Tuesday, June 12, 2007

One small step...

Space...the final frontier. As a kid I would sit mesmerized by all things space related. Star Trek, Aliens, Astronomy, Astronauts and NASA.

So when I got an invitation to preview the "Shuttle Launch Experience" attraction at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, I couldn't wait. This is one part of a 10 year, 160 million dollar renovation at the complex.

The evening event started with a bang as the group walked into the complex to find great music and plenty of food and drink. They really spread out the red carpet for us. As the evening progressed we were invited to the new attraction before Mannhiem Steamroller was scheduled to play for us. Up the long gantry we went and into a holding room where the preshow was excellent. Multiple screens showed how the shuttle is launched while our video host explained the process. Everywhere were warnings and disclaimers about who should not ride for health reasons. We were ushered into another holding room that separated us into rows before the doors whooshed open and we were seated inside a shuttle recreation. Soon we launched and the shaking vehicle tilted us backwards so that we were looking straight up at the screen. We leveled off and then rocked forward after a quick emergency maneuver before landing safely. It was fun but milder than I expected. After the initial shaking, it was really quite smooth and even my friend who is scared of rides was not uncomfortable with this one.

After the ride, we ate and drank some more while enjoying the concert and exploring the grounds until it was time to go. A great evening at Kennedy Space Center and I look forward to the next visit. Beam me up, Scotty. (Josh Hallett has a nice post on this attraction at his blog.)

Florida Attractions Association Conference

Just attended the Florida Attractions Association Conference at Hawk's Cay Resort on Duck Key, Florida and heard some great speakers like Judy Randall and Josh Hallett.

The main message this year was that attraction audiences are changing their needs in some very fundamental ways and the Industry needs to keep up. Research is showing that travellers want more choices and less structure than in the past. The ways people communicate a good or bad experience have accelerated and mushroomed on the Internet. "Word of Mouth" on steroids! Folks don't just tell their friends, they tell the whole world. Obviously, this can work for or against an attraction and the bottom line is we are seeing more transparency at these facilities. Better sweep that sidewalk.

A great experience involved Theater of the Sea in Islamorada, Florida. Hands down the best Dolphin show I have seen! The grounds are beautiful and the animals there are healthy and enthusiastic. Parrots, Dolphins, Turtles, Sharks, Fish, Sea Lions, Seals and more. The natural setting is wonderful and the staff there is top notch. A real treat.