Purdue University: Show Us Your Story

Project Details

Name

Show Us Your Story

Date Completed

February 2021

Type

Location

Summary

Assignment for students to introduce themselves to the class in a fun, creative way

After enrolling in the Themed Entertainment Design Certificate Program at IUPUI, the very first class I took was called Intro to Themed Attraction Design. One of the very first assignments we were given was to introduce ourselves to the class in a creative way. The assignment was called “Show Us Your Story,” and the idea was to Each presentation was required to answer these questions:

  1. Name
  2. Major
  3. Why you’re taking this class
  4. Career goals
  5. Fun fact about you

As a newly minted Themed Attraction student, I knew I needed to come up with something that would be relevant to the industry, while also being fun, imaginative, and actually fulfilling the requirements of the assignment. As I was brainstorming ideas, I realized that a proper introduction in the themed entertainment world is delivered via a pre-show. After considering several different popular attraction pre-shows, I decided to do my own take on a pre-show video inspired by a Disney classic.

Purdue University: Dreamland

Project Details

Name

Dreamland

Date Completed

May 2021

Type

Location

Summary

Class project to design a completely original theme park land

As a part of and Introduction to Themed Attraction Design class, our project for the semester was to create a theme park land. Our four-person team had to come up with an original concept for a land that would be part of a larger theme park. All ideas had to be our own. We were not able to rely upon existing intellectual property (IP) that is either owned by or currently in use by another theme park or company.

Throughout the semester, we went through the creative and story development process. We thought through the entire guest experience, including land layout, attraction and restaurant concepts, entertainment offerings, graphics, nomenclature and signage among other things. Other aspects of the project included: researching locations for feasibility, completing a budget and revenue analysis, creating a project timeline from concept to opening day, generating operations plans and analyzing sustainability options.

All of that work came together to create Dreamland:

Step into a world of dreams where you can feel lighter than air or venture into the darker corners of unconsciousness. DREAMLAND is just one land of a larger theme park concept that focuses on the themes and stories of timeless characters such as Mr. Sandman, Father Time, Mother Nature and Old Man Winter.

In addition to presenting our final project at the end of the class, we also had the opportunity to submit Dreamland to the Themed Attraction Student Showcase at themedattraction.com. This showcase was open to students in themed entertainment design programs from around the world and entries were judged by industry veterans according to eight categories:

  • Best in Class – Storytelling/Show Writing/Guest Experience Narrative
  • Best in Class – Ride & Show Systems (Engineering the Ride)
  • Best in Class – Master Planning / Area Development / Landscape Design
  • Best in Class – Appeal of Core Idea
  • Best in Class – Use of Technology
  • Best in Class – Costume / Character Design
  • Best in Class – Vehicle Design
  • Best in Show – Overall

While we did not win in any single category, Dreamland did receive honorable mentions in Master Planning / Area Development / Landscape Design and Storytelling/Show Writing/Guest Experience Narrative.

Check It Out: Click here to view our full project posting on the Themed Attraction Student Showcase.

Purdue University: ACME Factory Frenzy

Project Details

Name

ACME Factory Frenzy

Date Completed

In Progress

Type

Location

Summary

Class project to design a theme park attraction based on a given intellectual property (IP)

ACME Factory Frenzy is an attraction concept I developed for the Planning in Themed Attraction Design course at IUPUI. For the assignment, we were given a list of intellectual properties (IPs) that we could choose from the design an attraction around. I chose to design my attraction around the classic Looney Tunes characters. To make the project as realistic as possible, we were also required to choose a location for our attraction from a list of pre-selected locations.

Thinking through the Looney Tunes universe, I pretty quickly focused in on my favorite duo, Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner. As a child, I was always entertained by what creative contraption the Coyote would think up to trap the Roadrunner next. In the context of what would make an intriguing attraction, I started to wonder what it would be like if we could actually step into the famed ACME factory. I then summed up the experience with my high concept:

Tour the famed ACME Corporation and see where the best-selling products are made.

Here was my original concept submission:

The IP I have selected is the classic Looney Tunes characters from Warner Brothers. The attraction, tentatively titled “ACME Factory Frenzy,” will be a trackless dark ride themed as a tour of the ACME factory where you can see all the great products ACME offers and how they are developed and made. We may even catch a glimpse of Wile E. Coyote on the tour as he plots his next trap for the Roadrunner. Wile E. Coyote can’t resist remaining seated in his tour vehicle, as he wants to get his hands on some of the products showcased right away. So, of course, things get out of control quickly as he inadvertently creates a frenzy throughout the factory tour.


I selected this IP and story, as it would appeal to a wide audience. Older generations remember the classic Looney Tunes characters with fondness, while the younger generation is being re-introduced to these characters through newer movies, such as Space Jam: A New Legacy. The story of the ACME factory tour has a lot of possibilities, and using a trackless ride system adds to the fun as rides can be different each time and you may never know what is going to happen next.


In the alternate universe where this ride is being developed, I imagine that The London Resort has acquired the theme park rights for the classic Looney Tunes characters from Warner Brothers. The London Resort is currently under development in Kent, just a 17 minute train ride from central London, with a proposed opening date of 2024. The land in the map below that is currently designated as “The Studio” would become “Warner Brothers Studios” and the massive and imposing ACME factory would sit at the end of the main thoroughfare, acting as the weenie drawing guests further into the land.


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According to a report released by the planners of The London Resort, they anticipate 6.5 million visitors annually during the first full year of operation in 2025. This means the park would expect approximately 33,000 guests per day on average, with a peak day of around 41,000 guests. The attraction will be designed with an hourly ride capacity of around 2,000 guests.  With over 100 days of rain annually and temperatures that can range from lows around 3°C (37°F) to highs around 22°C (72°F), ACME Factory Frenzy is being designed as a fully indoor experience to enable year-round operation.


The experience would begin as guests enter the main entrance to the factory and pass by the reception area. Phones will literally be ringing off the hooks at a desk with no one there to answer. In the background, you will see and hear the ACME Automated Phone Messaging System playing recorded messages to incoming calls. The queue will continue through various offices and rooms of the administrative areas of ACME Corporation, all of which show various ACME products in use. This may include passing through the mail room, the receiving dock, a maze of seemingly endless cubicles, a break room, the product development office and the president’s office before making your way into the factory tour guide’s office. Here, guests will receive a briefing on some of ACME’s most successful past products as well as catch a glimpse of some of their newest products under development. Guests will then proceed to board their ACME 5000 Automated Tour Vehicles to begin their tour of the factory floor, joined by Wile E. Coyote (an ACME Corporation VIP customer) in his own, special VIP vehicle. Wile E. Coyote zips off ahead of everyone else while the very important safety instructions are given and final safety checks are made. During the course of the ride, Wile E. Coyote leaves his vehicle numerous times in an effort to get his hands on the latest and greatest new ACME products. In the process, he is subjected to numerous unsafe events that unleash chaos throughout the remainder of the factory tour. After an explosive finale, guests find themselves at the end of the tour and, of course, exit through the gift shop where they can purchase a variety of ACME gags and products.

As I continued to develop this attraction throughout the semester, I began the blue sky process with virtual sticky notes of all the ideas I could think of. From that, I refined the ideas and generated mood boards, story boards, a full script and even a ride layout:

After five weeks of class, our instructors threw us a curve ball. While each student had been developing their own individual ride concept, we were now being asked to pitch our concept to the entire class. Our professors were acting as the clients and would choose the concept they felt would be the most successful for the class to then work on together for the remainder of the semester. After all the pitches were made and the votes were in, ACME Factory Frenzy was selected to advance as the singular project that the entire class would now work on for the remainder of the semester!

Indianapolis Zoo: Karimu Jungle Railway

Project Details

Name

Karimu Jungle Railway

Date Completed

August 2002

Type

Location

Summary

Concepts to update the train ride to provide a more engaging and entertaining experience for guests

In 2002, I was asked to assume leadership of the Attractions Department at the Indianapolis Zoo. One of my priorities at that time was to find a way to make improvements to the train ride, which basically gave a behind-the-scenes view of facilities buildings and backstage areas.

The initial proposal was to build up themed walls around the tracks to shut out the outside world and allow for a fully-themed experience to surround the riders. But this renovation encompassed more than just the train ride itself. The concept was to take the entire area of the zoo that contained the train, carousel, family roller coaster, simulator ride, a photo adventure booth and some food stands and convert them into an African-themed village that served as the “base camp” for a nearby wildlife preserve. The wildlife preserve was the walking path through the African Plains area of the zoo.

Check It Out: Click here to view the 2002 Karimu Jungle Railway Proposal

While this version of the ride was never approved, my plight to improve the train ride never ceased. Deemed too costly, future revisions abandoned the highly themed environments and African village backstory and instead focused on enhancing the “behind-the-scenes” story.

At the start of the ride, the train station would receive a modest update with new paint colors, an enhanced audio system, and some monitors to play video clips of various zoo operations while guests wait to board.
In a space between facilities buildings, the concept was to create the zoo’s Weather Station, where weather is monitored around the clock. A special effect of a cloud with perpetual rainfall would be built to one side.
As the train passed by the back gate, the concept was to build this up as the delivery area and tell stories of how much food and other necessary supplies come into the zoo to provide care for the animals.
Passing by the zoo’s veterinary hospital, the idea was to really tell the stories of what happens at this facility. Large signs would be erected showing images that would be accompanied by the onboard audio narration.
In this scene, we created a storyline where the train ride “used to” pass through more animal exhibits, but the bridge was washed out, so the route was modified to pass through behind-the-scenes areas of the zoo.
As the ride passed an actual gas pump, the concept was to spruce this up and add a leaky water tower in the area. Additional theming elements would be added to the existing gas pump area to complete the scene.
In an effort to add some additional fun to the ride, an existing tunnel would be converted into a train wash. Fans, mist and bubbles would provide a sensory experience as the train passes through the space.
At the bottom of a large hill behind the elephant exhibit, the concept was to setup an elephant research camp that served as the basis for us to tell stories about the zoo’s elephant research and conservation efforts.

Although this version of the ride also didn’t get fully realized, elements of the concept did make their way into the revamped ride the debuted in 2005. You can view more information about that ride in the separate portfolio entry below.

Check It Out: Click here to view the portfolio entry for the 2005 train ride update.

Indianapolis Zoo: Membership Kiosk

Project Details

Name

Membership Kiosk

Date Completed

April 2002

Type

Location

Summary

A kiosk themed as a safari jeep designed to sit outside the main gate and assist in membership sales

In 2002, I was promoted to the Guest Relations Manager at the Indianapolis Zoo. In this role, I was responsible for creating a comprehensive guest recovery and communication plan for those unfortunate situations where we may have fallen short of our guests’ expectations. Additionally, I was asked to oversee all membership functions at the main entrance, to include selling, upgrading, and checking in members through an exclusive member entrance.

I worked closely with the Membership Department to promote membership sales and meet goals. One way we wanted to generate more interest in membership sales was to have a mobile membership kiosk outside of the main entrance gate to serve as a place where guests approaching for a visit could learn more about membership offerings and have the seed planted of how much value an annual membership would provide.

In designing this kiosk, my mind immediately went to a safari jeep to fit in with the theme of the zoo. I hand sketched my concept onto a piece of paper and started researching different companies that build custom kiosks and the associated costs. We contacted a few companies and had some renderings made of my concept. From the concept, we tweaked some of the design and coloring, but ultimately moved forward with production of the design. In the images below, you can see the initial concept sketch, the resulting renderings and the final, finished product.

Click any image to view an enlarged version.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: Haunted House Characters & Costumes

Project Details

Name

Haunted House Greeter Costumes

Date Completed

October 2013 & October 2014

Type

Location

Summary

Homemade costumes created for my role as a greeter at the annual Haunted House

Although I left my role as Visitor Services Manager at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in 2012, I returned in October 2013 and 2014 to help out with the annual Haunted House. My role was to greet and entertain guests waiting in line to access the Haunted House. The theme of the Haunted House would change every year, and I designed a new character each time that would correspond to the theme.

50 Years of Fear Host

In 2013, the theme for the Haunted House was 50 Years of Fear, celebrating the fiftieth year of the annual event. My character was a decrepit host of the 50th Haunted House, complete with a top hat. But the costume had a surprising, secret twist that often caught unsuspecting guests off guard. A clever illusion was built into the costume that allowed me to appear to detach my head from my shoulders and bring it down in front of my stomach.

Click here to view a video clip of the costume illusion in action.

Creepy Carney

In 2014, the Haunted House was themed as a “Creepy Carnival,” and I created a Creepy Carney costume to interact with and entertain guests in line. While not as complex as the previous year, I built another illusion into this costume whereby I would carry around a dismembered arm and ask guests to touch the hand. In reality, through the hand was my real hand, and as guests would touch it, I would wiggle my fingers or sometimes grab their hand to startle them! Below are a few pictures of the distressed jacket and hat created for the character, as well as my dismembered hand terrorizing a fellow colleague.

“Elf” Thanksgiving

Project Details

Name

Elf Thanksgiving

Date Completed

November 2018

Type

Location

At Home

Summary

Thematic elements designed and built for an "Elf" themed Thanksgiving

A fun tradition that my in-laws implemented several years ago is to hold themed Thanksgiving celebrations. What could be more fun than enjoying Thanksgiving dinner in a themed environment and in costume? Some of the past themes have included lumberjacks, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Star Wars and pirates. In 2018, I had the opportunity to help create the scenery for the “Elf” themed thanksgiving.

My portion of the project was to recreate the rolling snowy hills of the North Pole as they were depicted in the movie. Our North Pole was setup around the pool deck. In order to cover up the rest of the backyard, we used blue curtains to create a “sky” backdrop, then cut out the rolling hills of snow out of pieces of plywood and painted them white. The effect was then completed with dual projectors creating a snowfall effect on the backdrop. Here are some images of the project in progress and the completed effect.

We started by stringing up cables between various posts and hanging the curtains between posts.
Two mirrored projectors displayed an animated snowfall projected onto the blue backdrop.
The individual curtains were then carefully pinned together to create the full backdrop.
Repurposed pallet boards were cut into tree shapes and painted white to extend the decor.

Check It Out: Click here to view the snowfall scene in action!

Although my portion of the event was the design, construction and animation of the North Pole backdrop, the theme was completed with other scenes from the Elf film:

wdimagic.com

Project Details

Name

wdimagic.com

Date Completed

October 2002

Type

Location

Online

Summary

Fan-created website celebrating all things Walt Disney Imagineering

When I was in college in the late 90’s, I took a basic HTML coding class. Back then, the internet was a world of dial-up modems and you were doing pretty good if your screen size was 800×600 pixels. From that very basic HTML knowledge, I decided to create a fan website about Walt Disney Imagineering just for fun. The first iteration was launched in 1999 and it was pretty crude, but it was a hobby that I enjoyed. I called the site, “The MAGIC of Walt Disney Imagineering.”

Back then, there wasn’t a lot of information out there about WDI. As an aspiring Imagineer myself, I was determined to gather as much information as I could and put it in one place. I kept adding new sections and new features to the site. As it continued to grow, I recruited my two best friends to help with some of the graphics and marketing of the site. We refined and updated the site and gave it a new look using the latest and greatest techniques of the day. We purchased a real domain name and re-branded the site as “wdimagic.com.”

At its peak, wdimagic.com was probably the most definitive website out there on the topic of Walt Disney Imagineering. As 2002 approached, we were gearing up to celebrate “Fifty Years of Imagineers,” since WDI – formerly known as WED Enterprises – was founded in 1952. Unfortunately, through a series of unfortunate events, our domain name was snatched out from under us and we were never able to recover. By that time, I was a full-time student also trying to hold down a full-time job. So I took the site down and it faded away into obscurity.

Those who were following us probably wondered what happened, as the site virtually disappeared overnight. Fortunately, I kept all of those old html files and I have been able to reconstruct the site as it would have appeared in late 2002 on it’s last day of operation.

By clicking on the link below, you will be taken back to 2002 and view the site in glorious 800×600 resolution! Note that, while I have done my best to reconstruct is as much as possible, there are still some things that may not work properly. Flash is obviously no longer supported, so those will just appear as blank boxes. Some links may not work anymore. Some images may not load properly. But, by and large, the majority of the site is still there and looks just the way I remember it. Note that this is most definitely NOT optimized for mobile viewing and likely will not display well on a mobile device!

Check It Out: Click here to visit wdimagic.com

Theme Park Master Plan

Project Details

Name

Theme Park Master Plan

Date Completed

December 2011

Type

Location

Undisclosed

Summary

Master plan layout for a unique theme park concept developed with friends

In 2003, I was selected to participate in the IAAPA Show Ambassador program at the annual expo in Orlando, Florida. This was my first time ever attending the IAAPA Expo, and I was right in my element the entire week I was there. Not only did I get exposure to the industry in a whole new way, but I also met so many other people who share this passion of the theme park industry with me. I formed so many close friendships with fellow Show Ambassadors which continue to this day.

Click to enlarge

Over the years, a few of us have tossed around some ideas for a unique theme park concept. While I didn’t come up with the original theme for the park, I have spent some time developing the idea with the permission of those who did. I’ve shared the concepts with the group and have received their input and feedback.

In 2010, I really started to focus on the development of this park idea even more. At that time, I crafted an elaborate backstory, refined and named the various lands, came up with some general attraction concepts, generated mood boards, conducted research on location and feasibility, created a general organizational structure and worked on a master plan of how the park and supporting infrastructure could fit on a real piece of property.

While the planning of this park really has been more of a passion project that may just be a pipe dream, I’m convinced that the high concept and some of the details are so unique that I hesitate to share them publicly. For this portfolio entry, I’ve taken the master plan layout of the park and removed any identifying information regarding the theme and proposed location.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis: Queuing Plans

As the Visitor Services Manager at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, I was responsible for creating and updating queuing plans for various purposes throughout the museum. These plans were created to provide a safe, organized and efficient visit for museum guests. Below are a few of the plans that I created throughout my tenure.

Welcome Center Queuing Plan

Project Details

Name

Welcome Center Queuing Plan

Date Completed

April 2011

Type

Location

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Summary

A new extended queuing plan around a new exhibit artifact installed in the museum Welcome Center

In April 2011, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis unveiled a 17-foot tall, 2,000 pound movie prop of Bumblebee from the 2007 movie Transformers permanently installed in the middle of the museum’s Welcome Center. As the Visitor Services Manager at that time, one of my responsibilities was building and managing the box office queue line. During times like Spring and Fall Breaks when schools were out, the line could occasionally become quite long and we needed to have a plan of how the queue would be setup to keep the lines organized and orderly. The following plan was developed to provide a guide for how we could build our queue around this newly installed artifact.

Check It Out: Welcome Center Full Queue

2008 Haunted House Queue

Project Details

Name

Eerie Express Queuing Plan

Date Completed

October 2008

Type

Location

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Summary

A queuing plan to keep the annual haunted house line contained in the midst of a building expansion

In 2008, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis was undergoing an expansion to add a brand new Welcome Center onto the front of the building. In the midst of construction, we needed to operate our annual Haunted House during the month of October. In previous years, we would queue guests waiting to tour the Haunted House outside in what was now a construction zone. The following plan was devised to bring the line inside the building and provide for an organized line while maintaining open walkways for guests to get around other parts of the museum.

Check It Out: Eerie Express Queuing Plan

Haunted House Queuing Plan 2009 and Beyond

Project Details

Name

Haunted House Queuing Plan

Date Completed

October 2009

Type

Location

The Children's Museum of Indianapolis

Summary

A queuing plan to keep the annual haunted house line contained after the completion of the museum expansion

Once the new museum Welcome Center was completed and opened in 2009, we were able to put in place a more permanent queuing plan for the annual Haunted House. This plan allowed access to the exhibit hall inside the museum where the Haunted House was setup from a back hallway that was accessible from outside the paid space of the museum. This was essential, as the Haunted House is a separate ticket that does not require museum general admission. Below is the plan that was put in place and is still used to this day.

Check It Out: Haunted House Queuing Plan

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