How Expert Partnerships Help Themed Entertainment Continue to Evolve

There’s a lot to be said for pure innovation. When awe-inspiring augmented reality, interactive and display technology, powerful audio solutions and artificial intelligence are unleashed upon experiences around the world, those who take them in are in for incredible memories.

But that’s only half of the story.

These solutions come to life when technical companies and integrators join forces with creative organizations, learning to speak one another’s language and translate fantastic ideas into real-world installations.

The partnership between Electrosonic and Thinkwell is one example of such world-shaping collaboration, as the organizations’ relationship has helped create amazing themed entertainment and leisure experiences around the globe.

That collaboration was the subject of the latest episode of Fusion, Electrosonic’s podcast, which featured a fireside chat with Les Hill, Senior Account Manager at Electrosonic, and Craig Hanna, Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer at Thinkwell Group.

Hanna brings over 30 years of creative development for destinations around the world. At Thinkwell, he led creative direction on projects such as Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter, and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, amongst others. During that time, he’s seen intellectual property evolve and, often, make it more challenging to live up to expectations.

Hill also brings a depth of knowledge in technological problem solving and creative vision. He’s worked for Ride & Show Engineering, Iwerks Entertainment, Universal Studios, Jack Morton Production and Walt Disney Imagineering, and being so hands-on with these attractions has allowed him insight into how the technical expectations around themed attractions have shifted for the better.

How Electrosonic and Thinkwell Work Together to Consistently Raise the Bar

First and foremost, the pair of thought leaders dipped into the challenges in creating memorable themed entertainment experiences from existing IP, which can make partnerships all the more important.

When a popular IP is the driving force behind the creation of a theme park or leisure attraction, Hanna said it can actually make creating something truly special more difficult.

“There’s always a dichotomy between creating an attraction where you’re creating the story from scratch versus [from] an IP,” he said. “Some people believe the unfettered creativity and the originality of an idea coming from a non-IP attraction gives you the freedom to explore the broadest possible horizons of your concept … We find, as experts working with IP, telling those stories within those confines actually can be more creatively challenging.”

That also means that partnerships with expert AV and technology services company like Electrosonic is even more important. The more experience an integrator has – and the wider a swath it’s able to cut through the entirety of the project timeline, from design to implementation – the easier it is to translate ideas to reality.

When done correctly to ensure what Hanna calls “version 1.5” of an IP comes to life, the benefits in terms of established advertising, natural attraction for guests and more are clear.

That’s the essence of collaboration and why it’s so critical to successful themed entertainment experiences. Creatives are going to do what they’re going to do best – create – and it’s up to closely linked partners to help ensure the visions they dream up are achievable and impactful.

The Modern Guest’s Expectations for Constant Engagement

Perhaps the most critical cornerstone of building a powerful experience for the modern leisure or themed entertainment guest is to provide constant engagement.

Some interactivity, some engagement, some immersion – “some” is no longer good enough. As Hanna puts it, even for some of the world’s largest IPs like Nintendo and the Harry Potter series, this “always-on” nature is priority No. 1.

“The really smart thing Universal has done with Nintendo is taking what they’ve learned in creating immersive lands, which really began with Harry Potter,” he said. “And bringing that to bear [at Super Nintendo World]. Everywhere you turn and look, there’s something moving. There’s something happening that you can interact with.

“Certainly, a ‘holy grail’ for the industry has been to allow the guest the opportunity to interact with the environment and to interact with the attractions in a more meaningful way that we have been able to do in the past.”

This is also especially important in a modern era where personal devices consume so much of guests’ attention. Hanna added that it’s important to concede defeat to cellphones and the like, which can’t ever be overcome in the way some themed entertainment operators wish they could be, where they would stay tucked in pockets for the entirety of a guest’s time in a park.

Instead, Hanna said themed entertainment needs to “lean into” these devices and find ways to leverage them that cater to that modern desire for constant connection.

“In the future, I think we will see even more of that,” he said.

“Clearly, you can’t engage with your phone when you’re on a dynamic, moving ride. … In terms of walking around in the environment and walking around in the queue, you can start to envision different ways you could use the phone to engage [guests], particularly in lines.”

These strategies could include environmental games, leaderboards and games that include other waiting guests, augmented reality installations that provide enhanced environmental components and interaction, and more.

The Power of Collaboration in Bringing a Story to Life

After all, those visions are the name of the game. Without a story that comes to life and immerses those who experience it, technology is near-meaningless.

“It costs a lot of money to take a family of four to a theme park for a day,” Hill said. “And no one is doing that for the technology. They don’t care about things like framerate and resolution and foot-lamberts. Not like we do, of course. To create a powerful, engaging and memorable experience, it’s all about the story. Story is a common thread. …

“The technology that the engineers at Electrosonic implement is really just a tool that the creative teams like Craig and Thinkwell use to drive the story.”

That fusion of technology into architecture and narrative makes storytelling possible, and both Hanna and Hill have seen that relationship pay dividends in spades throughout their decades of experience.

“Technology is always a means to an end. It’s never the starting point. Oftentimes, there are many great experiences where the technology is so embedded into the experience that no one ever walks out the door saying, ‘That was an amazing technological achievement,” Hanna said. “They say, ‘What a great ride. What a great story.’ … It’s always in support of the guest experience.

“We’re always looking at how to innovate just in terms of the guest experience, regardless of technology. But, in the end, technology does enable us to make better experiences.”

That give-and-take between the more human element of experiences and the technology that makes that immersion possible is reminiscent of the relationship between partners like Thinkwell and Electrosonic. One is constantly making the other better and helping to create a more powerful end result than either could have achieved on their own.

That collective effort lies at the heart of themed entertainment’s ability to constantly outdo itself.

Partner with Electrosonic Today

For more insights on collaboration, person anecdotes and forecasts for the future of themed entertainment and beyond, listen to the entire episode with Hanna and Hill.

Electrosonic is proud to continue working alongside the most talented partner network in the world to craft experiences that inspire people where we live, work and play. To learn more, contact us today.

What's your perspective?

Tell us the topic you would like to hear more about

More Perspective

The Metaverse: A world of opportunity

When Gartner cites the metaverse as one of its top strategic technology trends for 2023, the technology has to be taken seriously. Indeed, according to forecasters, it looks like big business for...


Dark Rides, The Next Generation (Part 2)

In an earlier blog, Dark Rides – The Next Generation – Part 1, we explained the importance of upgrading dark rides to meet increasing visitor expectations and explored the three key trends –...


Dark Rides, The Next Generation (Part 1)

Dark rides have been an important and popular attraction in theme parks for generations, but now experiential technology is taking them in exciting new directions — and the new generation of rides...


The evolution of the video wall

Video walls as art - How far can LED technology take the video wall? Video walls have reached an exciting tipping point. The latest developments in LED video walls are helping designers create custom...


How to Use AI to Augment Your Creative Potential

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t the stuff of science fiction anymore. In fact, it’s powering billions of processes and workflows for companies worldwide. It’s become a key component in almost...


The Future of Onsite AV Support

The world of audiovisual technology is changing, and effective design, planning, engineering and installation of a holistic AV solution is now a prerequisite to doing business in an increasingly...

6 MINS office-shakehands

Planning to Hire an AV Company?

Exceptional projects demand an exceptional team. When engaging an audio visual (AV) solutions provider with so many companies out there… how do you choose? From design, to procurement, commissioning...


Are You Ready for ISE?

Taking place in Amsterdam February 11-14, the Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) exhibition is a premier event focused entirely on audiovisual (AV) and systems integration. If you have a project on the...


Is Your AV Deployment Secure?

The need for security impacts everyone. And, unfortunately, unmonitored access points can quickly lead to a costly data breach. The massive Target breach from a few years ago was the result of an...


Does 5G Matter for Your AV Deployments?

If you pay even the slightest amount of attention to technology trends, you already know that the hype around 5G is rapidly gaining steam. The question is what does the eventual movement from current...


Looking Back at a Decade of Opportunity

Each time we hit a new decade, it is always fun and often rewarding to take a look in the rearview mirror to see how the company has progressed. The past 10 years represent a decade of significant...

2 MINS iStock-1152574617

What's on Your Wishlist?

Do you have a project on the horizon? Is your goal to captivate your audience? In the spirit of the holidays, we have created a wish list of the qualities a company should consider when selecting an...

2 MINS james-pond-XO9uCZZaipE-unsplash

Dark Rides Expand Branding Opportunities

Brands are more important today than ever before. Why? Today’s consumer likes to relate to a brand – it is part of the experience they desire. This is true whether they are buying a product or...

2 MINS iStock-165683086

Dark Rides Protect Your Park's Future

Nostalgia has its place even with the Millennial crowd. There is something comforting about a known experience. It helps the guest even temporarily relive cherished childhood memories. That is the...

3 MINS dtorlando-01_(1)

7 Things You Need to Do During IAAPA

There is a lot of excitement at IAAPA, and without a plan the entire experience can quickly become overwhelming. Sensory overload is always a real possibility! Having participated in these events for...

5 MINS blog-image-01_(1)

Are You Ready for IAAPA?

As the attraction industry’s biggest expo, IAAPA is always a great opportunity to shine a spotlight on what we have done over the past year, as well as a time to meet with existing and prospective...

2 MINS iStock-863497498

Do You Really Need an AV Consultant?

As the experience economy continues to mature and evolve, it is has become increasingly more important to embrace creative and meaningful ways to visually interact with team members and customers....

2 MINS iStock-1093674926

Are You Ready for AV-As-A-Service?

The cloud-based as-a-service market has been one of the fastest growing sectors over the past 5 years. So much so that it’s estimated that organizations will spend $94.8 billion on these cloud-based...

1 MINS iStock-658188828

How Interactives Can Become Viral

We have talked in detail about the significant role that interactive audiovisual deployments can have as guests engage and ultimately embrace the immersive experience. What we haven’t discussed is...

1 MINS iStock-911030486-1

Addressing Learning Disabilities

Today’s educators are far more in-tune with the need to adjust lessons to meet individualized student needs. Addressing learning disabilities is a prime example.

2 MINS iStock-1065240764

Future of the Digital Workplace

The digital economy is here and with it comes a new way of conducting business. Technology is at the core of almost every job. Smart offices have become the norm with an influx of highly interactive...

2 MINS shutterstock_576827212

Collaboration and Communication

When properly leveraged, audiovisual (AV) technology is at the core of most highly effective collaboration and communications efforts in today’s digital world. After all, AV technology has the...

2 MINS podcast imageNEW-01

Unpacking the XR Revolution (New Podcast)

We are in the beginning stages of a true revolution – the extended reality revolution. Although some components have been around for a handful of years, the current level of maturity, understanding...

3 MINS iStock-169938237-1

Why Businesses Favor a Huddle Room

The global market is rapidly evolving, and if organizations hope to compete – or better yet thrive – they need to rethink their physical environments. Gone are the work weeks where workers file into...

1 MINS iStock-1043605040

Reinventing Spaces: Retailtainment

Modern retail venues are constantly evolving – merging entertainment with shopping to create lifestyle destinations for people to shop, eat, drink, socialize and work. They are ultimately redefining...

2 MINS monitor-1054708_1280

Why Audiovisual Solutions Matter

In today’s digital economy, how businesses leverage technology is often a key differentiator. While various technologies play a role in fueling this evolving environment properly deploy audiovisual...

2 MINS elc400_N5_medium_(1)

What is a Huddle Room?

As Millennials started replacing Boomers, they brought with them the idea of open office environments. And, while these open spaces created an aesthetic the new professionals desired, it also shined...

2 MINS victor-garcia-qm9pHqVt7KA-unsplash-2-2

Optimizing Design with AV in Mind

When creating a distinctive structure for a client, it is easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of delivering a truly unique design capable of setting a facility apart from the pack. However, doing...

2 MINS jeshoots-com-722888-unsplash-1

Putting an End to Terminal Boredom

Airport terminals can be busy and heavily congested environments, especially during peak travel times. However, even though terminals are often filled with people rapidly moving from point A to point...

Scroll to Top