Funworld Presents: Designing for 2026 and Beyond
Attractions professionals looking to develop crowd-pleasing experiences with a far-off opening date received expert advice from forward-thinking industry professionals at the Funworld Presents: Designing for 2026 and Beyond EDUSession hosted on Tuesday of IAAPA Expo 2023.
The panel, moderated by IAAPA’s global editorial director Scott Fais, featured:
Winston Fisher, the CEO of Area15, a one-of-a-kind immersive entertainment destination in Las Vegas that debuted to critical acclaim.
Kerry Black, creative lead of SuperFly. Black is highly regarded in the music and entertainment worlds as the co-founder of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and the creator behind Prince: The Immersive Experience.
Cindy Emerick, vice president of attraction development at the highly anticipated Mattel Adventure Park coming to Glendale, Arizona.
They shared several key insights, detailing the strategies they’ve employed to capitalize on trends that help ensure the success of their respective attractions.
“We’re looking at a lot of experiences that have food and beverage (F&B) heavily baked in so people have more to do,” says Black. Integrating F&B experiences into an attraction increases visitor dwell time, leading to an increase in revenue.
Emerick shared what she learned throughout the process of developing attractions for the upcoming Mattel Adventure Park, where Mattel's historic and beloved toys are the centerpiece. She sees enormous potential in bringing widely loved intellectual property (IP) to life with new innovations in interactivity. However, it can be easy to fall out of relevance if your team is not in lockstep with always-evolving technological developments.
She also urged the importance of being nimble and open-minded in order to capitalize on new trends and technologies. “You’ve got to be able to stay moving,” emphasizes Emerick.
“The brands with the experiences that can embrace technology to create individualization is going to be a really, really important component of the future because we’re at this really interesting intersection with AI,” Fisher says in agreement. He believes that companies working to cultivate experiences where visitors feel uniquely tailored to through the use of artificial intelligence are likely to succeed as the global attractions industry becomes more cutting-edge.
Addressing Trends and Fads
“I think the most important thing is that you put down a foundation of attractions that you know is going to stand the test of time, and then you have those handful of attractions that you can change as that fad goes through,” suggests Emerick. “And you need to even capitalize on fads—people want those fads.”
Fisher agrees that fads are important to address, adding that trends require a deeper level of thinking to properly translate. “[Trends] are profound. The people who can see them, and can act on them, and are not scared to act on them, are the ones that are successful.”
Looking for more insights? Watch the full panel discussion on the IAAPA Connect+ app.