Friday, November 14, 2008
Amusement Parks: Queueing for Devon's Finest Fudge at the IAAPA Expo
Queues on my mind this week. This is not just because I am English and queuing is a national pastime...
(three Englishmen were once put in an empty room, under laboratory conditions, and after a few hours they were found to have formed an orderly queue, complete with much tutting, sighing and drumming of fingers on elbows. One was reading a copy of the Times despite there having been no newspaper in the labs that day).
We had a queue on the Blooloop home page last week, ostensibly to illustrate a story about Lo-Q plc ( see: Lo-Q and Irisys Partner to deliver queue management solutions to the Theme Park industry) but appearing as it did on the day of the US Election it was somehow appropriate as queues were very much a feature of that day too.
Obama’s election was a momentous day in both US and world politics and the debate now rages here in the UK as to whether such an occurrence (eg a black Prime Minister) could ever happen here. Being as in a year or so it looks very likely that the 3 most powerful politicians in the land, the Prime Minister, his Chancellor and the London Mayor will not only have been to the same public school at roughly the same time but also been members of the very same drinking club at the same university it seems unlikely. This is either an incredible state of affairs so statistically improbable as to defy meaningful analysis or perhaps, despite what Tony Blair once said, the English class system is alive and kickin’.
There will be a lot of information exchange – formally, as in sessions, and informally, as in schmoozing - going on at next week’s IAAPA Expo in Orlando. I like to think that our industry is free of bias and that all the speakers at the conference have been chosen for their specific expertise and experience, and not because they went to the same school. Especially because this year, I am one of the speakers!
I am taking part in a roundtable discussion looking at the uses of Web 2.0 for our industry. If you do have the time to spare, there are some great speakers with me in this session, including Rob Gallardo and Mark Kupferman from Universal Orlando. The details are:
Session: Social Media 201 Roundtables: Online Social Networking & Web 2.0
Date/Time: 11/18/2008 at 4:30:00 PM to 5:45:00 PM
Other industry figures whose sessions you might want to check out include Tom Mehrmann (CEO, Ocean Park), Nick Varney (CEO Merlin Entertainments Group) and Dick Kinzel (CEO of the Cedar Fair Corporation). The whole conference is packed out with great educational sessions and events that are well worth occasionally tearing yourself away from the Blooloop stand (please stop by booth #6008 and say hello, before all the clotted cream fudge is gone).
While on the subject of national pride, the UK-based Blooloop tips its hat to Nick Farmer of UK-based Farmer Attraction Development, who is finishing out his year as the first European president of the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). Nick will pass the gavel to incoming president Steve Thorburn of Thorburn Associates, during TEA’s annual membership meeting at IAAPA (See: Steve Thorburn is the New President-Elect of TEA)
And speaking of Lo-Q, a contract extension with their biggest client, Six Flags has produced a good day in the markets, as Thomson Reuter’s Interactive Investor reports:
“Shares in Lo-Q Plc jump 17 percent to 34.5 pence after the virtual queuing system supplier signs an extended agreement with U.S. theme park operator Six Flags, which will see more of Lo-Q's 'Flash Pass' systems installed at the American group's theme parks.
"Six Flags, Lo-Q's largest customer, is increasing the number of parks that will be using Lo-Q's technology next year by two to 10. This, with the news that one million visitors used Lo-Q's Flash Pass this year, should imply upgrades for both this year and next year's forecasts," says Arbuthnot analyst Robert Sanders, who reiterates his 'strong buy' recommendation on the stock.”
So, off to Orlando, leaving these grey dreary skies behind. (And not just yours truly, but also my wife and three children are queuing up to board the transatlantic plane, bound for Florida’s sunny pleasures and some first-hand exploration of Orlando’s legendary themed attractions – and queues - on which we will report back.)
Let’s hope it’s another great show for us all!
See also: The Dark Side of Themed Entertainment, A chat with Nick Farmer
Amusements Parks, Attractions Business, Themed Design, Trade Shows
Florida, IAAPA, lo-Q, Orlando, queue, Six Flags
(What are these?)
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Themed Entertainment Design: BRC’s Chuck Roberts Gets Bemused
Back when I was the young designer with the crazy ideas, somebody (I'm
trying to remember who) came back from a meeting and handed me this
piece of paper headed “Details, Dimensions, and Specifications Are Not
The Real Thing.”
So Blooloop invited me to contribute to its blog, Bemusement, and I said yes. Then I looked up the word “bemusement” and found it defined as “confusion resulting from failure to understand.”
I often look words up because I find that through osmosis (defined as a subtle or gradual absorption or mingling) I've developed my own definitions for many words and that my definitions are sometimes far from accurate. For instance, I thought “bemusement” was really just amusement with a “b” added for some phonic snob appeal and that it meant "a wry smile," as in "He said it with a look of bemusement." And still, even with this new definition in front of me, I can't shake the idea that bemusement is a positive and happy thing. We may be confused, but we’re not all upset about it. We rather enjoy it. It's like being dazzled by a great magician and finding that our only possible conclusion is that magic must be real.
There is in fact (and I feel somewhat unfortunately) a second definition of bemusement. It is “to cause to be engrossed in thought.” (Sigh) This is probably the definition that the Blooloop editors had in mind when they named this blog. Or perhaps they had both definitions in mind. Perhaps they were giggling about the yin and yang subtext in this choice of title. And regardless of how you define “bemusement” I'm pretty well qualified to be here, and happy to belong.
So to get us acquainted, I thought I might share something on a piece of paper that has been hanging over my desk – bemusing me, in both senses of the word - for the last 20 years. Back when I was the young designer with the crazy ideas, somebody (I'm trying to remember who) came back from a meeting and handed me this piece of paper. They said it was something they thought I should have a look at. I have no idea who wrote it. Here is what it says:
“Details, Dimensions, and Specifications Are Not The Real Thing.I think when I first read this (way back when) I was actually a bit offended. Hello, I know my designs are not the final product! But then on some level I kind of did think my designs were my final product. And it dawned on me that if I really wanted the ideas to survive, and for the intended message or experience to come across, I was really going to need to do what the piece of paper said. The price is eternal vigilance? Holy crap, eternal (without beginning or end; lasting forever; always existing) vigilance (state or quality of being vigilant; watchfulness) sounds long and difficult. In fact it sounded kind of impossible.
You design, detail and specify on your desk, where everything is controlled, close at hand, under a bright light, and at a small scale. Never forget that your lines and words are not subject to wind, rain, rust, or the laws of gravity. Nor are they seen in their actual context. Neither do they have full scale exposure to the complexity of the individual hopes, fears and wishes of those for whom the work is being designed. An "approved' drawing does not mean that the person who approved it will love the result. The words and drawings on your desk, give no evidence as to whether their dimensions and shapes actually fit their purpose. The words and drawings are not the actual materials, but merely symbolic representations. No inspector can "red tag" your lines and words, nor can they fall down, freeze, crack, leak, or discolor. No one can trip or fall over your drawing. Last but not least, no lawyers are likely to have much interest in your words or drawings as long as they remain on your desk.
However, as you know, these carefully crafted, rather passive looking words, dimensions, and details don't remain on your desk. They leave and get played out in life size form through the actions of others, in many cases by people you've never met. At that point your work takes on a life of its own. And when your efforts become three dimensional, they trigger every possible consequence, both good and bad. To the extent that you've thought about, not only what you had on your desk, but the full scale proportions, the nature of the materials, the methods of construction, and the four-seasonal, life-cycle impact of all that it implies, all will go well To the extent that you haven't, you have just played roulette with the lives of everyone involved The price of a lifetime in architecture is eternal vigilance When problems do occur, be the person who is absolutely certain there is a solution, and don't rest until it's found. From start to finish, your education, your awareness, and your commitment must be to the delivery of the physical reality. In summary, you must master two problems. Details, dimensions, and specifications are not reality, but merely a tool along the way. The greatest problem is that a bad detail, a wrong dimension, an improper specification, while still on your desk, all look as good as good ones. ONLY YOUR UNDERSTANDING CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE.”
I now know I was both right and wrong about this. I was right to think that moving my designs – details, dimensions and specifications – into the real world, and having them perform EXACTLY as I intended is, indeed, impossible.
I was wrong to be worried about this. In fact, what life has taught me is that this very task – moving design off the page into “meat space” (aka the real world) and then responding to the unforeseen challenges that (inevitably) arise – is itself the primary task of the designer.
Put differently, being impossible is what makes the task interesting.
When working with my favorite colleagues we often discuss projects as if they are our children. We love them as a parent loves a child. We know their strengths and we know where they need focus and attention. Areas that are unclear or undefined or don't make sense "need some love." And this means simply giving the attention that is required so that the area or idea or person is strong enough to go into the world and stand on its own.
I sometime wonder what might have happened if I had been handed a different piece of paper that day. Somehow this one 8-1/2” x 11” sheet with the text block copied out of square on the page has stayed with me. I don't read it often but each time I have, it has refreshed and redefined my sense of responsibility as a designer. Again, I have no idea who the author is (if you know the author, please let me know), but I am very thankful for his words.
Theming, Presidential Libraries and Space Shuttles
BRC Imagination Arts' Bob Rogers to receive The Order of Lincoln, Illinois' Highest Honor
BRC Imagination Arts seleced as Experience Designer for Unique Sport Experience Heerenveen in the Netherlands
Attractions Business, Themed Design
bemusement, BRC, Design, designer, desk, Themed Design
(What are these?)
Recommend to a Friend
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