Saturday, July 20, 2024

Remembering Buzz

Feasibility pioneer Harrison “Buzz” Price gave us a glimpse of the 4D future with “Markets, Markets, Markets”

By Judith Rubin

The late Harrison “Buzz” Price, who died August 15 at the age of 89, was, as many better acquainted with him than I have already said, a person of great vision and accomplishment, with both hemispheres of the brain deeply engaged, and also a man of wit and warmth. I had the good fortune to meet Buzz shortly after I stumbled into the themed entertainment industry in 1987. That was the year I joined World’s Fair magazine (no longer published), and as I got to know about world expos, theme parks, educational attractions and other facets of the universe of themed entertainment, I also got to know industry players such as Buzz Price.

As the man who was tapped to study the possible locations for the first Disney park and recommended Anaheim, Buzz will always be a Disney legend. Having gone on from that first milestone to create Economics Research Associates (now Economics at AECOM) and define the practice of feasibility analysis for visitor attractions, he will always be a legend for the themed entertainment industry. Appropriately enough, when the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) created the Thea Awards, Buzz Price was the first recipient, given the Thea for Lifetime Achievement in 1994.

Harrison Price didn’t just know the industry, he was part of the fabric of the industry. To me as an editor and publicist, he was a great resource. He could always be relied on to provide a razor- sharp, witty observation or analysis – and was eminently quotable. Eventually, we tapped Buzz to write “So You Want to Have a World’s Fair” – a breakthrough article that holds up quite well today (and has just been reprinted, in the 2011 TEA Annual & Directory).

Thinking about Buzz Price and the good things that came to me from the privilege of intersecting his grand orbit, the word “breakthrough” keeps breaking through. After I became a freelancer in the mid-90s, Buzz recommended me for a marketing research project with a top design company. It was a career crossroads in terms of what I was able to achieve for the client and what I learned in the course of the project.

A few years later, in 1999 it was a thrill to be part of the team that brought Buzz Price in to deliver the keynote address for the annual conference of the Large Format Cinema Association (now merged with the Giant Screen Cinema Association). Chris Reyna was LFCA president and Therese Andrade was conference chair. Buzz took the assignment seriously and did a complete market study of the industry. I was in a position to furnish him with leads, and we spent a lot of time on the phone together.

At the conference itself, I had the honor of introducing Harrison “Buzz” Price to a roomful of special-venue cinema producers, filmmakers, distributors, equipment suppliers, service providers and theater operators. His LFCA keynote, “Markets, Markets, Markets,” (a playful reference to Peter Guber’s “Story, Story, Story” keynote of the previous year) was extremely positive and received with huge enthusiasm. His research showed that there was plenty of room for growth in many areas of the special format cinema industry. I believe Harrison Price’s vision of the possible futures of giant screen cinema was instrumental in helping an industry that was founded on a somewhat narrow footing and struggling with its business models begin to achieve a breakthrough in perspective. His findings are to a great extent being validated now with the explosion of special venue and special format immersive media such as 4D theaters, 3D cinema, and digital dome displays (fulldome) we’re seeing in a wide variety of entertainment and education markets. (Some of that is covered in this issue of IPM.)

Thank you, Buzz. You had a gift for being professional and confident while also being genuine and friendly, and disarmingly frank. You were a powerful person but what you projected was joy and deep interest in the world around you.

Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin
Judith Rubin ([email protected]) is a leading journalist, content marketing specialist and connector in the international attractions industry. She reports on design and technical design, production and project management, industry trends and company culture. From 2005-2020 she ran communications and publications for the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA). In 2013, she was honored with the TEA Service Award. She was development director of IMERSA and publicist for the Large Format Cinema Association, and has contributed to the publications of PLASA, IAAPA and the International Planetarium Society. Judith joined World’s Fair magazine in 1987, which introduced her to the attractions industry. She joined InPark in 2010. Judith earned a BFA from Pratt Institute. She has lived in Detroit, New York, Oakland, and now Saint Louis, where she is active in the local arts community.

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