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Industry Legends Share their Lessons at This Year's IAAPA Expo

October 13, 2015, 10:41 PM · Looking for some insight into the theme park industry from its Hall of Fame legends? You'll have two opportunities to hear just that at next month's annual IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando.

IAAPA has asked Bob Rogers to moderate this year's Hall of Fame panel, featuring the new inductees to the IAAPA Hall of Fame, who will be announced at the Expo. In addition, this year's panel also will feature two previous inductees (three, if you count Bob): Pete Herschend of Herschend Family Entertainment [owners of Dollywood and Silver Dollar City] and Bob Masterson of Ripley's Entertainment.

Pete Herschend
Pete Herschend. Photos courtesy BRC Imagination Arts

"I'm looking forward to some of what Peter has learned over the years," Rogers said, when we sat down late last week to talk about the panel. "That's an amazing organizational culture [at Herschend's theme parks]. How do you do that? Because there is nobody in the world that takes better care of their guests."

Bob Masterson
Bob Masterson

As for the panel's other pre-selected member, "Bob is one of the smartest business guys in our industry," Rogers said of Masterson. "Ripley's, under his guidance, grew from being a novelty to a minor empire. Every museum in the world, although they would cringe to here me say this, they can all learn from a Ripley's, because those are some of the most intelligently laid-out galleries in terms of design principles."

"We've got these two guys as speakers, talking about what they've learned over the years," in addition to the incoming Hall of Fame members, Rogers said. "I happen to be on the Hall of Fame selection committee, and I can tell you that there are some good things waiting for [audience members] there," he added.


"Everyone in the audience wants practical, applicable stuff that they can take home and make work for their own careers - next week, next month, next year, and in the decades ahead. So it's my job as moderator to focus these guys not on a nostalgic trip down memory lane, telling funny, amusing stories, unless they point directly to a management principle of some other piece of hard-won wisdom that's really going to help the audience."

The Hall of Fame panel starts at 5pm on Tuesday, November 17. The next day, at 3:30pm, Rogers will host his annual Legends panel.

This year's Legends panel will look at the Disneyland's continuing influence on the theme park industry, 60 years after its opening. Disney Legend Marty Sklar returns to the panel, joined this year by a former colleague and current competitor - Matt Ouimet, the President and CEO of Cedar Fair and the former President of the Disneyland Resort. Also on the panel will be Tom Mehrmann, CEO of Ocean Park Hong Kong and former Vice President at Knott's Berry Farm.

"Tom is fascinating choice, because he never worked for Disney. He competed with Disney. When he was at Knott's Berry Farm, he competed with Disneyland just eight miles away. Then later, when he became head of Ocean Park, he competed with and defeated Disney. His attendance is still higher than Hong Kong Disneyland," Rogers said.

Rogers also revealed that former Disneyland President and Disney Legend Jack Lindquist will be joining the Legends panel, as well.

"Once again, it's not just about the funny stories. We're there for something that the audience can use."

The 2015 IAAPA Attractions Expo runs from Nov. 16-20 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. Expo badges are available on IAAPA.com. Panelists will be available for autographs after each of Rogers' panels, and Rogers recommends arriving early to get a seat up front and towards the right side of the stage (house right) for the best access. We will be in Orlando for IAAPA and will cover both panels here on ThemeParkInsider.com.

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