soil to pour concrete foundations for figures and large props, so not really jobs for the faint-hearted.” Themed attraction builds don’t suffer quite as much from

weather related obstacles and are at least dry environments. However, they are generally much smaller spaces, meaning many contractors will want to work in a single space at any one time. “Good project management is the key in both instances.”

ABOVE: Dickens World in Chatham, Kent, 2006: With a project budget of £10m, RMA employed over 130 craftspeople and artists and invoiced over a million pounds a month - and managed to build in less than a year.

As long as you can impart the essence of that narrative equally to all of your target age range you are halfway there. Humour, on the other hand, allows you to engage with multiple age ranges at the same time and with the same script. It’s just down to clever use of words and phrases such that the same line will mean one thing to an eight year old and something totally different to an adult. A well crafted script will ensure all visitors share and equally exciting and fun show.”

“ Smart

experiences are only smart if they impart the narrative in a memorable and enjoyable way.

The nuts and bolts RMA has sizable workshops in Cornwall where the team can pre-build large sections of set-work, props, mechanics etc. However, if the project requires large areas of rockwork or buildings that require large pieces of steelwork or timber framework, the company will generally rent a space close to the park and move the workshop facilities into that. “When we built Jorvik II in 1999, we rented a huge hanger in Hessay where we effectively pre-built the entire attraction before breaking it back down again to be re-built in the basement at Coppergate. We literally had a 3-month window in which to install the set work, animatronics, ride, lighting video, and sound systems, special effects systems, artefacts galleries and of course, the famous smell systems.” The challenges are mainly weather-related when building

BELOW: Concept art

parks, and space-related when building attractions, Knight explains. “For parks, timing is everying, especially in the UK where we generally only get a few weeks of dry weather. Unfortunately, during that small window the ride manufacturers will also want to install the rides, the builders will want to erect all the structural steels and blockwork and so on, so an awful lot of the ground work is done either in freezing snow and ice, or rain. It really is not easy trying to scenically paint the side of a house when the rain is literally washing the paint off the end of the brush before it touches the wall. Equally, it’s a little difficult digging holes in frozen

Trending topics Knight identifies a swing towards VR as an upcoming current trend in visitor attraction. “This is something we have yet to get involved with. I think it has its limitations in that the overall experience is not shared with those around you. Imagine you and your family sitting in a theater for the Royal Variety Performance but wearing VR goggles. Half the experience is lost in that respect. Put those same VR goggles on a coaster or a car in a dark ride and it all makes sense!” He has also noted a slow increase in interest from theme

parks who would like to add something a little different to their offer. “A lot of theme park projects are still 90% theming and 10% show content. We are on a bit of a mission to correct the balance here with a view to shifting it a little more towards more production and effects-based experiences rather than just rides. It is happening, especially with the odd 4D theatre popping up here and there, but there is so much more potential out there for including fully immersive experiences that can be enjoyed by large groups rather than individuals with headsets fitted.”

2018 and beyond RMA’s mantra is, ‘You are only as good as your last project’ - and given the company’s impressive project portfolio, it has clearly served them well over the past 25 years. “There will be more projects to announce in both the theme park and themed attractions sectors soon, and we are all very much looking forward to a very creative and bright future.” RMA has just enhanced its design team with two new senior designers. Andy Sinclair-Harris, a former Walt Disney Imagineer, brings with him a wealth of design experience and substantial knowledge base in the use of computer-based art design. Lee Taylor, meanwhile, joins the company from the high-end commercial interior design sector, and is able to model all aspects on park and attraction design in 3D CAD complete with multiple camera locations and fly-throughs. RMA expects to attend the upcoming editions of both EAS and IAE in order to introduce its new design team to the industry.

Lost Kingdom at Paultons Park 64 SEPTEMBER 2018

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