Friday, July 31, 2009

Register for Charity Events at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009

Online registration is now open for two charity events at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Las Vegas that benefit Give Kids The World.

• The 2009 IAAPA International Charity Golf Tournament will be Monday, Nov. 16, at Angel Park Golf Club, with tee time at 8:30 a.m. Register now by clicking here. The earlier, the better, as this event tends to fill up quick.

• The IAAPA Charity 5K Fun Run & 1K Walk is set for 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, at Pecos Legacy Park in Henderson, Nevada, about 9 miles from the heart of the Las Vegas Strip (transportation will be provided from Wynn Las Vegas). Click here for registration (if you're not an IAAPA member, choose "Create New Account," which will allow you to sign up for this specific event).

We're proud to support GKTW with these events—the money raised will certainly go to a great cause, helping fulfill dreams for children with life-threatening illnesses. If you have any questions about these two events, please contact my colleague, Angela Albertini, at

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Different Kind of Webinar

What better time to brainstorm new ideas when you need them: right in the heart of the season?
On Wednesday, July 29, at 11 a.m. EDT, Ted Molter, director of marketing at the San Diego Zoo and O. Lee Mincey, director of administration at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom, will moderate a free-form webinar that will allow participants to … participate!
This session is designed to bring professionals together to discuss ideas and solutions that can be put to use right now while the season’s still going strong. Molter and Mincey will guide the conversation using the following questions and topic areas—consider these as you develop your questions and anecdotes:

- What is your overall impression of the season (attendance, sales)?
- How has the current economic situation caused your business model to change?
- What has surprised you the most this summer?
- What attendance drivers have worked best for you this season?
- What food, merchandise, or services are selling well so far?
- What is your planning, purchasing, and marketing strategy for the fall (seasonal or holiday events)?

To register for this webinar and to find out more about future sessions, click here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Honoring a Legend: Thanks for the Memories, Marty

Marty Sklar stands below his new window at Disneyland's City Hall

What better way to celebrate Disneyland's 54th anniversary today than honoring one of The Walt Disney Company's original and most revered visionaries?

This morning in a ceremony outside Disneyland's City Hall, Disney Legend Marty Sklar was given his own window at the legendary theme park—fulfilling a tradition begun by Walt Disney himself.

“This is probably the greatest honor we can bestow on any of our Cast Members that have gone above and beyond to make sure we create magic for every guest,” said Disneyland President Ed Grier. “Certainly no one has gone above and beyond more than Marty Sklar in Walt’s spirit of hope and optimism.”

“Marty was one of the original cast of Walt’s dreamers and doers,” said Bruce Vaughn, chief creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering. “He was one of the dedicated pioneers of Imagineering who forged a commitment to creativity and innovation in our storytelling. His generation of Imagineers crafted the idea that it’s kind of fun to do the impossible. If it hadn’t been thought of, they thought of it; if it didn’t exist, they built it; and if it couldn’t be done, they did it anyway. To this day, this philosophy guides us, differentiates us, and makes us … Disney. He helped establish a foundation that Imagineers today continue to live by.”

Sklar's window now resides just above City Hall's entrance, at office he used to use while creating dreams and shaping them into reality.

“Being here at this location, where you can look over where Walt dedicated Disneyland, this is where the heart is,” Sklar said. “This is very emotional for me. Fifty-some years, so many memories here. There hasn’t been a boring day.”

Sklar began his Disney career in the PR department a month before Disneyland opened July 17, 1955. He moved to Imagineering (then known as WED Enterprises) in 1974, beginning a 30-year run of creating Disney parks and attractions around the world. Entering today, he was the only active Cast Member to participate in the opening of all 11 Disney parks worldwide.

After the ceremony, I asked Sklar if even Walt could have imagined the scope of The Walt Disney Company's success from what began here in Anaheim with Disneyland.

“Oh sure,” Sklar told me. “The only thing Walt would have said is, ‘What took you so long?’”

Marty with a replica of his window (courtesy The Walt Disney Company)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

'World of Color': Sneak Peek at the New Night Show for Disney's California Adventure

I'm in Anaheim this week reporting on the makeover of Disney's California Adventure. This morning I attended a behind-the-scenes media preview of the park's new nighttime spectacular, "World of Color," set to debut in spring 2010.

"World of Color" will be a 25-minute water-based show staged on DCA's lagoon. If the Disney Imagineers are truly able to turn the plans they shared today into reality, "World of Color" is going to make the fountains at Bellagio look like splashes in a baby pool.

The show will launch from a 400-foot-long platform sunk into the lagoon—the entire structure covers nearly a full acre. The water's drained right now so the Disney crews can work on it, so if you look at the photo above (courtesy of The Walt Disney Company) you can see what the setup looks like. That massive structure will actually reside completely submerged beneath the water during the day, then float to the surface for showtime (it'll only take about 10 minutes to do so).

Disney's building an entirely new terrace on the edge of the lagoon (facing newly refurbished Paradise Pier) to create capacity for 9,000 guests to see the spectacular. What will they be looking at?

"World of Color" will take the video-on-mist-screen technology used in "Fantasmic!" to a phenomenal next level through new digital projection technology. Twenty-nine high-definition projectors will splash images up on a mist screen 380 feet long and 50 feet high—or 19,000 square feet. The screen will interact with approximately 1,200 fountains—some with capacity to shoot water 200 feet into the air—throughout the lagoon to provide a show Disney creatives are saying is of a scale never seen before in their parks.

"This is the biggest entertainment undertaking we've ever done," Imagineer Steve Davison, creative director for "World of Color," told me. "It's bigger than Epcot, bigger than Tokyo, bigger than any fireworks show we've ever done."

That. Is. Saying. Something. Characters, scenes, and music from several Disney films will be included in the production; the renderings below (also courtesy of Disney) provide an idea of what the "Alice in Wonderland" and "Pocahontas" sections will look like.

"World of Color" hearkens back to Walt Disney's television program of the same name, and is demonstrative of the thematic shift DCA will make over the next three years as it transitions away from the kitschy modern-day vibe it expresses now into a vision of Los Angeles as Disney experienced it nearly a century ago.

"The tone [of the show] is perfect because it combines everything we're trying to do [at DCA]," Bob Weiss, executive vice president for Walt Disney Imagineering, told me today. "We're bringing more Walt, more inspiration, more storytelling, we're trying do everything in state-of-the-art technologies people have not seen before. It epitomizes and symbolizes for us what's going to be transformative about everything we're adding."

The size, scope, and sheer amount of information I learned today is overwhelming, as I'm sure this show will be when it leaps into the sky next year. I could blog about this for a week and still not get through it all. But look for my full, in-depth coverage of the DCA expansion/makeover in the Nov./Dec. 2009 issue of FUNWORLD. In the meantime, check out the new site Disney launched today,, for more info and a look at more of the artistic renderings for additions to the park.

Friday, July 10, 2009

July FUNWORLD Is Online

The July issue of FUNWORLD is ready for you to read via our digital edition. Click here to find:

• A cover story on Camp Iliff, which has added day care to the traditional FEC model.
• An eight-page section on safety and maintenance techniques and technology.
• A report on Twitter: Is it a trick or a treat for marketers?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tips to Save Time and Money

Late last month, the IAAPA Communications team issued a press release on "30 Tips to Save Time and Money at Theme Parks and Attractions." The goal was to spur interest in the industry and our member facilities by giving potential guests yet another reason to get in the car and visit.

You can read the original release here, but what's more exciting is the information was picked up by Reader's Digest's online division. Check out the post by Janice Lieberman highlighting IAAPA's tips here.