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Touring exhibitions the flexible Q Lines

Looking for a new attraction but don’t have the time or the budget to commit to a multi- million thrill ride? Live entertainment is one option, but how about a touring exhibition? Despite their name, such attractions are suited to a wide range of venues, not just museums, with compelling content based around almost any theme imaginable, including several well-known intellectual properties (IP). And at the end of the season (or sooner) you can wave goodbye and try something new. Tom Zaller, president and CEO of Imagine Exhibitions, which this summer provided a five- week-long Angry Birds Universe exhibit in Dubai, tells us more

Angry Birds Universe, as seen this summer in Dubai

How can touring exhibits benefit parks and attractions owners? For venue owners, travelling exhibitions offer something new to promote or fresh content for repeat visitors without the cost of creating a new permanent attraction. It can help boost guest satisfaction, drive new attendance, create school visitation, reach out to new audiences, give another sales angle for special events, provide additional news coverage for the host venue and drive additional revenue.

What is the appeal of touring exhibits from the guest point of view? For the audience, touring exhibitions offer an entertainment experience that adds an educational twist to add to their day out at the park or attraction. This can be important to many families, life-long-learners and schools field trips. Often times, when tied together with a brand or known subject, these immersive and entertaining exhibitions offer a bit of history or educational content that can stimulate people’s minds as well as entertain.

Would you consider adapting any of your productions for theme parks or other permanent family attractions? Absolutely, Imagine’s goal is to create exhibition content that can go anywhere. We don’t want to limit ourselves to just museums or attractions in one region. Over my 15 year career I have placed exhibitions all over the world, in museums, science centres, casinos, integrated resorts, shopping malls, county fairs and theme parks. Not all fit everywhere but the goal is to find a subject matter that works in all of these, like an Angry Birds, then we have better options as the tour continues. In some cases it can be challenging when you are touring real artefacts for example and the theme park may or


may not have the right environmental controls but in most cases we can find solutions to these problems with the right partner. Some of our dinosaur, space, Da Vinci, human anatomy and science exhibitions already have been to theme parks around the world and some of the new content we have in development will cross over very well so keep an eye out for some exciting announcements over the next year.

What criteria do you use when choosing partners/locations for your touring exhibits? There are a myriad of factors that go into this including; first and foremost, the right partner with the right venue, then we look at the market demographics, time of year, type of venue, size of venue, ticket prices, ancillary revenue opportunities for both sides, marketing efforts, annual attendance, throughput and operational issues. The most important thing I think is that the host venue is behind it 100%, if this is the case then all problems can be resolved.

What is the typical duration for an exhibition per site?

The typical duration for a temporary exhibition is four to six months but occasionally we do shorter runs like two to three or longer runs as much as seven to nine months depending on where we are, the time of year etc. In some markets where there is demand, like Las Vegas, we have kept exhibitions going for more than a year and even created permanent locations.

How much do theme park shows and attractions influence your productions? The disciplines for creating and delivering a great experience with strong content for visitors has many overlaps between the museum/exhibition industry and the theme park/attraction industry. In the end we are


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