The Latest Special Effects at Leisure Entertainment Facilities

September 21, 2011 No Comments

Increasingly, leisure entertainment facilities of all types are using a variety of special effects to keep guests entertained.

Nowhere is this more evident than at haunted attractions. Jason’s Woods Haunted Attractions in Lancaster, Pa. features nine different attractions: Horrifying Hayride, Barn of Terror, Pirates Revenge 3D, Mystery Maze, Macabre Museum, Pitch Black, Psycho Circus, Escape From Oz and Lost in Jason’s Woods. Pitch Black exposes visitors to the bark of vicious dogs and the “feel” of their breath as they negotiate a pitch-dark outdoor maze formed by a chain link fence, a spokesperson explained. Oversized, animated ghouls and their ilk, including a 16-foot-tall skeleton head with fangs, inhabit the Barn of Terror. Jason’s Woods touts a 3D Carnival of Fear component with images of scary clowns, polka dots and other elements that “pop out” of the walls.

Similarly, for Halloween 2011, the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride in Glenn Mills, Pa., is adding an “alligator pond,” complete with vicious snapping “alligators” to one of the trails outside the motel building, reported Randy Bates, owner. Inside the motel itself, ghosts spring out of mirrors and a refrigerator filled with “body bags” swings from the ceiling. In a room with a theme from the 1970s horror film “The Exorcist,” animatronics display heads that spin 360 degrees, spew green vomit and more. Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, Calif., will feature, among other haunted attractions that will comprise its Haunt ’11 lineup, a recreation of Jack the Ripper’s London, filled with fog and ghoulish animatronics.

Meanwhile, at Legoland California in Carlsbad, Calif., the latest in special effects is STAR WARS ™ Miniland. The attraction features recreations of seven of the most famous scenes from the “Star Wars” movies and one scene from the animated “Star Wars: The Clone Wars™” series, crafted of 1.5 million LEGO ® bricks and constructed in 1:20 scale. Many of the models are more than 6 feet tall and have buttons children can use to activate various animations throughout the scenes, said Peter Ronchetti, general manager. Special-effects lighting in the form of flashing sabers, along with robot noises like those heard in the films, are also part of each scene.

During “Beyond All Boundaries,” a film presented in 4D at the Solomon Victory Theater of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La., seats rumble as tank attack scenes are displayed on the screen. “Snow” falls from the “sky” as a depiction of the Battle of the Bulge is shown.

Not surprisingly, vendors also continue to expand their special effects arsenals. Some companies are adding a twist to traditional products. Take Twisted Monkey FX, whose latest introduction encompasses search lights that give off colored rather than plain white beams and feature  multiple (three or four) rotating heads instead of a single fixed one. Theresa Blevins-Mize, owner and vice president of operations, said the lights have been particularly well received by operators of haunted attractions.

“A lot of haunted houses and the like are in remote locations, and the colors show up better than the white light against wide expanse of night sky you see in these areas, where there is a lot less ambient light,” Blevins-Mize asserted. The rotating heads lend additional interest, she claimed.

Moreover, vendors are rolling out options that allow leisure entertainment facilities to produce effects that are impactful, but not Will Schock, of Vortex Chillers, noted that his company recently launched the Door #2 Vortex Natural Energy Fog Curtain, which lays a uniform flat curtain of fog to the floor from a standard door jamb (up to 7 feet above the floor.) Unlike other units, it is powered entirely by the energy of the expanding smoke, rendering it far less expensive to acquire and operate than models that derive their energy from high-powered smoke/CO2 systems, Schock stated.

“Aesthetically, the curtain is appealing for its very ethereal effects—for example, it is thick enough for actors to hide behind and appear seemingly out of nowhere,” Schock explained. “However, the cost proposition is also a big draw. Until now, to get a fog curtain of this size, it would take a machine with a minimum price tag of $10,000 to purchase and $600 per hour to operate. Ours is a few hundred dollars to purchase and about $8 per hour to operate.”

For its part, Global Special Effects (formerly SnowMasters Special Effects) recently launched  Flogos-Lite, which it is touting as a more affordable version of its Flogos machine. The unit, which produces floating “clouds” (or, as the vendor calls them, “flogos”) comes in 24 and 36-inch variations, similar to previous model. It houses a built-in automatic timer to fly the floating clouds at different intervals or turn the machine on/off. When set up in its transporting/mobile configuration, it can be pulled, by one person, like a large piece of luggage.

Industry News

Park Adds New Director Positions: Founder’s Great-Grandson in Leadership Role

The great-grandson of Holiday World’s founder is the first member of the family’s fourth-generation to take a leadership role at the park.

Kris Kamp is a great-grandson of park founder Louis J. Koch, who opened Santa Claus Land (now called Holiday World) in 1946. Kamp is director of admissions and cash control at the park. The Heritage Hills High School and University of Southern Indiana graduate was employed  seasonally at the park for 10 years before working three years in accounting at Sea World Orlando. He resides in Santa Claus.

Kamp replaces Eric Snow, who moved from the role of director of admissions to the newly created director of special events and projects position. A graduate of Owensboro, Ky.’s Daviess County High School and the University of Southern Indiana, Snow worked seasonally in Holiday World’s Rides and Marketing departments for six years. He worked full time at the Indianapolis Zoo before returning to Holiday World in 2007. In his new position, Snow will coordinate special events such as the “Happy Halloween Weekends” recently announced for the 2012 season. He and his wife, Laura, live in Santa Claus.

A second new director position at the park, director of accounting and finance, was filled by Alison Montee. A graduate of Regis University in Denver, Colo., Montee has worked in accounting at Nike headquarters in Oregon and Kimball International in Indiana. Montee lives in Jasper with her two teenage sons, Markus and Nicholas.

Industry News

ARVC Reaches Out to the Travel, Tourism, Casino, Paddlesport and Amusement Park Industries to Encourage their Participation in the Association’s Annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference in Savannah

The Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 conference will feature networking opportunities plus 43 seminars on business management, staff training and motivation, emerging business management technology, green technology, public relations, marketing and social media, plus legal and insurance issues.

The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) is reaching out to the travel, tourism, casino, paddlesport, amusement park and other outdoor recreation industries to encourage their participation in the association’s annual Outdoor Hospitality Conference and Expo, which takes place Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 in Savannah, Ga.

“The conference will provide excellent opportunities for anyone connected with the travel and tourism industries to learn how to broaden their business base in partnership with campgrounds, RV parks and resorts across the country,” said Paul Bambei, ARVC president and CEO.

He added that the five-day conference and tradeshow will include numerous networking opportunities as well as 43 seminars on business management, staff training, motivation, green technology, public relations and marketing, most of which have broad appeal to diverse segments of the travel and tourism business.

“We are all catering to the traveling consumer, so it makes sense for us to do everything we can to share what we know about emerging business trends as well as best management practices in our respective businesses,” Bambei said.

The full lineup of seminars is available online, and key areas of focus include:

  • Business Management: Specific sessions will focus on how to make the most of your leadership style; how to handle change; and how to pinpoint ways to improve the profitability and functioning of your business, how to use 20 groups and how to rehabilitate an older park. Other sessions will cover disaster planning and recovery as well as business risk prevention, risk-based maintenance and employment and cyber liability risks. You’ll also have opportunities to learn how to manage negative guest feedback and how to deliver astonishing guest satisfaction.
  • Business Technology: Are you using Cloud computing or T10 I-phone applications in your business? Should you be using smart phones or I-pads? Now is the time to find out.
  • Employee Training and Motivation: Conference attendees will learn not only how to attract and retain great employees, but how to build high-performance teams. A special session will also focus on how to manage Workcampers and how to motivate and manage the Millennial Generation. (Those born between 1982 and 1997.)
  • The Latest Trends in Green Technology: Consumers are increasingly purchasing electric vehicles. Experts will discuss electric car charging, recycling electricity and other green opportunities.
  • Marketing and Public Relations: Specific sessions will address the latest trends in social media, marketing, public relations and the use of the Internet to promote your business. You’ll learn how to develop media and marketing plans, how to get started with social networking, how to use QR codes and video to promote your business and how to use Google Analytics to measure your results.

The Nov. 28 to Dec. 2 conference will take place at the Westin Savannah Harbor Resort & Spa and Savannah International Trade and Convention Center, which has lowered its conference rate to $159 per night from $189 per night for ARVC Outdoor Hospitality Conference attendees.

Industry News

Two Great Toppings, One Machine

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