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EAS 2011 – Interview with John Wood, Chairman

& CEO of Sally Corporation

Update : 23:41 Published by François Mayné the 3 October 2011, Corporate.

During the Euro Attractions Show that was held at the Olympia Exhibition Hall in London, UK, we had the opportunity to meet John Wood, Chairman and CEO of Sally Corporation.

Based in Jacksonville (Florida, USA), Sally Corporation offers since 1977 a wide range of dark-rides (interactive, black light and classic) and animatronics (lifelike humans, animals and other creatures) for theme parks but also for international museums and educational venues. Sally’s rides and attractions have received a lot of awards from industry associations as well as from the people who ride the rides: amusement parks enthusiasts.

In Europe, they are well known for their interactive dark rides “Challenge of Tutankhamon” at Walibi Belgium, “El Laberinto del Minotauro” at Terra Mitica (Spain), Laser Raiders at Legoland Windsor (UK) and “La Aventura de Scooby-Doo” at Parque Warner Madrid (Spain). In the rest of the world, they delivered dark rides and animatronics for theme parks groups such as Merlin Entertainments, Happy Valley Amusement Parks, Cedar Fair, Herschend Family Entertainment or Six Flags.

At the EAS 2011, Sally displayed two models: one of “Challenge of Tutankhamon” and another called “Forbidden Island”, a new interactive dark ride concept featuring a jungle-prehistoric theming. They also had an animatronic with them, a movie director seating on a chair, and welcoming visitors to stop by the booth and discover Sally’s products and services.

John Wood, Chairman and CEO of Sally CorporationAt EAS 2011, Sally Corporation displayed its Forbidden Island interactive dark ride concept... ...and the well known Challenge of Tutankhamon, open since 2003 in Walibi Belgium.

NewsParcs: What have been the highlights of Sally Corporation in 2011 ?

John Wood: 2011 has been a lot of fun, because we have done a lot of different attractions and we worked with a lot of customers anew. One of the old customer we worked with is Merlin Entertainments, and their Legoland division. We are building the third and the fourth interactive dark rides “Lost Kingdom Adventure” for them in Florida and in Malaysia, and it’s always great to do it again!

NP: Will these both dark rides be the same as the previous ones ?

JW: We had increased the capacity because of its popularity in Legoland Windsor and California. The one in Florida will deliver 1.000 persons per hour which is quiet a lot of people! The same is required in Malaysia, hopefully they will have the same attendance level over there. We will ship that one after the 1st of the year.

NP: And what about your current projects under construction or already open ?

JW: Next month, we are installing a custom attraction we designed called “Scream in the dark”. It’s an haunted interactive attraction very dark with a circus-scary clowns theme. The louder you scream during the ride, the more bonus targets you get… so you have a better chance to get a higher score. It should be a lot of fun and it’s going to be in a Mall location in Pattaya Beach in Thailand, where they already have a Ripley’s Believe it or not!, a wax museum, a miror maze and others attractions. Such as in San Antonio, Gatlinburg or other locations, they have multipe attractions so that they can sell a ticket combining all of these together. Visitors can even choice some of the attractions if they don’t want to go in all of them. It’s a very effective way to marketing a destination and they have a very successful run of that in Pattaya Beach, the most successful of their franchises also. So we are very excited about that location.

Meanwhile, we created for Teddy Bear World in Hawai and also for their Teddy Bear museum in Jeju Island, Korea, an Elvis teddy bear musical show and it’s really a lot of fun ! You know… this kind of thing is very different for us, but we have fiber optics, automatic curtains, lightings and special effects, and we really loved working on these characters.



NP: So you have a lot of lifelike animatronics projects abroad!

JW: Yes, we also have been working with several Hindou groups in India, builing characters that are going to their temples. That’s very challenging, because it’s loved people that we had to replicate. That’s more like a wax museum application, except that we built animatronics. For one of these, they ask us to build a second one with musicians, and that’s always a good thing to have a repeat customer, that’s a challenge for us. For a governement museum in Turkey, we are creating Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modernization of Turkey after WW1. For us able to do that, I think it’s a good intro! Through this trade show here in Europe we met people from Turkey in the past, we made couple of pirates over there, working with 4-5D theaters, and it’s always very effective for these attractions generating a lot more business. We also are doing a design for an attraction in Guatemala, about the legends of this country. It’s take a lot of research… This is a different application, a museum application for our animatronics.

NP: Do you have projects for 2012 and after you can already talk about ?

JW: We have our biggest project that we can’t talk about unfortunately, but this is really going to be a blockbuster! It’s an interactive dark ride with a major intellectual property involved with it, a major location and a major park. We think it’s going to be the top of the industry, we will know for a year, but we are working to integrate some what you know. It’s actually slated for Christmas 2012.

We also are working on a couple of ride attractions in India, for a new park there. We have a lot to do and as a manufacturer, next year could be a record year for us.

NP: Do you have some projects on the Chinese market as well ?

JW: We did our first interactive dark ride in China 12 years ago. We have done 3 or 4 over there, smaller ones, cartoon style, simple 2 passengers vehicules… And we expect to do more! We have good relationships with OCT and they are the best developper of theme parks in the region. We have an excellent agent that’s working with us, and we seem to be involved in a lot of prospective proposals opportunities that we have been chasing. We will see if they all are coming.

Sally Corporation offers a wide range of dark rides (interactive, classic or black light) and animatronics (lifelike humans, animals and creatures)Sally Corporation is currently working on the two Lost Adventure Kingdom dark rides for Legoland Florida and Legoland Malaysia

NP: Do you have innovations to show at EAS visitors this year ?

JW: I am not one of those companies that’s always looking at creating a new innovation. I believe in dark rides or traditionnal family style attractions, because a big part of we do is a custom design for our customers. Our reputation of building a quality attraction, with minimal maintenance and popular with families is strong. If somebody wants a dark ride, he have two choices. One is to go to a company that’s trying to put differents companies teams together, the other is to come to us! We provide the full solution at a fair prize. So we are at the EAS to see old friends, because we had a lot of work here, including our biggest rides such as Challenge of Tutankhamon in Belgium and El Laberinto del Minautoro in Spain.

NP: How is the preparation of Orlando’s IAAPA Trade Expo ?

JW: We invite all visitors to come and see us on booth 2254), we will bring a Legoland display and we will be promoting our "Power Blast X", our new media-based attraction that will actually be interacting with video games throughout the dark ride, not through the all thing but coming as you go.

NP: Can you integrate that interactive system inside your existing dark rides concepts ?

JW: Yes, absolutely! We can take a scene and turn it into a 3D video scene instead of. And yet, it’s still very important that’s not going to be a video experience, we do not want to compete with video games, we can’t ! But, where else beside a theme park can you ride through a family experience in an immersive environment and encounter the video screens? When you encounter the video screens, now you open up the ability for two ways in interactivity. The screen can shoot back on you or throw things at you, and now you have more than just the simple shooting of a target causing a reaction. Now you have to shoot of a target causing a wider reaction, which is an all new dimension!

NP: Thank you John Wood for your answers!

Interview by François Mayné, September 27, 2011
Written by François Mayné François Mayné Publishing Director » Contact Us
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Sally Corporation (Manufacturer)
United States Site : www.sallycorp.com

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