Monday, June 27, 2011

Astrid Lindgrens Värld Unveils New Matt's Forest

Our IAAPA Europe colleague Jakob Wahl sends this update from Sweden:

Friday, June 17, saw the official opening of the new Matt’s Forest section of Astrid Lindgrens Värld in Vimmerby, Sweden. This new land is the biggest investment in the theme park’s history, according to Managing Director Mikael Ahlerup, and is home to an outdoor theater and a a 300-square-meter (3,229-square-foot) rock castle, which is home to the Ronja character from Astrid Lindgren’s last book. 

The performers “live” in the castle and the adjacent forest during the day, and invite visitors to play and interact with them. Several times a day they play smaller chapters of the book in shows of around 10 minutes; the major show takes place late in the afternoon, when the story of Ronja is told in further detail, including the happy ending. 

Meanwhile the rock castle serves several functions: a huge stage with impressive special effects; a “home” to the actors; an explorer playground for the kids on four different levels; and a cellar, where the park can host special VIP events. An extensive tunnel system under the scenery enables the actors to move, unseen by the visitors, from one part of the scene to another one.

The creative team and the entertainment department of Astrid Lindgrens Värld brought the story to life in a way that visitors of all ages can spend time playing on their own, interacting with the actors, and enjoying the shows.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

IAAPA Submits Comment Letter on Health Care Reform

Last week IAAPA submitted a letter to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in response to the IRS's Request for Comments on Shared Responsibility for Employers Regarding Health Coverage. In the letter, which is available on the IAAPA website, we agree with the IRS's proposed look-back/stability period that employers can use to determine if an employee regularly meets the criteria frequently enough to be considered "full time" under the new health care law, and thus is eligible to enroll in the employer's health insurance plan.

As is the case in many seasonal industries, businesses in the attractions industry rely on seasonal employees who may work more than 30 hours per week, but only do so for a short period of the year. The attractions industry was disappointed that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act did not address seasonal employees under the Employer Responsibility provisions, leaving a lot of human resources professionals in the industry questioning how this law would impact their businesses.

The Request for Comments was the first time the government attempted to address seasonal workers and their treatment under the PPACA. Now that the comment period has closed, the IRS will consider the comments it received and move forward with a rulemaking process. We hope the IRS follows the Administrative Procedures Act and puts out a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which will provide the industry with another opportunity to offer comments. We are watching for that notice, and will alert members when it is released.