Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory has upped its game with a new factory tour experience.
The tour now begins with a 3.5-minute movie (above) that transports guests to the forests and mills, where every Louisville Slugger bat begins. This giant floor-to-ceiling projection sets the stage for the world-famous factory tour by telling the important story of the wood before it reaches the factory.
During the factory tour, guests now see and learn about steps in the bat-making process that have never been shown before. New features include the custom spray process, pad printing, and mini-bat production. Bigger monitors, an enhanced sound system, and new footage take guests inside the machinery. New graphics along the route highlight the history of Hillerich & Bradsby Co.’s role in producing the iconic Louisville Slugger bat since 1884. Throughout the tour, guests can now touch and hold more samples of this legendary bat than ever before.
Another new experience on the factory tour is the giant Pro Player Billet Bin, which showcases the billets destined to be turned into baseball bats for star players on every major league team. Guests can walk right up to the impressive, handcrafted shelves and pull out the billets selected for their favorite players and teams.
“One feature that has always set Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory apart as an unforgettable experience is the authenticity of walking through the heart of the production line. This is a genuine, working factory, and our guests are in the middle of the action,” said Anne Jewell, Vice President and Executive Director of Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. “Now, that experience is even better with these major league upgrades, improving the sights, sounds, and stories that surround our guests here.”
Every guest still receives a free souvenir mini-bat at the end of the tour. Now those beloved mini-bats are bestowed upon guests in a beautifully revamped gallery that incorporates vintage factory carts and quotes about Louisville Slugger from players like Babe Ruth and Cool Papa Bell.
Another improvement involves two very popular and historic bat-making processes: The old-fashioned hand-turning demonstration, where guests can watch a bat being carved, or “turned” by hand on a lathe as it was done starting in the 1880s, and the burn branding process, where bats are rolled over a 1,300-degree iron plate for branding. These fan-favorite demonstrations have been moved out of the factory and into the museum gallery, where guests can watch and enjoy these activities for as long as they’d like, interact with the workers, and take pictures. The hand-turning is now happening daily, with daily burn branding demonstrations to begin July 1.
This is the first major factory tour renovation since Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory opened at this location in 1996. The legendary landmark attracts 300,000 guests a year.
JRA provided master planning, writing and content development, exhibit design, graphic design, executive media production, project management, and art direction for the renovation. The new pre-tour movie was directed, shot and produced by MoPics. Schaefer Construction provided pre-construction, demolition, and general contracting services on this and previous projects at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory.
“The ultimate goal of the new tour is to share the spirit and personality of the product and brand through the factory’s process and people,” said Matthew Wheeler, JRA Senior Project Director. “This authentic brand story is told in a contemporary and sensory way. With an enhanced storyline, media, lighting, environmental graphics, and technology, the new tour shares Louisville Slugger’s rich history, while offering guests a look at its continued role in baseball’s future.”