Monday, December 22, 2008

New Year, New Chairman, New FUNWORLD Issue

Just want to let everyone know In the Queue is taking the rest of the year off. Thanks to all for following along with us as we really got this new forum rolling in 2008.

We're looking forward to another great year in 2009, with more original content and live coverage of IAAPA events. But I definitely don't want to leave you this week empty handed. The January issue of FUNWORLD should be hitting your mailboxes soon, but you can see it RIGHT NOW via the magazine's new digital edition. Simply click here to read my interview with new IAAPA chairman Darrell Metzger, who has some exciting ideas for his year in the top spot. Also look for:

• Complete coverage of IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008 in a special 10-page section.
• An examination of how dining plans are being implemented at amusement parks.
• How attractions are employing architects to design fascinating structures throughout our industry.

Again, thanks to everyone for a great 2008.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Why Wharton? Why Now?

Ted Molter is the director of marketing at San Diego Zoo and serves on IAAPA’s Board of Directors and as the chair of the IAAPA Education Committee. In this role, he has become a champion for the IAAPA Institute for Executive Education at the Wharton School.

Knowing that we’re getting close to the holidays, and the Jan. 9 registration deadline, I recently e-mailed with Ted about the Institute to get more information about the program and to find out why you may want to attend.

Here’s an excerpt from our digital conversation:

Heidi: Tell me a little bit about yourself ... what do you do for the San Diego Zoo?
Ted: As director of marketing and a San Diego Zoo executive team member I am responsible for developing and directing collaborative multi-divisional strategic plans. I direct strategic planning and integrated marketing initiatives for a multi-divisional marketing department composed of public relations, publications, web site, advertising and promotions, partnership marketing, licensing, group sales, interpretation, and creative services. Of course this all takes place with the dedicated and successful effort of the 70-member employee team dedicated to sales and marketing.

Together we are responsible for a multimillion-dollar budget designated for marketing the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, and the organization’s conservation communication and awareness efforts. But more important than anything else is our responsibility for the world-famous San Diego Zoo brand.

Heidi: As chair of the IAAPA Education Committee and a board member, you are a big advocate of the IAAPA Executive Education Program at the Wharton School. Why do you believe this program is so important for attractions industry executives? What will they gain from the experience?
Ted: I have had the opportunity to work in this industry for more than 25 years. I started in the operations department at SeaWorld of Ohio parking cars. I worked as a penguin keeper and aquarist before going into public relations for the marine-life park, eventually heading west to market the San Diego Zoo. I feel privileged to have learned about this business coming through the ranks as well as getting an outside education. It has become a career and a job that I truly love.

As we look to the future, and even today stories and experiences like mine are not as common as they once were in our industry. Our businesses are hiring people with experience from other industries. These new managers and executives are a highly significant, necessary part of our future.

The program at Wharton is a tremendous opportunity to put everyone together to cultivate the best of breed for the leadership of our industry. In the two years that I have attended Wharton I definitely learned from the instructors, but I also learned from my peers. There just isn't another option for attractions industry executives to get together and have this experience.

Of course brands really mean something to me, so the reputation of Wharton and IAAPA together is a very significant winning combination. The finest executive education and a global attractions membership network absolutely define future leadership for our industry.

Heidi: Economic times are tough, what makes the Wharton program a good investment?
Ted: Twenty-five years for me, 30 to 40 for some of my industry peers. The economics, trends, and the behavior of consumers are always changing, but the basic need for diversion and escape that attractions provide always remains. Many of us have made long-time commitments to these businesses. Take this opportunity to secure the future. So many investments are uncertain at the moment, but investing in leadership can only result in better business. I may have 25 years of experience in this industry, but I have done my best to make it 25 very different years and not the same year 25 times. To this point it doesn't matter how long you have been in this industry or some other, participation in the Wharton program will make your next year of experience new.

Heidi: What is the most intriguing part of this year's curriculum?
Ted: IAAPA is fortunate to have a partner in the Wharton School. They customize the curriculum to be attraction-industry focused and very relevant to our business. This year, the curriculum will focus on decision making and strategic planning, with an emphasis on balancing strategy and execution.

About the IAAPA Institute for Executive Education: As the premier professional development program for attractions industry leaders, the program has graduated more than 200 executives from 30 different countries. The program is designed for CEOs, general managers, owners, department heads, and directors to share their experiences with other industry leader and discover how to maximize global trends and opportunities.

For an application, click here!
Contact Linda Gerson at +1 703/299-5768 or for additional information.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New VGB Resource Center for Waterparks

If you're a waterpark operator in the U.S., the date Dec. 19, 2008—Friday—is probably marked on your calendar. That's the day the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act takes effect. The VGB Act has gotten a lot of attention lately; there was even a segment on NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday.

We have assembled materials to help members navigate the new provisions:
  • Due Diligence Plan: Members should review the linked document immediately and take appropriate steps to address their individual situations in light of the unavailability of product to fit large, field-fabricated drains. This document has not been approved by CPSC. It does not provide legal advice, but highlights some best practice steps that could be taken. Members are urged to consult counsel as necessary.
  • Contact Elected Officials: Tell your member of Congress about the challenges you are facing as a result of the VGB Act. Our grassroots action center makes it easy for you to contact your elected officials. Just fill in your contact information and click “send”.
These materials and others can also be found on the IAAPA Waterpark Community Page.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

CPSIA and its impact on the attractions industry

In recent weeks, there has been a lot of talk about the Consumer Product Safety Improvements Act (CPSIA) and the effects it will have on the attractions industry.

The CPSIA (H.R. 4040) had strong bipartisan support and was passed by a vote of 424-1 in the House of Representatives and 89-3 in the Senate. The bill was signed by President Bush on Aug. 14, 2008.

As a member of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) CPSC Coalition, IAAPA worked to balance the safety improvements for consumer products in the United States with burdens placed on members of the attractions industry in this legislation.

Regardless, the CPSIA will affect a broad range of IAAPA members, from FECs and other facilities in the U.S. to manufacturers and distributors both in the U.S. and abroad.

The effect dates for various parts of the CPSIA are rolling. Below are some of provisions which will go into effect in February 2009. For the rest, check out Mike Bederka’s full story which appears in the January 2009 issue of FUNWORLD.

Lower Lead Levels
By Feb. 10, 2009, items designed or intended primarily for children age 12 and younger may not contain more than 600 parts per million (ppm) of lead. For now, the CPSC’s general counsel has taken the position that existing inventory cannot be sold after this date, unless it complies with the new lead limits. Maximum lead content levels decrease over the next two years.

Third-Party Testing
The legislation imposes an additional third-party testing requirement for all products primarily intended for kids 12 and younger. Every manufacturer (including an importer) or private labeler must have its product tested by an accredited independent lab and, based on the testing, issue a certificate that the product meets all applicable CPSC requirements.
Certificates must include info on the identity of the product’s manufacturer/private labeler, the testing lab, and the date and place of manufacturing and testing of the product. Products without the certificate cannot be imported or distributed in the United States.
Testing and certification for “small parts” is effective Feb. 10, 2009. Lead content testing and certification will go into effect in August, 2009.

As of Feb. 10, 2009, it will be illegal to manufacture, sell, distribute, or import into the United States any children’s toy that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), or benzyl butyl phthalate (BBP).
There’s also an “interim prohibition,” beginning Feb. 10, 2009, on any toy that can be placed in a child’s mouth that contains concentrations of more than 0.1 percent of diisononyl phthalate (DINP), diisodecyl phthalate (DIDP), or di-n-octyl phthalate (DnOP).
The CPSC’s general counsel has written an advisory opinion that says Congress did not indicate in the law that the phthalates ban applies retroactively. Unless Congress or the CPSC commissioners reverse this opinion, existing inventory is not covered by the ban.

There has been recent discord about the CPSC’s enforcement of the CPSIA. A congressional hearing on the issue was scheduled for this week but postponed until January. Additionally, consumer advocacy groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Public Citizen, have filed a lawsuit in federal court against the CPSC as a result of the general counsel’s advisory opinion on phthalates.

Additionally, California's Attorney General has entered the fray and issued a letter to the CPSC declaring that 1) California’s state phthalate restriction which takes effect January 1, 2009, is not federally preempted and 2) that toys and child care articles containing excessive levels of phthalates cannot be sold or distributed in California after January 1, 2009, no matter when or where they were manufactured. In short, there will be retroactive application of the California phthalate ban effective January 1, 2008 and nothing the CPSC says to the contrary matters if you are doing business in California. The Attorney General, and other public enforcers, can and will enforce California’s phthalate ban effective January 1, 2009.

If you have questions about provisions of the CPSIA, visit the CPSC’s CPSIA web page. Because information changes daily, I strongly encourage all IAAPA members who may be affected by the CPSIA to sign up for e-mail alerts from the CPSC. As the issue develops, please stay tuned to the IAAPA web site, this blog, and FUNWORLD for updates.


December 17, 2008

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) CPSC coalition is petitioning the CPSC to provide guidance on testing and exemptions for lead limits as outlined in the CPSIA. IAAPA, as a part of the NAM CPSC coalition, has signed on to this petition.

The CPSIA imposes a limit on lead in substrates of "any part" of a children's product, defined as a consumer product designed or intended primarily for children 12 and under. The CPSIA sets forth standards and timetables to reduce lead in paint and in substrate materials. The first phase of reduced lead limits begins Feb. 10, 2009.

CPSC staff has issued accreditation standards for testing of lead in paint and metal but standards for testing other materials will not be issued until late next year. This has created confusion and hardship in the manufacturing industry. CPSC General Counsel has advised that the lead limits are retroactive, affecting all products on store shelves on February 10.

Under the current testing procedures, every component of a children’s product must be tested separately for lead. For example, if a manufacturer makes a hooded sweatshirt with an appliqué on it, the sweatshirt fabric and sewing thread, the appliqué, the drawstring, the plastic tip on the draw string, and the care label must all be tested separately for lead. Many of these components are not likely to pose a risk of lead exposure in reasonably foreseeable use and abuse situations.

If the CPSC does not act promptly to exclude materials and products that do not pose a genuine risk, hundreds of thousands of materials and products may be banned or will have to be tested for lead unnecessarily and at great expense, despite the fact that no laboratories are duly accredited to do lead substrate testing and no comprehensive screening methods have yet been approved by the CPSC staff for such testing. In addition, there are currently an inadequate number of accredited test laboratories to perform the testing under existing regulations and standards already being required.

January 15, 2009
We have scheduled a free webinar on the CPSIA for Friday, January 13, 2009. Please see this blog post for the details including registration information.

January 27, 2009
I have put all of this information and more on our new Toy Safety web page. I am no longer going to update this blog post so check the web page, NewsFlash and e-mails from IAAPA for current information.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yes, We're Still Here …

Apologies again for the lack of communication here at In the Queue over the past couple weeks. I'm still feeling some IAAPA Attractions Expo-related jetlag, I think. It's crazy to think the event our association plans and works so hard for has been over for more than two weeks already!

It always seems like there should be a post-show cloud of relaxing goodness, but that's never actually the case because as soon as I get back, Amanda (my editor) and I have to get all the materials together for the January issue of FUNWORLD. In fact, that issue is going out the door tonight, but I'm taking a few minutes away while Amanda gives everything one last once-over. I'll update here when the issue hits the mail.

In the meantime, though, here's a piece of holiday cheer from my friend Pam Landwirth at Give Kids The World. She forwarded us this letter from one of the Village's recent visitors, and I thought you might like to see it. IAAPA members raised $110,000 for GKTW through various efforts at the Expo, and here's absolute proof that money is going toward a tremendous cause. Visiting the Village in person and seeing the new playground and villas that have gone up recently was one of the highlights of my week, for sure.

To all the staff and Volunteers at Give Kids The World Village:

Thank you very much for your hospitality during our stay. We can't express enough how grateful we are. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We have a hard time describing the Village because it is sooo incredible. From the big picture to the smallest details, you have thought of everything. We feel sooo fortunate to have been given this amazing vacation.

The people who created the Village and the people who run it now know exactly what a "special needs family" truly needs. We were almost feeling guilty of having too much fun! Our whole family felt special and "catered to," but the best part was seeing the kindness, patience, and care given to Jesse. People (staff & volunteers) said hello to Jesse, talked to him, gave him the time he needs to respond, made him feel recognized in the world. As he gets older, less people acknowledge him, which breaks our hearts. You helped us forget that for an entire week. God gave us such a wonderful blessing to experience the GKTW Village. You are all selfless individuals, and together you help share your gifts with families in need of a boost of love and joy.

Jesse is doing amazing things after our trip! He is standing by himself for long periods of time, taking steps unassisted, babbling new sounds, and smiling and laughing more. I feel you have jump-started the miracle we've been praying for. Thank you.

Jesse's family