Wednesday, December 26, 2012

PGAV Destinations Marks 2012 With Over $1 Billion in Projects

St. Louis, MO, USA -- PGAV Destinations, home-grown and based in St. Louis, is pleased to announce that another banner year has secured it as the world’s largest independent destination design firm in the world.

PGAV’s 2012 year-in-review report offers a glimpse of the work that talented architects, designers, and specialists have been developing around the world, leading to more than $1 billion in project openings, groundbreakings, and announcements this year alone. Many more projects are in development, but here is a sampling of the projects from PGAV Destinations’ year.

PROJECT OPENINGS

Turtle Trek opened at SeaWorld Orlando in April, with a reimagining of the existing manatee area with two new naturalistic saltwater and freshwater habitats for manatees and turtles, new retail space, interpretives, and interiors all leading guests through the lives of sea turtles and an important conservation message.

The new front gate entry experience opened this December at the Kennedy Space Center. Including brand new services, ticketing, retail, and a renovated restaurant, the front gate project brings color, excitement, and a new sense of anticipation to the entry experience and welcomes visitors to explore.

Aquatica, SeaWorld’s waterpark, opened in San Antonio this spring, the second of three SeaWorld Aquaticas (San Diego was announced this November). Inspired by the setting and atmosphere of the South Sea Islands, the 42,000 sq. ft. park offers a blend of up-close animal experiences, calm and exciting water attractions, and sandy beaches.

Sea Lion Sound opened this summer at the Saint Louis Zoo, featuring a 35-foot-long walk-through tunnel, the first of its kind in North America. The Pacific Northwest-inspired design by PGAV Destinations also incorporates grounds for an award-winning Sea Lion Show and plenty of habitats for California sea lions and harbor seals.

Verbolten opened at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in May, the most technologically advanced roller coaster ever built at Busch Gardens. With a storyline inspired by Grimm’s fairy tales, riders’ journey through the Black Forest includes an 88-foot drop and nearly 3,000 feet of track.

The Kennedy Space Center stores opened this year at the Orlando Airport, serving as ambassadors to NASA, inspiring customers to support the exploration of space and technology. The retail space provides a clean, modern and comfortable environment in which to promote the authenticity of Kennedy Space Center as a unique Orlando destination.

Also opening in May was Manta at Sea World San Diego. The multi-sensory attraction features a 270-degree projected media experience at launch, multiple coasters, and the Forbidden Reef exhibit, a one-of-a-kind home to hundreds of fish including bat rays, guitar fish, and more.

PROJECT PROGRESS

Construction began on two exciting PGAV Destinations projects in 2012. In January, ground was broken at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the new home for the space shuttle Atlantis began. The shuttle safely arrived at the site in late October, and the new attraction is slated to open to the public in summer 2013.

This fall, the Columbus Zoo broke ground on Safari Africa!, the new 43-acre African Savannah that will include a marketplace, restaurant, art-making hub, and a host of animals in close encounters and open grasslands, from monkeys to lions. Safari Africa! is slated to open in spring 2014.

Construction continues on the world-class Chimelong Hengqing Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, China. The 50 hectare marine theme park, full of rides, shows, and animal exhibits, is being developed by the Chimelong Group, owners of Chimelong Paradise and Chimelong Waterpark, the third-largest waterpark in the world.

AWARDS

Five attractions received top industry awards in 2012. The Louisville Zoo’s Glacier Run, an immersive exhibit which recreated a Churchill, Alaska-like outpost on the fringe of the arctic wilderness, won the AZA’s top honor in “Exhibit Design Excellence.”

This year’s Golden Ticket Awards, hosted by Amusement Today, granted its “Turnstile Award” to Manta at SeaWorld San Diego and its “Best New Amusement Park Ride of 2012” to Wild Eagle of Dollywood, just as both coasters obtained their one-millionth rider. Manta was recognized for its innovative incorporation of an action-packed roller coaster and a powerful marine education component, while Wild Eagle served as the world’s first “winged coaster.”

The Industrial Fabrics Association International this year recognized the Saint Louis Zoo Sea Lion Arena with an Outstanding Achievement Award, and the new Boeing Hall at the St. Louis Science Center an Award of Excellence. Boeing Hall was also recognized by Engineering News Record as the “Best Small Project” in the Midwest for 2012.

INSIGHTS AND RESEARCH

In 2012, PGAV Destinations published its latest research project, “The Art of the Family Vacation.” The study demystified recent family vacation trends, investigating the inner workings of the family mind-set as they plan, enjoy, and process their vacations and staycations around the country and world. The firm additionally shared its insights around the country by providing keynote speakers and panel facilitators at the Missouri Governors Conference, Illinois Association of Museums Annual Conference, the Association of Partners for Public Lands, and the national conferences of AZA, AZFA, SATE, and IAAPA.

2012 has been a record year of successes for PGAV Destinations, and 2013 will provide many new openings, project announcements, ground breakings, master plans, and research.
About PGAV Destinations PGAV Destinations is a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations. Now in its fifth decade, the practice has evolved to become the ideal destination-consulting partner, skilled at developing growth-oriented master plans and translating those plans into successful projects. No other firm offers such an integrated approach to destination planning.

PGAV’s key clients include industry leaders such as Delaware North Companies, SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Biltmore Companies, Bass Pro Shops, Ameristar Casinos, Universal Studios, The Gettysburg Foundation, The National Aviary, and many others. Recent assignments include planning and design at many of the world’s “must see” destinations, including the Grand Canyon, Biltmore Estate, Kennedy Space Center, Hearst Castle, the Georgia Aquarium, the Hoover Dam, and SeaWorld Adventure Parks. www.PGAVDestinations.com

Wet 'n' Wild Las Vegas Announces Senior Management

 Las Vegas, NV, USA -- Two amusement and water park industry experts have joined the Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas management team.Takuya Ohki has been named general manager, and Rick Belhumeur is director of operations and maintenance. Both are highly regarded managers at Village Roadshow Theme Parks, a part of Village Roadshow Limited, internationally recognized as one of the largest and most diverse entertainment companies in the world.

Ohki was the general manager of Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii in Oahu following its 2008 acquisition by Village Roadshow Theme Parks when it was Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park. His responsibilities covered revenue generation, marketing, sales, finance, guest satisfaction, operations and maintenance, park safety and human resources, and he managed the $8 million capital transformation and rebranding of the park to its current name. In 1999, Ohki joined Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park – then a new start-up tourism venture – and worked in all facets of park operations in positions of increasing responsibility.

Ohki has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Brigham Young University-Hawaii.

Belhumeur will oversee Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas’ aquatics, loss prevention, facilities and park services departments. He joined Village Roadshow Theme Park in 2009 during construction of its second U.S. water park in Phoenix and was a vital member of the park’s start-up management team, helping create and implement many of the company’s standard operating procedures and policies. Additionally Belhumeur oversaw the construction of unique products including the world’s first Constrictor water slide and the two-acre expansion of Wet ‘n’ Wild JR, the park’s children’s area.

Belhumeur’s experience includes operations and construction management positions at several Paramount Park theme parks and the Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

He has a degree in applied social science fromJ. Sergeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond, Va., and is a Jeff Ellis & Associates Lifeguard Instructor, National Aquatic Safety Company Instructor-Trainer and Certified Pool Operator.

About Wet ‘n’ WildLas Vegas
Wet ‘n’ Wild Las Vegas will be Nevada’s largest water park and home to more than 25 exhilarating slides and attractions. It is expected to open in May 2013 with attractions ranging from extreme water slides, including the first-of-its-kind in North America three-person Rattler, to family friendly interactive play areas. Valued at more than $50 million, the 41-acre park is ideally located in southwestLas Vegas near the I-215 and Sunset Road at7055 S. Fort Apache Rd.,Las Vegas, NV 89148 on a parcel of land leased from The Howard Hughes Corporation. Project investors include Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, Dr. Steven and Karen Thomas of the Thomas and Mack family of Las Vegas, Roger and Scott Bulloch of SPB Partners and Australian entertainment conglomerate Village Roadshow Limited which also will manage the park along with holding a 51 percent ownership. For more information, visit www.WetnWildLasVegas.com.

SEGD to Hold Accessibility Webinar January 10

 Washington, DC, USA -- Two months after the release of the SEGD 2012 ADA White Paper Update, SEGD is continuing its Accessibility webinar series with a focus on the White Paper and Signage Requirements in the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design. Join the chief authors of the 2012 ADA White Paper Update—Ken Ethridge, Chris Calori, and Teresa Cox—at 2 p.m. Thursday, January 10, for a discussion of the primary changes to the previous accessibility guidelines. This webinar will focus on the three remaining sections of the document: Calculations, FAQs, and Appendix (Acceptable Typefaces).

Fees
SEGD Members $75
Non-Members $200

To register for the webinar on Thursday, January 10, click here.
To download the SEGD 2012 ADA White Paper Update, click here.
Sponsored by Nova Polymers.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Barco acquires majority share in projectiondesign®

projectiondesign, a Norway based leader in high performance projection, announced on Dec 19, 2012 that Barco had acquired 61% of its shares from private equity fund Herkules Capital. The remaining shares of projectiondesign® are held by minority shareholders.
 

The combination of Barco and projectiondesign® creates a market leader in projection solutions for both large- and mid-venue markets. The transaction advances Barco’s strategy to expand into the mid-segment of its target markets and to strengthen its number one position in high-performance projection technology. 

projectiondesign® develops and manufactures compact projectors for a variety of professional markets including training and simulation, visitor attractions (museums, theme parks), scientific visualization, collaboration rooms (Corporate AV) and control rooms. The compact projectors are equipped with high-quality optics, high resolution and LED illumination, and feature quiet operation. The company custom-designs and develops all optics, hardware, software and industrial design for each projector model in-house. Founded in 2001, projectiondesign® is headquartered in Fredrikstad, Norway, and has 17 international offices. Projectiondesign® employs about 200 people and achieved sales of approximately €57 million in 2011.

Increased market share in the mid-venue market
“Barco, being a European based world leader in large venue projection, is the perfect match for projectiondesign. Barco represents world class competencies in 3-chip DLP while projectiondesign® is well renowned for its innovative 1-chip DLP projectors,” said Jørn Eriksen, President of projectiondesign. “Together we combine an unsurpassed line-up of highly competitive premium projectors for mid- and large venues, with the broadest distribution across both specialty and corporate AV markets. This was an unusual opportunity to join forces with one of the strongest players in the projection industry which we simply could not ignore”.

Highlights
Complementary product portfolio
projectiondesign®’s product portfolio of compact, high-quality projectors rounds out Barco’s portfolio of business, large-venue and simulation projectors.

Complementary technology
Barco’s focus on 3-chip DLP technology and high-brightness solutions for the large-venue market fits well with the focus of projectiondesign® on developing 1-chip DLP solutions for the mid-venue market. This collaboration between two industrial players will open up further growth opportunities in the mid-venue market.

Complementary geographic footprint
projectiondesign® has a strong presence in Northern Europe while Barco has strong sales coverage in Asia, Latin America and Europe. By joining forces with projectiondesign®, Barco will also increase its coverage in North America.

Matching culture and values
projectiondesign® and Barco share a similar entrepreneurial culture and both companies place high value on innovation and customer satisfaction.

About Barco
Barco, a global technology company, designs and develops visualization products for a variety of selected professional markets. Barco has its own facilities for Sales & Marketing, Customer Support, R&D and Manufacturing in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific. Barco (NYSE Euronext Brussels: BAR) is active in more than 90 countries with about 3,700 employees worldwide. Barco posted sales of 1.041 billion euro in 2011.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Moscow City Government Approves Construction of Universal Studios Moscow

by Joe Kleiman, InPark News Editor

Moscow, Russia (December 20, 2012) -- Various Russian news agencies are reporting that the Moscow city government has approved construction of a Universal Studios theme park and resort to be built in the southern part of the city.  In April, 2012, Gazeta.ru, a Russian online newspaper, reported that Russian real estate development company BIN Group had announced development of a themed resort called "Galaktika Park," which would include an indoor Universal Studios theme park.  The resort was projected to be 650-700,000 square meters, with 150,000 square meters being allocated to the park.  Estimated project cost was $2.8 billion, with $500 million going to the park.

The Gazeta.ru article stated that Universal would not have any financial investment in the park.  It quoted Michael Silver, Senior Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at NBC Universal as saying, "Russia is a very significant and attractive market for us, we see big potential for amusement parks here."  InPark Magazine has confirmed that much like it did in 2010 with a potential Korean park operation, NBC Universal registered a foreign limited-liability company in Delaware on March 19, 2012 - Universal Studios Moscow Planning Services LLC.

Both Pravda, the paper of the country's Communist party, and Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Russian government's official newspaper, are reporting that approval for construction was given on December 13, 2012 by the city’s commission for urban planning and land.  Vedomosti, a Russian business journal, reports that the resort will now encompass 1.2 million square meters (150,000 still be allocated to the Universal Studios theme park), and will will also entail "three-and four-star hotels (120,000 sq. m.), an office complex (160,000 sq. m.), as well as retail space, a winter garden, a water park, a conference center, a music theater, etc. In addition, the investor is obliged to organize parking for at least 10,000 cars." Vedomosti adds that Silver has "confirmed that [NBC Universal] has reached a preliminary agreement with [BIN Group]."

Hlas Ruska ("Voice of Russia"), the national radio broadcasting company, reports that the Moscow park will have the lowest ticket price of any Universal theme park - at US$30.  Universal Studios Moscow is projected to open in 2018.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Utopia Entertainment Helps Turn 20th Anniversary of House of Blues' Sunset Strip Location into a Blast

Studio City, CA, USA -- Utopia Entertainment created a spectacle on Tuesday December 4, 2012 at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip for their 20th Anniversary Celebration. Utopia produced a pre-show for the event that included a grand entrance for the Blues Brothers, Elwood and Zeke Blues, played in character by Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi. The event was to commemorate 20 years of being an iconic live music venue and included performances by the Blues Brothers, Deer Tick, Flogging Molly, and Rock and Roll hall of famers and legendary rock band ZZ Top.

Utopia Entertainment sent Elwood and Zeke Blues in their classic “Blues Mobile” down Sunset Boulevard with a full police motorcade and news helicopter to help guide them. The Brothers were on a “mission from God” to flip the switch that would kick off the evening’s festivities. Once they arrived at the venue, the duo took the stage and after Aykroyd spoke a few words, Belushi pulled the switch and a pyrotechnic
spectacular began including a ten-foot-tall “20” that was set ablaze raised 40 feet above street level and 20 comets that exploded off of the iconic water tower, one for each year the venue has been in business. This was the largest 90-second fireworks display ever seen on the Sunset Strip. As the pyrotechnics ended, a huge boom sounded and streamers filled the front of the venue. This prompted the beginning of a night of music,  food, and celebration.

“We were thrilled to be invited back to the House of Blues to continue to create spectacular elements for them. Having been a Blues Brothers fan since their first appearance back in the ‘70s, this was truly an honor and a great deal of fun,” said Norm Kahn, Utopia Entertainment CEO.


 For more information, visit www.utopiaworldwide.com

ABOUT UTOPIA ENTERTAINMENT
Utopia Entertainment, Inc., with production offices in Los Angeles, is a leading provider of entertainment solutions for clients around the globe. Utopia Entertainment’s Design, Production, and Operations groups all focus on a singular goal: Providing “World Class” entertainment experiences for commercial applications worldwide.

GSCA Announces 2013 Officers and Committee Chairs

Lake Anna, VA, USA (December 19, 2012) -- The Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA) 2013 board of directors has elected officers, Executive and Governance Committee members, as well as committee chairs and co-chairs.

Kim Cavendish (Museum of Discovery and Science) will serve a two-year term as GSCA chair. Vice chair, also a two-year term, is Glenn Shaver (Ontario Science Centre). Don Kempf (D3D Cinema and Giant Screen Films) will continue to serve as secretary for the remaining year of his term. Berend Reijnhoudt (Omniversum) will continue to serve as treasurer for the remaining year of his term.

GSCA’s bylaws require the Executive Committee to be made up of the four officers, plus three other individuals representing specific segments of the industry. In addition to officers Kim Cavendish, Glenn Shaver, Berend Reijnhoudt, and Don Kempf, the Executive Committee will include Mark Katz (National Geographic Cinema Ventures) representing production/distribution, and Toby Mensforth (Mensforth and Associates) representing manufacturers/suppliers/other related businesses. Michele Canto (Canadian Museum of Civilization) will continue to represent institutional and commercial theaters in the remaining year of her two-year term.

GSCA’s bylaws also require the board to appoint a Governance Committee. New members of this committee include Gordon Stalans (Tennessee Aquarium), who will chair the committee, and Jonathan Barker (SK Films). Laurent Dondey (La Geode), Paul Fraser (Blaze Digital Cinema Works), Jeffrey Kirsch (Reuben H. Fleet Science Center), and Mike Lutz (IMAX Corporation) will continue their roles on this committee.

Per GSCA’s bylaws, committees must have at least one co-chair who is a board member. Committee chairs, co-chairs, and staff liaison are as follows. Technical Committee: Co-chairs Tim Hazlehurst (Marbles Kids Museum) and Rick Gordon (RPG Productions), with Tammy Thurmon as staff liaison. Marketing and Member Services Committee: Chair Mike Lutz (IMAX Corporation), with Kelly Germain as staff liaison. Conference Committee: Co-chairs Glenn Shaver (Ontario Science Center) and GSCA Executive Director Tammy Thurmon. Lifelong Learning Committee: Co-chairs Shaun MacGillivray (MacGillivray Freeman Films) and Mary Nucci (Rutgers University), with Kelly Germain as staff liaison. Professional Development Committee: Co-chairs Paul Fraser (Blaze Digital Cinema Works) and Daniel Ferguson (Cosmic Picture), with Tammy Thurmon as staff liaison.

Winners of the 2013 election, as voted by GSCA members, were announced in November and take office effective January 1. The full 2013 board is as follows:

Representing Institutional theaters:
  • Steve Bishop, Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts
  • Michele Canto, Canadian Museum of Civilization
  • Kim Cavendish, Museum of Discovery and Science
  • Tim Hazlehurst, Marbles Kids Museum
  • Jeffrey Kirsch, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
  • Glenn Shaver, Ontario Science Centre
  • Gordon Stalans, Tennessee Aquarium 
Representing Commercial Theaters:
  • Mark Bretherton, World's Biggest Screens
  • Laurent Dondey, La Geode
  • Berend Reijnhoudt, Omniversum 
Representing Distributors:
  • Bob Harman, MacGillivray Freeman Films
  • Mark Katz, National Geographic Cinema Ventures
  • Don Kempf, Giant Screen Films
Representing Manufacturers/Suppliers/Other Related Businesses:
  • Paul Fraser, Blaze Digital Cinema Works
  • Rick Gordon, RPG Productions
  • Mike Lutz, IMAX Corporation
  • Toby Mensforth, Mensforth and Associates 
Representing Producers:
  • Jonathan Barker, SK Films
  • Daniel Ferguson, Cosmic Picture
  • Shaun MacGillivray, MacGillivray Freeman Films
  • Lisa Truitt, National Geographic Cinema VenturesEuromax Ex-Officio Director:
  • Dennis Laws, BFI IMAX
Visit www.giantscreencinema.com for more information

About the Giant Screen Cinema Association
The core purpose of the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA®) is to advance the business of producing and presenting educational giant screen and immersive cinema experiences globally. GSCA's membership includes more than 250 organizations in nearly 30 countries. Member organizations include giant screen filmmakers, distributors, theaters, suppliers, manufacturers, and students from around the world.

GSCA was founded in 2006 with the unification of the Large Format Cinema Association (LFCA) and the Giant Screen Theater Association (GSTA).

The Association holds two annual events--a 2-day Film Expo in February/March and a 4-day International Conference and Trade Show in September.

Vitala Developing Waterpark and Sports Complex in Mongolia

London, UK -- Mongolian M&G Construction, LLC has announced their intention to construct and manage a multi-purpose themed leisure attraction project in Ulaanbaatur, Mongolia. For this purpose, they have contracted the services of the Vitala Group of Companies, international developers, managers, consultants to the leisure, tourism and themed entertainment industry. The project, currently referred to as the Shonkhor Tower Waterpark Sports Complex, will be comprised of various sports and entertainment, health and wellness components, in indoor/outdoor waterpark, and numerous family lodging elements. All project components will be designed for an all season/all weather period. Vitala’s miltinational team carried out extensive  site visits in September of 2012, and will complete all marketing and feasibility research, architectural design, project components composition and will provide full project funding. The project will be 100% Mongolian owned and managed, and will provide an estimated 1,000 new employment opportunities for Ulaanbaatur residents. Project costs are estimated at US$200-250 million. the Shonkhor Tower Waterpark and Sports Complex is scheduled to open to the public in the summer of 2016.

Visit Vitala Group at www.vitalagroup.com for more information.

ALCHEMY studio Working with The Australian Museum on New Traveling Exhibition Development Process

Maplewood, NJ, USA -- In October, ALCHEMY studio added another museum in Australia to its portfolio: The Australian Museum. The Australian Museum is the oldest museum in Australia and focuses on subjects in natural history and anthropology.

ALCHEMY studio is currently working with the exhibition team at the museum to plan, think through and develop material to describe new exhibition projects that will then be part of their traveling exhibition program. This work is designed to help jump start exhibition development at a very early stage, thus allowing museum staff to concentrate on near-term deadlines. Also, the process will provide an initial "straw man" the exhibition staff can build upon or tear apart -at least something so they're not starting from scratch.

For more information on ALCHEMY studio, visit http://alchemystudio.com

About ALCHEMY Studio
ALCHEMY studio is an experience and institutional development, design and consulting services studio that plans, designs, develops and provides creative direction for museums, science centers and other lifelong learning experiences around the world.

ALCHEMY studio is located in Maplewood New Jersey in the New York City metro area. Its genesis is rooted in work begun in 2006 as LSC Experience Services, led by Wayne LaBar. Wayne founded ALCHEMY studio and now leads the studio.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Electrosonic Delivers New Video Wall to The Weather Channel

Los Angeles, CA, USA (December 18, 2012) -- When The Weather Channel wanted to upgrade the primary studio set at its Atlanta headquarters, it turned to Electrosonic to install a new video wall to replace the previous display the company had provided. The new system, comprised of 12 Christie® Entero™ LED-illuminated rear-projection display cubes, is now seen as a backdrop for on-air talent and is a vehicle for live video and map presentations.

“In 2008, we supplied a rear-screen projection edge-blended system with Christie projectors,” explains Electrosonic Systems Consultant Pete Rajcula. “We have an ongoing relationship with The Weather Channel, and when they were looking for a new alternative to the blended system, we suggested Christie’s LED-illuminated DLP cubes, which offer extremely long lamp life, rich color and easy maintenance.”

Rajcula notes that while the former system was state-of-the-art at the time, LED-illuminated cubes have now reached maturity in the market, allowing the Weather Channel to reap the benefits of the technology.

The Christie® Entero™ LED was the first high resolution LED-based display cube introduced for the control room market. Using solid state illumination, the Entero™ LED display cubes feature vivid, wide color gamut performance – with no lamps to replace, no moving parts, and no consumables.

The installation was challenged by the need to do the work on a fully functioning set. Electrosonic installed the wall’s pedestal and cubes, adjusted the geometry and color balanced the screens to match the studio lighting.

“We’re extremely happy with the video wall,” reports The Weather Channel’s broadcast engineer Travis Warner.

The video wall is designed in a 2x6 configuration with dimensions measuring 26.9 feet wide by 6.8 feet high. A three-output Vista Spyder image processor drives a trio of 1-in/4-out distribution amps. Each of the DAs, in turn, drives one of three 2x2 sections of the wall. The video wall does its own processing of each 2x2 section, creating one large dynamic image across the display.

Andy Borum was Electrosonic’s project manager for the installation. “Everything went smoothly even though the studio was in use,” he reports. “The Weather Channel was prepared for our arrival, so we were able to build the wall and make the initial tweaks without disrupting on-air production.”

Learn more about Electrosonic. Visit http://www.electrosonic.com

About Electrosonic
Electrosonic is an international audio-visual company that creates tailored, state-of-the-art solutions for a wide range of markets including theme parks, museums, control rooms, and corporate meeting rooms. Since its founding in 1964, Electrosonic has built a strong reputation for working on complex projects, both large and small, and has developed lasting partnerships with customers and suppliers. Beyond complete integrated systems, Electrosonic provides a comprehensive scope of services including technical design, projector lamp sales, maintenance and operational support.

Kings Dominion Announces Rides for Expanded Planet Snoopy

, VA, USA (December 18, 2012) -- Eight new rides await families at Kings Dominion when the bigger, better Planet Snoopy opens in the spring of 2013. Combined with the re-themed rides, Kings Dominion’s Planet Snoopy with boast 18 total rides and will span nearly 14-acres, doubling its current size. All of new and re-themed rides, based on one of the most believed comic strip characters, are designed for families to experience together.

The list of the eight new rides include:
  • Snoopy’s Rocket Express: An aerial monorail that gives families a view high above Planet Snoopy. 
  • Flying Ace Balloon Race: Hot air balloons that lift up 15 feet into the air, as you spin around. Each balloon represents a different country throughout the world.
  • Linus Launcher: This ride will give families a sense as if they are flying around together in Planet Snoopy.
  • Charlie Brown’s Wind Up:Families will hop in and swing around on this baseball-themed ride.
  • Snoopy’s Junction: It’s all aboard a Snoopy-themed railway, with Woodstock leading the way.
  • Lucy’s Tugboat: Come on board a rocking tugboat, as guests set sail with the entire family by their side.
  • Snoopy’s Space Buggies: Defy gravity, as families hop into moon buggies that bounce up and down and rotate in a circle.
  • Woodstock Whirlybirds: Spin around in the classic teacups, with a new Woodstock-themed twist.

The list of the 10 additional rides include:
  • Lucy’s Crabbie Cabbie(formerly Boulder Bumpers)
  • Great Pumpkin Coaster(formerly Taxi Jam)
  • Woodstock Express (formerly Ghoster Coaster)
  • Snoopy vs. Red Baron(formerly Red Baron)
  • PEANUTS Turnpike(formerly Junior Turnpike)
  • PEANUTS Road Rally (formerly Road Rally)
  • Boo Blasters on Boo Hill
  • Joe Cool’s Driving School
  • Flying Ace
  • Snoopy’s Moon Bounce
Currently, Kings Dominion is searching for its first-ever Planet Snoopy KidCaster roving junior reporter. The amusement park is looking for someone between the age of 6 and 10 to watch Planet Snoopy transform into the world’s largest PEANUTSTM-themed children’s area. The Planet Snoopy KidCaster will be featured on Kings Dominion’s YouTube Channel, Facebook and Twitter pages and more.

Interested children and their families can apply online atwww.kingsdominion.com through Monday, January 7, 2013. A winner will be selected by Monday, January 14, 2013. The Planet Snoopy KidCaster will come to the park once a month between January and April, 2013. No purchase necessary. Full sweepstakes rules can be found on www.kingsdominion.com.

Cedar Fair Entertainment Company is a publicly traded partnership headquartered inSandusky, Ohio. The Company, which owns and operates 11 amusement parks, four outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels, is one of the largest regional amusement park operators in the world. Its parks are located inOhio, California,North Carolina, South Carolina,Virginia, Pennsylvania,Minnesota, Missouri,Michigan, and Toronto,Ontario. Cedar Fair also operates theGilroy GardensFamily Theme Park inCalifornia under a management contract. Cedar Fair’s flagship park, Cedar Point, has been consistently voted the“BestAmusement Park in the World” in a prestigious annual poll conducted byAmusement Today newspaper.

Big & Digital to Distribute Giant Screen Film "In Saturn's Rings"

Henderson, NV, USA (December 18, 2012) -- BIG & Digital, LLC and SV2 Studios, LLC announced today that In Saturn's Rings will be distributed worldwide by BIG & Digital to the network of IMAX®, Giant Screen, and Full-Dome Theaters. The film will be released in early 2014.

In Saturn’s Rings is a non-profit giant-screen space art film, produced by SV2 Studios, that takes audiences on the ultimate journey of the mind and spirit from the big bang to the wonders of the Solar System climaxing with the Cassini-Huygens Mission at Saturn.

Over One Million photographs, manipulated to create full motion, make up the film's visuals for a photographic fly-through of deep space. Using innovative visual techniques developed by the filmmaker, In Saturn’s Rings lets audiences fly through space and time using real photographs, not CGI. The film will feature powerful music by Ferry Corsten, William Orbit, Samuel Barber and melds narrative visual poetry and science into a rich and emotional experience. The imagery, synchronized to powerful and moving music, provides a direct and powerful opportunity of exploring space.

“We're very excited to work with BIG & Digital to bring the film to the network of Giant Screen Theaters,” said Stephen van Vuuren of SV2 Studios. “In Saturn’s Rings is literally a big and digital film, so this is a perfect match for presenting the film in the best light to the industry.”

“I have been following Stephen's film for several years and I appreciate his passion for a unique and scientific space film that reaches an emotional level with audiences. The film is different than the space films that have come before it and we are looking forward to be bringing In Saturn’s Rings to theaters worldwide,” said Tina Ratterman, founder of BIG & Digital.

A one minute clip with millions of views on the internet was named one of NASA’s “Astronomy Pictures of the Day.” The online space and scientific communities support and endorse the project including resources and support from Bill Nye “The Science Guy” and The Planetary Society. Individual scientists from NASA, JPL, ESA and numerous other scientific institutions are active advisors and volunteers.

More than a dozen volunteer scientists, photographers and image processors are working directly on the production creating custom programs, processing lunar imagery, and creating stunning time-lapse of the dark sky at giant screen resolutions.

More information on the film can be found at www.in_saturnsrings.com and updates and announcements can be received through social media: Twitter - @in_saturnsrings, Facebook at www.facebook.com/insaturnsringsmovie

Distribution and leasing information is available from BIG & Digital. Contact: info@biganddigital.com or 702-932-4045.

About SV2 Studios
SV2 Studios was founded by filmmaker Stephen van Vuuren in 2000 to focus on digital cinema production.  SV2 Studios has produced a range of multimedia projects, including award-winning short and feature length films. The company also provides digital cinema mastering to independent filmmakers. Van Vuuren has become a leading photographic animation artist while creating the stunning visuals for In Saturn's Rings.

About BIG & Digital, LLC
BIG & Digital specializes in distribution of 15/70mm and digital giant screen content to museums, attractions and planetariums. BIG & Digital was founded in March 2009 by Tina Ratterman. Ratterman is a veteran in the giant screen industry with more than 15 years of successful marketing and distribution experience. More information can be found at www.biganddigital.com.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Discovery Science Center to Open Second Location in Los Angeles

Children's Museum of Los Angeles.  Courtesy MATT Construction.
Santa Ana, CA, USA (December 17, 2012) /PRWEB/ -- The Los Angeles City Council voted for and approved the funding and finance allocation directed towards Discovery Science Center (DSC) to manage and operate the former Children’s Museum of Los Angeles. The project, which has been in a planning and negotiation phase, will fill a much needed S.T.E.M. (science, technology, engineering, math) educational gap for the County of Los Angeles and specifically San Fernando Valley.

“We have accomplished a major hurdle having the leadership of Los Angeles approve this project,” said Joe Adams, president of Discovery Science Center. “We are thrilled to open a second facility in the San Fernando Valley. The need for a hands-on science and education facility in Los Angeles is strong and we’re very excited to be a partner in bringing that dream to fruition.”

The two-story, 58,000 square foot facility will serve as an educational and science resource center for hundreds of thousands of kids across Los Angeles County. Just as DSC in Santa Ana has been successful in reaching over 220,000 kids per year through exhibits and outreach programs, the tentatively named DSC-LA, will aim to do the same. Permanent, hands-on exhibits concentrating on the environment, children’s health and literacy, a “Making the Grade” gallery for California’s Science Standards, plus a 4D Theater will make up the majority of the facility. The design and concepts of these featured exhibitions will take place in the coming months.

The Children’s Museum LA project was nearly never completed after the original non-profit operator of the facility went bankrupt in 2009, leaving an incomplete building on the site at Hansen Dam. The project, however, was resurrected under the leadership of Councilmember Richard Alarcon and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who approached the Science Center and worked with DSC to secure the necessary remaining funding to complete and open the Center.

“I am very proud to finally announce that within a few years, the site formerly known as the Children’s Museum Los Angeles will open as Discovery Science Center LA. This will provide kids from throughout Southern California with an excellent resource to learn important lessons about conservation and our environment,” said Councilmember Alarcon. “It took years of very hard work to get here, but today’s progress proves how hard work and refusing to give up on a good idea can improve Los Angeles.”

For further information, visit http://www.discoverycube.org.

FACTS ABOUT TACO BELL DISCOVERY SCIENCE CENTER – Orange County
  • 59,000 square foot learning facility in Santa Ana, California.
  • Over 100 interactive, hands-on exhibits.
  • Ranked in top 25 of Science Center by attendance with over 500,000 visitors each year.
  • Ranked #3 among Science Centers by number of students taught in schools – over 220,000 each year.
  • Over 100,000 students annually attend field trips to the Center.
  • Provide after-school science programming in all 38 schools in the Santa Ana Unified School District.
  • Provides professional development programs for 600 teachers each year.
  • Accolades and awards by: OC METRO, Parents Magazine, OC Register, Bank of America, IAAPA, OC Business Journal. And most recently, voted as one of 10 “Most Trusted Brands” in Orange County.
ABOUT DISCOVERY SCIENCE CENTER
Imaginations run wild through more than 100 hands-on exhibits at Discovery Science Center, Orange County’s leading destination for hands-on science fun. Take the Eco Challenge and become a green superhero, feel the power of a real rocket engine “launch”, explore the inner workings of a two-story tall dinosaur and try your best slap shot against the Anaheim Duck’s goalie! Traveling exhibits and annual events such as Spooky Science and Bubblefest throughout the year ensure that there is always something new to discover. Currently on display is Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology, an interactive exhibit experience following Dr. Jones through the four famous films. Since 1998, Discovery Science Center has been a non-profit organization dedicated to educating young minds, assisting teachers and increasing public understanding of science, math and technology through interactive exhibits and programs. Open daily from 10am – 5pm. 

SeaWorld May Offer IPO in 2013

Orlando, FL, USA -- Reuters reports that Blackstone property SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment may go public with an initial stock offering in early 2013:

"Orlando, Florida-based SeaWorld may try to raise $500 million to $600 million in the IPO, the sources said on Friday.

"SeaWorld has selected Goldman Sachs Group Inc and JPMorgan Chase & Co to lead the offering, which could come in early 2013, the sources said.

"Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Blackstone and JPMorgan declined to comment.

"Blackstone acquired SeaWorld from beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev SA in December 2009 for $2.3 billion, according to Blackstone's website. Joe Baratta, who was appointed Blackstone's global head of private equity this year, led the deal.

"SeaWorld owns 10 amusement parks including those with the SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place brands, caring for more than 67,000 animals. More than 25 million guests visit the parks each year, according to the SeaWorld website."

Harry Potter and Titanic Attractions on Short List for Lighting Design Awards

London, UK -- Now in their 11th year, the Lighting Design Awards have a strong heritage and history. Each part of the lighting supply chain is represented at the event with over 700 senior industry figures attending each year. There are many reasons why these companies attend and why a Lighting Design Award is one of the most coveted trophies in the industry.  Each of the shortlisted projects is visited, while the products entered in the innovation categories are viewed and tested by a panel of experts.

The Lighting Design Awards will take place on Wednesday 27 March at the London Hilton Park Lane Hotel where we will be welcoming over 700 of the industry's top names. Secure your place now to be a part of the history of this unique event.

This year's shortlist includes Sutton Vane Associates for the Titanic exhibition in Belfast and Thinkwell Group for Warner Bros Studios Tour London:

International Project (Exteriors)
Aldabra Pipe Bridge
Beijing Institute of Architectural Design Spring Cocoon
dpa lighting consultants Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Design International Centro Sicilia
Lichtvision Design & Engineering Baku Crystal Hall
Lichtvision Design & Engineering National Stadium, Warsaw
Light and Design Associates Qatar National Convention Centre
Light Bureau The Crane, Porto Montenegro
Sutton Vane Associates Titanic, Belfast
Toshiba Information Systems UK The Louvre

Lighting for Leisure
Arup ArcelorMittal Orbit
David Atkinson Lighting Design Sky Skills
dha design Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Cabin
Elektra Lighting St James Theatre
Into Lighting The Hippodrome Casino, London
Philips Lighting UK London 2012 Olympic Stadium
Thinkwell Group in collaboration with Warner Bros Warner Bros Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter
Troup Bywaters + Anders The Mancunian, Manchester City Football Club Stadium

For more information, visit www.lightingawards.com

IMERSA Now Accepting Registration for 2013 Summit in Denver

Denver, CO, USA -- The Denver Museum of Nature & Science will again be the main venue for the IMERSA Summit and fulldome workshops. The 2013 event will include 2 days of professional development workshops and seminars for producers (all levels of experience), 14-15 February (Thurs-Fri) which will transition to the 3-day Summit conference sessions, screenings and networking, 15-17 February (Fri-Sun).

The opening keynote will be given by Ivan Dryer, founder of Laserium.
The Summit keynote speaker is Barry Clark of Telenova.

The Summit will feature:
  • Innovative Fulldome film screenings
  • Sessions on the art & science of immersive cinema
  • Standards forum
  • Exploring innovative business models
  • Fulldome photography and live action workshops
  • Production workflow seminars
  • Distribution networks
  • Exhibition systems and technology
  • Networking opportunities
Who should attend?
  • Digital system vendors
  • Planetarium operators
  • Museum and science center community
  • Media producers or distributors
  • Audiovisual and technical integrators
  • Themed entertainment community
  • Giant Screen Cinema community
The Summit promises to continue the conversation between converging business sectors - including a forum between IMERSA and its affiliate organizations, which include the Giant Screen Cinema Association (GSCA), Producers Guild of America (PGA), Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) - and taking the temperature of the industry with fulldome film showcases, technology sessions, the next phase of fulldome standards, abundant opportunities for networking and much more.

To register, visit www.imersa.org

Related stories from InPark Magazine:

New Zealand Ferry Operator Fullers Group Chooses Gateway for Ticketing and Access Control Software

Boyertown, PA (December 17, 2012) -- Gateway Ticketing Systems is pleased to announce that the Fullers Group Ltd. has chosen Gateway’s flagship product, Galaxy™, for their ticketing and access control software. Fullers Group, located in New Zealand, has been the leading ferry operator in Auckland for over 20 years. The company offers a wide range of ferry trips, tours and charters in Auckland Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf Islands. Installing Galaxy on the ferry and tour vessels will enable Fullers to combat potential theft and fraud. By printing tickets on demand, rather than using preprinted ticket products, there is less opportunity for ticket theft or loss. And Galaxy’s Pass Module means that Fullers can now issue monthly photo passes to more easily verify pass holders.

Gateway Assistant General Manager Jim McGregor is excited about the what the new system will mean for Fullers Group: “Using Galaxy is going to take Fullers to the next level in two regards: in providing better customer service and improving operational efficiency.” McGregor continued, “For example, pass renewal on the eGalaxy Consumer Web Store means their regular customers don’t have to stand in line every month for a ferry pass. The Print At Home ticket option available on the eGalaxy Consumer, Mobile and Reseller Web Stores will shorten lines at ticket counters and allow all sales to be stored in a single database and pull from the same capacities for all sales channels.”

Simon Ford of Fullers Group echoed the customer-based benefits in the decision to go with Galaxy: “The Fullers customer base is a blend of commuters and tourists. The other solutions we looked at tended to offer a solution which had a stronger focus on either the tourist or the commuter. Galaxy however represents a good solution for both customer types, meeting the ticketing requirement for commuters, as well as being able to offer a tourist-oriented package. A further major benefit is Galaxy’s ability to integrate our food and beverage products, allowing us to sell all our products on a single integrated platform.”

The Galaxy Admission Control module will provide clear and accurate ridership numbers, allowing Fullers to make the best possible operational decisions and to track usage on passes. Admission control will also provide their Marketing department with more information so they can created targeted promotions, including the Galaxy Packages module, Galaxy Loyalty programs and Galaxy Upsell opportunities.

Gateway Ticketing Systems and its employees are thrilled to welcome Fullers Group to the Gateway family and look forward to a long and successful relationship.

For more information on Gateway Ticketing Systems, visit www.gatewayticketing.com 
For more information about Fullers, visit http://www.fullers.co.nz.

About Gateway Ticketing Systems, Inc.:
Gateway Ticketing Systems, Inc. is a world leader in admission control and ticketing software for the attraction, amusement, and transportation industries. Located in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, Gateway Ticketing Systems provides sales, service and support for Point of Sale and ticketing systems throughout North America and worldwide.

About Fullers Group Ltd:
Fullers has been the largest ferry operator in Auckland for over 20 years and offers a range of cruises around Auckland Harbour and to surrounding islands. Its portfolio includes daily public transport services, harbour cruises and island tours with over 4 million passengers carried per year, including commuters and tourists.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Learning Science the SOS Way: Science On a Sphere Celebrates 10 years

Seattle's Pacific Science brings the Eye of Sauron to life on Science on a Sphere to celebrate the opening of "The Hobbit" in IMAX.  Courtesy Pacific Science Center.
By Sara Summers, NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

“Science On a Sphere® was amazing. I can’t believe I got to see real clouds, hurricanes, airplanes, tsunamis, Mars and Facebook friends all in one stop!”
—Paul, 5th grader from Colorado

click to expand imageYoung students getting a geography lesson at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (Credit: North Carolina Aquarium)Young students getting a geography lesson at the North Carolina Aquarium on Roanoke Island (Credit: North Carolina Aquarium)
One of the major challenges facing earth scientists is how to make their research interesting, understandable and memorable to people of all ages. Science On a Sphere® (SOS) is an exhibit that uses video projectors to shine images of the earth onto a giant globe. Scientists can choose to show different types of movies on the globe, displaying weather patterns, hurricanes, and even the shift of the continents. Instead of looking at a flat surface, viewers can see these changes as they actually appear on Earth. Science on a Sphere® gives visitors a chance to walk around the world to observe for themselves the changes on our planet.
More than 90 SOSs are installed in science centers, museums, visitor centers, zoos, aquariums, laboratories, and institutions around the world. Interest continues to grow steadily both from the United States and international communities — the number of visitors to SOS locations reaches 24.5 million viewers annually.
An invention for all ages
Science On a Sphere was invented by Dr. Alexander E. (Sandy) MacDonald in NOAA Research.. Dr. MacDonald came up with the idea for SOS as a data visualization tool in 1995 in his garage at home, experimenting with the family beach ball and a home movie projector.
System designer David Himes led a creative team of scientists and engineers in the development of the SOS software, hardware and system architecture. SOS debuted at the NOAA Science Center in Silver Spring, MD, in December of 2002, and a patent was awarded to NOAA for SOS in August 2005, with Dr. MacDonald credited as the inventor. In 2006 SOS was featured in TIME Magazine’s Best Inventions 2006 List. The program is managed by Dr. William B. Bendel in the Global Systems Division Technology Outreach Branch.

Blue Marble dataset from NASA's MODIS, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (Credit: NOAA)
How it works
Animated datasets are projected on to a six foot sphere creating a seamless global image, using an external projection system made of four projectors and one Linux computer. The sphere is suspended from the ceiling with invisible wires providing a view of Earth as it would look from outer space. The result is a versatile educational device with over 360 datasets, including 42 real time datasets that show the impact of human activity and natural events on a global scale. In addition, the SOS Program has posted a series ofYouTube SOS videos on the web, including a video of real-time satellite images of Hurricane Sandy as she ravaged the Atlantic Coast in late October. The SOS data catalog also includes an impressive library of 79 animated datasets of our solar system.
click to expand imageCumulative domestic and international SOS installations from 2004-2012 (Credit: NOAA)Cumulative domestic and international SOS installations from 2004-2012 (Credit: NOAA)
SOS News
The 5th SOS Users Collaborative Network Workshop “Science & Storytelling,” recently held in Long Beach, CA, enjoyed record attendance. A range of keynote speakers from across disciplines including a Hollywood director, a writer, a scientist and an artist helped to further reinforce the theme. The workshop was co-hosted by NOAA and the Aquarium of the Pacificwith support from the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation and organized by NOAA Office of Education. Participants were introduced to newly released software designed to improve the display on the globe and to increase audience interaction by adding new features such as zooming, layering and more notes.
SOS will be the center display of the NOAA exhibit at the American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Austin, TX, January 2013. A portable SOS, available for large-scale events such as this, has put on many miles over the past few years. Heading to the Supercomputing Conference three times, the United Nation Convention of Climate Change in Denmark as the centerpiece for the US exhibit, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) annual conference, the World Expo in Shanghai, the G8 summit, the French Embassy in Washington DC, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) annual meeting, and other large events. A SOS display will be installed in Silver Spring, MD, at NOAA headquarters in 2013.
click to expand image Children around the world learning about science, the SOS way (Credit from left to right: North Carolina Aquarium, NOAA, Orlando Science Center)Children around the world learning about science, the SOS way (Credit from left to right: North Carolina Aquarium, NOAA, Orlando Science Center)

This piece previously appeared on the NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research website December 12, 2012

Resources For Helping Children Cope with Tragedy

by Joe Kleiman, InPark News Editor

(December 14, 2012) -- Each year, museums and other centers of learning are responsible for the safety of millions of school children attending on field trips or at museum sponsored events or camps.  In light of today's horrific attacks on elementary school students in Connecticut and China, the Association of Children's Museums recommends that museum professionals and members of other community organizations visit their web section on helping children cope with disaster.  Links on the site include:
The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), which also recommends museum professionals visit the above page, has resources available about museum security on its website for AAM members (membership required to access).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Universal Orlando Celebrates Five Million Servings of Butterbeer

Orlando, FL, USA (Dec. 13, 2012) /PRNewswire/ -- Universal Orlando Resort and its guests yesterday celebrated the five-millionth serving of Butterbeer – the incredibly popular themed beverage sold within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

One thousand guests were given complimentary Butterbeers to mark the moment, with many of them sporting "Butterbeer mustaches."

Since first being served to guests in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in June 2010, Butterbeer has become one of the most anticipated and popular guest experiences at Universal Orlando Resort. Since the grand opening, Universal has added a fourth Butterbeer serving location within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter to accommodate the high demand by guests.

Butterbeer appears as a favorite drink in the Harry Potter books and films, and Universal's creative and culinary teams set out to create the beverage as yet another authentic experience within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The recipe for the non-alcoholic drink is a closely held secret – but the taste is reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch and the beverage is served cold or frozen.

"We created an authentic taste experience for our guests to complement all of the other immersive experiences The Wizarding World of Harry Potter would offer them," said Ric Florell, senior vice president of resort revenue operations and the executive who oversaw the development of Butterbeer. "We knew we had created something that tasted great and would be popular – but we have been surprised by just how popular."

Inspired by J.K. Rowling's compelling stories and characters, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is where the wonder, excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter books and films come to life. For more information about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, visit www.universalorlando.com.

Universal Orlando Resort
There are many ways to enjoy your Orlando vacation, but there is only one place where vacation becomes adventure: Universal Orlando Resort. It is a unique destination featuring two theme parks, three magnificently themed on-site hotels and a nighttime entertainment complex. It's the only Orlandodestination where you are not just entertained – you become part of the most exhilarating entertainment ever created. You can soar above Hogwarts with Harry Potter, swing above the streets with Spider-Man, be transformed into a banana-loving minion in the hilarious and heartwarming Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride and help Shrek save Princess Fiona in Shrek 4-D.

Universal Orlando Resort is an NBCUniversal company.

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.

About Harry Potter
Harry Potter continues to be a global phenomenon. Each of the seven books by author J.K. Rowling has broken sales records, with the series to date having sold approximately 450 million copies worldwide and translated into more than 70 languages. The Harry Potter films, produced by Warner Bros. Pictures, have grossed more than $7.7 billion to date worldwide at the box office, making Harry Potter the largest-grossing film franchise in history.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ Butterbeer™ and beverage HARRY POTTER, characters, names and related indicia are trademarks of and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.

Imagineer Roger Broggie Jr. Passes Away

San Francisco, CA, USA (December 12, 2012) -- The Walt Disney Family Museum released the following statement on behalf of Diane Disney-Miller:

We are saddened to hear of the passing of Roger Broggie Jr., whose death was caused by a head injury sustained from a fall while working on a parade float in his Oregon hometown yesterday. Roger followed his father, Roger Sr., who was not only the head of the Disney Studio machine shop, but also my father’s mentor in the building of his Lilly Belle steam engine train. Roger Jr., his son Gary, and Don Iwerks, were the source of inspiration for all of The Walt Disney Family Museum’s camera displays, which include the mighty multiplane camera. The work and spirit of these men were an important part in building this institution, and our thoughts go out to his family and friends. We will miss him dearly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cedar Point to Spend $60 Million on Renovations to Hotels and Beachfront Properties

Sandusky, OH, USA -- The Toledo Blade reports on Cedar Point's planned improvements to its hospitality operations:

"With its sprawling Breakers Hotel, pristine nationally-known beach, Atlantic City-style boardwalk “roller chairs,” and shoreline rides like the Water Toboggan, the Cedar Point peninsula was crowded every summer with visitors anxious to spend lots of days and nights at the Erie County resort.

"Matt Ouimet thinks Cedar Point can be that way again.

"The Cedar Fair LP president and chief executive officer recently green-lighted a $60 million three-year reinvestment of hotel properties at the Sandusky-based amusement park chain’s flagship Cedar Point property. If successful, the move could convince more visitors to plan multi-day stays at Cedar Point rather than one-day visits.

"The trio of company-owned hotels — the historic Breakers Hotel, upscale Sandcastle Suites, and 12-year-old Breakers Express hotel — at Cedar Point must become “more than a room for the night,” Mr. Ouimet said.

"The former Walt Disney Co. executive said the importance of Cedar Point to its parent company is obvious.

“'It’s more a destination resort or super regional park than any of the other parks we have. Its resorts play a much bigger role here than we would see at any of our other parks,' Mr. Ouimet said.

“'I was talking to some of our guests earlier about what they would like to see. They said they would like to see the resorts more refreshed and the beach enhanced,' he said.

"After 18 months at Cedar Fair’s headquarters, which is nestled between Cedar Point’s nostalgic buildings and beach and is but a short walk from the park’s midway, Mr. Ouimet agrees with those customers who want a restoration of the park’s hotel and beach properties.

“'I’ve become enamored with this place,' he said of the 106-year-old park. 'This is a very important asset not only to our company, but to the state of Ohio.'After 18 months at Cedar Fair’s headquarters, which is nestled between Cedar Point’s nostalgic buildings and beach and is but a short walk from the park’s midway, Mr. Ouimet agrees with those customers who want a restoration of the park’s hotel and beach properties.

"Mr. Ouimet envisions hotels with greater ambience — an aspect he may have learned from running Disney’s Cruise Ship lines — and a beach where families can play, stroll, and bathe in the Lake Erie waters during breaks from the amusement park or nearby Soak City water park.

"To make that vision reality, two weeks ago Cedar Fair announced it would sell its Knott’s Soak City water park in the San Diego suburb of Chula Vista to SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Cedar Fair will use the sale’s proceeds to help fund makeovers at its Cedar Point hotels."

St Louis Zoo Holds Open House on Expansion Plans

Artists rendering of proposed St Louis Zoo expansion
St. Louis, MO, USA (December 12, 2012) -- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch discusses last night's open house  by the St. Louis Zoo about expansion plans on the former Forest Park Hospital:

"This fall, the St. Louis Zoo Association closed on its $6 million purchase of 14 acres just south of Highway 40, site of the old Deaconess Hospital.
"Tuesday night, St. Louis residents said what they wanted built there.
"One suggested a boutique hotel. One touted a trolley, to ferry guests into the zoo. One proposed a pedestrian bridge across Highway 40 (Interstate 64). Another suggested “a new home for the Rams.”
"But most held smaller ideas, reflecting hopes for their streets and neighborhood: A farmer’s market. A corner store. An ice cream shop. A local-food restaurant. Bike rentals. And, in several cases, a dog park.
"At the three-hour open house, the zoo’s hired planning and design team presented a half-dozen placards with dozens of ideas for the land — just ideas, they noted carefully — ranging from exhibits and attractions to traffic and research parks.
"They showed pictures of a grass-roofed greenhouse in California, a gigantic Ferris wheel in London, a hot air balloon that rises over the Philadelphia zoo, glass-walled aquariums, and the bulbous gardens of Marina Bay, Singapore.
“'Who knows if it will come to fruition?' said Jim Wolterman, co-owner of the planning firm, SWT Design. 'But the idea is to stimulate the imagination. Projects like these all started with visionary ideas.'
"The SWT photo montages suggested zip lines, suspension bridges, giant wooden playgrounds, vegetable gardens, trains, trams and hotels.
";I think our attitude for tonight is, let’s not dream small. Let’s dream big,' said SWT principal Ted Spaid. 'I have seen things happen in this town I never thought would happen.'”

Resorts World Sentosa Grand Opening 7 December 2012 - PHOTOS

All photos courtesy Singapore Tourism Board. Click here for full story by InPark co-editor Judith Rubin.
Fireworks to celebrate the RWS grand opening. Crane Dance is in the background.

Crane Dance, with fireworks

PM Lee and Chairman Genting Group Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay with performers during the RWS Grand Opening celebrations




PM Lee visiting the S.E.A. Aquarium

Press conference