Nov 05, 2018 Joe Kleiman #75 - IAAPA 2018, 2018, Asia, Attractions, Business, Europe & Middle East, Features, IPM Interviews, Museums, North America, People, Theme Parks, Water Parks, World markets, Zoos & Aquariums Comments Off on JCO: Theming beyond the theme park
ABOVE: JCO’s designs for the NAVYSEUM Exploration Center
In 2008, Jumana Brodersen established her own, independent design firm, JCO, LLC, after a decade as a creative executive with Busch Entertainment Corporation (BEC, now SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment). JCO, based in St. Louis, MO, specializes in master planning and attraction design for zoos, community and commercial enterprises and theme parks, and over the course of 10 years in business has built a diverse, international portfolio. To celebrate JCO’s 10th anniversary, we asked Jumana a number of questions about experience, achievements and insights gained since launching her own firm.
After a decade of designing conventional architecture, my experience in themed entertainment design started at PGAV in 1989. At PGAV, I mostly worked on Busch Entertainment Corporation projects, as well as on PortAventura (Spain). In 1998, I joined Busch Entertainment, which was based in St. Louis at the time.
When I was with BEC, I was part of the team that worked on Aquatica Orlando, which opened in 2008. This property was unique, much different from the SeaWorld parks, which are about animal experiences, and from Discovery Cove, which is an upscale, intimate park. My role was to determine the criteria and character for the park.
We worked with the operations teams from all the BEC parks. It was an amazing learning experience. Creating the core product of a successful waterpark was just part of the formula; understanding the mindset of waterparkgoers was key to creating Aquatica. Guest comfort was crucial; so was ensuring that there was ample water surface area. Aquatica has a great mix of lazy rivers, wave pools and children’s activity pools – plus, of course, the water slides provide the “sizzle.”
Another great project JCO worked on was Wild Wadi waterpark in Dubai. We were contracted by the client for a development plan. We assessed the park capacities and throughput. We conducted SWOT analysis and we developed future attraction concepts [SWOT = strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats]. The ideas included major attraction ideas and general park enhancements.
JCO is engaged on several projects in China for Wanda Group: a waterpark and two marine mammal parks. We also do work with real estate developers, including Koch Development, the group that owns the Skywheel in Myrtle Beach. For Koch we develop a number of master plans.
We’ve designed an observation wheel for them that opened this year in Panama City Beach, FL – the Pier Park SkyWheel. For clients in Myrtle Beach, SC, we have done master planning and design for a few buildings on Ocean Blvd, and Broadway at the Beach. These projects fit with our core strengths. Our style tends to be more based in reality, more naturalistic. We enjoy waterfront tourist type projects. They are nature-based, thematic environments that blend themed entertainment with beachside resorts and tourist destinations.
I live in St. Louis and my local clients include the St. Louis Zoo, where I have done some projects that I’m very proud of [see “Designing for bears, dogs, lemurs, humans and other living things,” InPark issue #54] and the Missouri Botanical Garden. We’re also currently working with a couple of clients in Branson, MO and with Holiday World in Indiana.
I love working in this region, where I’m easily accessible to the clients and the projects. But we also do other work throughout the US and internationally, such as our three large-scale projects in China, all now in design development phase.
I’ve learned that it’s not just listening to what clients are asking for but hearing what they need. That comes from learning about them, understanding the bigger picture behind their goals, getting a finger on the pulse of their audience and really immersing ourselves in their market, so we can set the guest experience accordingly.
There is a perception that if people have cool machines and software, they’re suddenly cool designers. Part of this problem stems from there being an abundance of tools available, but design is much more than the tools of the trade, and it also goes beyond design skills per se. It involves understanding demographics, psychology, and the clients’ needs. We are in the service business. We create innovative ideas and sound design vs a tangible product. That’s the soul of the guest experience.
Who are we designing for? Who will be the ultimate user of the space? What’s their background and what will they be looking for? What’s nearby; will it compete with, or augment the places we are designing? Once we answer these questions, we have the criteria established. That’s before pen hits paper. We then begin to create the big idea: a master plan and thematic setting.
Our goal is to make the client’s vision a reality. I’m not designing for myself. I always understand that I’m in the client’s sandbox, and we must respect the client’s time and vision and everything they bring to the project. It is crucial to understand the clients’ expectations, and their definition of success. This our aim for each project.
It’s key to dream big at the beginning, but just as important is understanding how to dial back without losing the original intent; how to maintain the essence of the design. Two primary things clients like about JCO are: 1) We listen to what they want; 2) Our design solutions include a designer’s as well as an operator’s point of view, as I and a number of my team members have experience from both sides. Having extensive experience on the owner/operator’s side as well as the creative side gives us perspective and understanding of marketing an attraction as well as creating a product that is achievable within the project budget and that can be maintained.
JCO draws on a pool of trusted, freelance consultants, all project based and most of whom I’ve been collaborating with for years. This works very well for me. I have a full portfolio of consultants. They include artists, graphic designers, industrial designers, planners and architects. I can put together a well-rounded mix of talent tailored to a particular contract. I also have people that help with detailed design drawings and CAD.
I’ve learned from the owner’s side, especially Busch, the importance of marketing involvement, very early on in the project. One of JCO’s partners is Authentus Group, brand strategists that we work with during concept design phase of projects.
Another key group that we work with on zoological type projects are experts in animal behavior: Thad Lacinak and Angi Millwood of Precision Behavior bring experience from working with SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.
All of our projects respect the theme and the brand of where they’re going. That’s especially important when you’re putting IP [intellectual property] in a park. I learned this with Busch when we put Sesame Street into SeaWorld. It had to highlight the Sesame brand without overpowering SeaWorld and Busch Gardens brands.
My first project after I left Busch was the Klump Island children’s area at Tivoli, which is based on a classic Danish comic strip. I made sure that it was true to the comic, but it also had to feel like it was organically part of Tivoli.
Another one of the projects from SeaWorld days was the Manta roller coaster at SeaWorld Orlando. After riding Tatsu, the flying coaster at Magic Mountain, I felt a flying coaster for SeaWorld would be a better fit than a hyper coaster (which was also being considered as an option at that time). Riding a flying coaster felt unique to me because the hardware mechanism is all behind you while riding. It truly simulates a flying experience. Another major reason for this being a favorite was because we were able to build it out as a realm of its own with aquariums and other elements that provided a quality themed experience and reinforced the park brand.
We were working with the animal folks on the project and one of the curators suggested that the vehicle looked like a flying ray, and we had our name. This was a true collaboration among the design team, animal care and the park’s operations team.
Jungala at Busch Gardens Tampa was another project that I am proud of. Jungala was a mix of multiple attractions in one. It tied together the tigers and the orangutans with rides, a three-story play area, and food and retail. All in one cool immersive environment. It was not the blockbuster attraction that would pull people into Busch Gardens like a new coaster, but it raised the bar overall for the entire park, and provides an engaging and fun guest experience.
I hope that NAVYSEUM Exploration Center will gain enough momentum and financial backing to move forward. This all-family attraction based on the essence of the U.S. Navy was the brainchild of Founder’s Ron Lanz. JCO did all the planning, creative, scope definition and developed full content of the concept package including renderings. The project site is north of Chicago. I think that this project will be a great attraction and will provide a truly engaging and fun guest experience. • • •
For more information about JCO, or to set up a meeting with Jumana Brodersen during the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, email email@example.com.
Comments Off on Try a drop of this: Ten innovative technologies for water attractions
Comments Off on Luc Petit CREATION: Storyboards & dragons
Comments Off on WhiteWater brings continuous innovation to parks
Comments Off on Bellewaerde adds water
Sep 13, 2019 Comments Off on GSCA announces winners of 2019 Achievement Awards
Sep 13, 2019 Comments Off on Disney’s Paul Baribault named President and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global
Sep 11, 2019 Comments Off on Famed paleontologist Scott Sampson begins new role as Executive Director of San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences
Sep 11, 2019 Comments Off on Netflix and thrill: Greg Lombardo joins the content streaming powerhouse as Head of Experiences
Sep 11, 2019 Comments Off on Editorial: Creative risks and theme park attendance
Sep 11, 2019 Comments Off on Editorial: Do what you love and love what you do
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on #79 – Europe and waterparks
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Transitions: Leaps and bounds
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Try a drop of this: Ten innovative technologies for water attractions
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Luc Petit CREATION: Storyboards & dragons
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on InfoComm 2019 Orlando: AV evolution
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on WhiteWater brings continuous innovation to parks
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Bellewaerde adds water
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Alterface: Kernels of truth
Sep 09, 2019 Comments Off on Exploring IAAPA Europe
Sep 09, 2019 Comments Off on DNP: The photo souvenir
Sep 09, 2019 Comments Off on WWA heads to Disney
Sep 09, 2019 Comments Off on Christie: From film dome to fulldome
Jul 02, 2019 Comments Off on Expo 2020 Dubai Update
Jun 26, 2019 Comments Off on Meet Lionsgate Entertainment World’s new general manager: Selena Magill
Jun 25, 2019 Comments Off on IAAPA Expo Asia 2019 brings 11,000+ to Shanghai
Jun 24, 2019 Comments Off on Hard hat tour of Rulantica & Krønasår
Sep 11, 2019 Comments Off on Netflix and thrill: Greg Lombardo joins the content streaming powerhouse as Head of ExperiencesLombardo brings with him more than a decade experience in...
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Transitions: Leaps and boundsIndustry professionals are making moves and creating waves
Sep 09, 2019 Comments Off on Exploring IAAPA EuropeMeet recent additions to IAAPA’s European team
Aug 08, 2019 Comments Off on IPM Interview: Jennifer Lee Hackett, Sinking Ship EntertainmentGiant screen veteran Jennifer Lee Hackett has joined...
Jun 28, 2019 Comments Off on John Miceli and the new DE-ŹYN StudiosThroughout his career, John Miceli has worked in feature...
Jun 26, 2019 Comments Off on Meet Lionsgate Entertainment World’s new general manager: Selena MagillMeet the new GM of Lionsgate Entertainment World, scheduled...
May 08, 2019 Comments Off on ECA2: All eyes on LanzhouECA2's latest spectacle, a permanent installation in a...
May 06, 2019 Comments Off on IAAPA Expo Asia"Establishing a presence in both Hong Kong and Shanghai...
Apr 29, 2019 Comments Off on Vekoma: Coasting around AsiaInPark spoke to Jason Pan, Vekoma’s regional director of...
Mar 21, 2019 Comments Off on Lisa Passamonte GreenThe Thea Awards Nominating Committee annually reviews and...
Mar 21, 2019 Comments Off on Infinite Kingdoms: Planet playologyWe recently connected with founder Denise Chapman Weston...
Mar 21, 2019 Comments Off on The French connection: Meet Michel Linet-Frion"Since I typically rely on contracted expertise and talent...
Mar 21, 2019 Comments Off on Andrew O’Rourke: Google THISIn late 2018, Andrew became an employee of Adecco working...
Dec 18, 2018 Comments Off on Mad Systems: The future is nowInPark reported on the launch and revisited with Ensing for...
Dec 18, 2018 Comments Off on Time for a changeInPark checks in with industry leaders who are heading back...
Nov 05, 2018 Comments Off on Michael Mercadante: Giving backMichael Mercadante, President of Main Street Design, Inc....
Nov 05, 2018 Comments Off on JCO: Theming beyond the theme parkJCO, based in St. Louis, MO, specializes in master planning...
Nov 05, 2018 Comments Off on The Hettema Group: Inside the experience designer’s studioFounded by Phil in 2002, The Hettema Group has gone on to...
Sep 14, 2018 Comments Off on AAE Wrapup: IAAPA in Hong KongEstimates indicate the Expo attracted more than 9,000...
Sep 14, 2018 Comments Off on Mack Solutions: Designing RulanticaWith a unique theme and detailed storytelling, the park is...
Sep 14, 2018 Comments Off on Weber Group: Meet the partnersThe new Weber Group is managed by four partners, all of...
Sep 14, 2018 Comments Off on IAAPA, BRPH, accesso: Faces and places"The beautiful thing about the creative and entertainment...
Jun 01, 2018 Comments Off on Expo 2023 Argentina Buenos Aires: Exclusive interview with Mr. Hernan LombardiThe number of visits to Expo 2023 Argentina Buenos Aires is...
May 11, 2018 Comments Off on A Bid for Expo 2027 Minnesota"We have chosen an ideal location conveniently located...
Apr 30, 2018 Comments Off on nWave: Visioning forward"nWave keeps pace with evolving markets and evolving...