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parkworld-online.com


PI has created experiences and rides based on the biggest licences in games, TV and film and even graphics for a special digital edition of The Simpsons in which the family was built of Lego. Attractions is its core market, however, as the firm’s ‘chief


executive of fun’, Josh Wexler, explains: “Collectively our team has been working in the attractions industry for over a decade, so the team already had a tremendous amount of experience when the company was formed.” The firm is no overnight success, but has always been


involved with big name projects from the start. “I don’t think there was any one “breakthrough” project


that established the company,” adds the firm’s president, Sanjee Gupta. “We hit the ground running and in short order we were working on multiple shows simultaneously, including Batman Dark Flight for Warner Bros. and Melco Crown’s Resort & Casino Studio City Macau, Journey To The West Interactive Dark Ride for Wanda, Angry Birds 4D for Merlin, Star Trek for Paramount, Marvel Avengers Experience for Madame Tussauds, The Lego Movie 4D for Legoland, and others. Each of these projects was very unique in scope and technology and it’s clear to see that the breadth and quality of our work across so many different media types is really what drives us.” Technology and the use of it to enhance experiences is


the firm’s raison d’être, and in such a competitive arena being first is with new ideas and new implementation is often the key to maintaining an edge against the opposition. The firm has been involved in bringing a number of innovations to parks and rides, again increasing the use of interactivity in many cases. “With The Justice League Interactive Dark Ride for Sally/Six Flags and Journey To The West Interactive Dark Ride I believe we were the first ever to deploy a high-end commercial game engine (Unreal Engine) into an attraction,” explains the firm’s producer and creative director, Steve Tavernia.


“On top of running the attraction in real-time, we also had


to make it run on large format screens projected in stereoscopic 3D. I don’t believe any of that has been done before. “For Benno’s Great Race at Ferrari World, we moved


away from the ‘shooter’ mechanic and developed what we believe is the first ‘multi-tool’ drag and drop game controller for an interactive dark ride. This allowed guests new and different types of interactions with the media as they raced from scene to scene. “We also produced the animation for the first ever Simpsons episode made out of animated Lego bricks! (The Simpsons Brick Like Me). Though it’s not an attraction, it is a first and only (for now).” But, as much as the use of technology provides the wow


factor on the firm’s rides and installations, it is still the ‘story’ that remains at the centre of each project. And working closely with such high-profile brands and licenses means there is criteria to meet in terms of staying faithful to the original IP.


“It all comes down to the philosophy of the company and


how we approach attractions,” says Wexler. “Everything we do starts and ends with the story, which directly drives the guest experience. If it doesn’t serve that purpose we don’t do it. We don’t use technology just to use it. If something we’ve previously developed can be used to serve the story in a unique way, that’s great. But usually, from one attraction


APRIL 2017 25


to the next, we’re developing new ways to improve on the guest experience and deliver the story we want to tell. We’re constantly building off of our previous work and evolving it into new experiences.” Most recently, the firm has been


working again with Warner Bros. and its Warner Bros. Movie World – Gold Coast, Australia to create an entirely new zone in the park devoted to DC Comics’ infamous array of super- villains


“Having worked with the Movie


World team on the Justice League: Battle for Metropolis Interactive Dark Ride in the past, they reached out to us to see if we were interested in managing the redevelopment of an entire zone in their park,” explains Wexler. “The brief was straightforward: the major villains from


DC’s incredible comic book universe have run amok and have taken over the park. There’s a huge attraction in the centre of it all called the Twin Hammer from Intamin - a thrill ride that serves as the key element to the zone. From there it was up to us, with the support of Warner Bros. and Warner Bros. Movie World – Gold Coast, Australia, to design the story, layout, and interactions of the zone.” There are multiple interactive features in the DC Comics


Super-Villains Unleashed zone. Some of them are digital and some of them are “phygital”


(the combination of


physical and digital interaction). Upon entering the zone the guests are immersed in a version of Metropolis that’s been overtaken by villains who have left their marks. Throughout the area, The Joker, Scarecrow, Bizzaro, and the rest make it clear to the guests that sometimes “it’s good to be bad!” There are 10 villains stationed in different areas of the DC Comics Super-Villains Unleashed zone with whom guests can interact: • Bizzaro: The “mirror-image” of Superman grants you his Arctic Vision which you use to destroy the Ace Of Clubs with ice and snow.


• Poison Ivy: Have you been nice or naughty to the plant life in your world? Poison Ivy and her plants will be your judge and jury, and if you’re not, the plants will surely let you know.


• Gorilla Grodd: Join Grodd in some building crushing as you jump onto specially placed stomp pads to bring Big Belly Burger diner down to the ground.


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