Archive for April, 2011

Thinkwell Partner Foresees the Evolution of Virtual and Location-Based Experiences for Leading Consumer Brands

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 | Permalink

Today at the TRANSMEDIA, HOLLYWOOD 2: Visual Culture and Design industry symposium, co-hosted by UCLA and USC, Craig Hanna, chief creative officer, Thinkwell Group, forecasted significant growth in virtual and location-based themed experiences for leading consumer brands. The event, attended by leading media creators, designers and industry executives, focused on the re-imagination of the entertainment business. Hanna predicts that the convergence of on- and offline virtual worlds will grow outside of Hollywood.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg. I envision the creation of many corporate environments that will combine themed in-person experiences with extensions to and from the digital world.”

Hanna, who has nearly 25 years of experience in the creation of compelling experiences and environments for some of the world’s leading entertainment companies, stated that although corporate pavilions and brand expos have been around since the 1940s, he envisions a future where consumer brands will increasingly create large-scale special exhibitions and branded environments to showcase their company and products and reach their targeted consumer groups.

“Some consumer brands have already created guest experiences, such as The World of Coke in Atlanta, Sega Joypolis in Tokyo and M&M’s World in Las Vegas,” he said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg. I envision the creation of many corporate environments that will combine themed in-person experiences with extensions to and from the digital world.”

When panelists were asked about the challenges associated with creating experiences that tell a complex story but may only last a matter of minutes, Hanna noted that when dealing with Hollywood IPs for which people already have an understanding and affinity, the consumer’s previous experience with the story adds the necessary context. He also commented on the changing interests of the younger generation in particular, stating that people have an affinity for and deeper connection to products and therefore corporations have an opportunity to tap into immersive storytelling and worldbuilding.

Hanna was joined on the panel by some of the industry’s most notable creative executives and thought leaders, including Scott Bukatan, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, Stanford University (Matters of Gravity: Special Effects and Supermen in the 20th Century); Rick Carter, Production Designer (Avatar, A.I.); Dylan Cole, Art Director (Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Tron); Thierry Coup, Art Designer (Wizarding World of Harry Potter); Angela Ndalianis, Associate Professor and Head of the Cinema Studies Program at the University of Melbourne, Australia (Neo-Baroque Aesthetics and Contemporary Entertainment); and Bruce Vaughn, Chief Creative Executive, Disney Imagineering (Tron, Pirates of the Caribbean, Toy Story).

About Thinkwell Group

Thinkwell, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is a full-service experiential design and development firm that collaborates with its clients to envision, strategize and create immersive, one-of-a-kind guest experiences. Thinkwell develops and produces attractions, master plans, brand experiences, exhibits, live shows, environments, multimedia and digital integration. The company has become a leader in experiential design by bringing a unique holistic approach to every creative engagement, delivering extraordinary results to notable clients over the years, including Fortune 500 companies, studios, museums, theme parks and destination resorts.

Thinkwell’s range of work includes master planning for Warner Bros., Universal, MGM and Paramount as well as attractions such as Sesame Street Presents: The Body, Universal 360 – A Cinesphere Spectacular; the Show at the Pier Shops at Caesar’s Atlantic City; and the Snow Play Zone at Ski Dubai. Thinkwell is based in Burbank, CA, with offices in Dubai UAE.

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Park Games Equipment (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd Latest Launch: Accessible Play Series

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 | Permalink

fig1&2: Overall ACP concept

Our overall “Accessible Play” Park Development Concept includes the main play structure (fig3) which provides a wide wheel-chair accessible ramp, interesting independent items which allow for team play (fig4-6), simple exercise equipments, a run-around-trail with meeting points, educational, play and music panels (fig7), and a play table (fig8) which children can bring along their favorite toys to play in!

fig3: Accessible Play Equipment

fig4: Touch & Go Flags

fig5: Football Maze

fig6: Maze Play

fig7: Braille, Play & Music Panels

fig8: Themed Play Table

With these new items, we hope to make the parks and enjoyable meeting place for everyone, and encourage healthy physical and mental growth among children.

From the Management and Staff of PGE, Best wishes.

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U.S. Parks and Attractions to Unveil Exciting New Experiences in Time for Summer

Friday, April 8th, 2011 | Permalink

February 28, 2011 – Parks and attractions throughout the United States will debut multimillion-dollar rides and attractions to entertain all ages this summer. From innovative roller coasters, towering swing rides, and exhilarating waterslides to saltwater adventures, family-friendly exhibits, and spectacular shows, there is something for the entire family to enjoy.

“Amusement parks from the Carolinas to the California coast are preparing to open hundreds of millions of dollars of thrilling new attractions for families to enjoy,” said Susan Mosedale, executive vice president and interim chief operating officer of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA). “Ingenuity and excitement drive our industry and this year families will experience both in everything from entirely new parks to amazing new rides and waterslides.”

More than 300 million people visit U.S. amusement parks annually and contribute more than $57 billion to the nation’s economy. Each year IAAPA, the worldwide trade association for the attractions industry, provides a preview of what’s new at amusement parks, waterparks, and attractions in the United States. Here are some of the new attractions opening this summer:

Entirely New Destinations:

In June, Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore., opens Evergreen Wings & Waves Waterpark. Guests enjoy nearly 70,000 square feet of educational fun, including four waterslides, a wave pool, and a children’s museum dedicated to teaching students about the power of water. Visitors learn about the importance of water and its impact on society through dozens of interactive exhibits and learning experiences.
A rendering is available at

The 150-acre Legoland Florida theme park opens this fall in Winter Haven, Fla., and features more than 50 rides, Lego models, and other family-oriented; interactive elements. Visitors choose from 10 different lands, including Fun Town, Miniland USA, Land of Adventure, Lego City, Imagination Zone, and Duplo Village. The park is located on the site of Cypress Gardens, Florida’s first theme park.

In July, Sea Life Aquarium opens in Grapevine, Texas, features Texas marine life as well as aquatic creatures from around the world. The 45,000-square-foot, two-story facility includes an auditorium with a glass floor and a 360-degree glass tunnel surrounded by sharks and other sea life.
Action-Packed Rides and Attractions Fill Amusement Parks:

Alabama Adventure in Bessemer, Ala., adds “BuzzSaw Falls.” Riders plunge down a five-story chute in a flume creating a spectacular splash that sends walls of water shooting in the air soaking both riders and onlookers.

Bay Beach Amusement Park in Green Bay, Wis., adds the 2,500-foot-long roller coaster “Zippin Pippin.” The 90-second ride takes guests over several hills with drops as high as 70 feet at speeds up to 40 miles per hour.

“Cheetah Hunt,” a launch-style roller coaster, opens at Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay, Fla. The coaster propels riders from 0 to 60 mph in a matter of seconds three different times during the ride. Riders dive 130 feet into a subterranean trench, fly above a simulated Serengeti plain and speed through an artificial canyon. In addition, a new habitat area, “Cheetah Run,” allows guests to view cheetahs through oversized windows, watch daily cheetah sprints, and use interactive touchscreens to learn about the amazing animal.

Canobie Lake Park in Salem, N.H., launches the compact Euro-Fighter roller coaster “Untamed.” Grizzly-bear-themed cars take riders up a 75-foot incline to a beyond-verticle drop curving in at 97 degrees before experiencing a compact series of banked curves, loops, twists, turns, and zero-gravity rolls.
A rendering is available at

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, unveils “Windseeker.” Riders spin nearly 30 stories above the Lake Erie shoreline in two-person swings that allow riders’ feet to dangle. They rotate slowly in a circular motion as the swings ascend the tower. At the top, the swings spin at speeds between 25-30 mph, flaring out almost 45 degrees from the tower.

Discovery Cove in Orlando debuts a new saltwater environment, “Grand Reef.” The 2.5-acre reef has white-sand beaches, underwater grottoes, and a palm tree-lined island. Guests, outfitted in a wetsuit and breathing apparatus, take a “SeaVenture” underwater walking tour along a path 10 feet below the surface through schools of tropical fish and past a million-gallon aquarium with 125 species of fish, rays, and sharks.

Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, Calif., debuts, “The Little Mermaid ‒ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure” as part of a multiyear billion-dollar expansion of the park. The family-friendly dark ride features characters from the popular movie and guests travel in vehicles shaped like clam shells on a simulated underwater journey.

“Barnstormer” opens at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. The swing ride has two pendulum arms that seat 16 passengers each. The swing takes riders progressively higher reaching a peak of 81 feet in the air. The 60-second ride travels 45 mph and has a 230-degree rotation. A barnyard-themed play area and pig pen water play area surround the ride.
Images are available at
B-roll is available from the park upon request.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., debuts “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!” Popular characters come to life with captivating puppets, bright visuals, whimsical scenery, and catchy songs. Preschoolers join the gang from Disney Junior shows like “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny,” and “Little Einsteins” to dance, sing, and play. Older kids can join mom and dad on the remodeled “Star Tours” attraction that features new interstellar routes in the Star Wars galaxy and 3-D destinations.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus, Ind., introduces “Rudolph’s Round-Up.” This one-of-a-kind family-friendly ride allows older siblings and parents to ride along with smaller children, who can control how high their sleigh will rise as Rudolph takes flight. After dark, the ride lights up, including Rudolph’s red

Kings Island in Mason, Ohio, adds “WindSeeker.” As many as 64 riders in two-person gondolas slowly rotate as they ascend 301 feet in the air. At the top, the swings flare out at a 45-degree angle and spin, reaching speeds up to 30 mph.

Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., opens “WindSeeker,” which features 32 two-person gondolas that climb a 301-foot tower. Once at the top, the ride spreads its arms and swings riders for 60 seconds at a 45 degree angle and 8 rotations per minute.

Lake Compounce in Bristol, Conn., delivers “Rev-O-Lution.” Riders sit in motorcycle-like seats that face outward as they spin, twist, and rock back and forth a long a track.
A rendering is available at
Images available from the park upon request.

Lagoon Park in Farmington, Utah, unveils its ninth roller coaster, “Bombora.” This family-friendly ride allows parents to enjoy the coaster with their children.

Legoland California in Carlsbad, Calif., adds “Star Wars Miniland.” Guests retrace the major events of the Star Wars saga, through scenes made of 1.5 million Lego bricks. Guests can also pose with life-size Lego models of Chewbacca, and Darth Vader. Interactive buttons allow children to start animations throughout the scenes.
Morey’s Surfside Pier in North Wildwood, N.J. unveils “it.” This spinning swing ride takes guests to heights of 65 feet above the ground.
Pirates Voyage replaces Dixie Stampede in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The 300,000-square-foot arena includes a 750,000-gallon, 15-foot-deep indoor lagoon, three pirate ships, interactive show elements, and a 35,000-gallon outside animal habitat. The Pirates Lair and Crow’s Nest provide interactive experiences for guests before they move into the main arena. Guests enjoy a five-course feast as the pirates battle one another in a show that consists of more than two dozen aerialists, divers, dancers, and singers.
“The Wooden Warrior,” a 1,200-foot-long wooden roller coaster, debuts at Quassy Amusement Park in Middlebury, Conn. The three-car train reaches a top speed of 35 mph and takes riders down a 40-foot drop and through an enclosed L-shaped turn-around tunnel.
“Turtle Reef” opens at SeaWorld San Diego in California. The nearly 300,000-gallon aquarium features an underwater viewing window and allows guests to get an up-close look at more than 60 threatened or endangered sea turtles. “Turtlelink,” a touchscreen map that teaches guests about sea turtle tracking, rescue efforts, and conservation. Just outside the aquarium is “Riptide Rescue,” which takes up to 24 guests in 12 gondola-style, open-top designed airboats on a rescue mission as the vehicle swings around a central arm. Also new this year is a new sketch-based comedy show starring two sea lions, “Sea Lions Live.”
An image and rendering is available at
B-roll is available from the park upon request.
Silver Dollar City adds “Half Dollar Holler” in Branson, Mo. This super-sized play area for kids up to age 7 has treetop fun houses, climbing nets, box crawls, slides, mini-wave swings, and truckloads of sand for play. At the center is the updated hand-carved carousel featuring woodland creatures.

Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif., unveils a 150-foot tower ride, “SkyScreamer.” Riders spin in a 98-foot circle at a top speed of 43 mph. The entire park is visible from the top of the ride and at night “SkyScreamer” will be lit from top to bottom.
An image is available at

Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, N.J., launches “Green Lantern,” a stand-up roller coaster. The two-minute, thirty-second ride begins with a 45-degree vertical drop before rocketing riders through five inversions, including a 121-foot-tall loop, a 103-foot dive loop, a 72-foot inclined loop, and twisted double corkscrews. “Green Lantern” stands 15 stories high is made of over three quarters of a mile of twisting green steel.
Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, Calif., adds three roller coasters, bringing its total to 18. The new rides at Magic Mountain include: “Green Lantern,” a vertical-track, spinning coaster featuring three 360-degree head-over-heel spins; “Escape from Krypton,” which sends riders backward up a tower for 7 seconds at 100 mph; and a yet-to-be-named children’s coaster that is 679 feet long, with a 28-foot lift hill, and reaches speeds up to 21 mph.
Six Flags New England near Springfield, Mass., adds the steel roller coaster “Gotham City: Gauntlet Escape from Arkham Asylum,” bringing its coaster count to 10. Riders board the four-person cars and climb five stories; once at the top they are sent through a maze of 17 hairpin turns, winding twists and turns, and unexpected dips.
“Dare Devil Ride” opens at Six Flags Over Georgia in Austell, Ga. The roller coaster features a vertical chain lift that pulls riders up 10 stories and a beyond-vertical drop where the coaster angles inward as it comes down at 52 mph. Riders careen through a combination of diving loops while executing three inversions before catching air on a zero-gravity hill, and swooping across a vertical U-turn stretched high above the ground.

Six Flags Over Texas in Arlington, Texas, marks its 50th anniversary by bringing back a faster and steeper “Texas Giant.” The classic wooden coaster gets a $10 million makeover with a new track that allows for a steeper first drop, more severely banked turns, and faster speeds. Three new “Giant” trains resemble the DeVille, complete with their unique shape, metallic colors (aqua, black, and red), grilles, headlights, and tail lights. Throw in new tunnels, and “Texas Giant” looks and feels like a whole new ride.

Six Flags St. Louis in Missouri introduces “SkyScreamer,” which towers 236 feet above the ground. Guests sit two across in an open-air swing as they climb to the top of the tower; at full swing they soar in a 98-foot circle at 43 mph.

Valleyfair in Shakopee, Minn., introduces “Planet Snoopy!” Featuring 20 rides and attractions, this Peanuts-themed area provides fun for the whole family! For more information, please visit

Waldameer in Erie, Pa., expands and opens the North End where families enjoy “Flying Swings;” a flying carousel, “Wendy’s Tea Party;” a spinning tea cup ride, and the “SS Wally;” a rocking tug boat. Beautiful gardens, welcoming benches, an eight-foot tall water fountain and a twenty-foot arch provide a relaxing, carefree atmosphere. The Waldameer train features a new engine as well as wheelchair accessible coaches.
Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, Mo., unveils a restored carousel, a catering pavilion, and “Planet Snoopy.” Planet Snoopy is home to more than 20 rides, shows, and attractions, including a new balloontower ride, car and truck rides for children, and a spinning tugboat adventure for the family.
Invigorating and Relaxing Water Attractions:

Beech Bend Park in Bowling Green, Ky., adds “Tiki Island.” Visitors enjoy the four-story, interactive water tower which features seven slides and a giant tipping bucket.
Hurricane Harbor at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, Ill., expands its waterpark with Riptide Bay that features a double-sided surf simulator, a Caribbean-inspired activity pool, additional waterslides, and luxury cabanas.

“Splash Zoo,” opens inside Legoland Water Park in Carlsbad, Calif. The zoo-themed area features giant Duplo Zoo animals, including a lion, a giraffe, and a zebra. Children ages 1 to 3 will enjoy the interactive spray pads, fountains, and a teeter totter.
Raging Waters San Jose in California debuts “Bombs Away.” Riders step into an enclosed capsule five stories above Raging Waters. A trap door opens, plummeting a single rider straight down 200 feet toward the ground for several seconds of free-falling thrills through an enclosed 360-degree looping flume. The translucent sections of track allow guests to watch their friends and family careen through the thrilling waterslide.

Schlitterbahn Kansas City Waterpark in Kansas, adds six attractions, nearly doubling the physical size of the park. The additions include a surf ride, “Boogie Bahn”; two head-first mat slides, “Comal Express” and “Loopy Luge”; and a fully enclosed tube slide, “Der Bahn.” Guests can also ride “Blitz Falls,” a whitewater rapids tube chute, or “Rapids River,” a series of rushing rapids on the park’s longest river attraction.

SoakZone in Ligonier, Pa., unveils “Wowabunga Family Wavepool.” The 280,600-gallon wave pool features a zero-depth entry and reaches six feet at its deepest point. The pool experience includes waves for older guests to ride with intermittent periods of calm for kids play. Guests can also enjoy the beach-like surroundings, relax on the chaise lounges, or escape the sun in new cabanas.

SplashDown Beach Waterpark in Fishkill, N.Y. adds “Splash Works.” The Bob the Builder-themed 1,600-square-foot spray and play area is designed for children ages 1 to 5. It contains more than 50 interactive features, including two slides, tipping buckets, dancing water, and a tool shed play area. Bob the Builder also greets guests daily at the park.

Story Land in Glen, N.H., debuts the family-friendly ride “Splash Battle Egypt.” Riders move continuously through a 300-foot long waterway in Egyptian-themed boats as they use cannons to blast water at other vessels. Shoreline guests can also exchange blasts with the riders from water cannons along the attraction’s perimeter.

White Water in Branson, Mo., offers more than 12 acres of a tropical-themed river adventure at “Aloha River” at Hula Hula Bay. Guests float in tubes along more than 800 feet in 300,000 gallons of water, Aloha River at Hula Hula Bay is White Water’s longest ride. The area offers new seating options, plenty of shade, and more cabanas to enjoy.
WildWater Adventure Waterpark at Adventure Amusement Park in Muskegon, Mich., introduces a giant interactive water play attraction, “Beach Party.” It features a giant geyser, that blasts water more than 90 feet in the air. Guests enjoy more than 150 play features, including eight water slides, water jets, water curtains, pipe falls, and water wheels, they can drench one another with fire hose jets and interactive water guns.
A rendering is available at
Zoos and Aquariums Entertain and Teach:

Visitors to Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Mich., enjoy a nine-hole disc golf course, which features nine par-three holes. Later this spring an additional nine holes will make it an 18-hole course.
“Dinosauria” opens at the Detroit Zoo in Detroit, Mich., and features 30 life-like animatronic dinosaurs. Visitors enter “Zoorassic Park” and wind along a three-acre “DinoTrail,” which recreates prehistoric life. Kids can experience what it’s like to be a paleontologist at a dino dig site or fossil sifting station.
An image is available at
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Ga., debuts “AT&T Dolphin Tales,” an 84,000-square-foot, two-story indoor expansion that includes interactive displays about conservation efforts, a viewing window, and auditorium. Visitors first encounter the dolphins through the 25-foot-long underwater viewing window on their way to the 1,800-seat state-of-the-art theater. In “AT&T Dolphin Tales” actors and dolphins take guests on an interactive journey across the oceans and create a greater understanding of dolphins.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, Calif., transforms how guests view the oceans with “The Open Sea.” In this new gallery, guests experience new species such as tufted puffins, sandbar sharks, and black sea who nettles along with aquarium favorites such as tunas, stingrays, sea turtles, and the occasional great white shark.
Images are available at

Newport Aquarium in Newport, Ky., overhauls the “Kroger Kingdom of Penguins” exhibit. Guests enjoy new seating, expanded gallery space, new interactive elements, and a live show, while the penguins experience an improved habitat.

Sea Life Aquarium in Carlsbad, Calif., opens “Octopus Garden,” an interactive exhibit that introduces families to the amazing world of cephalopods. From octopus to cuttlefish and nautilus, these distinctive creatures amaze guests with their almost supernatural abilities, including camouflage, ink clouds, and jet propulsion.
Other Attractions to Enjoy:

The Coney Island History Project opens two exhibition centers at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park in Coney Island, N.Y. Visitors view historic artifacts, photographs, maps, and films from Coney Island’s unique past. The steeplechase horse from the legendary ride that gave Steeplechase Park its name is among the treasures on display. In addition, guests enjoy a series of tours and special events.
“Encore!” and “Funny Fiddles” debut at Showboat Branson Belle in Branson, Mo. Janice Martin, the world’s only violin-playing aerialist, brings her high-flying skills to the stage for “Encore!” “Funny Fiddlers” features comedian and musician Chris Pendleton.
The “SkyWheel” opens in Myrtle Beach, S.C. offering views of the Grand Strand beaches. Taller than the standard Ferris wheel, “SkyWheel” stands 175 feet tall with 42 glass-enclosed, temperature-controlled gondolas that hold six to eight people.
The Track Family Fun Park in Branson, Mo., celebrates 30 years with the addition of a 1,200-foot-long go-kart track, “Heavy Metal High Rise.” The state-of-the-art steel and concrete structure is more weather-friendly and offers a completely different experience than its wooden counterpart. Drivers spiral up four stories before zooming down a three-tiered slope. Guests can also enjoy a new road course-style track with tighter and higher-banked curves.
International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is the premier trade association for the attractions industry worldwide. Founded more than 90 years ago, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities and attractions and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the amusement industry.IAAPA represents more than 4,000 attraction, supplier, and individual members from more than 90 countries. The association’s global headquarters is in Alexandria, Virginia, United States. The association maintains regional offices in Brussels, Mexico City, and Hong Kong. IAAPA is online at


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Empire Industries Announces $9 Million Contract for Amusement Park Ride upgrade

Friday, April 8th, 2011 | Permalink

WINNIPEG, March 17, 2011 – Empire Industries Ltd. (TSX-V: EIL) today announced that its Dynamic Structures business unit has been awarded a contract valued at approximately $9 million for the upgrade of track subsystems of a ride at a major North American amusement park. The contract, which includes design, engineering, fabrication, and assembly phases, will be executed through 2011 and 2012.

“Dynamic Structures is a world leader in this sort of work.” said David Halliday, President of the Dynamic Structures business unit. “It requires very specialized engineering expertise and high tolerance fabrication. There are very few companies in the world who can meet the strict quality control requirements that this work demands.”

Guy Nelson, Chief Executive Officer of Empire Industries, added “We are gratified to see that our commitment to this market is paying off. With this contract in hand, a healthy backlog, and a very strong bid book in the pipeline, we are optimistic that we are seeing the beginning of rapid growth in this highly specialized, global export market that Dynamic Structures is a leader in.”

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