Coaster fans will experience smoother rides on both Thunder Road and Hurler, as both wooden coasters underwent re-profiling work.
  • Guests can enjoy new seat walls, freshly planted shade trees, and additional greenery all over the park.
"Opening day at a theme park is like Christmas morning for coaster enthusiasts," said Josh Herrington, regional representative of the Southeastern region of the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE). "Each off-season we patiently wait for spring to roll around so we can get to the parks to see what's new. Having a park like Carowinds in our region makes the wait even more agonizing, since they always try to outdo themselves every year. I can't wait to get to the park and see all of the improvements made during the off-season."

On May 28th, Carowinds will unveil Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular, a million dollar nighttime walk-through light and sound experience featuring Snoopy and the PEANUTS™ gang. In addition, a nightly fireworks show called Nights of Fire will debut July 1. This new night time entertainment will be highlighted by the extension of park operating hours until 10pm every day from June 27 through August 7.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Merlin Entertainments Preliminary Results for the year to December 25th 2010

Continued strong growth alongside further international expansion

Merlin Entertainments, Europe’s leading and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, today announces its financial results for the year to December 25th 2010

KEY HIGHLIGHTS
  •  Total visitors increased to 41.0m – a rise of 2.5m (6.5%)
  •  Group Revenue up 4.1% to £800.8m (2009: £769.0m)
  •  Underlying Group EBITDA up 8.5% to £255.8m (2009: £235.7m)
  •  Capital investment of £103.8m during the year (2009: £101.2m), funded from operating cash flow
  •  Continued strong and resilient growth against a tough economic backdrop
  •  Performance driven by strong trading in existing estate
  •  International growth through 3 new openings on 3 continents
  •  2010 acquisitions of Cypress Gardens, Florida, USA to become LEGOLAND Florida and operating contract for the UK’s iconic Blackpool Tower Complex
  •  2011 acquisition of Sydney Attractions Group completed post year end
  •  Current 2011 trading in line with expectations
OPERATIONAL AND DEVELOPMENT OVERVIEW
  •  Good performance across all three Operating Groups: Resort Theme Parks; LEGOLAND Parks; Midway Attractions
  •  Theme park performance driven by the opening of new rides and attractions and the development of destination positioning (2-3 day stays)
  •  Continued momentum of Midway roll-out strategy with three attractions opened in the year
    •  LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester;
    •  SEA LIFE Phoenix;
    •  Madame Tussauds Bangkok, first Merlin attraction in Thailand
  •  Move into the Australian and New Zealand markets with the acquisition of Sydney Attractions Group and Kelly Tarlton’s Underwater World. This acquisition added six businesses which attracted 2.6m visitors in 2010
  •  LEGOLAND Florida development proceeding to plan and due to open in October 2011
  •  Merlin appointed by Blackpool City Council to manage the redevelopment of and operate the iconic Blackpool Tower Complex
  •  Acceleration of growth plans for 2011 driven by:
    •  Innovative new rides and attractions opening in the existing estate including Atlantis Submarine Voyage at LEGOLAND Windsor, Raptor at Gardaland and the Kraken at Heide Park
    •  Seven further Midway openings across our five brands: three in the UK, two in Continental Europe and two in the US
    •  Opening of LEGOLAND Florida
    •  Integration of the Australian and New Zealand attractions into the Group
  •  Strong schedule of new attractions planned for 2012, with the opening of LEGOLAND Malaysia and the LEGOLAND Windsor Hotel and five new Midways including two in the US: SEA LIFE Kansas City and LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Atlanta
  •  Strong development pipeline would leave Merlin with more than 80 attractions across four continents by the end of 2012
Nick Varney, Merlin Entertainments Chief Executive said, “We are delighted to report another year of strong performance from Merlin Entertainments, with growth coming from all parts of our unique business. During 2010 we significantly extended our geographic footprint, while delivering further growth in turnover and profitability as we welcomed 2.5m more visitors to our iconic attractions around the world.

“In the past year we have continued to invest to grow and develop our business.  We now operate over 70 attractions in 17 countries across four continents under our internationally recognised brands. Looking ahead, we have accelerated our growth plans and by the end of 2012 we will be operating more than 80 attractions as we develop further across Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region.

“This year will be one of the most exciting in Merlin’s history. October will mark our move into the biggest family tourist centre in the world when we open the gates to LEGOLAND Florida. The development of this exciting theme park on the historic Cypress Gardens site has gone to plan and early ticket sales have confirmed our confidence in taking LEGOLAND to the heart of the US theme park market. In addition, we will capitalise on the wealth of opportunities open to us in the Asia Pacific market in the wake of our acquisition of the Sydney Attractions Group while keeping up the pace of change in Europe and the US with the opening of seven new Midway attractions. 

For more details click here.

“We are now approaching the start of our key trading period in confident mood. We have an impressive pipeline of new developments across all of our existing attractions, including thrilling new roller coasters in our theme parks in Germany and Italy. While the outlook for the consumer economy remains uncertain, we believe Merlin will make further good progress and continue to grow.  Under our new ownership structure we will continue to invest in our clear and proven strategy of growing our strong brands in a portfolio of attractions balanced by geography, product and demographics.”

Cedar Fair Files Preliminary Proxy Statement for Requested Special Meeting of Unitholders

- Company includes its own proposals that, if approved, would give unitholders the right to nominate potential directors for election to the Board

- Recommends vote AGAINST Q Investments' proposal

SANDUSKY, Ohio, March 29, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a leader in regional amusement parks, water parks and active entertainment, today announced that it has filed a preliminary proxy statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding a Special Meeting of Unitholders requested by Q Funding III, L.P. and Q4 Funding, L.P. (Q Investments), which together beneficially own 5,687,276 units, or approximately 10.28% of the outstanding units of Cedar Fair.  

Q Investments has requested a Special Meeting of unitholders to vote on an amendment of the limited partnership agreement to give unitholders the right to nominate directors for election to the Board of Directors.  However, Q Investments' proposal is inconsistent with the applicable governance documents of Cedar Fair and Cedar Fair Management, Inc., its General Partner, which requires that the regulations of the General Partner be amended in order to give unitholders the right to nominate directors for election to the Board of Directors.  In particular, Q Investments' proposal is solely an amendment of the Company's partnership agreement and does not include the required amendment to the regulations of the General Partner.  Therefore, Q Investments' proposal would be ineffective to accomplish the goal of giving unitholders the right to nominate directors for election to the Board of Directors.  

In addition, Q Investments' proposal does not require that any unitholder intending to nominate potential directors for election to the Board of Directors provide any advance notice of, or any information with respect to, such nominee.  The fact that Q Investments' proposal lacks any basic procedural or informational requirements means that nominations could be made in a disorganized manner that is not in the best interests of unitholders.  As a result, the Board of Directors recommends a vote "AGAINST" Q Investments' proposal.

However, the Board of Directors understands unitholders may desire to have the right to nominate potential directors for election to the Board of Directors.  Therefore, and as an alternative to Q Investments' proposal, the Company is putting two proposals on the agenda for this upcoming Special Meeting that, if approved, would give the unitholders the right to nominate directors for election to the Board of Directors in a manner that is consistent with the applicable governance structure of Cedar Fair and its General Partner.  Specifically, the two proposals by the Company are (i) an amendment to the regulations of the General Partner to permit the limited partnership agreement to include a provision giving unitholders the right to nominate potential directors for election to the Board of Directors and (ii) an amendment to the limited partnership agreement to establish certain procedures and information requirements pursuant to which unitholders can nominate potential directors for election to the Board of Directors.

The Company has offered these proposals in order to provide unitholders with an opportunity to vote on proposals that are compliant with the governance structure of Cedar Fair and its General Partner and that, if approved, would effectively establish the right of unitholders to nominate directors for election to the Board of Directors in an orderly, organized and uniform manner. 

About Cedar Fair
Cedar Fair is a publicly traded partnership headquartered in Sandusky, Ohio, and one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world. The Company owns and operates 11 amusement parks, six outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels.  Its parks are located in Ohio, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Missouri, Michigan, and Toronto, Ontario.  Cedar Fair also operates the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in California under a management contract. 

Additional Information
This may be deemed to be solicitation material in respect of the proposals described in the preliminary proxy statement on Schedule 14A, filed by the Company on March 29, 2011.  In addition, the Company will file with, or furnish to, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") all relevant materials, including a definitive proxy statement on Schedule 14A (when available).  BEFORE MAKING ANY VOTING DECISION, INVESTORS AND SECURITY HOLDERS OF THE COMPANY ARE URGED TO READ ALL RELEVANT DOCUMENTS FILED WITH OR FURNISHED TO THE SEC, INCLUDING, THE PRELIMINARY PROXY STATEMENT ON SCHEDULE 14A FILED BY THE COMPANY ON MARCH 29, 2011 AND, WHEN AVAILABLE, THE DEFINITIVE PROXY STATEMENT ON SCHEDULE 14A, BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT THE PROPOSALS.  The definitive proxy statement on Schedule 14A (when available) will be mailed to unitholders of the Company. Investors and security holders will be able to obtain a copy of the preliminary proxy statement, definitive proxy statement (when available) and other documents filed by the Company free of charge from the SEC's website, www.sec.gov. The Company's unitholders will also be able to obtain, without charge, a copy of the preliminary proxy statement, the definitive proxy statement (when available) and other relevant documents by directing a request by mail or telephone to Investor Relations, Cedar Fair, L.P., One Cedar Point Dr., Sandusky, OH 44870, telephone: (419) 627-2233, or from the Company's website, www.cedarfair.com, or by contacting Morrow & Co., LLC, at (203) 658-9400 or toll free at (800) 206-5879. 

The Company and its directors and executive officers and certain other members of its management and employees may be deemed to participate in the solicitation of proxies in respect of the proposals.  Additional information regarding the interests of such potential participants is included in the proxy statement.

Miami Science Museum Announces $35 Million Commitment by Patricia and Phillip Frost, Securing Naming Rights to New Building at Museum Park

The new Miami Science Museum will be named the "Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science" with groundbreaking within the year. (Photo: Business Wire)
Largest donor commitment puts Museum past halfway mark towards $100 million private fundraising goal
 
MIAMI--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Internationally recognized leader in business, science and philanthropy, Dr. Phillip Frost, and his wife Patricia, have committed $35 million dollars to the capital campaign for Miami Science Museum’s new building at Museum Park. Trish and Dan Bell, Co-Chairs of the Board of Trustees, announced the commitment this past Saturday at the ninth annual Galaxy Gala, the Museum’s signature fundraising event. The new Museum will be named the “Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science” with groundbreaking within the year. 

The Frosts’ dedication to Miami Science Museum’s new building is an instrumental step forward in a significant public/private partnership. The $35-million commitment will be added to the $25-million already raised from a broad cross-section of individuals and corporations in South Florida. Their generosity will bring the project past the halfway mark of its $100 million private fundraising goal. The remaining funds that complete the estimated $275 million overall project cost are granted by Miami-Dade County’s Building Better Communities Bond Program, overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2004, and other government sources. 

Dr. and Mrs. Frost have been long-time supporters of arts and culture. “This landmark project will provide unique experiences that can change people’s perspective on the potential value of science and technology for their lives. We hope that, with our help, the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science will become known as a cultural institution truly for the people,” said Dr. and Mrs. Frost. 

Designed by internationally renowned Grimshaw Architects, the 250,000 square-foot complex is intended to act as a demonstration of ecological and sustainability principles, harnessing energy from water, sun, wind and museum visitor energy to power exhibits and conserve resources. The Museum is structured around a lushly landscaped indoor and outdoor “living core” of terrestrial and aquatic spaces, featuring a 600,000 gallon aquarium facility, a full dome 3-D planetarium, hands-on exhibits, never-before-seen technology and two additional wings of exhibition space, classrooms and cafes. 

With the support of the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County and others in the community, the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is on track to be a stand-out destination, inspiring visitors to learn, share and embrace science and technology. 

ABOUT PATRICIA AND PHILLIP FROST
Dr. and Mrs. Frost are generous supporters of education and the arts and are renowned collectors. In 1986, they gave their 113-piece collection of American abstract art to the Smithsonian Institution. In 2004, they endowed The Patricia and Phillip Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, and in 2006, they were the lead donors for The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University. 

ABOUT MIAMI SCIENCE MUSEUM
Miami Science Museum aims to make a difference in people’s lives by inspiring them to appreciate the impact that science and technology can have on every facet of our world. For over 60 years, Miami Science Museum’s award-winning educational programs, family-focused exhibits, historic planetarium, and rehabilitative Wildlife Center and Clinic have enriched locals and tourists alike. Visit www.miasci.org/blog. Miami Science Museum is funded with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.

Monday, March 28, 2011

$4 Million Splash Island Expansion Debuts at Wild Adventures Theme Park

Valdosta, GA (Vocus/PRWEB) March 28, 2011 -- This weekend, Wild Adventures Theme Park (WA) unveils its $4 million Splash Island Water Park expansion, the largest in its history, with the addition of two new family slides towering five stories high and nine VIP cabanas. This brings the total attractions in Splash Island to fifteen and expands its footprint to 17 acres. Season Passholders have the first opportunity to experience the new additions on Saturday, April 2 with the water park opening to all guests on Sunday, April 3. 

New water slides add 55,000 gallons and family thrills
Splash Island, the region’s largest water park, is the coolest place to be in South Georgia and North Florida with the addition of 55,000 more gallons of fun from new slides Hakini Rapids and Kona Cliffs. Every member of the family can enjoy the slides together, in giant rafts accommodating up to five guests. A special conveyor belt transports the rafts from the bottom of the slides to the top, so guests can simply focus on their fun-filled ride down.

Hakini Rapids and Kona Cliffs may share the same entrance, but this is where the similarities end. Hakini Rapids is a fast paced trip through raging waters, featuring six twists and turns around embankments measuring 50 feet high, splashing down into an ultimate pool of raging rapids. Thrill seekers looking for a little more excitement will not be disappointed with Kona Cliffs, a speed slide featuring three drops and loads of air-time sure to make stomachs drop.

“Splash Island is a popular place to be, especially during the hot summer months, and increasing the size of the water park by approximately 6 acres was a big focus for us this season,” said Bob Montgomery, WA vice president and general manager. “Hakini Rapids and Kona Cliffs are giant slides that add more to the family element that guests expect when they visit Wild Adventures.”

Season Passes Offer Best Value
The only way guests can experience the expanded Splash Island before anyone else is with a 2011 Season Pass. Splash Island Season Pass Preview is Saturday, April 2nd. Season passes are on-sale now and include unlimited access to more than 50 thrill rides, hundreds of exotic animals, the 17-acre water park and all-star concerts all season long. Season passes are available at http://www.WildAdventures.com, starting at $69.99. General park admission is also available for purchase and includes the second day free. Adult tickets are $45.99, children (ages 3-9) and seniors (55 and older) are $40.99. Prices do not include tax.

Wild Adventures is a 170-acre theme park, water park, and animal park all in one place for less located in Valdosta, Georgia. The park features one of the largest ride collections in the South, more than 500 wild animals, Splash Island Water Park, the region’s largest water park, shows, festivals and all-star concerts. The park is owned and operated by Herschend Family Entertainment (HFE), a company specializing in family entertainment. For nearly half a century, HFE has owned, operated or partnered in 26 properties across ten states, including Branson, Missouri’s Silver Dollar City; operating partner with Dolly Parton in Tennessee’s Dollywood and Dollywood’s Splash Country; operating partner in Atlanta’s Stone Mountain Park and owners of Ride the Ducks amphibious tours in six cities.

Marty Sklar headlines TEA's SATE Europe as keynote - 16-17 June in Amsterdam

Disney legend Marty Sklar will be the keynote speaker for SATE Europe, 16-17 June 2011 in Amsterdam.

SATE (Story - Architecture - Technology - Experience) hosted by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), is an annual conference for the themed entertainment industry, exploring the process of experience design. SATE has been held annually in Orlando for several years and 2011 marks the first SATE Europe, hosted by TEA's Europe and Middle East Division.

Phil Hartley, President of the EME Division, says, ‘Bringing SATE to Europe is a milestone in the development of the Europe and Middle East Division of the TEA. It confirms, and expands upon, the commitment of the Association to the region and forms the basis of our expansion plans for the coming years – increasing member benefits, expanding the promotional opportunities of our members, diversifying our event agenda, improving networking opportunities and increasing our membership.

SATE Europe will take place at the Heineken Experience in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on the 16th and 17th June 2011. Register online via the TEA website. Regular updates are available via the SATE Europe group on LinkedIn.

Dolly Parton opens new Barnstormer ride at Dollywood

Entertainment legend Dolly Parton is dressed for flight as she opens the new Barnstormer family thrill ride at Dollywood. The park celebrated its 26th grand opening on Saturday, March 26th. Recently honored with the Applause Award as one of the world's best theme parks, Dollywood is a 150 acre family theme park featuring more than 40 unique rides and attractions, award-winning shows and five seasonal festivals. (Photo: Business Wire)

Universal Studios Hollywood Casts Comedian Jimmy Fallon as New Video Host of World-Famous Studio Tour

(PRNewsFoto/Universal Studios Hollywood, Virginia Sherwood)
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Hollywood's longest-running hit is

The Studio Tour at Universal Studios Hollywood(SM), which has taken over 150 million visitors behind the scenes of the movie and television industry's biggest hits, will introduce a new video "host" this spring as comedian Jimmy Fallon, star of NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," becomes the ride's "virtual Studio Tour Guide."  Jimmy will be introducing a series of videos that will be seen on the Hi Definition monitors located in each Tram car to augment the "live" narration provided by the tram tour guides. 


Jimmy Fallon said, "We really had fun with filming my role. We brought some writers out from our show and added some jokes, more play with the Studio Tour guides, the tram drivers and we added a song or two. The tour itself is a classic, a really great experience. For anyone with any interest in show business, it's all there: the glamour, the glitz, all the hard work that goes into making a movie or a TV show can be experienced on the Universal Studios Hollywood Studio Tour. I'm very happy to be a part of it."


The addition of Jimmy Fallon's presence comes on the heels of sweeping enhancements to the tour,  including the addition of "King Kong 360 3-D," created by Peter Jackson, the world's largest, most intense 3-D experience. Additionally, over four acres of the newly rebuilt New York Street backlot locations recently re-opened, an area that features 13 city blocks of buildings and working shooting locations that offer guests a front row look at Hollywood moviemaking. The Universal Studios backlot, a celebrated Hollywood landmark, has been the setting of countless commercials, television shows and feature films.



Jimmy Fallon began his TV career with "Saturday Night Live" in 1998, where he quickly became an audience favorite.  Known for his spot-on impressions, hilarious sketches and his stint as co-anchor of "Weekend Update" with Tina Fey, Fallon spent 6 successful years on the show.


In March of 2009, Fallon returned to NBC and took over the Late Night legacy with "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon."  The show has continued to garner attention for its viral videos, audience games, A-list guests, and Fallon's choice of critically acclaimed house-band, The Roots. In less than two years on the air, "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" had already begun collecting awards, including two consecutive Emmy® awards in 2009 and 2010 for the show,s website www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com, as well as an Emmy® in 2010 for Short-Form Editing for the "Glee" parody "6-Bee."  

Universal Studios Hollywood is a unit of the Universal Parks & Resorts division of NBCUniversal.  NBCUniversal is one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment television networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. Comcast Corporation owns a controlling 51% interest in NBCUniversal, with GE (NYSE: GE) holding a 49% stake.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

BRC Imagination Arts' recommendations for Balboa Park 2015 Centennial Celebration to mark 100th anniversary of 1915 San Diego world expo

From the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership:

'The year 2015 represents an important milestone in the history of Balboa Park, the much beloved, “jewel of San Diego.” Not only is it a time to celebrate the remarkable 100 years since Balboa Park’s 1915 Panama-California Exposition, it is also a significant opportunity to look forward to the next 100 years of the Park’s evolution.


'We are very pleased to present the following 2015 report by BRC Imagination Arts, prepared for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership and funded through The Legler Benbough Foundation. This exciting document resulted from a workshop conducted by BRC in November 2010 with representatives from Balboa Park arts and cultural institutions, peer institutions throughout San Diego, City officials, and others.


The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park
The report identifies a dynamic mission for San Diego’s 2015 celebration: Celebrate “A Year of Creativity” that brings together innovative experiences with art, culture, nature, technology, and science. The BRC report also includes numerous recommendations for specific visitor experiences that can be developed to draw both tourists and San Diegans to the celebration. While we do not expect to implement all of the BRC recommendations, we are inspired by many of them. Particularly, we would like to highlight the recommendation for a Nighttime Spectacular – a sound and light show that will animate the facades of all of the major buildings in Balboa Park and become a must-see experience.


'We are also pleased to report that additional work has been taking place following the November 2010 workshop to further develop specific concepts for 2015 visitor experiences. Proposals are currently being prepared to identify the resources required to further advance these initiatives.


'We look forward to collaborating with the City of San Diego 2015 Panama-California Centennial Celebration Host Committee, and others, to make 2015 a world-class celebration.

 
Click here for the Balboa Park 2015 Centennial Celebration Report by BRC Imagination Arts.'

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Sneak Peek Weekend for Harry Potter™: The Exhibition at New York City's Discovery Times Square April 1-3

Grand Opening Set For April 5; Exhibition featuring original artifacts from all Harry Potter films 

NEW YORK /PRNewswire/ -- The magic of Harry Potter swoops into New York City early with a special "sneak peek" weekend for Harry Potter: The Exhibition at Discovery Times Square on Friday, April 1 through Sunday, April 3. Tickets are available now and can be purchased online at www.DiscoveryTS.com, at the Discovery Times Square box office (226 West 44th Street) or by calling (866) 987-9692.

This is the exhibition's final North American destination before traveling internationally. The grand opening is slated for Tuesday, April 5 and the exhibit will run through September 5, 2011.


In partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES) created the 14,000-square-foot experiential exhibition, where visitors will be able to visit dramatic displays inspired by the Hogwarts™ film sets and see the amazing craftsmanship behind authentic costumes and props from the films.  Original artifacts from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1 and the highly anticipated finale, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows- Part 2, will be on display along with hundreds of original props and costumes from all of the previous Harry Potter films.


"This very special sneak peek provides Harry Potter fans with the opportunity to experience the magic of the exhibition prior to the official opening," said Eddie Newquist, chief creative officer for GES.  


Harry Potter: The Exhibition offers fans a firsthand view of hundreds of authentic artifacts displayed in settings inspired by the film sets—including the Great Hall, Hagrid's hut, the Gryffindor™ common room—and more.   


Harry Potter: The Exhibition opens Friday, April 1Sunday, April 3 for the Sneak Peek Preview Weekend and reopens Tuesday, April 5 and runs through Monday, September 5, 2011.  The exhibition requires a time-entry ticket and guests are encouraged to purchase their tickets early to ensure the best date and time. 


About Discovery Times Square

Discovery Times Square (DTS) is New York City's first large-scale exhibition center presenting visitors with limited-run, educational and immersive exhibit experiences while exploring the world's defining cultures, art, history and events. More than a museum, DTS has featured a renowned line-up of exhibitions including Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, Leonardo Da Vinci's Workshop, King Tut, and now on display, Pompeii: The Exhibit. Discovery Times Square is produced and managed by Running Subway Productions.  


About Global Experience Specialists (GES)

Las Vegas-based Global Experience Specialists, Inc. (GES), a Viad Corp (NYSE: VVI) company, is a leading provider of exhibition, event and retail marketing services. As a result of its consolidation with Exhibitgroup/Giltspur and Becker Group, GES provides an even wider range of services, including turn-key official show services, cutting-edge creative and design, marketing and measurement services – all with an unrivaled global reach. GES partners with leading shows and brands, including the International CES, Spring Fair Birmingham, International Woodworking Fair, CONEXPO-CON/AGG and IFPE and WasteExpo, Bell Helicopter, Genzyme, L'Oreal, Warner Bros., and Simon Property Group. For more information, visit www.ges.com.


About Warner Bros. Consumer Products

Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world.

Kings Dominion Opens Saturday, April 2 - Opening Day to Benefit Marine Corps Foundation's Toys for Tots

Fireworks at Kings Dominion Eiffel Tower. Photo: Kings Dominion
DOSWELL, Va. /PRNewswire/ -- Celebrating over 35 years of family fun and excitement, Kings Dominion amusement park kicks-off its 2011 season on Saturday, April 2 with an amazing deal for an amazing cause.


Kings Dominion has teamed up with the Marine Corps Foundation's Toys for Tots program to kick-start the giving season and help bring a smile to kid's faces during the 2011 Holiday Season.  Guests that donate a new-unwrapped toy at Kings Dominion on April 2 and 3 will receive 50% off Regular General Admission ($57.99) that day.


Intimidator™ 305 returns: "The fast lane just got faster," said Pat Jones, Vice President and General Manager Kings Dominion. "Over 1 million guests experienced the extreme thrills of Intimidator™ 305 last year and this monster is back and better than ever!"


New for 2011 is, "Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular," a million dollar nighttime walk-through light and sound experience featuring Snoopy and the PEANUTS™ gang.  Designed using a dazzling mixture of low energy and high efficiency LED lighting, this immersive light and sound spectacular will be located along the park's center walkway, from the Eiffel Tower to The Grove area, featuring 1.2 million LED lights.  Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular will dazzle guests beginning June 18, 2011 and will run every night of Kings Dominion's 2011 season when the park is open until 10pm.


Coinciding with Snoopy's Starlight Spectacular on 10 pm closings is Kings Dominion's "Nights of Fire":  64 nights of stunning fireworks every night at 9:30 pm, plus massive fireworks displays for Memorial Day weekend May 28 and 29, Independence Day Weekend July 2 – 4 and Labor Day Sunday September 4.


Kings Dominion will open for weekends in April (Saturday and Sunday), beginning Saturday April 2, including weekdays of Spring Break April 18 – 22.  The Park is open Friday, Saturday and Sundays in May.  Daily operation begins Friday May 27Monday September 5.  Water Works WaterPark opens Saturday, May 28.


Kings Dominion is a 400-acre amusement park and waterpark, which is home to over 60 rides, slides, shows and attractions.  The park features one of the largest roller coaster collections on the East-Coast, with 15 World-Class scream-machines, two children's areas, and Water Works, a 20-acre water playground.  Kings Dominion is conveniently located at exit 98 on I-95, north of Richmond.  For more information about Kings Dominion and complete operating hours, please visit www.KingsDominion.com.


Kings Dominion is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, a publicly traded partnership that is listed for trading on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "FUN."  In addition to Kings Dominion, Cedar Fair owns and operates ten other amusement parks, six water parks, one indoor water park resort, and five hotels.  Cedar Fair also operates the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in Gilroy, Calif. under a management contract.

Friday, March 25, 2011

ASTC: Statement on Anti-Museum Amendments to H.R. 1

banner from www.astc.org
Statement issued by ASTC:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – 'On behalf of the hundreds of science museums and centers in this country, the Association of Science-Technology Centers opposes two amendments proposed for inclusion in H.R. 1, the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2011. The first, Amendment No. 35, would eliminate funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Nation’s primary source of federal support for museums. The second, Amendment No. 471, would prohibit funding from the bill to be used for activities at non-federal museums. Both amendments would decimate the ability of science centers and museums to compete for federal support and thus provide the kind of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education needed by our young people today.

'These learning settings, outside the formal education system, offer people of all ages valuable and unique opportunities to become interested in STEM and more knowledgeable about the world around them. Such learning experiences foster a better informed citizenry and inspire young people to consider STEM careers in which they may help address societal challenges.
Improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education is critical to the Nation’s economic strength and global competitiveness in the 21st century. To improve STEM education, it is important to draw on the full range of learning opportunities and experiences, including those in non-school settings. Science centers and museums in the United States receive more than 50 million visitors per year. Reports by the National Science Board, the Academic Competitiveness Council, and the National Academy of Sciences cite these types of institutions and their programs as an integral component of our Nation’s education system. These respected studies make clear that science centers and museums can have a significant impact on STEM learning outcomes in historically underrepresented groups, and that these non-traditional, non-school settings are uniquely positioned to make STEM education accessible to all.

'These findings are particularly significant since science centers and museums are on the front line when it comes to providing students, teachers, parents, and all citizens with the tools to appreciate the implications of important public policy issues that will affect our well being and standard of living now and well into the future. Science centers and museums are deeply engaged with local school systems to provide wide ranging programs of teacher training to help educators bring flexibility and creativity to the school curriculum. These centers and museums are also the venues for community dialogues and programs of learning on issues such as climate change, information technology, nanotechnology, alternative and conventional energy, and environmental impacts on health and well being.

'ASTC understands the budget challenges facing Congress, along with the need to restrain spending. We do, however, believe it is wrong to completely deny the institutions we represent the right to compete for merit-based support from authorized – and effective – federal programs. Such provisions work to deprive our children and their parents from the kind of educational experiences that will help today’s students become productive citizens tomorrow. On behalf of America’s science centers and museums, ASTC therefore urges all Members of Congress to oppose these amendments.'