JRA worked on creative design for Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi and the upcoming Steelers Country land at Kennywood, which will feature the record-setting nine-inversion Steel Curtain roller coaster. Joining me for the conversation are Randy Smith, the project director for Ferrari World, Rick O'Connell, the design director for Steelers Country and Shawn McCoy, the Vice President at JRA.
"Sports can be kind of tricky, especially with individual teams," said O'Connell. "It could be an immediate turn off for some guests. For example if you are a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, like myself (JRA is located in Cincinnati), or for example, the Mercedes racing team, you might view the Steelers or Ferrari as the enemy and have no interest in visiting.
"But with the success of Ferrari World, and if Steelers Country is as successful as we believe it will be, we think you will start to see more team sports themed attractions pop up, especially regionally."
"I think that sports is a lot about competing with yourself," McCoy said. "So that's how you create attractions without winners and losers, which I know is what Rick is really tapping into in the design of Steelers Country, where we're providing a lot of physical challenges where guests can tr to improve on each visit or each try, which really gamefies the whole experience."
"There will be a small number of visitors who will not come to a sports themed attraction because they dislike a team so much but I think that most fans are a fan of the sport even over, if you will, their team," McCoy said. "For example, as much as I like the Cincinnati Bengals, I like football even more. I'll watch a football game even if it's not the Bengals or even if it's one of our rivals, because I like the game. And I think we will carry that forward for projects like Steelers Country... where it becomes more about the game than just about the brand."
From there, we talked about the differences between developing sports-themed attractions in the United States versus the Middle East and Europe, as well as world-building with a sports theme, and the legal and storytelling challenges of building attractions around real-life athletes.
You can listen to and subscribe to our "Building the World's Best Theme Parks" podcast on its home page, where you also can donate to support the podcast's production, should you choose. (I'd love to upgrade our recording equipment, to bring you even better-sounding podcasts in the future.)
For more on JRA's sports-themed projects, please check out our full coverage of Ferrari World and Steelers Country:
And if you haven't caught it already, don't miss our premiere episode, with Dave Cobb talking about the design and development of Ferrari World's next-door neighbor, Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi.Tweet
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