Thursday, September 21, 2023

Themed entertainment veterans Chuck Fawcett and Daren Ulmer announce new company Medici XD

November 16, 2021 — Medici XD (Experience Development) is the new venture of Mousetrappe founder Daren Ulmer and Animax Designs founder Chuck Fawcett. Both are already successful themed entertainment entrepreneurs whose previous ventures shared a similar pedigree of clients. Today, in Orlando at the IAAPA Expo, Fawcett and Ulmer announced the structure and key management for this new attractions development company, designed to create highly immersive and believable attraction experiences.

Ulmer explains that the primary impact of the Medici family, who seeded the renaissance with art and culture and brought Europe out of the dark ages, was in how they brought together the very best in arts and sciences, which in turn sparked inspiration and forward leaps in many different fields. Similarly, Medici XD intends to bring together one of the strongest multi-disciplinary teams in the industry.

The Medici XD offering is a response to changing times. Guests’ digital footprint and their technology expectations are expanding daily, but how the industry is responding to this transforming landscape in how it’s building today’s attractions hasn’t changed. The Medici XD team sees the need for a broader solution which brings together previously disparate specialties, such that the experience is developed in one holistic process from the very start. Fawcett and Ulmer believe that their multi-disciplinary product line will have cross collaboration at its core that will spur inspiration and innovation.

Working with master planners, designers, and venues themselves, Fawcett and Ulmer believe their offer will result in a better end product, and ultimately a more effective guest experience, versus when separate elements of a show or attraction are delivered independently or stitched together. This will address common issues such as “rough edges” that detract from the believability of the experience, or problems at the project management level related to integration, scope, or communication gaps.

Fawcett and Ulmer unveiled how they are turning their vision into a reality, explaining the five divisions or “disciplines” Medici XD encompasses:

  • Media: Content design and production, visual and audio
  • Machines: Motion-based ride systems and electro-sensory devices
  • Interactives: Realtime (“game engine”) rendering, software and interactivity
  • Theatrical: Live performance and human interactions
  • Labs: Research & Development group focused on innovation across all disciplines

Each division will provide design and production services directly, but together they will also provide a perfectly packaged vertically integrated solution.

It was also announced that Nathan Jones, established executive and themed entertainment influencer with over 20 years’ experience with top ride manufacturers, will helm the company as Chief Executive Officer, and will also lead the Machines product line.

Fawcett said, “I’ve been privileged to work alongside Nathan on the TEA International Board for a number of years and have seen how he brings people together, develops natural and confident relationships and is a positive force for change. These attributes make him a perfect choice to be our CEO. The passion for creating better guest experiences that drove him to start his own experience consultancy eXP Maven finds a bigger home within Medici XD. We share that belief in a wholistic visitor experience and now have the resources to help put the guest at the very center of a truly unique multi- sensory experience, as we believe they deserve to be.”

Jones went on to explain how the company is being formed through a combination of acquisitions and organic development. His ride manufacturing history makes him well-placed to develop some exciting new concepts in house. “It would be unfair to call these simply developments of flying theaters and trackless rides,” said Jones of the Machines portfolio, “because what we aim to build will give the guest more agency than current attractions that exist on the market today. These new machines are designed to move you in ways that the human body have never sensed or experienced before, and I can’t wait to reveal what we have on the drawing boards.” As with all components within the experiences Medici XD will develop, the parts will align perfectly, and these ride concepts will come with immersive media built in from the beginning.

At Mousetrappe, Ulmer has already created incredible media designed to transport the guest, and media remains a core component of Medici’s complete offering, which is why today they announced the acquisition of Mousetrappe by Medici XD. Ulmer said, “This gives Mousetrappe room for further growth, access to new technologies and the ability to influence more of the guest experience, expanding our vision for truly immersive media. I’m delighted to say that the full team will migrate into Medici Media and existing clients will continue to enjoy the same superior quality and responsive team as they always have.”

Existing Mousetrappe President Eric Hungerford will continue at the helm, now as President, Medici Media, ensuring continuity for existing clients and trusted hands to develop the division’s new capabilities and bandwidth. Ulmer continued, “Eric brings serious credentials as both a client and provider of media services with both types of Medici clients (entertainment brands and designers), from Universal, Thinkwell and The Hettema Group, to ensure we continue with the reputation for excellence and delivery Mousetrappe has already established.”

“It is clear that the overall team is energized by what we are building, but there is a lot more to the story that is yet to be told as each of the disciplines is unveiled,” Fawcett said, “We are putting the guest experience at the heart of every part we assemble, and we are being very selective about having the right team on board that share our vision. First in class and top of their game is the level of talent that we will continue to seek as we build our Medici dynasty.” There are more announcements coming soon with acquisitions hinted at in the area of Interactives, and a key hire for the Theatrical division both currently under NDA.

Together these divisions will develop entertainment experiences which will take the guest deeper into the imagined reality by integrating these cutting-edge technologies using physical, visual, interactive and live elements to produce a seamless multi-sensory experience.

IAAPA was chosen as the best venue to announce Medici XD’s full vision and initiative, as it brings together the best product and service companies in the world that cater to the attractions industry. Medici is also using the IAAPA trade show to evaluate the investment, acquisition or formation of additional strategic partnerships and other specialized businesses that align with their division objectives. It is a marketplace for operators of experiences ranging from FEC’s to theme parks for whom

Medici’s experiential development platform offers a compelling solution in an increasingly competitive environment.

The company will operate studios in Nashville, Tennessee, for which a purpose-built $6M facility is under construction that will notably house corporate offices, design & manufacturing for Machines and Labs; and in Los Angeles, California, where Media, Interactives and Theatrical will live.

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