29 September 2015

Fitter tigers and splash-happy elephants: New zoo habitats

My article in issue #59 of InPark Magazine explains why new exhibits with soaking, swimming and splashing options will make the tigers fitter and the elephants happier at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and Sedgwick County Zoo, respectively.

But just what does it take to create a water attraction for zoo animals? It goes far beyond making and filling up a pool. Read the story here.

24 September 2015

The 2015 Milan world's fair has the taste of success

Editorial, 8/29/2015: A delicious success in Milan (InPark Magazine issue #58)

"There is no love sincerer than the love of food." -- George Bernard Shaw

Expo Milano 2015 is displaying considerable success on many fronts: popular, critical, visitation and international goodwill.

Organizers showed savvy in choosing a theme that revolves around food – allowing exhibitors to address the serious angles (world hunger, food sustainability, agribusiness) while simply celebrating the joy of food. This brilliant theme has allowed the Expo to leverage the brand of Italy – its inherent appeal for travelers and residents alike. Food and food security are subjects on which every exhibitor can shine as well. Moreover, world’s fairs have historically ushered in a wide range of breakthroughs and these have included food trends.

Food is something that never goes out of style, never loses its relevance and has always been a key element of an expo even when not central to the theme. I think Milan 2015 will stand as an example of a world’s fair perfectly tailored to its region and to its era.

Politically, the expo is established on the international radar as a place to be seen. Expo 2015 Milano has been drawing heads of state and dignitaries from around the world. A partial list includes the presidents of Italy, France, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Lithuania, Columbia, Ivory Coast and Madagascar; the Queen of Belgium; the Prime Minister of Egypt; and from the US, First Lady Michelle Obama, Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

Measuring success by attendance, Milan 2015, a 6-month expo running May 1-Oct 31, reached 8.3 million at the halfway mark. As, historically, visitation rates balloon toward the end of an expo as closing day looms, Milan is likely to reach the 20 million total that organizers originally projected.

A look at attendance totals for the previous expos held in this century provides context. Milan’s numbers are very competitive with the last 6-month world’s fair held in Europe, Hanover 2000, and well ahead of the more recent, 3-month event in Zaragoza (Spain). The much higher Shanghai numbers reflect the much larger local population that region has to draw upon.

Many thanks to consultant James Ogul, InPark’s world’s fair expert, who was a resource for this article.

  • Yeosu 2012: 8,203,956 (3 months)
  • Shanghai 2010: 73,000,000 (6 months)
  • Zaragoza 2008: 5,650,941 (3 months)
  • Aichi 2005: 22,049,544 (6 months)
  • Hanover 2000: 18,000,000 (6 months)

05 May 2015

How TEA fosters professional development for students of themed entertainment

by Judith Rubin

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) cultivates students and young talent through its NextGen initiative. Activities include TEA GibGab, a speed networking event bringing together TEA NextGen members, who are college students or recent grads - with TEA member companies looking for new hires.

"The talent we cultivate is our industry's future," said TEA President Steve Birket (Birket Engineering) who participated in TEA GibGab East on April 2, 2015, in Orlando. "The large entertainment owner/operators tell me that TEA’s member companies are their lifeblood.”

TEA COO Jennie Nevin said, "Especially in Asia, we are seeing dramatic growth in the leisure sector, and there is huge demand for what our members can provide."

Gary Blumenstein of sponsor company Rethink Leisure & Entertainment, sponsor of GibGab West on April 16, 2015 in the Los Angeles area, said, "It gives you a chance to meet the new talent and delve a little deeper into their skills and goals. Whether they are artists or engineers or both, they’re sharing similar goals to create the immersive stories and experiences of themed entertainment."

Click here to read the full article and learn more about TEA activities in professional development, networking, conferences and more.