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March 28, 2023

SPECIAL: Exploring Authentic Reality at the IAAPA North American Trade Summit

SPECIAL: Exploring Authentic Reality at the IAAPA North American Trade Summit

We recap the major takeaways from the First Annual IAAPA North American Trade Summit, specifically, the central theme of Authentic Reality. The IAAPA Trade Summits have replaced the former Leadership Summits, and each region will host a local trade...

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We recap the major takeaways from the First Annual IAAPA North American Trade Summit, specifically, the central theme of Authentic Reality. The IAAPA Trade Summits have replaced the former Leadership Summits, and each region will host a local trade summit annually. The trade summits combine member connections and education on regional issues with a trade component. This year’s North American summit took 134 attendees on 5 facility tours in the San Diego area over 4 days, with 21 trade partners and 3 keynote speakers. This episode features on-location audio and interviews with Michael Shelton (VP and Executive Director, IAAPA North America), George Walker (CEO & Founder, The League of Extraordinary Dining), Jim Lake (President of SeaWorld San Diego), Spencer Meinburg (GM of Plunge San Diego), Andrew Terbush (Executive Chef, SeaWorld San Diego), and the San Diego Zoo. Special thanks to Rachel Wilkinson for assistance with the audio recording and Caitlin Dineen (Director, Global Communications, IAAPA) for coordinating permissions. Support for this episode comes from Gantom Lighting and Controls. See what you’re missing with a free demo. Subscribe to everything from the Haunted Attraction Network here.


Philip Hernandez: From our studios in Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, this is Green Tagged Theme Park in 30! Today Scott and I will recap the major takeaways from the first-ever IAAPA North American Trade Summit. Scott and I are both IAAPA-certified executives and Scott has contributed quite a lot to IAAPA over the years, right, Scott?

Scott Swenson: Yes, I've been a member for many, many years, both when I was with Busch Gardens and on my own, and I've been a subject matter expert for several different projects, including the certification for the IC program. At the very moment, you can attend several of my online classes. I do want to point out, even though I do sit on the IAAPA Entertainment Subcommittee, I am not an official spokesperson for IAAPA. So, anything that I represent here in the show is my own opinion, being fully transparent as a member of IAAPA, and a long-term member of IAAPA, and a strong supporter of what they do. But I am not an official spokesperson for the organization, so I just want to clarify that right up front so that nobody gets the least bit concerned or raises any eyebrows.

Philip Hernandez: We are just two fans of IAAPA who have been certified and appreciate what they do, and we want to distill the information from this first-ever event to the listeners. Scott, of course, is in Abu Dhabi. He did not fly back to attend, so I hope that would give us. Perfect perspective. So, I'll basically be trying to explain what happened at the summit and Scott will give us his perspective and take on what happened. 

Scott Swenson: Sounds good. 

Philip Hernandez: So, let's start with some background here. The IAAPA Trade Summits have replaced the former Leadership Summits. I used to go to the Leadership Summits back in the day, and basically what they did is they moved around from region to region. The last one was in 2020, which I was at, and it was in Los Angeles, that was the old model. This is the new model, and rather than rotating between regions, each region is going to host their own Trade Summit, which they have already been doing this year. So, I spoke with Michael Shelton, who's the VP and Executive director of IAAPA North America, about how he thought the trade summits were going, and he said this new series is more about connecting a region and speaking to local issues. 

Michael Shelton: We're finding, as an association, that every region is a little different and we need to service our Member's needs differently in each region. The format of the Leadership Summit in the past was more of a high-level summit with high-level tours and speakers. This is more about connecting the people in the region and bringing everyone together.

Philip Hernandez: Of course, I talked to him about the North Star.

Michael Shelton: We have the three major components, we wanted to have an education component, we had a Member connection component with the tours, and then a trade component to include our manufacturers and suppliers. As a former operator, you're always looking at several things, you're looking to connect with other professionals that you can maintain relationships beyond this. There are also suppliers here, but I think also there are lots of intangibles. You'll look at decor in a place, light fixtures, mirrors, bathrooms, signage, so many little intangible things that you'll see other members doing that you can incorporate in what you're doing. It's a big reason our members cherish these connection events.

Philip Hernandez: This year's summit took 134 attendees on five facility tours in the San Diego area over four days with 21 trade partners and three keynote speakers. So, the keynotes address the high-level issues or themes, and then we went and toured facilities, and those facilities really focused on presenting their solutions to some of the big higher-level issues. So, you've got theory, backed up by what does this actually mean for attractions here locally. It was four days, as I mentioned, I was only there for two of the days, the two middle days, and I really saw two large themes emerge. I thought we would just go through each theme, then talk about the theme, and then talk about the solutions from the places that we went to. So, the two large themes I saw were, authentic reality, the shift to this thing called authentic reality, and staffing. Sounds familiar. The facilities I went to were the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and Belmont Park.

Scott Swenson: One of the things that's important to recognize is the fact that our industry continues to grow. It used to be that there were really only viable, big-end, high-end, very successful, innovative parks in a couple of locations around the country in the United States. This is no longer the case, and there's more and more innovation taking place in a bunch of smaller places. So, the idea of bringing together a localized community into these kinds of sessions just seems to make more sense, and it's just another way that I think IAPPA continues to adjust and amend the way that it does things based on the way that the industry is growing. I love the idea that they're looking at, "Here are the big macrocosm issues, and then here's how we're looking at them in this region."

Philip Hernandez: I should clarify as well. They never said it in that many words, this is me extrapolating from my experiences that the two themes are staffing and this authentic reality.

Scott Swenson: Philip is the one who boxified everything.

Philip Hernandez: I just love boxes so much.

Scott Swenson: He puts them in nice little containers, but that's great because then I get to go in and open them up like Christmas presents and spread them around.

Philip Hernandez: OK, so theme #1, authentic reality. So, George Walker, pretty infamous in the industry, he gave the kick-off keynote presentation and that's really what he focused on. That is his term, he introduced the concept, and he believes, basically, that there's a shift in what guests want and they're wanting more authentic themed experiences.

George Walker: When experiences are the product, authenticity is the currency.

Philip Hernandez: He gave a timeline for this kind of shift to illustrate his point, and he argues that we started off in heightened reality, which is roller coaster rides and just things that make reality more punchy, and then we transitioned into artificial reality, as in creating an artificial structure that tries to be a reality, for example, walking into movies, so i.e. Disney. After artificial reality, there was the virtual reality phase, which is, replacing what you could have built in the real world with pixels. So, now he argues that we are in this new phase, which he is dubbing authentic reality. He gave a lot examples, beer moving from big into microbreweries, Airbnb’s moving from just places where you can rent a room to really playing up on the authentic, localized experience. I think the biggest one he gave was the dining, sitting that people are now spending more on food at restaurants and experiences than in grocery stores.

George Walker: For the first time in history, people spent more money on food at restaurants than they did at grocery stores. So, these two things line up and that made me realize, people want experiential dining more than ever before, even when they go shopping. We used to go shopping and then ran to the food court to grab a bite to eat. Now, people statistically are going to eat and then while we're there, they're grabbing something at the store.

Philip Hernandez: To me, I broke it down like authentic reality equals interactive plus emotional plus dedication to the story.

Scott Swenson: I love the fact that it now has a name because, quite honestly, as you pointed out, Philip, we've been talking about this for years now. Maybe we're just ahead of our time. I don't know. No, the truth of the matter is, we've been talking about this for a very, very long time, and I think it's 100% spot on it. There are a couple things I think we have taken into consideration here, you know me, I'm always going to talk about either the pendulum or this motion of things. People want real again, and I've said that for a very, very long time. I said to several of my colleagues the last couple of years, and was lambasted for it, and that is the fact that virtual reality is already dead, and they were like, "no, it's not. No, it's not. No, it's not." But what was discussed in this keynote, tech itself will not last, it won't last on its own, but can tech be heightened to the point where it creates an authentic experience for the user? That is still, I think, to be determined. So, I agree. I actually think that this whole idea of authentic reality is something that audiences are ready for. They're tired of the gimmickry, they've learned to accept technology as a given. 

Scott Swenson: It used to be, if you got the chance to go to Europe, it was amazing, it was special, and it was rare. Then that became commonplace when travel became easier, and then it became special if you get to do the immersive Oculus goggles that take you all through Europe, and that's really cool. Well, that's now become sort of passe, that's become very accessible, overly accessible perhaps. So, now the idea of going back to actually sit in a piazza in Rome and be there, be surrounded by the people and the unexpected nature of what the guests are going to do, what the artists are going to do, what's the music, how the music is going to change, the smell of the food, and the look of the Gelato. The reason I use this as an example is, ironically, at the same time as Philip was attending the seminar, I spent the weekend in Rome. It's a rough gig, but someone's got to do it. I was sitting in Piazza Navona and I said to myself, "Gosh, why can't theme parks replicate this level of comfort and reality?" 

Scott Swenson: There was nothing forced. There was nothing pushed. Yes, there were performers, but no one was forcing me to gather to watch a show. It was interesting, since they were street performers, they had a professional courtesy to one another so they wouldn't all perform at the same time. One would perform and then that audience would move on to the next. I thought, this is like a really utopian theme park environment, because everybody there was having a good time and nobody felt pressured that, "oh, now I've got to get to this attraction. Now I got to get to this attraction, and now I've got to do this." It was an authentic experience that was crafted to a certain extent, but I kept asking myself, "Why do we work so hard to try to replicate something that just happened so organically?" 

Scott Swenson: I realize that I'm being overly simplistic. Yes, there are a lot of operational challenges to replicate something that just organically happens in the theme park. I understand that. So, it's one of those situations where we have to work really hard to see how we craft what we have in order to create something that feels emotionally authentic.

Philip Hernandez: Yeah, I think that's a perfect distillation of his concept. He broke it down, five ways to achieve that, which I think all of which are present in your example. Moving from passive to interactive, interactive not meaning just the technology. So, as you said, there were things you could do, you had a role to play, you could explore it, it wasn't just passive entertainment. Theming in service to the story, so as in everything should be in service of the story, but you should be able to look around and things logically follow the story place. He talked about the delivery of gratification should be natural, which I think is a key that you just mentioned. There should be surprises, and they should come up, but the delivery should be natural. He talked about it not being a marathon, like you mentioned, as well, like taking it from being a checklist that people want to check off, the big E-ticket rides into something where there's actual discovery, where people have the ability to discover things. They walk into an area and they have a big reveal, and they're surprised and delighted by that. Then, of course, moving from mass experiences to personal experiences. Just like caveat on this, it's not like he's saying that there shouldn't be any mass experiences anymore, it's more like he's saying there should be room for these other items in that. There's always going to be the want to go to Disneyland and watch the parade for example, right? But that doesn't mean there can also be stormtroopers that come out and interact with the crowds on a non-scheduled time to make it happen serendipitously.

Scott Swenson: I think we have to get away from the either/or mentality. It's not, do we build a great big roller coaster? Or do we build a realm in an environment like Ghost Town Alive, for example? Which do we do? My answer is you do both and you combine them. I know you're thinking, "Well, we can't afford to do both." But you can, you just have to figure out how to make it work budgetarily. Don't make it so that you have to go to the ride, make it so that you have to go to the realm. Disney has started this with Star Wars stuff, although everybody wants to get on the ride. But it's just as engaging and fun to be in the realm itself. 

Scott Swenson: I've used the Universal example for years. When Hogwarts first opened, one of my favorite things to do was to go early in the morning when I was staying in one of the resorts and have breakfast there. So, I could have breakfast and live in Hogwarts for the morning, and everybody else is racing to the ride, racing to the ride, and I'm like, "No, I'm going to go have breakfast and then I'm going to go and I'm going to shop a little bit, and maybe buy a wand. Then maybe go to the ride, and then maybe engage with the characters or whatever." Now, having said all of that, I think we have to make certain that we educate our audiences as well so that that is the expectation. This is going to be time of transition, because yes, I agree completely that this is where younger audiences are going, but it's not where all audiences are yet. It's where they're headed, it is the destination that they're aiming for and that they will thoroughly enjoy, but it's not like a light switch. It's not like we automatically shift from where we're big attraction based to environmentally based, or authentic reality based.

Scott Swenson: It's just like when we transitioned from horses to automobiles. Everybody thinks that just all of a sudden horses were no longer used and everything went to cars. That's not at all true, and it was a rough transition. In fact, there were a lot of injuries because people who are used to horses couldn't figure out that cars move faster. So, as we work on these kinds of projects, as we develop these kinds of projects, we have to make certain that we educate the audience and bring them along with us. I think that is one of the biggest challenges theme parks face, in general, when they do major shifts, and I think that's why so many of them are so hesitant to drink the Kool-Aid and move forward. They're like, "Well, I understand how to build a roller coaster. I don't understand how to build a realm that has a roller coaster in the center of it."

Philip Hernandez: This is some pretty high-level presentation conversation and we're asking these natural questions that Scott has outlined, and then we got to go to the facilities and see how they're putting these things into place. So, I thought we'd start off with the San Diego Zoo. Two of the experiences that jumped out to me a lot about that was, first, the concept of parallel play. If it's done well, the parallel play is an authentic experience because it satisfies all those five things. So, the biggest thing was their Expedition Base Camp, which is the new place there at the San Diego Zoo. There's a whole space that's designed next to the Squirrel Monkey habitat, where kids can play in the same way as the monkeys. So, on its face, looks like just a regular ropes course, but it's really supposed to set up those naturally occurring moments where the monkeys are playing just on their own, and then the kids can go in and the kids can play in the same way next to the monkeys who are also playing. I thought that is a perfect example of all these things tied together.

Philip Hernandez: The other thing that I saw was the, kind of, more personal experiences they're talking about, which of course are the animal encounters; which are something that have been around for a long time, but it just goes to underscore your point about either/or. Animal encounters are good, authentic experiences because it's a real animal encounter and again, it's the real animal, you can only get so much out of it. So, we had an animal encounter with a little animal, and the handler told the funny story about how, essentially, this animal is driven by smell and loves to like roll around and poop and becomes this like ball of poop.

Animal Handler: Another defense that they do is to anoint themselves in the smelliest thing. Their favorite thing is to roll themselves in poop. So, sometimes we'll give them other animal's poop and they'll take it and they'll shower with it. It's like we gave them a bar of soap and they're like, "Yeah, I love it." They'll put it everywhere and they're very fastidious about it, and they're like, "OK, I'm ready to go now." So, then animals will just think it's the weird moving ball of poop and they walk on by.

Philip Hernandez: So, I was like, that's a great way to relate to the audience, but also show the animal and explain its whole habitat.

Scott Swenson: Yeah, working with a lot of zoos, zoos run a very delicate line because they don't want to anthropomorphize the animals and create the illusion that they are humans or have human emotions. However, it is important for, especially younger audiences, to understand that there are similarities, to help them have empathy for these animals. So, zoos, in my opinion, are already set up for, dare we say a renaissance? Not that zoos have ever really gone away, but for a renaissance in the parallel player, the authentic experience realm. They've been doing it, that's what zoos have done. I find it interesting that, because of some other recent things, hopefully fading things in history within the industry, that zoos have been very afraid to be fun. They've been afraid to be entertaining, and they have been focused very much on book learning. I'm excited to see more and more like San Diego Zoo, going back to that experience, going back to the idea of, "Let's play like the animals, let's have fun while we're learning," because that way the learning sticks.

Philip Hernandez: Moving on to SeaWorld was our next stop and Jim Lake gave the keynote address there, and he started his career in 1989 as a parking attendant for Epcot and has been in the industry since then. It was a very candid discussion, really, just about the challenges that they had and what he's seen in it. He did discuss how he thinks the business has really changed since the pandemic, and that we need new ways to lead the industry forward.

Jim Lake: Many would say that we're still in a big place of COVID Recovery, there's probably some truth to that, but I think we're kind of passed that in a lot of ways, and I think we tend to use that as a crutch a little bit. What it really is, I think, is the world has changed, like businesses have just changed, and I don't think it's ever going to go back to the way we remember it. I don't think we can lead the businesses the way we used to, and I think we have to start thinking about new ways to lead the business. Last year we saw a lot of pent-up demand and that affected our business in a unique way. We're kind of past that now and we have to think about, it's a new day, it's a new world, and it's going to continue to change.

Philip Hernandez: He did hint at it, he did hint at the bigger overall change. He talked about a big part of their future is going to be food festivals and seasonal operations, again to beef up their shoulder seasons and et cetera, et cetera. He wants locals, when they're around the dinner table and they're wondering, "what should we get for dinner?" He wants them to think, "We're going to go to SeaWorld for dinner."

Jim Lake: Food and alcohol festivals are really a trending thing and they work, they just have to provide a really good experience. Quite frankly, Food and Beverage, since I've got here, hasn't been one of our strong points. I sat down with our team several months ago and I said, I want our past members and our local audience here in San Diego to be sitting at home saying, "Where are we going to go for dinner tonight?" And I want them to say, "We want to go to SeaWorld. SeaWorld has such great food, we want to go have dinner at SeaWorld." So, we're really focusing on raising the bar on our Food and Beverage, and I see it moving forward. It's gradual, it's not as fast as maybe I would like to move, but it's been moving forward. An opportunity with a food festival, like we currently have online, is a great way for us to showcase some really great items, and our guests seem to be really loving them a lot.

Philip Hernandez: It has to be restaurant-level quality and it has to also be authentic.

Executive Chef: The biggest one for me is authenticity through food. I did very, very few plays on things, fusion, or anything like that because I wanted to really represent the different cultures that we had within those regions and areas.

Philip Hernandez: I actually had an opportunity to speak with the executive chef there that evening. "How do you go about choosing that and are you taking things that aren't from this area?"

Executive Chef: The cool part, like with the craft beer industry here in San Diego, is everything at my fingertips. I'm able to collaborate with the Brewers and things like that, so we can talk flavor profiles with Brewers, and this is what we'd like to see. As far as dishes, one of the other things that I try to do with the authenticity is, what's the most approachable dish for the theme park industry that I can showcase to your theme park guest? I've also tried to focus a lot on plant-based, vegetarian, and gluten-friendly, because we are in Southern California and to be conscious of those guests as well.

Executive Chef: One of our little like kiosks is called Bold Brazilian Bites, we have arepas, which are South American. Then we also have Pão de Queijo, which is a gluten-friendly cheese bread, which is decently common when you go to a Brazilian BBQ or anything like that. Then we have a plant-based option which is a Soyrizo Empanada, it's chorizo, but it's soy, so soyrizo empanada, and it's been a big hit for that particular group. So, it's something approachable, and it's plant based.

Philip Hernandez: I think the other thing that's interesting about that idea of authenticity is that you're trying to be an authentic dish, but it's in an environment that's not authentic. You're just trying to represent the food. You're like, this thing you are eating, even though it's being served in the middle of theme park, but the flavor profile itself is authentic to what you'd experience if you walk down this neighborhood.

Executive Chef: Correct, correct. So, the thing too is we themed the entertainment to the area for the food as well. I was kind of able to drive what we're doing, and then our entertainment partners kind of did everything around it. So, we kind of are doing the best tie in that we can, and it's been a lot of fun. When I was with Disney, we had a park president and he said, "food here has become an attraction." If we invested as much in a kitchen as we did in a roller coaster then I think we'd all be a lot better off, if that makes sense. Not, obviously, to that level, but hey, let’s get in there and get scrappy and figure out what everybody truly, truly wants.

Philip Hernandez: Then on the parallel play and personal experiences note, Jim did mention in his speech that 2024 will be a big focus on animals with their new exhibit opening, on conservation, and also on opportunities to experience and play with animals in a different way.

Jim Lake: I want to focus really on animals next year. We actually have plans for a new exhibit that's going to be really cool, and I want to focus on really bringing that to the forefront more because I truly believe the roller coasters are great. I started out with rides early in my career, and I love them, but I think that's really primarily come here to see these animals. I think we have a really great opportunity to improve how we showcase the animals and make that experience great. So, people can learn and we can really focus on the conservation and how we can really impact the world through the research we do here, and a lot of the great work that our rescue team does here.

Philip Hernandez: To that note, they did have us do the Dining with Orcas session, which again, hit all of these notes. They gave a talk about the orcas, and they just said, "Look, you're going to eat and the orcas are going to do their thing, and they might splash you, things might happen. You're hanging out and you're eating, and they're hanging out and they might try and get your attention, they might slash you, it might be a thing.” But I just kind of loved how that all fit together like that.

Scott Swenson: Well, that's something we have to continue to recognize in the authentic reality side. As operators, we need to accept the fact that not everybody is going to get the same experience. We need to accept the fact, and we have to release our control freak mentality as theme park owners and operators, that we can control every single moment. The thing that makes something authentic is its lack of predictability. I know that there are, myself included, to be completely honest, there are theme park people out there who go, "Yeah, but I want to make sure that everybody has a great time." OK, well create an authentic experience that has enough legs, enough levels that they will have a great time. 

Scott Swenson: Just to circle back for that going out to dinner at SeaWorld comment, that's something that's already happening here in Abu Dhabi with two of the different parks that I've experienced. One of the things that I did when I moved over here is I got a pass, I got an annual pass. It's not uncommon to see people go to Warner Brothers World or Ferrari World an hour before closing just to go for dinner, because they have elevated their food offerings. This being a very multicultural environment, I mean, you've heard me say before, only about 20% of the population are actually Emirati. So the rest, the 80%, comes from different places all around the world. So, it opens up their culinary opportunities vastly, and they need to be authentic or these people are not going to come and eat and enjoy. But there are many, and in fact this evening I may run over to Warner Brothers and grab some butter chicken and have dinner. That is commonplace here, and it's because they have elevated their culinary offerings past what we think of as standard theme park food, anything that comes frozen in a package. This may be frozen in a package too, I don't know, but it is cooked and presented in a way that it is restaurant quality or above, and it, therefore, makes it very viable to be part of just your daily mentality. Again, more authentic.

Philip Hernandez: The last location that I visited was Belmont Park. Just for context here, Belmont Park is an oceanfront historic amusement park located in the Mission Beach area of San Diego. It was developed in 1925, so they're only two years away from their Centennial celebration, and it's not gated. So, the beach is public, and then there's the historic park that's right off the beach, and it's not gated. It's a collection of businesses, and they've acquired 80% of the businesses with 20% being tenants. What they're really trying to do is tie together all of these separate businesses into a coherent theme, and also to really bring the brand of the park to the forefront. So, basically, we toured each of the little businesses and we learned about how they individually operated and what they all do. I saw these same themes kind of playing out of each different one. In parallel play, they have a facility called Plunge, and it's the historic pool building there that they have kept. The building is still there, it's still a pool, but what they've done is they've built a gym around the pool. If you can imagine, you can go on the 2nd floor, and the windows on one side face out and you can see the water and the beach, and on the other side you can see the pool while you're working out.

Spencer Meinburg: I'm the general manager of Plunge San Diego, and oversee operations and escapology. So, within year one, we were 4,000 members for the gym and the pool. We're selling a membership between $120 and $160, and you get that recurring monthly revenue, and then we have our day pass revenue. We have months of over $100,000 just in day pass revenue. We have months that we're $60,000 just in birthday parties. So, we have all these recurring models and it's a season sustainable business, it's a weather sustainable business. So, 12 months a year, rain or shine, we're able to operate and offer great programs.

Philip Hernandez: Where do you see yourselves evolving into?

Speaker 7 We're always on the lookout to serve the San Diego community. So, we have a big presence in the community. When you reach out to the community, have your fingers in the community, then you're able to pull them back into your locations and your facility. So, big initiatives for 2023 are expanding outside of our four walls. So, we have Paradise San Diego that we're launching Summer 2023. We have 24,000 square feet of a beach permit that we're expanding outside of the Plunge walls and now offering our full service at the beach. They can add on a day pass, but we can give them a full experience beachside. They can rent their cabanas, they can have full service, they can do all that. So, we're already thinking ahead of, we're busy in here and how do we still serve the community? That's by getting outside of all walls. 

Philip Hernandez: A different take on parallel play, right? And what it allowed them to do is have

recurring revenue, and also to bring in the community. Last year they did 1,600 birthday parties. What they've done is they've made little reserved areas all around the pool, they have eight of them, and they rent them out in 2 1/2 hour increments, so like party spaces, basically. That allows them to have those individual experiences.

Scott Swenson: So, it's interesting because having been to Belmont Park, not as part of this particular Expo, I think is a perfect way to end our show when we're talking about authentic reality. Belmont Park has been there since 1925, as you say, and it was first opened in 25, and it truly is this sort of organic, as you say Philip, they were a bunch of different organizations who are all sharing the same space. So, it had that authentic quality, and I'm excited to see that Plunge is diving into that, no pun intended, fully and wholeheartedly. 

Scott Swenson: Obviously, this is a huge topic that both Philip and I are very, very passionate about, but unfortunately, we are out of time for this week. So, guys, thank you once again. I hope you've enjoyed our recap. I know I have, because I didn't get a chance to attend the IAAPA Convention, but I'm thrilled that Philip was able to share his thoughts and we were able to discuss it for you. Until next time, on behalf of Philip Hernandez with Ganton Lighting and the Haunted Attraction Network, and myself, Scott Swenson with Scott Swenson Creative Development, this is Green Tagged Theme Park in 30 and we will see you next week.


Scott SwensonProfile Photo

Scott Swenson

Owner/Creative Director

For over 30 years, Scott Swenson has been a storyteller, bringing stories to life as a writer, director, producer and performer. His work in theme park, consumer events, live theatre and television has given him a broad spectrum of experiences. In 2014, after 21 years with SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Scott formed Scott Swenson Creative Development LLC. Since then he has been providing impactful experiences for clients around the world. Whether he is installing shows on cruise ships or creating seasonal festivals for theme parks, writing educational presentations for zoos and museums or directing successful fund raisers, Scott is always finding new ways to tell stories that engage and entertain.