Friday, September 22, 2023

Attractions Technology Lab heads to California

In October 2021, Alcorn McBride hosted the first Attractions Technology Lab (ATL) in their Orlando, Florida headquarters. ATL is an interactive ride technology demo and training event organized by Attractions Technology Collaborative (ATC), a group of companies working in partnership to offer attraction experiences. The five founding members of ATC are Alcorn McBride, Christie Digital, Garner Holt Productions, Oceaneering and Weigl.

On April 19 and 20, 2022 industry professionals can join in the second iteration of ATL, this time taking place at Garner Holt Productions (GHP) in Redlands, California (outside of Los Angeles). Similar to the Orlando version, ATC will have a small dark ride experience set up complete with a motion simulator vehicle, lighting and sound effects, immersive media and animatronics. Additional training sessions will be offered throughout each day. The April event will combine manufacturer training: GHP and Weigl with a 90 min workshop, while Alcorn and Christie will have a combined class on using technologies together. Other classes will also be available. To see an updated schedule and to sign up for classes, see the official website.

ATL event hours are 9am-5pm both days, with tours of GHP running every hour on the hour. The Dark Ride will run throughout the day with a 20-min panel discussion about the system design running every hour on the half-hour. Snacks, drinks and lunch are provided. There is no cost to attend and GHP will provide shuttles between the event and Anaheim and Burbank.

We asked Loren Barrows, COO at Alcorn McBride and spokesperson for ATC some additional information about the April 19-20 event.

Loren Barrows (Alcorn McBride) presents during a demo at the Attractions Technology Lab in Orlando

InPark Magazine: ATL is open to everyone, but who is it really designed for? Who will get the most out of attending?

Loren Barrows: It’s designed for a technical audience and/or anyone involved in designing the effects/media of an attraction. The Founding Members of the ATC are all tech manufacturers and the goal behind all of our events is to come together to show how our combined technologies work together to create amazing guest experiences (while keeping the technology invisible!).  

IPM: What are some of the changes from the first event in Orlando?

LB: We have a lot more space at GHP.  This allows us to be open for more guests and offer more training. Our goal is to be collaborative so we have some new training classes combining technologies. For example, GHP and Weigl have a combined 90-min hands-on workshop to teach programming using actual animatronics. We didn’t have the space to do that in Orlando. We also took feedback from guests in Orlando and adjusted the programming. Our panel discussion of the dark ride ecosystem is a structural program change to offer more technical content. 

Plus, GHP is a super cool facility with an impressive collection of ride vehicles and, of course, animatronics! They also have an education division that is doing some amazing work with students to help them enter our industry. Guests will get to see all of that.  

IPM: What was some of the feedback you heard from Orlando attendees?

LB: Keep doing these! And add more labs. They enjoyed the collaborative approach between manufactures and asked us to do the events more often and increase our training offerings.  

IPM: How did the idea for creating the ATL event come about? 

LB: From our clients.  We frequently found the same manufacturers involved in projects and our engineers ended up on site with our clients’ tech team in the final hours of install.  That’s not the ideal time to introduce new things and take time for product education. Since our products are frequently used together, we were also asked to offer combined training to make installation easier. That’s where the Lab concept came from. The best way to show how everything works is to recreate the attraction in a Lab environment and make the technology very visible, while adding a bit of fun. There’s no pressure of a deadline, all the engineers are on site, and since we all have to come together to build the attraction we can pass along the knowledge to our clients AND improve our collaborative workflow in the process. Our goal is to have our guests see how it all works and learn how to make it happen. That’s why the training part of the event is just as important as the lab experience.

IPM: Are there other events planned?

LB: Yes! We are planning on doing the ATL twice a year: one in Orlando around IAAPA and one in the L.A. area in April. Our November event will be at Oceaneering and we will add at least one more lab to the experience. Guests have asked about a Live Theater Lab, a 4D theater, a parade, an escape room, a museum exhibit, etc… so we have a lot to choose from. We are also working on adding a lab that is completely student created and driven.

IPM: We heard rumors there might be an evening mixer too. Is that right?

LB: Yes! Tuesday evening April 19 there is a TEA event. More details can be found here.

Anyone interested in attending the ATL on April 19 or 20 should register in advance on the ATC website.

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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