Thursday, December 5, 2013

Days 15-17: Winterim Wraps Up

Hey guys,

I know it's been a few days since the last post so let me bring you up to speed:

After finishing at the IAAPA convention, I enjoyed visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure again on Friday followed by Walt Disney World over the weekend. I enjoyed each park immensely and you can take a look at all of the new park photos, plus all photos from the last month, on the official Park Impressions Facebook page. What was most interesting about the parks, however, was getting to see the things I learned about in the IAAPA education sessions being

As soon as I arrived back in Toledo, all of my efforts went into preparing for the Winterim Fair presentation. I had an entire backpack full of materials from the parks and convention so I started by sorting out what I wanted to display. Next I had to plan out my tri-board, and rather than simply use it to describe my entire experience (thereby eliminating the need for me to say anything at all to the visitors) I used it to create a photo map from my time at IAAPA. Lastly, I assembled a CoasterDynamix model as a fun display piece, which was especially popular with the children at Winterim Fair.

The last several days since the presentation, I've been finalizing the iBook I've been working on, The Evolution of Amusement Parks. The iBook is finished and it has finally been uploaded to iTunes after much troubleshooting. Now we're just waiting for Apple's approval before it will show up in the iBookstore on all Apple devices - I'll be sure to let all of you know when it is available for download!

Once again, I encourage you to take a look at all of the photos from my Winterim (including Orlando parks, the IAAPA Attractions Expo, and behind-the-scenes at Cedar Point) on the official Park Impressions Facebook Page. Thank you so much for following my adventures the past month, as it's been an incredible experience and I've really enjoyed having the opportunity to study my true passion!

Final: SMART Goal Review

My final requirement before my Winterim truly comes to an end is to review my SMART Goals and evaluate my performance. What are SMART goals, you might ask? They're right here, from my very first Winterim post:

1. Update the Park Impressions blog at least every other day with news, photos, and videos of my work.
2. Revise and publish an iBook on the history of the amusement industry.
3. Network with industry professionals at Cedar Point and IAAPA 2013 to learn more about what business and operations side of the amusement industry looks like.
4. Write a mock business plan for an amusement park with an emphasis on sustainability. 

I'll be honest, goal #1 wasn't always the easiest to follow. I love sharing what I've been doing on this blog, but sometimes it's simply been hard to keep up. Each day has been so full of exciting things to research and learn, and I've tried to put a significant amount of thought into each post to make sure that my blogs really show everything I've been working on. Unfortunately, that means some of them have been a little late; for that, I apologize. Overall though, I feel that I've been pretty good about showing all of the interesting things I've done this month.

My second goal was successful but it did take longer than I expected. Despite this, I'm very pleased with the result and all that remains before it is available to the public is Apple's approval. It features several sections highlighting key events and turning points for the industry with lots of pictures, videos, and interactive features as well. I can't wait to let you know when it's officially published to the iBookstore!

The third goal was easy and definitely the most fun. Between my time at Cedar Point and at the IAAPA Attractions Expo, I met many amazing people and got to see so many things that go on in the industry. It was an incredible opportunity to learn first-hand from the people that really make it happen in so many areas of the industry.

Lastly, the business plan. This is something I really wanted to do and was excited to work on, but didn't come to fruition for one big reason - it would be nearly impossible to write a quality business plan for a generic start-up amusement park. Each park is so unique and their business plans and company strategies depend on factors that are individual to them alone - their location, visitor demographics, attendance figures, etc. In one of the education sessions I attended at IAAPA, Business Planning for Theme Park Resorts, they stressed the importance of writing a business plan in conjunction with the park's master plan. You cannot simply design a park without regard for the business and financials of it; likewise, it would be extremely difficult to write a successful business plan without planning the entire park as well. Which as much fun as it would be to design a park, it would require a feasibility study as well as endless hours of research on locations and demographics, rides and attractions, food sourcing, and countless other considerations. This is a massive endeavor, and to simply write a business plan without doing the full job would yield a weak, incomplete product. And of course, if I were going to write a business plan I would want to do it the right way. Unfortunately, with my time and capabilities being limited as they are, I opted to renew my focus on the iBook, and on first-hand experiences with Cedar Point and in Orlando instead.

In the end, I feel that I have fulfilled these goals to the best of my abilities and I have truly loved this experience. I'm disappointed that it's over for now, but not forever; I know that this simply has to be what I end up doing some day. Once again, thank you so much for following along!