Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Infinite Kingdoms: Planet playology

Infinite Kingdoms’ Denise Chapman Weston invites the Earth (and you) to play

Interview by Martin Palicki

During IAAPA 2018 in Orlando, we covered the debut of creative collective Infinite Kingdoms and their array of inventions and concepts. We recently connected with founder Denise Chapman Weston for an update and more details on some of their announcements.

What is Infinite Kingdoms and how did it originate?

Infinite Kingdoms is an attraction and product invention, design and development collective of brilliant creators from across the industry including me, Rick Briggs (father of water play), Brian Morrow, Janelle Picard, and our patent guru Michael O’Shaughnessy. We also have invited the next generation of talent such as Jesse Manby into the creative pool.

Our goal is to lean into our previous experience of building companies focused on:

new intellectual property in interactivity

immersive story and game

connected retail that integrates some of the newest inventive tools for accelerated fun and personalization (such as A.I., image tracking, 360 immersion, and theatrics) that teases the guest into wondering who and what is real – and what is not!

Given the influence of our Earth-friendly backgrounds, our desire to do something proactive about sustainability and renewable energy options is also leading our effort to bring new thinking and experiences to our industry and beyond. As we like to say: “Isn’t it about time we invite the Earth to play?”

Most important – aside from the technology and invention – we have always looked through “Playology” eyes and responded to what our multi-generational guests are looking for in being educated and/or entertained. We strive to create amazing and fun ways to be together that are more personalized and purposeful… all with a touch of magic.

You also have a collaborative partnership with Weber Group. Tell us about that.

Infinite Kingdoms is the invention and production company while Weber Group is a design/build organization – so the two companies have complementary disciplines. One of Infinite Kingdom’s inventions is Impact Attractions: a renewable energy play system that uses solar, hydro, wind and play to create an immersive experience with net zero impact on the world.

Members of our team have been colleagues and collaborators with Weber Group for nearly 25 years. We have a great deal of mutual respect and our timing was good for Infinite and Weber to come together in a partnership to bring Impact Attractions to market. We are so proud to jump into the energy pool together – with similarities in how we want to truly make a difference in the world through our manufacturing processes and attraction solutions.

BELOW: A sketch for Magic Campfire shows how it can be a powerful and vivid storytelling tool. TOP OF PAGE: A rendering for an Impact Attractions play system. All photos courtesy Infinite Kingdoms

One of your inventions is a Magic Campfire, which recently previewed at Evermore Park (Pleasant Grove, UT). What is a Magic Campfire?

Our initial goal was to create a 360-degree experience without headgear. Simply put, we wanted to create an environment where stories can be told “in the round.” Moving forward this can be something available as an app or device that interacts with a home assistant such as Alexa. But we also can create a highly detailed version with many special effects, as we did at Evermore.

If you think about it, the very first theme park was a campfire. It’s where we entertained and danced and celebrated and told stories together.

At Evermore, Magic Campfire uses the fantastic story world of Evermore to introduce what’s coming to the park next summer, while showcasing some of our great new interactive technology. The Magic Campfire’s best feature is integrating DigiMe tracking technology. Guests bring individual carved logs and lay them in front of the fire. DigiMi is able to recognize each log, which is encoded with information about that guest, so that the experience can be tailored to each guest.

Creating a personalized social event that allows guests to add their own stories to it is what we are trying to do right now in this industry. Operationally, though, it’s tough. We have been trying to figure out all the components, and we think Magic Campfire could be a solution model for the industry.

We tested groups of 15-20 people for 15-minute shows and felt confident it could be scaled up even larger without losing intimacy or personalization. A live actor helps guide the experience, but the real magic was when the fire was able to communicate with the guests and directly respond to them.

Can you share more about DigiMe?

DigiMe creates an avatar that plays alongside you on all your adventures in a park, resort, location based entertainment or museum.

It embraces our know-how and MagiQuest inventive roots but utilizes much more immersive tracking techniques than in the past. We wanted to advance our relationship with the guest by giving them new, immersive options that bring out the new gaming styles of Fortnite as well as tell better stories that transcend between real and virtual worlds.

Where did the content for Impact Attractions come from?

So we at Infinite Kingdoms set about to create play areas that are functionally conservation-oriented but also beautiful and fun.

Another of our offerings is a small splash-pad called DNA, and then there are both wet and dry models that can expand exponentially. Our smallest unit is only $50,000, so it’s within reach of a lot of spaces.

What kinds of spaces are you thinking of ?

We have aimed our inventive arrow at waterparks, theme parks, municipalities, museums, resorts, etc. Interestingly we have discovered that we are not only ahead in our industry in terms of creating renewable energy attractions that are fun and interactive, but we have also worked our way into fountain and sculptural icons for city centers, campuses, and corporate plazas.

When the question is raised about solutions for sustainability, what typically might come to mind would be placing things on our roofs and in our parking lots, or putting turbines on poles in fields. But at Infinite Kingdoms, we are focused on becoming an inventor and manufacturer for renewable energy structures that are created in esthetically wonderful and playful ways.

This isn’t a marketing gimmick… we are truly committed to improve our footprint as manufacturers as well as finding solutions for facilities and parks to be sustainable in educating, interactive and engaging ways. • • •

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleimanhttp://wwww.themedreality.com
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, ThemedReality.com takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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