Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wet 'n Wild Orlando Runner Wins GKTW 5K

There could have been no better setting—and no better weather—for the fourth annual IAAPA 5k Fun Run & 1k Fun Walk to benefit Give Kids The World Village on Thursday. For the first time, under partly cloudy skies and comfortably cool temperatures, the Fun Run took place at the Village in Kissimmee, Florida, just a few miles from the Orlando Convention Center.

Pamela Landwirth, president of Give Kids the World, kicked off the event at 7:30 a.m. by thanking the runners and walkers, numbering some 100, for contributing to the cause with their $25 entry fee, and for getting up so early to participate. “This has become a great even for us that has really grown,” Landwirth said.

The overall winner was Brett Clarke of Wet 'n Wild in Orlando, who finished in 18:27. The top female finisher was Maria Spry, whose son Morgan is currently staying at Give Kids The World Village. Maria clocked in at 20:04. One notable finisher was 10-year-old Ethan Knoebel, grandson of Knoebel Amusement Resort Co-President Buddy Knoebel, who was running with his father, Trevor. Ethan finished in an impressive 23:27. Finishing in 28:15 was Becky Bray, wife of IAAPA President Charlie Bray, who is credited with having founded the event.

Some companies had an impressive number of participants, including Namco America, which brought about 20 staff members to the event, and Wet 'n Wild Orlando, which turned out about 15.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tips for Pitching Stories to the Media

Thanks to all who participated in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic regional networking event for IAAPA public relations and communications professionals! The event was held at Hersheypark and included lunch, breakout sessions, networking opportunities, and speaker Marilyn Odesser-Torpey, a freelance travel and tourism writer. Amusement parks, FECs, and ski resorts were all represented and we had a lot of productive discussions.

Here are a few pitching tips from Marilyn:
- Personalize the pitch. Read the writing of the reporter and understand their interests.
- Point out what makes it different.
- Look for current trends or local events that relate to what you are pitching.
- Include key facts and messages as bullet points in the body of the e-mail and attach the full release.
- Timing is important. Don't forget some publications require information months in advance (like IAAPA's own FUNWORLD magazine!).
- E-mail pitches, don't call.
- Build relationships. Be accessible.
- Return phone calls.

Thanks again to all who helped make the day a success. We learned a lot in planning this and look forward to holding similar events in 2011.

Monday, October 4, 2010

ADA Update and Opportunities to Learn More

The final regulations codifying the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) were published Sept. 15. These final rules will take effect March 15, 2011. Compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design is permitted as of Sept. 15, 2010, but not required until March 15, 2012. For existing facilities, barrier removal needs to be conducted to the extent “readily achievable” by March 12, 2012.

The U.S. Department of Justice has prepared fact sheets identifying the major changes in the rules. IAAPA members should look at the Title III highlights for a sense of what the new regulations include (quick review: Title I of the Act deals with employment practices; Title II is for government facilities; and Title III is for "public accommodations," which is what attractions are). Members may also find it helpful to review the summary of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design.

Members should familiarize themselves with the new rules and consult their attorneys and ADA consultants to determine what changes (if any) need to be made to make your facilities compliant.

Here are a few items of interest to the Attractions Industry:
1. Miniature Golf — At least 50 percent of all holes on a miniature golf course must be accessible. These accessible holes must be consecutive, and they must be on an accessible route. The last accessible hole must be on an accessible route that connects to the course entrance or exit without going back through other holes. Sections 239.2 and 1007.3 of the 2010 Standards require at least 50 percent of golf holes on miniature golf courses to be accessible, including providing a clear floor or ground space that is 48 inches minimum by 60 inches minimum with slopes not steeper than 1:48 at the start of play. (Note: this is the same as the guidelines previously published by the U.S. Access Board.)

2. Amusement Rides — Many newly designed or newly constructed amusement rides must be accessible and located on an accessible route to the ride. However, amusement rides designed primarily for children, amusement rides that are controlled or operated by the rider (e.g., bumper cars), and amusement rides without seats, are not required to provide wheelchair spaces, transfer seats, or transfer systems, and need not meet signage requirements. That said, these rides must be on an accessible route and must provide appropriate clear space.

3. Service Animals — The rule defines “service animal” as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The rule states that other animals, whether wild or domestic, do not qualify as service animals. Dogs that are not trained to perform tasks that mitigate the effects of a disability, including dogs that are used purely for emotional support, are not service animals. The final rule also clarifies that individuals with mental disabilities who use service animals that are trained to perform a specific task are protected by the ADA. The rule permits the use of trained miniature horses as alternatives to dogs, subject to certain limitations. To allow flexibility in situations where using a horse would not be appropriate, the final rule does not include miniature horses in the definition of “service animal.”

4. Wheelchairs and Segways — The rule adopts a two-tiered approach to mobility devices, drawing distinctions between wheelchairs and "other power-driven mobility devices." "Other power-driven mobility devices" include a range of devices not designed for individuals with mobility impairments, such as the Segway PT, but which are often used by individuals with disabilities as their mobility device of choice. Wheelchairs (and other devices designed for use by people with mobility impairments) must be permitted in all areas open to pedestrian use. "Other power-driven mobility devices" must be permitted to be used unless the covered entity can demonstrate that such use would fundamentally alter its programs, services, or activities, create a direct threat, or create a safety hazard. The rule also lists factors to consider in making this determination. This approach accommodates both the legitimate business interest in the safe operation of a facility and the growing use of the Segway PT as a mobility device by returning veterans and others who are using the Segway PT as their mobility aid of choice.

5. Play Areas — Play areas designed, constructed, and altered for children ages two and older in a variety of settings, including parks, schools, childcare facilities, and shopping centers, are covered. Accessible ground and elevated play components, accessible routes, ramps and transfer systems (typically a platform or transfer steps), and accessible ground surfaces must be provided.

Upcoming ADA Information Sessions
Mark your calendars!
1. Free webinar on the ADA for IAAPA members: Wednesday, Oct. 27, 1 p.m. Representatives from the U.S. Access Board will give a presentation on new regulations for attractions including miniature golf and will be available to answer your questions. Don’t miss this invaluable chance to hear from the agency that created the guidelines.
2. “The ADA and the Attractions Industry,” Tuesday, Nov. 16, 3:30 pm, as part of the education sessions at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010. Hear ADA experts discuss the new rules and their impact on miniature golf, amusement rides, and other attractions. Bring your questions to this informative session!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

AIMS Safety Seminar at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010

For the second year, the Amusement Industry Manufacturers and Suppliers International (AIMS) Safety Seminar will be held in conjunction with IAAPA Attractions Expo. The seminar will be held Nov. 13-18, at the Double Tree Resort Orlando – International Drive and Orange County Convention Center.

The seminar is a comprehensive safety training program for both current and future leaders in the area of maintenance and/or operations at amusement parks and other attractions. Attendees will receive valuable safety and maintenance instruction from top industry leaders that they can bring home to their facilities to apply to their own jobs and share with colleagues.

The program, in a nutshell:

  • Education: More than 200 classes will be offered, and attendees can customize their course work to meet specific goals. Specializations are available in maintenance, operations, aquatics, leadership, and crisis communications. In addition to classroom sessions, attendees will spend time on the show floor at IAAPA Attractions Expo, interacting with manufacturers and suppliers to build their industry knowledge.
  • Certification: For those seeking AIMS certification, several tests are being offered during the seminar. (Be sure to bring completed applications, documentation, and payment!)
  • Networking: The partnership with IAAPA Attractions Expo allows AIMS Safety Seminar attendees to attend the industry’s premier networking events. From receptions to tours to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter event on Thursday night, AIMS Safety Seminar attendees will get unparalleled exposure to our industry and the people behind it. (Expo admission is included for AIMS participants, but separate registration is required for special events.)

Seminar registration is available through AIMS. Hotel reservations should be made directly through the Doubletree. A group rate is available through this link.

I hope to see you in Orlando!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

September FUNWORLD Highlights Gardaland, Italy

As IAAPA prepares for EAS 2010 next month in Rome, FUNWORLD's September issue takes a look at the Italian attractions industry in this month's cover story. Gardaland's Aldo Vigevani, divisional director for the Merlin-owned park, graces the cover and talks about the growth opportunities our industry has in the country.

The September issue of FUNWORLD is available to read right now via digital edition by clicking here.

Other highlights from this issue include:
• Fernando Medroa discusses the success and continual improvements at Walibi Belgium
• Arnaud Bennet talks about the unique legacy of France's Le Pal amusement and wildlife park
• FEC experts share their thoughts on the future of the business
Full coverage of IAAPA's record-breaking Asian Attractions Expo 2010 which drew thousands to Kuala Lumpur in June

And, of course, there is much more. Thank you for reading FUNWORLD, and if you have any comments/questions, please e-mail me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Health Care Reform Update: IAAPA submits comments on tax credits, menu labeling

IAAPA recently submitted comments to two regulatory bodies on rulemakings under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (health care reform).

The comment period ended last week on tax credits for small businesses not subject to the employer responsibility provisions, but choose to offer their employees health insurance anyway. Generally speaking, IAAPA supports these tax breaks. However, the bulk of IAAPA's comment focused on the definition of "seasonal worker."

As you may remember, the definition of a seasonal worker and the applicability of the employer responsibility provisions to seasonal workers are somewhat ambiguous in the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. The attractions industry relies on seasonal workers to staff peak times, but unlike a regular full-time or part-time employee, a seasonal worker is unique in that he or she works a lot of hours in only a few short months. The rulemaking on the small business tax credit presented an opportunity for IAAPA to request a clarified definition of "seasonal worker" as one who works fewer than 120 days.

This week we also filed a comment with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a proposed rule on menu labeling at resturants and other food retail outlets. Under the health care law, businesses that have 20 or more outlets, operating under the same name and serving substantially the same menu items, must post information about calories, fat content, and other nutritional information on menus or menu boards. This requirement also applies to vending machines.

IAAPA's comment focused on mobile handcarts, which may serve a variety of items but have limited surface area available to post nutritional information. Since much of the proposed rule is statutory (that is, in the law), the agency does not have the power to "overturn" the menu labeling provisions, but it does have discretion in areas where the law is ambiguous.

We encourage IAAPA members to read both our of comments, which can be found on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Two IAAPA Webinars Coming Soon!

IAAPA’s webinars—free to members—are a quick and easy way to gain knowledge, best practices, and cost-effective (and often free) takeaways to implement at your business right away.

Two excellent programs are coming up in the weeks ahead:

Motivating without Money: Budget-Friendly Ideas for FECs & Supervisors
Wednesday, Aug. 18, 1 p.m. EDT
Join Ken Whiting, president of Whiting's Foods/Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, for a discussion about motivating and encouraging employees when money is tight. Learn from other participants, and share ideas during this lively brainstorming session.
And to learn more during IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando this year, sign up for Whiting's WAVES for Success all-day Institute program, Wednesday, Nov. 17, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Advanced registration required.

First Spanish-language webinar!
Francisco Duncan, safety, maintenance, and operations consultant with Duncan Consultores, will discuss ASTM International and the important role it plays in the attraction industry. Spanish and English descriptions below:

¡La Seguridad es Primero! Introducción a la ASTM Internacional
Martes, 24 de agosto, 1 p.m. EDT
Desarrollar y alcanzar normas y estándares internacionales basados en las mejores prácticas sirve para garantizar la seguridad y un record positivo de la industria. Francisco Duncan, experto en seguridad presentará este seminario para ayudar a los profesionales de los parques de diversiones y atracciones a entender la importancia de la ASTM para cualquier tipo de instalación de entretenimiento. ¡No se lo puede perder!
Expositor: Ing. Francisco Duncan, Consultor de seguridad, mantenimiento y operaciones de Duncan Consultores

Safety is First!An Introduction to ASTM International (Presented in Spanish)
Tuesday, August 24, 1 p.m. EDT
Developing and achieving international norms and standards based on best industry practices helps ensure safety and a positive industry record. Safety expert Francisco Duncan will present this Webinar to help amusement park and attractions professionals understand the important role ASTM offers for any type of entertainment facility.This is a conference you can’t miss!
Speaker: Ing. Francisco Duncan, Safety, maintenance and operations Consultant, Duncan Consultores

To register and to learn more about IAAPA's webinars, click here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FUNWORLD Follow-Up: Madison Children's Museum's New Building

One of my first cover stories for FUNWORLD was the June 2005 issue covering the Madison Children's Museum. The focus of that story was about the facility's green initiatives, which were ahead of their time at that point.

At the end of that story, I mentioned how the museum planned to take its green initiatives to the next level when it eventually moved into its new facility. Well, five years later, MCM hosts its grand opening event for the new building this Saturday.

You can read more about the $16.5 million facility here. Congratulations to the Madison Children's Museum on their new digs!

Monday, August 9, 2010

FUNWORLD Follow-Up: A Photo Tour of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

You'd think an eight-page cover story in FUNWORLD's August issue would've been more than enough room for me to cover everything about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure. But … no!

Here are some photos from our cover shoot that unfortunately didn't make the magazine. They're so good, though, I didn't want them to go unseen—that castle just loves the camera!

All of these photos were taken by our regular Orlando-area collaborator, Brian Pepper of Digital Imaging Direct. And a big thank you to the Universal PR team for allowing us to come in and cover their sparkling new land.

Let's start—where else?—with Hogwarts Castle, which houses the new dark ride "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" …

These winged boars stand watch over the entrance to the castle/queue.

This is the shot we used for our cover, taken from the outdoor portion of the "Dragon Challenge" queue (formerly "Dueling Dragons"). That's "Flight of the Hippogriff" whizzing by on the right (formerly "The Flying Unicorn". The line for "Forbidden Journey" got much, much longer. And if you look closely, just to the right of the boars is the test seat for "Forbidden Journey" (the first of two—there's another right before the boarding platform).

The attention to detail on Hogwarts Castle is amazing.

 Here's a great look at the snowy rooftops of Hogsmeade (100-degree heat or not!), the village nestled at the foot of Hogwarts Castle that serves as the "midway" for the Wizarding World. The large building on the right is the Owlery, the wizards' version of a post office. An owl pops out of the clock tower every 15 minutes, and if you walk underneath you can see animatronic owls up in the rafters. It's also one of the best places in the land to grab a shady seat and watch the wizardly world go by.

 The Hog's Head pub is one of a few spots in Wizarding World where you can purchase Butterbeer (a must for any trip!). 

Butterbeer, you say? This cart out in the thoroughfare is wildly popular, too. 

 This is one of the "living portraits" in the "Forbidden Journey" queue inside Hogwarts. It's textured to look like a real painting, but the figure moves and talks like you'd expect from a video screen.

And as a farewell, here's a look at Hogwarts from yet another angle. This shot is from the wooden bridge that goes over the park's lagoon and connects The Lost Continent with Jurassic Park.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be a featured topic at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010. We're hosting a party in the land on Thursday of the show, while Tom Williams, chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts, will discuss Wizarding World during his keynote speech at the annual General Managers and Owners' Breakfast. Click here for more info on both.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

New Model Aquatic Health Code Module Open for Review

If you attended IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009, you may remember hearing about the Model Aquatic Health Code (MAHC). The MAHC is a project being spearheaded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that when completed, will serve as a model and guide for state and local agencies to use when updating or implementing regulations governing the design, shape, construction, operation, and maintenance of swimming pools and other treated recreational water venues. The MAHC is being developed by the aquatic industry leaders across the country. Several IAAPA members serve on the steering and technical committees, including IAAPA's current chairman, Chip Cleary.

The MAHC is being created in modules, which are released as they are available, instead of waiting for a final document to be prepared. This allows the committees a lot of flexibility in drafting and updating the MAHC as needed. A strawman outline was released in 2008 for those interested in seeing what topics the MAHC will address.

A draft of Module Six, which focuses on Policies and Management is now available. Waterpark members are encouraged to review the draft module and offer their comments using the CDC's comment form. Comments are due to the CDC by Sept. 30, 2010. If needed, IAAPA will submit a comment on behalf of the waterpark industry. To be included in this comment, please e-mail your comments by Sept. 20, 2010.

As new modules become available, the CDC will post them on its website. We're also monitoring the website and will alert waterpark members as modules come up for comment.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It's Here! The new ADA rule is released.

In honor of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the orginial Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. Department of Justice released the final regulations revising the Americans with Disabilities Act. IAAPA members may remember IAAPA's involvement with these regulations throughout the rulemaking process.

On Friday, July 23, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed final regulations revising the Justice Department’s Americans with Disability Act regulations, including its ADA Standards for Accessible Design. In general, these final rules will take effect six months after the date on which they are published in the Federal Register (which hasn't happened yet), but compliance with the 2010 Standards for Accessible design is not required until 18 months after the date of publication.

DOJ has prepared fact sheets identifying the major changes in the rules. IAAPA members should look at the Title III highlights for a sense of what the new regulations include (quick review: Title I of the Act deals with employment practices; Title II is for government facilities; and Title III is for "public accommodations," which is what attractions facilities are). Members may also find it helpful to review the summary of the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design.

Here at IAAPA, we've begun reviewing the new rule and will have a summary for the attraction industry soon. Continue to check this blog and the IAAPA website for information. Also, be sure to attend our education session on the ADA at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010 in Orlando. The session is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 3:30 p.m.

Monday, July 26, 2010

IAAPA Submits Comments on CPSIA Database

Last week IAAPA submitted a comment on the proposed rule on the Publicly Available Consumer Product Safety Information Database. The database was a controversial part of the Consumer Product Safety Information Act (CPSIA), that was enacted in late 2008 and made drastic changes to existing consumer protection law in the United States.

Once the database is active, consumers, government agencies, health care professionals, child service providers, and public safety officials will be able to file a report about harmful consumer product. Manufacturers and private labelers can register to be notified by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) if a report is filed about their products. A manufacturer will have 10 days to respond after being contacted by the CPSC, and then the report will be published on a website,

Because the database is mandated by law, the CPSC must establish it by March 2011. Like most of the CPSIA, the CPSC does not have a lot of regulatory flexibility, but through rulemakings such as this one, the industry has the chance to offer comments on the proposal.

Now that the comment period is over, the CPSC will consider all the comments it received and create a final rule on the database, which should be available sometime this fall or winter. Keep watching the blog, your e-mail, and our website for updates. And thank you to those IAAPA members who submitted comments on this important issue.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

GKTW Update: Coasting for Kids and Expo Car Auction Sneak Peek

A couple of Give Kids The World fundraising updates:

On July 29, all 11 Cedar Fair amusement parks will participate in a fundraiser allowing enthusiasts to marathon a coaster to raise money for GKTW. I wrote about this last year when it was just an event at Cedar Point. Now the fundraising is spreading across the entire continent (yep, some lucky fans will get to ride "Behemoth" at Canada's Wonderland all day long).

To become one of the riders, click here. If you'd like to donate to the cause without riding, you can add your contribution to CoasterBuzz Webmaster Jeff Putz's sponsorships by clicking here (CoasterBuzz helps organize and promote the event). For any other information about Coasting for Kids, click here.

This year GKTW will raffle off a four-door Honda Civic hybrid during IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010. The car (pictured) will be on display Nov. 16-19, at the GKTW booth on the trade show floor.

Raffle tickets will be: $25 for 1; $50 for 3; $100 for 7. The winner is responsible for tax, title, and registration fees. Tickets will ONLY be sold on the trade show floor.  

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sneak Peek: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the Cover of FUNWORLD's August Issue

The August 2010 issue of FUNWORLD is hot off the press and should be arriving in your mailboxes over the next few weeks. But I'm so pumped about this edition, I just can't wait to show it off!  So click here if you'd like to read it via our online digital edition.

As you can tell from the cover image above, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure is the lead story this month, with the massive Hogwarts Castle gracing our cover. I spent a couple days last month poring over everything Potter IOA has to offer, and you can read all about Wizarding World in my eight-page feature.

August is our annual New Rides and Attractions issue, where we highlight as many of this year's new projects as possible—the section is nearly 50 pages long! In it you'll read about:
It's one of my favorite issues of the year, certainly, and I hope you enjoy it, too. Thanks for reading FUNWORLD, and please feel free to e-mail me with any comments about the magazine.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Universal Creative V.P. Talks Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Though the July issue of FUNWORLD just came out, I'm already getting excited for everyone to see the August issue, which features The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on the cover to headline our annual New Rides and Attractions issue.

I spent a couple days last month exploring all the new land at Universal's Islands of Adventure has to offer (which is quite a bit!). You'll have to wait a few more weeks to read my eight-page blowout story, but to whet your appetite here's a Q&A with Thierry Coup, vice president of creative development for Universal Creative, all about Harry Potter. 

How are you handling overall capacity for Wizarding World?
There is tremendous excitement for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which has resulted in a significant number of guests. To make sure that everyone has an enjoyable experience, we are pacing guests into the area, and inviting new guests inside as others leave.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one of the most anticipated theme park experiences of our generation. Our goal is to make sure that every guest who wants to experience it is able to do so.

Can you talk at all about the technological breakthroughs you accomplished to create "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey"?
"Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" is a revolutionary, 360-degree theme park experience and first combination of live-action, advanced robotic technology and innovative filmmaking—specially designed and developed for this brand-new adventure.

The attraction’s newly created ride system envelops guests in filmed action scenes and moves those scenes with them as they travel through the ride, allowing more time in the center of the adventure and with their favorite characters. This fusion of robotic technology and filmed scenes has never been achieved until now. In some cases, technology had to be invented to achieve the highest level of guest experience. The combination of pioneering, state-of-the-art technology, innovative filmmaking, and surprises around every corner make this attraction the embodiment of the Harry Potter book and film series—and the future of theme park entertainment.

Did you have any idea Butterbeer would be such a runaway hit? Everyone seems to want that wonderfully sweet stuff.  
We knew there were high expectations for Butterbeer, and we definitely wanted to make sure that we met them. We worked very closely with the filmmakers and J.K. Rowling to make sure that everything—the look, the taste—was just right. The response has been great! It’s absolutely wonderful to see guests walking around the park with Butterbeer mustaches.

What kinds of reactions are you seeing from guests upon entering Wizarding World?
It’s always very exciting and rewarding to see the reactions of guests as they enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Some guests jump up and down with excitement as they enter, others run around with huge smiles on their faces. Some explore the area in awe and make comments like, “I can’t believe I’m here,” or “This looks just like the movies.”

The retail outlets in Wizarding World are like attractions, too. What are some of the most popular merchandise items?
Because of the great anticipation for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we knew guests would be eager to enjoy the merchandise we have in the land. Some of the most popular items are magic wands, Hogwarts house robes, Gryffindor apparel, Chocolate Frogs, and Pygmy Puffs.

What are one or two things in Wizarding World people might miss but you really love?
There are many details in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter for guests to explore. For example, while dining in the Three Broomsticks, guests can see shadows of house elves working upstairs. Also, in Zonko’s, there are Extendable Ears hanging from the roof, and if you listen closely, you can hear whispering. The window storefronts in Hogsmeade are also incredibly detailed—every window has a magical touch for guests to enjoy, like the screaming Howler in the Owl Post window and the flying snitch in the Spintwiches window. All of these details help create an immersive and authentic experience for our guests.

How key are these little touches to the overall depth of theming on display in the land?
Universal Orlando Resort is committed to delivering the highest level of detail and authenticity for our guests. Our team worked very closely with the filmmakers to make sure every detail within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter was authentic to the Harry Potter books and films—from the snow on the rooftops of Hogsmeade to merchandise available in the land. This level of detail and theming really helps to immerse guests into the adventures of Harry Potter.

What affect do you hope Wizarding World has on Universal Orlando?
Universal Orlando Resort is unlike any other destination—we bring pop culture’s most powerful and compelling characters and stories to life. Our guests are pulled into the heart of these stories, and they become a part of the most exhilarating entertainment experiences ever created. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter carries on this theme and provides our guests with another unparalleled entertainment experience.

For more on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, be watching for the August issue of FUNWORLD.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Call for Comments: CPSIA Database Provisions

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is currently soliciting comments on a proposed rule on the public database provisions of the Consumer Product Safety Improvements Act (CPSIA). These provisions were especially controversial during consideration of the CPSIA, as there is a huge potential for abuse and misuse of the public database if it is not properly controlled.

IAAPA is seeking input from our members to include in our public comment. All comments submitted during the regulatory process are “public,” but if you submit your comments as part of the IAAPA comment, we can keep your comment anonymous.

The deadline to submit comments to CPSC is July 23. If you would like to file your own comments, you can do so at If you would like your comments included in IAAPA’s public comment, please e-mail them to me by Monday, July 19.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Will you please support IAAPA PAC?

Last week, I attended a conference on best practices for GR professionals. One thing I learned in a session on Political Action Committees is that the number-one reason association members don’t support their association PAC is that they are not asked.

But of course it’s not that easy.

While a corporation can solicit any member of its restricted class (generally speaking, the salaried professionals and their families), and a union can just take part of a member’s dues and put it towards political activities, a trade association like IAAPA is required to get prior approval to solicit before we can even tell you simple information like which IAAPA members gave to the PAC last year, or how you can secure a front row seat at the General Managers and Owners’ Breakfast at IAAPA Attractions Expo.

IAAPA’s online prior approval form allows members to give prior approval for up to three years, and also gives members the choice of allowing IAAPA to solicit just the member or the restricted class of the member’s company (which you’ll need to do if you are interested in our easy-to-administer payroll deduction program). Completing a prior approval form doesn’t commit you to giving any money to the PAC; it simply allows me to send you invitations to events, news about PAC contributions, and other information you may find useful.

Supporting IAAPA PAC represents a true investment in the attractions industry and makes a real difference in our association’s and the industry’s future. I hope you'll make the choice to get involved in IAAPA PAC and help us support candidates who support our industry. For more information, visit our PAC web page or e-mail me at

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Regulatory Spotlight: OSHA

While the Senate is deadlocked on the tax extenders bill, and House leadership is attempting to minimize losses this November through the DISCLOSE Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is creating regulations that are of interest to the attractions industry:

OSHA Slip and Fall Rule
A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on slips and falls was published in the May 24 issue of the Federal Register. A public hearing on the revised changes will be held after the public comment period ends on August 23. IAAPA members are encouraged to submit comments on this rule, either on their own or by e-mailing them to us for inclusion in an industry comment.

The proposed rule will revise the Walking-Working Surfaces and Personal Protective Equipment standards for general industry workers, and make them comparable to the existing standards for construction and maritime workers. The revised regulations will also allow OSHA to fine employers who let workers climb ladders without fall protection.

There are an estimated 20 workplace fatalities per year in the United States due to slips and falls.

For more information on fall protection, please visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page.

OSHA Hexavalent Chromium Rule
As of June 15, employers must notify employees of all hexavalent chromium exposures in the workplace. The final rule revises a provision in OSHA's Hexavalent Chromium standard that required workers be notified only when they experienced exposures exceeding the permissible exposure limit.

Occupational exposures to Hexavalent Chromium can occur among workers handling pigments, spray paints, and coatings containing chromates; operating chrome plating baths; and welding or cutting metals containing chromium, such as stainless steel. Workers breathing Hexavalent Chromium compounds in high concentrations over extended periods of time may risk developing lung cancer, irritation, or damage to the eyes and skin. Workers exposed to Hexavalent Chromium are at greater risk for lung cancer and damage to the nose, throat, and respiratory tract.

For more information on Hexavalent Chromium, please visit OSHA’s Safety and Health Topics page.

OSHA Training Standards Policy Statement
In April, OSHA sent a memorandum to its regional administrators regarding an employer’s obligations for training employees. The memo, which applies to agriculture, construction, general industry, and maritime training requirements, states “an employer must instruct its employees using both a language and vocabulary that the employees can understand.” The memo gives examples for employees who don’t speak English, employees with limited vocabularies, and employees who are illiterate, and it says employers must conduct the training in a way the employee can understand.

To assist employers with Spanish-speaking employees, OSHA has created a web-based assistance tool.

The memo also provides enforcement guidance for regional compliance officers who are responsible for checking and verifying employers have provided training to employees.

IAAPA will continue to monitor OSHA and other regulating bodies and disseminate information to members as necessary.

Friday, June 18, 2010

'Cool' Merch and the Start of an Award-Winning Article

People love to ask writers, "Where do your ideas come from?" Well, in this case, I actually have a good answer (for a change).

Monday night I received a Gold Excel Award from Association Media and Publishing for a story I wrote last year on merchandise trends in the attractions industry. To read the story, click here.

Obviously I'm proud to win a first-place writing award, but I'm especially proud it was for this story, because I can remember exactly where I was when I thought it up: standing in line at a store!

I took an extra day in Orlando after IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008 to enjoy all our industry has to offer, and eventually ended up that Saturday evening in November at the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney doing some Christmas shopping. In the men's department I found this awesome "Pirates of the Caribbean" "two-fer"—where it looks like a T-shirt on top of a longsleeve shirt, but it's really just one shirt—that didn't look like your stereotypical amusement park shirt. The pirate skull logo was off center and up on the left shoulder, and it had some designs down only one of the sleeves. It was definitely geared toward a 20-something (at the time!) like me, I thought.

As I stood in line to buy it, I watched as other guys came into the department. The shirt was up on a second-level rack way over in the corner—not out in the middle of the floor on a big display or something—and yet just about every male around my age who walked through seemed to notice it and at least stop and look seriously at it, if not grab one for themselves.

Obviously, I wasn't the only guy looking for a piece of nontraditional theme park clothing. And, thus, an award-winning story was born. Obviously Disney was looking to be a little more trendy, hip, … "cool" with this shirt, and it worked on me. Was this intentional? Do they do this often? How big a part of their merchandising effort is material like this? All those questions started percolating.

I filed that scene away in my brain and returned to it several months later when I was planning to go to Disney's Hollywood Studios for the "American Idol Experience" premiere. I always try and make the most out of my trips to Orlando, so I asked my PR contact about my idea—is Disney trying to be "cooler" with its merchandise? The answer was a resounding "Yes!" because, as it turns out, Downtown Disney was about to launch its Tren-D store, which coincided perfectly with the germ of my potential article. And off I went …

Everyone who works in a creative field—whether it's writing stories or building attractions—knows winning awards is a tenuous thing; you can't let them define what you do, because you're bound to be disappointed. Either you believe the work is good or you don't, and you have to be satisfied with that. I've certainly entered WAY more contests than I've actually won.

But it sure does feel good to win, right? So I want to say a big thank you to the folks in Walt Disney World PR and Merchandise, first and foremost, for helping to kick this story off, and also to all the other sources in that article who were generous enough to talk about their ideas, philosophies, and product lines with me.

Whether it's a new shirt or a new roller coaster, there is amazing stuff going on in this industry every day, and I definitely am privileged to write about it—awards or not.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Coaster Crew Looking for Donations to Benefit GKTW

Amusement Park enthusiast group The Coaster Crew is hosting its fourth annual Single Riders event this weekend at Kings Dominion to raise money for Give Kids The World.

All day Sunday, approximately 30 Crewers will wait on the exit ramps of coasters throughout the park and hop into trains that need a single seat filled here and there. They've gathered sponsorships for how many laps they take, and all the money will go to GKTW.  Coaster Crew's Clint Novak told me the group's raised $11,957 over the first three years, including $3,000 in 2009; he's hoping to get close to a whopping $10,000 this year.

Though the event is upon us, there's still a way parks can help. After Single Riders wraps, Coaster Crew will host an eBay auction for park-related items. If you have something you're just planning on throwing out, snap a quick picture of it and send it to Clint at Or just snail-mail him the item and he'll take care of the rest. One park's trash is another park fan's treasure, you know.

"Either way, coaster geeks like myself love stuff that parks and manufacturers throw away! So any donated items would help out a lot," he said.

And, finally, don't forget to keep clicking your support of GKTW at Pepsi's online grant contest

Health Care Reform Update: Grandfathered Plans

This week the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Labor and Health and Human Services released the Interim Final Rule for Group Health Plans and Health Insurance Coverage Relating to Status as a Grandfathered Health Plan under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
The Department of Health and Human Services has prepared a summary of the grandfathering provisions, but below is a summary prepared by IAAPA's consultants. (This summary is not legal advice and IAAPA members should consult with their attorneys and human resources professionals when creating their compliance strategies with this and all laws):

Pursuant to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act ("the Affordable Care Act"), health plans that existed on March 23, 2010, are "grandfathered" and therefore exempt from some of the new law's provisions. For plan years beginning on or after Sept. 23, 2010, all plans (including grandfathered plans) are subject to certain health care reforms including no lifetime limits on coverage, no rescissions of coverage except in the case of fraud or intentional misrepresentation, extension of parents' coverage to most adults under age 26, prohibition on excessive waiting periods, and requirements to provide consumers with a standardized and easy-to-understand summary of coverage. However, grandfathered plans are exempt from other provisions in the Affordable Care Act at least until Jan. 1, 2014.

Given the potential importance of maintaining grandfathered status, the question arises as to what changes, if any, may be made in a plan without causing the plan to forfeit grandfathered status because the changes are significant enough to render the plan not a plan that existed on March 23, 2010. The interim final regulations seek to address this issue.

The interim final regulations provide that a group health plan or health insurance coverage no longer will be considered a grandfathered health plan if a plan sponsor or an issuer:
  • Eliminates all or substantially all benefits to diagnose or treat a particular condition. The elimination of benefits for any necessary element to diagnose or treat a condition is considered the elimination of all or substantially all benefits to diagnose or treat a particular condition.
  • Increases a percentage cost-sharing requirement (such as coinsurance) above the level at which it was on March 23, 201.
  • Increases fixed-amount cost-sharing requirements other than copayments, such as a $500 deductible or a $2,500 out-of-pocket limit, by a total percentage measured from March 23, 2010, that is more than the sum of medical inflation and 15 percentage points.
  • Increases copayments by an amount that exceeds the greater of: a total percentage measured from March 23, 2010, that is more than the sum of medical inflation plus 15 percentage points, or $5 increased by medical inflation;
  • For a group health plan or group health insurance coverage, an employer or employee organization decreases its contribution rate by more than five percentage points below the contribution rate on March 23, 2010.
  • With respect to annual limits (1) a group health plan, or group or individual health insurance coverage, that, on March 23, 2010, did not impose an overall annual or lifetime limit on the dollar value of all benefits imposes an overall annual limit on the dollar value of benefits; (2) a group health plan, or group or individual health insurance coverage, that, on March 23, 2010, imposed an overall lifetime limit on the dollar value of all benefits but no overall annual limit on the dollar value of all benefits adopts an overall annual limit at a dollar value that is lower than the dollar value of the lifetime limit on March 23, 2010; or (3) a group health plan, or group or individual health insurance coverage, that, on March 23, 2010, imposed an overall annual limit on the dollar value of all benefits decreases the dollar value of the annual limit (regardless of whether the plan or health insurance coverage also imposes an overall lifetime limit on the dollar value of all benefits).
The interim final rule acknowledges there may be other changes in a plan which could trigger a forfeiture of grandfathered status. To this end, the Departments specifically requested comments on whether the following changes should result in the cessation of grandfathered health plan status: (1) changes to plan structure (such as switching from a health reimbursement arrangement to major medical coverage); (2) changes in a network plan's provider network; (3) changes to a prescription drug formulary, and if so, what magnitude of changes would have to be made; and (4) any other substantial change to overall benefit design. IAAPA members are encouraged to send their comments on these items to us and we will include them in our public comment.

To maintain grandfathered health plan status under these interim final regulations, a plan or issuer must maintain records that document the plan or policy terms in connection with the coverage in effect on March 23, 2010, and any other documents necessary to verify, explain, or clarify is status as a grandfathered health plan. The records must be made available for examination by participants, beneficiaries, individual policy subscribers, or a state or federal agency official.

Plans or health insurance coverage that intend to be a grandfathered health plan also must include a statement, in any plan materials provided to participants or beneficiaries (in the individual market, primary subscriber), describing the benefits provided under the plan or health insurance coverage, and that the plan or coverage is intended to be a grandfathered health plan within the meaning of section 1251 of the Affordable Care Act. In these interim final regulations, the Departments provide a model statement plans and issuers may use to satisfy the disclosure requirement.

Archived Health Care Webinar Now Available
Last week, IAAPA hosted a webinar on health care reform. Members can log in to the IAAPA website and view the archived footage of this program.

Monday, June 14, 2010

IAAPA's Charles Bray on the Passing of Holiday World's Will Koch

Everyone at IAAPA was saddened to hear of the death of Holiday World & Splashin' Safari owner and president Will Koch. Here is a statement from our president and CEO, Charles Bray:

“Today is a sad day for the worldwide attractions industry. We’ve lost a true industry pioneer and friend in Will Koch. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, the Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari staff, and the park’s loyal guests who all loved Will.”

“Will is known throughout the industry for his commitment to listening to and taking care of his guests and employees. To Will, the park guests are more than patrons, they are members of the Holiday World family.”

“We have watched Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari thrive and grow under Will's leadership. He is known throughout the industry for being innovative and for upholding high-quality operating standards. Will and the Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari team championed industry innovations such as offering free soft drinks, free sunscreen, and free parking for guests and earned multiple industry awards including the prestigious Applause award for industry excellence and numerous Golden Ticket Awards for friendliest staff, cleanest park, and top-quality roller coasters. They also believe in maintaining direct contact with their guests and using their feedback to refine park operations. As a part of that commitment, Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari became an early adopter of social media including the use of blogs, Facebook, and Twitter."

“Will was always willing to share his knowledge, experience, time, and talents with others throughout the worldwide attractions industry. He has been involved in and supported IAAPA for many years and his contributions will be missed. Will was a member of the IAAPA board of directors from 2003 to 2006 and he served on a number of IAAPA committees, including the executive committee, strategic planning committee, small amusement parks committee, exhibitor awards committee, service awards committee, and the government relations committee." 

“We will all miss him.”  

Friday, June 11, 2010

More Sixes, More Fun

This season Six Flags not only brought back the popular icon Mr. Six after a few years’ hiatus, but the company added a sidekick to ramp up the fun. Little Six—the “Robin” to Mr. Six’s “Batman”—now joins Mr. Six on the quest to find the most fun they can in Six Flags’ updated “More Flags, More Fun” campaign. FUNWORLD caught up with Jessica Sokolowski, senior director of advertising with Six Flags, to discuss the evolution of the Mr. Six campaign and why it’s so popular.

What inspired Six Flags to bring Mr. Six back after the hiatus?
A couple of things lead us to the decision to bring Mr. Six back. First we know Mr. Six is beloved by many and in a down economy we wanted t lean into the familiar. Second, it became apparent to us that there was still a demand for Mr. Six after conducting focus groups for our “More Flags. More Fun” campaign across the country. All but two groups asked, unaided, that we bring him back.

Where did the idea for a miniature sidekick come from, and what do you want him to accomplish?
There’s always been questions about Mr. Six—where he came from, what does he do in the offseason, does he have a family? We thought it would be a great way to share a little more about Mr. Six and evolve the campaign overall by introducing a sidekick. He’s not his son or grandson or brother. They’re kind of like the superheroes of fun; Mr. Six is to Batman as Little Six is to Robin. They’re the dynamic duo of thrills.

From a creative perspective, what was involved in the process of bringing Little Six into the fold?
We wanted to add to the mystique behind Mr. Six and evolve the campaign by introducing a companion. Since Mr. Six represents the spirit of Six Flags, we wanted to bring in a character that represents the spirit, or the kid, in all of us. In a brainstorm, we had an epiphany to bring the “kid in all of us” to life via a sidekick for Mr. Six—Little Six.

What has been the overall response from your customers?
All in all, the response has been positive. People really respond to Mr. Six, and all indicators are that the campaign continues to break through. What’s interesting about Mr. Six is, [people] either love him or they’re not sure about him. It’s the same way with Little Six. The best thing for us is, regardless, if people have an opinion about it, he always starts a conversation, and people love talking about him. That works for us. If you don’t like him that’s OK, at least you have a point of view about him.

How has the power of viral marketing and social media fueled the interest in the new campaign?
We’ve engaged in a lot of activity on the viral and social media front, from viral videos about Little Six to flash mobs at the CNN Center with Mr. and Little Six. It’s been a fun space to work in with these characters.
But one noteworthy effort was when we put them both on The Today Show. We walked them into the audience and when Al [Roker] saw Mr. Six and Little Six, he made a big fuss, and they played the music, and Meredith [Vieira] did the dance. We posted that on our Facebook page, and on the “Today” show, it ended up being the viewers’ favorite moment of the week. Once they did that, [the characters’] approval ratings soared.

What is the key to Mr. Six's—and, by extension, his sidekick's—popularity?
Mr. Six—there’s something about him. He seems to appeal to everyone: families, parents, kids, and even teens. It’s a rarity to find something that a teenager and a mom would both like.

What has the Mr. Six campaign done for Six Flags as a whole?
We originally brought him to market in 2004 and almost immediately he became part of pop culture. He’s been on “Good Morning America,” David Letterman, “The Daily Show,” “Saturday Night Live.” Beyond that, for Six Flags, Mr. Six is an extension of the Six Flags brand. He personifies the Six Flags experience and makes you feel more alive, like that incredible feeling you get on that first drop of a coaster, or that big splash into a wave pool, or when you feed a giraffe up close. The energy and the excitement he brings remind you how amazing a day at Six Flags is over anything else.

What’s in store for the characters in the future?
We’re always looking for ways to evolve the campaign and evolve his role. That’s TBD, but certainly worth watching. Keep your eyes open to see what’s coming next with Mr. Six.

View the new “More Flags, More Fun” campaign here.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

New Resources Available on Health Care Reform

As regular readers of this blog know, the health care legislation signed into law by President Obama in March has many implications for the attractions industry. The fact that the law is actually two different pieces of legislation—further complicated by the many “holes” that need to be filled in during the regulatory process—make it difficult to navigate, especially for small and seasonal businesses.

At its April meeting, the IAAPA Government Relations committee established a task force of industry professionals to help IAAPA GR staff and our consultants analyze the new law and determine where we could be most effective in the rulemaking process. The task force worked throughout April and May and produced two products we hope will be useful to IAAPA members as you begin to think about compliance.

IAAPA published a summary of key provisions that will most likely impact the attractions industry over the next four years. Members are encouraged to review the summary with their attorneys and Human Resources professionals. The summary addresses the employer responsibility provisions, food labeling requirements, tax credits, and other useful information, and provides a timeline for when various provisions go into effect.

On June 9, at 1 p.m. EDT, IAAPA will host a special webinar on health care reform. The webinar will be led by George Olsen of Williams & Jensen, a leading expert on health policy. By participating in this webinar, IAAPA members will learn about the provisions of the new law that uniquely affect the attractions industry, where further guidance is needed, and about IAAPA's ongoing legislative and regulatory efforts. Specifically, George will address:
  • Employer responsibilities and penalties
  • "Grandfathered" plans and things to consider before making changes to your current health plan
  • Food labeling provisions
  • A timeline for implementation
The webinar will feature an extended question-and-answer period where members can get guidance on the law and its implications for their businesses.

The webinar is free for IAAPA members, but you must register in advance.

As I said above, the health care reform issue is far from over. IAAPA is continuing to work on health care reform through the legislative and regulatory process, and will keep members aware of any developments.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Helping GKTW One Click at a Time

Our friends at Give Kids The World are asking for help raising money to refurbish some of their villas at the Village. Below is information from GKTW on how you can assist just by clicking your mouse:

Starting today, you can help Give Kids The World Village earn $250,000 with just the click of your mouse. Our idea to "refresh" the Village is now live on the Pepsi Refresh Project web site—and we need your help!

By voting once a day, every day in June you can help Give Kids The World receive this grant to refurbish our Village villas.

Follow these easy steps:

1. Visit and click the "Vote for this idea" button.
2. A popup window will appear where you will enter your information and sign in.
3. After signing in, you will be taken back to the Give Kids The World page. Click "Vote for this idea" to submit your vote.
4. Tell your friends, family, and colleagues to "Vote 2 Refresh" GKTW.
5. Repeat once a day, every day until June 30.

It really is that simple to help us reach this amazing goal. Our success is in your hands!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Media Previews New Rides and Attractions at U.S. Parks

Thanks to all IAAPA members who sent information on their new attractions for 2010 to our press office!

Last week, AP travel editor Beth Harpaz published a summer preview story based on IAAPA’s annual “What’s New” at U.S. parks and attractions press release. You can read the story at; we've had calls from other reporters, as well, based on the release.

The IAAPA Communications Team also recently distributed a “What’s New” at U.S. waterparks press release. We will keep you updated on the progress of both publicity campaigns.

Keep an eye out for future opportunities like this to help us promote all the exciting new things you're doing. Later this summer we will collect information for a “What’s New” for Halloween release and a release previewing holiday events.

If you have any questions or would already like to start sending us some updates for later this year, please e-mail

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Write This Down! More Tips for Green Meetings and Operations

In the June issue of FUNWORLD, Matt Lawrence, general manager at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, Michigan, told us how his location is implementing the company’s "Project Great Wolf," which has earned them a Green Seal certification at all its locations. In an excerpt from our conversation, Lawrence expanded on the area of meetings and corporate services, and Great Wolf’s focus on sustainability. Hopefully these pointers will be applicable at your own facility. Remember to check the June issue for many more tips!

Have you found that making your operations environmentally conscious has drawn more guests?
Yes! Having green standards in place has been a draw for our leisure and meeting guests. Some people are only interested in staying or booking a meeting if they know a facility is environmentally friendly.

How do you implement green practices into planning your meetings and corporate events?
There is no question that today’s meeting planners are looking for ways to be environmentally friendly while holding a memorable meeting or event. Turning an ordinary meeting into a green meeting is a lot easier than some would think. Here are some simple ways to conduct greener meetings—and general operations—and also cut costs.
  • Provide attendees with pitchers of tap water instead of bottled water.
  • Instead of print-outs, use e-mail to correspond and track information electronically. This not only saves trees, but also cuts costs for paper, ink cartridges, and postage.
  • Find alternatives to disposable items. For example, we use dry erase boards, scrap paper, and table linens.
  • Use programmable on/off timers or sensors in meeting rooms. If there isn’t any movement in the room motion sensors can signal the lights to turn off.
  • We have co-mingled recycling bins in our conference center, all public areas, guest rooms, and employee areas.
  • Our lighting uses only energy-efficient bulbs.
  • We work directly with the Father Fred Foundation in Traverse City to donate unused food whenever possible. The food is temperature controlled so we can ensure the food we are donating is safe.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Employ Young People? Check Out These Resources!

Summer is quickly approaching. Young people will soon be out of school and reporting to their summer jobs at amusement parks and attractions across the United States. Or in some cases, they’ve already been working for a few weeks now. All of this makes now an excellent time to remind U.S. IAAPA members of the resources the federal government provides for businesses that employ workers under the age of 18.

Once again, IAAPA has partnered with the Department of Labor to get the word out about Youth Rules, an online database of federal and state labor laws. IAAPA members can visit Youth Rules and search by state to find out what sort of jobs young people can do, learn about mandatory work breaks, and get compliance assistance. Teens can look up what hours they are allowed to work, if they need to get a work permit (which they should do before schools close for the summer), and read some helpful tips on workplace safety.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), teens face a high risk of being injured on the job. A 10-year study, which concluded in 2007, found younger workers were twice as likely as their older counterparts to be treated in hospital emergency departments for work-related injuries.

To reduce this risk, NIOSH recently introduced Youth at Work: Talking Safety which can help teens identify workplace health and safety hazards, and take measures to reduce risk for injury. This curriculum is meant to be used in a classroom or other group training settings, and has been customized to address state-specific rules and regulations. The curriculum includes slides and talking points for the presenter, handouts, and completion certificates for the students, and interactive material such as an online video that can be emailed to employees to watch before they begin training.

The exciting atmosphere and family-friendly environment makes the attractions industry a great place for teens to work, and teens can make great employees. By reviewing resources such as Youth Rules and Youth at Work: Talking Safety, you can ensure everyone has a safe and successful summer.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Go Extreme or Go Home: Entertainment Design Group on ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’

One can usually spot the scenic work of Entertainment Design Group (EDG, on attractions such as “Terminator Salvation—The Ride” (left) at Six Flags Magic Mountain and “Bizarro” (bottom of post) at Six Flags New England and Six Flags Great Adventure. So when ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”—the home redesign show for families in need—approached EDG to make over a 6-year-old’s room, it was a perfect match. EDG, located in Atlanta, is only 85 miles from the newly built home, located in Pine Mountain Valley, Georgia.

The episode airs this Sunday, May 16, at 8 p.m. EDT on ABC. And before any secrets or final designs were let out of the bag, Gary Seputis, on-site production manager for the project, gave us a glimpse into the work behind the camera and what to expect when taking part in such a challenge.

How did you get involved with “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” and how did you feel about participating?
We were contacted by Alexandra Lacey, one of the show’s design producers who had gotten our name from a company that participated in a previous episode. Most of us had seen the show before and we jumped at the opportunity to be involved.

I’ve seen a lot of episodes, and in many cases they’re doing basic design. But as things have gotten more extreme over the years, they’ve begun to do really off-the-wall projects—things that have to be custom built and designed. People probably don’t think of a scenic company as something for a home, but the show decided to tap into our resources.

What initial guidelines were you given at the project's outset?
Well the time frame was a little scary. They called us about four weeks before the installation and we started from scratch at that point. Alexandra threw some ideas out and over the weeks, those ideas changed completely; it was a very fluid process. Once she had met the child whose room we were designing, the design started to change a bit.

And all materials and services that appear on the show are 100 percent donated—down to each screw and every piece of drywall. All of our products, transportation, and time spent on design and construction time was donated. So, as other vendors for the episode either fell through or others were confirmed, we had to change the concept for the room. Alexandra came up with other ideas and there were a lot of phone conversations. We didn’t really get a final design until 48 hours before installation. We were still massaging the ideas up until that point.

The team (right): Team members working on the project included Gary Seputis; carpenters Shannon Lewallen and Tim Lewallen; Steven Guy; Ben Locke; and Ken Cain, who designed and drew renderings.

What moments did you most enjoy from the experience?
The whole process! It was really neat to be involved in such a huge undertaking—it’s absolutely crazy how large of a production this really is. What you don’t see on television is how many people are actually involved.

When we arrived to install, we were at the back of a line of 25 trucks. There was a queue headed up to the house and about 100 personal vehicles parked up and down the road of all the companies donating their goods and services. On top of that, there were 250 to 350 volunteers who parked at an off-site facility and were brought in on school buses. They were all there to paint, clean floors, and help install equipment. It was almost like an ant hill got kicked over and people were just flowing out.

When we arrived, the yard was nothing but clay and mud and workers were creating and paving the driveway. Then when we drove out that night, they had finished the driveway and everything was completely landscaped, all during that 12-hour work day.

Did EDG get to take part in the installation?
The frame and rough end of the house were built by other companies, but after designing our components, we took them on site and installed them ourselves. And we took special considerations because Jacob—whose room we were working on—is in a wheelchair. Everything needed to be made accessible to him and at a specific height.

From a public relations standpoint, how did you promote your involvement in the show?
Other than the one press release, we aren’t able to really promote our involvement until the episode airs. We couldn’t give out too much information, but we will be receiving credit on the show itself, which includes our name in the credits as well as on the web site of the show. We’ll also be able to put the “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” logo and links to the episode on our EDG web site.

It just seems that people have a real connection with this show. So when people see that we’re involved and have donated our time and talents, that will help install trust in our company.

What advice do you have for other IAAPA members with similar television opportunities or redesign projects?
If anyone can afford to take it on, it’s a great opportunity, if just for the charity and community support aspects of it.

But it does take a huge amount of support and effort. Make sure you get a good idea of what the timeline and expectations are before you get involved. And understand there will be some changes. It was an exciting project for us, but we did not expect the timeline and expectations to keep changing like they did. Just roll with it and make it happen!

Check back next week for part two of our interview with Seputis, where he delves into the theming and installation details of the final room design, and what EDG learned as a company!

All photos courtesy Entertainment Design Group.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

IAAPA Webinar: Training New Supervisors

On Tuesday, May 18, 1 p.m. EDT, attractions human resources experts Matt Eckert of Holiday World, Matt Heller of Universal Orlando, and Shaun McKeogh of Farah Leisure will share insight about the challenges new supervisors face and what their managers need to know about preparing them for a new role. McKeogh gave In the Queue a glimpse into what webinar participants will learn.

What are the key issues for this webinar?
The key issues highlighted in the webinar include highlighting the range of challenges faced by new supervisors, peer pressure, strategies to step up to the challenges, and practical advice and support to turn challenges into opportunities.

Please share an example of a challenge that new supervisors face?
New supervisors face the daunting task of having to rise above the pressure of having to fit in with colleagues and friends who they once worked alongside but now manage. The challenges faced by the new supervisor in this situation include fear of rejection from their friends, the pressure to favor friends in decision making, a reluctance to reprimand or remind colleagues, and rejection from friends. New supervisors have often been the popular person in friendship groups and now must make decisions or deliver instructions that may make them unpopular. It takes a strong, confident, and mature person to be able to deal with these challenges all at once.

What challenges do their current managers face in training them?
Current managers face challenges in training new supervisors if no rapport is built across the generation divide. Empathy for the new supervisors’ challenges and an awareness of the language that is best going to communicate to the generation of the new supervisor will make training and mentoring most effective.

What is the most appropriate audience for this session?
The best audiences for this webinar are colleagues considering a move to management, people who have recently moved into a new supervisors positions, and managers charged with training and mentoring new supervisors.

What takeaways can participants expect from this session?
An awareness of the issues faced by new supervisors and practical advice and support in addressing common new supervisor challenges.

To register or learn more on IAAPA’s e-learning programs, click here.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Navigating the new FTC Advertising Guidelines

Late last year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) published revised guidelines for advertisers on how to keep endorsements and testimonial ads in compliance with the FTC Act. The guidelines address endorsements by consumers, experts, organizations, and celebrities, as well as the disclosure of important connections between advertisers and endorsers. The last time these guidelines were updated was in 1980—four years before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was even born—so regulators felt updates were needed to incorporate social media and other new marketing platforms.

Last month, the IAAPA Government Relations Committee met with FTC officials to discuss the guidelines and their applicability to the attractions industry. Randy Davis, IAAPA senior vice president of government relations and safety, summarized the discussion, including the questions raised and answers given in a letter. The FTC replied to IAAPA’s letter, confirming the summary was correct, so members can now use the points raised in the letter to help craft their policies.

Here is a summary of the letter:

Media Days

In this situation, the traditional media, as well as “new media” (e.g., bloggers, social media users) is invited to a facility to participate in a special event specifically for the media. For example, a park is opening a new ride and invites reporters and bloggers to preview it and talk to the manufacturer and park executives. Invited guests do not pay for admission.

In our discussion, the FTC indicated this would be considered a news event and therefore the facility operator would not be required to inform attendees that they needed to disclose that they received free access.

Opening Day

Some IAAPA facilities host events on opening day for the traditional media, bloggers, and users of social media. The FTC understands how an “Opening Day” can be newsworthy, especially for facilities that may not have a new ride or attraction that year.

If your facility hosts an “Opening Day” and lets bloggers and users of social media simply have a day in the facility, they should include a statement similar to the following in their write-up: “I was invited to tour [X Facility].” This would be sufficient to indicate they did not pay admission, and would comply with the guidelines.

Monitoring Efforts

We raised the issue of the how extensive our members’ monitoring efforts need to be. According to the FTC, there is a test of reasonableness based on the cost of the monitoring versus the risk of consumer injury. Facilities need to have a monitoring process in place. This should include such things as monitoring the blogs or postings of individuals who they know to be influential, but they do not need to check everything blogged or posted by everyone.

If the facility checks a blog once and finds it complies with the guides, the facility does not have to recheck that blog. If monitoring reveals that the guides have not been followed, a facility does not have to contact the author, but they should consider steps such as not inviting them back.


Another hot topic for facilities is visits by celebrities. In the meeting, we raised the example of a celebrity contacting a theme park and asking to visit. The theme park in this example provides free admission to the celebrity. The FTC told us the issue in these situations is whether or not the celebrity is part of the park’s marketing campaign.

If a facility’s policy is to provide complementary admission to celebrities who are not spokespersons, there is no need for the celebrities to note that they were provided entry free of charge if they later discuss their visit in a blog or a tweet. If the park asked celebrities for a picture and distributed it to local media and social sites, there is still no requirement that free admission be disclosed. However, if the celebrities were part of an overall public relations strategy (i.e., if he or she was contracted as a “spokesperson”), they would need to make the relationship clear.

IAAPA members should familiarized themselves with the regulations and our letter, and make sure their internal policies are in compliance with the new regulations. As with all policies, members may want to check with an attorney with questions specific to their facilities. For general questions, please feel free to contact us.