ON THE COVER
The Legend of Camel Bells will receive a Thea Award this year. The show is a spectacular blend of live actors, rotating sets, and dazzling special effects.
Niche is nice, but broader is better
Martin Palicki, IPM publisher
Compared to the film and TV industry that predates it, themed entertainment has traditionally been small, compact and laser-focused on a few big theme park clients.
But visiting Orlando’s IAAPA Expo last month made it clear that the industry is growing – evidenced not only by the expanded and still sold out exhibit floor but also by the reach of the market. Large theme parks are not the only customers seeking themed entertainment’s expertise.
It’s a story we at InPark have been telling for some time now. Technologies advance and innovations drive down cost. What was once only available for big-budget players becomes accessible to many. Six Flags’ JUSTICE LEAGUE™ dark rides provide a prime example.
It’s not only smaller parks that are turning to themed entertainment. Around the world, FECs are finding the value of story-based experiences. Major brands like Hasbro and Cartoon Network are turning to our people to help them create destinations for their IP. Retailers are using themed entertainment to lure consumers away from online shopping.
As an industry, themed entertainment has been discovered and opportunities are now popping up in new places. The smartest folks will be adapting their products and services to meet the needs of the industry’s expanding customer base. As your industry publication, we will be here to help chart the course and continue to write about themed entertainment’s success stories.
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Judith Rubin, IPM editor
Are we missing the point about VR? It’s easy to get caught up in the noise around this presentation technology. Virtual Reality carries a lot of baggage between the jaded skeptics (including yours truly) who saw it come and go in the 1990s, the hype, and the headset wars. But at the 2018 IAAPA Expo in Orlando, there were some truly effective presentations, even transcendent.
As a media delivery tool, the VR headset needs to be so good that it makes the headset go away, freeing the end user to dive into the experience. At IAAPA Orlando, we saw this starting to happen. Some exhibitor setups were successful to the point that the headset became something like a portal to another world.
VR is also being used as a pre-visualization tool, and some IAAPA exhibitors used VR previz to demonstrate and market immersive theater installations and concepts. They succeeded in ways they had not anticipated. Customers wanted to buy the previz experience itself; it was so good, it made the theater go away! Another wakeup. The buyers were looking for unique, affordable, media-based experiences – the promise of VR – and they knew when they’d found them, even if the exhibitors themselves didn’t quite know what they had.
These breakthroughs serve as a reminder that great experiences are written on technology that has been made transparent.