Each year international scholars from a variety of disciplines assemble during the final day of the IAAPA expo to exchange ideas, enhance research, and debate intricacies of the blending of art and science in themed environments and attractions. The Themed Entertainment and Attractions Academic Symposium (TEAAS) includes oral research presentation sessions and poster exhibitions relevant to themed entertainment and attractions.
The 2019 academic symposium highlighted projects such as cognitive behavior in virtual environments, dark ride history, effects of crowding, use of robotics, storytelling, cultural anthropology, safety, and more. Themedattraction.com shared a few of these presentations in prior posts. This article provides a summary of the final presentations and invites researchers to submit proposals for the 2020 3rd Annual symposium organized by the TEAAS with the support of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) taking place in Orlando, FL on 20 November 2020.
“The Themed Experience and Attractions Academic Symposium has proven to be an excellent venue for the exchange of ideas, research and new knowledge in the field of themed experiences and attractions studies thanks to the efforts of dozens of volunteers, presenters, attendees and the full support and sponsorship of IAAPA. With so many changes in the industry and the rapid expansion of the related academic disciplines at multiple universities, the symposium is becoming even more valuable to help understand the context and potential of the themed entertainment”
- Peter Weishar, professor of themed experience at the University of Central Florida and a founding member of the TEAAS
2019 Presentation #7 – Safety Evaluation of Amusement Rides using Accumulated Data: accident data framework by Dr. Kathryn Woodcock
Summary – Kathryn Woodcock, PhD is a professor at Ryserson University in Toronto. Her THRILL laboratory (https://www.ryerson.ca/thrill/) provides critical research on the application of human factors engineering. Human factors engineering (sometimes called ergonomics) is the study of human physical and psychological behavior in the design of the built or digital environments. In the themed attraction industry, human factors engineering study applications of control interfaces, rider behavior, safety and accident investigation among a myriad of other things related to the human-machine interaction.
Dr. Woodcock’s presentation highlighted inadequacies in current reporting of safety data in both industry and news media. Her work identified current themed attraction safety data sources, including the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, IAAPA’s collection efforts, Florida’s regional quarterly reports, Ontario’s Technical Standards and Safety Authority and ASTM standard F770-18. She then juxta-positioned the data sets with news media reporting which tends to highlight bias and sensationalism. In an aim towards accuracy in safety reporting, she introduces an Accident Data Framework (ADF) developed within her lab. Her ADF provides a standard collection of variables that can be used with minimal training while also providing the public an accurate narrative structure for reporting. The ADF collects data on ride type, operation type, operational stage, event type, severity of harm, age, and gender while also meeting ASTM F770-18 standards. Her framework was tested for usability with a sample size of 125 users working in groups of 4-5 people with a respectable degree of accuracy.
Comments – Coming from an engineering management perspective, I was excited to see an engineer apply craft towards eliminating bias and sensationalism in attraction safety reporting. Thrill attractions intentionally design a perception of danger into the ride and the thrill is heavily marketed. When an accident does occur (a low probability occurrence), the old reporting adage “if it bleeds, it leads” applies. It’s human nature to want to sensationalize these events. However, as engineers and builders of these attractions know, they are built with exacting specifications, heavily tested for quality control, inspected routinely, and evaluated with numerus calculations rooted in solid science fundamentals. In short, Dr. Woodcock’s ADF provides for minimal training in observational recording by operational staff and documents an accurate data set of ride safety information. Overall, I found the level of cooperation between Dr. Woodcock’s work and IAAPA partner corporations to be an encouragement and look forward to future developments from the THRILL lab.
2019 Presentation #8 – Learning to Build a Dark Ride on a Dollar and Dream by Shirly Saldamarco
Summary – Sherley Saldamarco is a faculty member in the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center. Her presentation highlighted a year-long student led project-based learning assignment to design and build a dark ride for the annual spring carnival at Carnegie Mellon. Saldamarco noted, “their goal was to build a fully functional dark ride that met industry safety standards, with a budget of less than $5,000.” Pittsburg’s Kennywood Park gave permission to the students to create a version of “The Old Mill” – a defunct Kennywood dark ride that tells the story of Pittsburg’s historical roots within the steel industry. You can find more information and a video about the project at the CMU website link below. https://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2019/april/spring-carnival-old-mill.html
Comments – One of the greatest joys in life is to build something from scratch. In the themed entertainment industry academic programs, we have the unique pleasure to witness students from the arts, architecture, engineering, design and even the apprentice trades creating (and building) things that make people happy. Saldamarco’s presentation was a refreshing encouragement to go out and build something unique, something that lift people’s spirits, and to do it all on a dollar and a dream! From the academic perspective, the presentation highlighted lessons learned in advising, student management, and assessment of student outcomes. While I can’t speak for all the moderators of Themedattraction.com, it’s safe to say we love to see people going for the big dream and putting their skills on the line to make it happen! Well done.
2020 Open Call for Proposals
Finally, we are so pleased to present the open call for presentations of the 3rd annual TEAAS. The symposium invites submissions for oral presentations (1000-word extended abstract) and
posters (500-word extended abstract) for consideration for inclusion in the symposium program. You can find more information in the official announcement contained in the attached document.
A limited number of oral presentation slots will be allocated to proposals from academic faculty representing diversity of scholarship. Presented abstracts will be conventional scholarly research presentations, not instructional seminars. Graduate or undergraduate students with (recommended) or without faculty co-authors may submit poster proposals based on a thesis or a major research project completed within the past 2 years. Accepted presentation proposals that cannot be scheduled on the program will be invited for poster presentation, with scheduled time for interaction between authors and audience. Accepted abstracts for both oral and poster presentations will be printed and distributed to registered participants of the symposium and archived on the Society’s website. You can download the author’s guide, submission templates, and more information below.
We hope to see you at 2020 IAPPA and look forward to hearing about the big dreams you’ve been working on!