It’s been one year since Dynamic Attractions introduced its triangulated philosophy of Show-Ride-Integration as part of a new service called Unlimited Attractions™. This comprehensive approach that offers design, development, and execution of entire attractions, from ride systems to show elements, is the intrepid new strategy of the leadership team of Mike Haimson, VP Technical Development, Cindy Emerick, VP Business Development, and myself, George Walker, VP Creative Development. The Unlimited Attractions process builds upon the legacy of our company’s engineering prowess, and combines this with our new, in-house creative/technical expertise in a way that allows us to deliver a range of scope from the earliest development of the story, to the creation of the solidified concept, through the progression of the design, and all the way to the fabrication and installation that leads to a successful opening day of world-class attractions.
President and CEO Guy Nelson refers to us, his Orlando-based executive team, as the Dynamic Trio. “With this team we have coupled our strength in engineering with project management and creative execution,” he said. “It was a response to where we found the needs of the clients were greatest.” This three-pronged approach was even the inspiration for our new triangle logo.
Even our neckties, you’ll notice if you stop by our booth at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando this November, are tied in the official Dynamic triangle-shaped trinity knot. Triangular thinking is part of everything we do at Dynamic. We all face the paradoxical time-money-quality three-cornered stool, and of course the love triangle of client-vendor-guest. By any name, these three-sided relationships are at the heart of every project, and we believe that the key to our successful approach is in carefully balancing them, thus the symbolic meaning behind the Dynamic triangle. And all these clever metaphors do have a real purpose: to provide the best, total show-ride-integration available in the industry.
The new logo is now proudly displayed on the front door of our Attraction Development Center in Orlando. Our new facility is home to the top-secret R&D efforts and creative mock-ups that we have in development, and serves as the design and sales headquarters, which has been busy almost since we set down the first packing box in its new home.
We are in fact already doubling the size of our facility. “More toys to play with, more innovative partners under the same roof, more exciting designs and technologies, more R&D engagement with strategic partners!” said Mike Haimson, sitting at his desk in the office next to mine, his face covered by VR goggles. “In order for theme parks to succeed with VR technology, we have to push the envelope and give guests something they can’t do on their couch in the living room,” said Mike, who was a pioneer of the first VR wave in the 1990s.
“A bigger facility means we are assembling an even bigger team with an even greater diversity of skills!” said Cindy Emerick, whose office is down the hall. “It’s a good complement to our fabrication facilities in Vancouver and China.” Those facilities mean Dynamic can not only talk the talk, but walk the walk and physically deliver what we promise. Cindy is armed with an engineering degree and a project management background, which give her an edge when dissecting client needs. She said, “We are looking to augment our talent resources in very specific ways. We are expecting to collect a lot of resumes in Orlando this November, to handle the increased scope of our projects.”
It was September 19, National Talk like a Pirate Day, and a group from our design crew took advantage of a promotion that earned every person a free box of donuts if they came to the store dressed like a pirate. Which they did. In some ways, that’s the best description of life as a “Dynamite.” Sure, the days are long and the nights are often late, but that is a reflection of our dedication and eagerness to keep going. There is an excitement in the air that accompanies the deadlines. I know the feeling well. In my transition to Dynamic Attractions, I also have the privilege of overseeing the Ferrari World Abu Dhabi expansion as Creative Director where, this past February, the latest attraction, Flying Aces, opened with great success. Providing Unlimited Attraction Service is a challenge we live to fulfill.
Our clients are coming from all parts of the world, and with a full spectrum of needs. We like to say that Dynamic can do as much or as little as the project requires, depending on the situation. At the same time, we want them to consider the obvious synergy of grouping clusters of attractions within a park under a single provider that can integrate all the elements. This is especially true of our Space Park project in China, announced recently. We are excited because we are more than involved with the client as a supplier – we are also invested as a partner. At Dynamic we believe that the best results come from bringing all the contributors together early so that we can pool resources and work smarter, not harder. Our motivation to deliver excellence is high.
Morning sunlight peeks through the curtains of another unfamiliar hotel room, waking me up to the daily question I’ve become accustomed to, “What city am I in today?” 2016 saw the celebrated opening of Pier 57’s Wings over Washington Flying Theater, realized in combination with the talents of Super 78, Electrosonic, and a visionary client, Kyle Griffith. In Dubai, another attraction in IMG Worlds of Adventure welcomed its first guests, and another will open soon at Dubai Parks and Resorts. We are also extremely excited about an upcoming project at Futuroscope – our first such in Europe, opening later this year, as well as a new flying theater to thrill guests soon in Doha, and more on the horizon.
You’ve just returned from a benchmarking trip to some of the great theme parks of the world and your mind is in a tizzy. Freshly doused in pixie dust, projection, and pyrotechnics, you can’t stop thinking about how great your attraction is going to be. You can almost see the crowds in your mind lining up at the gates already. But how does one actually build a great theme park attraction?
Let’s be honest. It isn’t easy. It takes a lot of personal sacrifice, a lot of time, a lot of energy, and it’s pretty exhausting. As the saying goes, “If it were easy, everybody would do it.” It’s also not cheap, and when the bill comes, the tab includes stress, anxiety, pressure, strained quality of life, and a lot of missed sleep.
So why do we do what we do? And what, exactly, are we creating? Is it art? Is it spectacle? There is definitely artistry in theme park design, and there is even opportunity for self-expression, but theme design is not “art” in the traditional sense. So is it mostly spectacle, like a circus? There are circus-like qualities that overlap, but again the definition does not quite match. So what is it we are creating when we build theme park attractions if it isn’t art or spectacle?
Theme parks reach to the core of the human condition. They touch a nerve within each person and offer an escape from this often harsh world. They give us an opportunity to be something we otherwise couldn’t be; to feel something we otherwise would never feel. Our industry is an industry dedicated to mastering the craft of imagination so that we can all know what it feels like to fly, or experience the thrill of battling like superheroes, or the magic of casting spells like a wizard. It is an elusive and complicated craft. One that is part wizardry, part construction, part science fiction, part psychiatry. It brings together the unlikeliest of companions in the most unusual disciplines to create unprecedented and irresistible new guest experiences.
When attractions are done right, it almost seems all too easy (after the fact, anyway) and it definitely seems fun. Compare it to acquiring a sports car. If you had to buy a car the way you buy a theme park attraction, it would be a very daunting task. Imagine: you’ve never built a car before. You are trying to figure out the parts and pieces needed. You go shopping. You buy a transmission for a Ford, an engine for a Ferrari, and then the body style of Mercedes. It’s time to think about the interior of the car, but you’ve started to run out of money. You settle for seats and a dashboard from a used Yugo. You start to realize that nothing actually fits together. You hire a mechanic to help you put it all together, who points out you are lacking an exhaust system. Your finished car looks nothing like your original vision, and it has taken longer to build and cost more than it could have.
Now let’s say that instead of shopping for individual components, you go to a car dealership. Clean. Organized. Multiple facilities and experts on site and on call. You order your car all from a single provider who is familiar with the workings, and can advise you on a variety of sizes, budgets, and features. There are upgrades, color choices and warranties to be negotiated, but in the end, you sign one contract and drive away in a finished vehicle that mirrors your original vision.
The dealership model is the metaphor and the model for Dynamic Attractions: vendors and strategic partners, working well together and forming a single, cohesive product. The end product is better. Everybody wins. • • •
George Walker is VP of Creative Development, Dynamic Attractions. Visit Dynamic Attractions at booth #1078 at the 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. Email: George.Walker@dynamicattractions.com
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