Thursday, January 12, 2017

Main Street Design helps Zoo Miami tell the Florida Everglades story with new $33M zone

“This is museum-quality, interpretive content within a fun, themed environment,” said Michael Mercadante, President of Main Street Design. “As museums and zoos embrace themed entertainment, we are able to leverage our experience in all these markets for our clients.”

Michael Mercadante,
Main Street Design
Main Street Design provided interpretive planning and design throughout the 4.5-acre, $33 million Florida: Mission Everglades zone that opened in December 2016 at Zoo Miami.

Florida: Mission Everglades features multiple touchstone experiences and up-close access to native plants and animals, including:
  • Lostman’s River Boat Ride: Guests float through Everglades habitats
  • Panther Tracking Experience: Utilizing GPS tracking and “gamification” technology 
  • River Otter and Crocodile Play Zones: Clear acrylic tunnels let guests crawl alongside real crocodiles and slide through an otter sanctuary
  • Thunderstorm Wet Play Area: Features a simulated thunderstorm 
Click for full story, image library and contact information.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Executives will be in Orlando for meetings 
during the IAAPA Attractions Expo

Peanuts Worldwide - licensor of the Peanuts brand based on the beloved comic strip created by Charles Schulz – has retained Bay Laurel Advisors to strategically plan and execute the expansion of the Peanuts IP (intellectual property) for the creation of high-quality, guest experiences for multi-generational, visitor attractions in theme parks, family entertainment centers and other location based entertainment venues. Peanuts is well-established as a powerful IP with proven international appeal, and seen as a top brand for Millennials. The Peanuts family has enjoyed tremendous popularity at the Cedar Fair Theme Parks and Universal Studios Japan. Through broader exposure in themed entertainment markets, Peanuts Worldwide will reach more consumers around the world with engaging new guest experiences.

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Woodstock, Lucy, Schroeder and other familiar Peanuts characters and themes have been readily adapted over the decades in movies, stage shows, social media, merchandise, product endorsements, animated cartoons, games and e-books. In 2015 Peanuts celebrated its 50th anniversary of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and The Peanuts Movie (2015) brought in $250 M in worldwide box office. Short form programming airs daily on Boomerang, as well as Cartoon Network.

“Peanuts Worldwide is strategically looking to expand its location based entertainment presence for the Peanuts brand to other territories around the globe beyond what already successfully exists in the U.S. and Japan.  Partnering with a category expert like Bay Laurel sets us on a clear path to achieve this goal,” said Rosalind Nowicki, Executive Vice President Peanuts Worldwide and Iconix Entertainment.

George Wade, President,
Bay Laurel Advisors
“Peanuts is a refreshing alternative to action/thrill-oriented IPs. There are very few brands that reach the family demographic with such complete delight and humor.  Peanuts is an enduring, highly respected brand that we are proud to represent, and we look forward to introducing it to designers, producers and developers.” said George Wade, President and Founder of Bay Laurel Advisors. “This brand has incredible worldwide appeal.”

Peanuts remains an icon in the public consciousness, with beloved characters and seasonality, tied into universal interests and values. 

Peanuts Worldwide and Bay Laurel Advisors will attend the 2016 IAAPA Attractions Expo, the largest international trade show in the world for the amusement park and attractions industry, to meet with potential partners.

About Peanuts Worldwide:
The PEANUTS characters and related intellectual property are owned by Peanuts Worldwide LLC, a joint venture owned by Iconix Brand Group, Inc. and by members of the Charles M. Schulz family. Iconix Brand Group, Inc. owns, licenses and markets a growing portfolio of consumer brands including: CANDIE'S (R), BONGO (R), JOE BOXER (R), RAMPAGE (R), MUDD (R), MOSSIMO (R), LONDON FOG (R), OCEAN PACIFIC (R), DANSKIN (R), ROCAWEAR (R), CANNON (R), ROYAL VELVET (R), FIELDCREST (R), CHARISMA (R), STARTER (R), WAVERLY (R), ZOO YORK (R), SHARPER IMAGE (R), UMBRO (R), LEE COOPER (R), ECKO UNLTD. (R), MARC ECKO (R), ARTFUL DODGER and STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE (R). In addition, Iconix owns interests in the MATERIAL GIRL (R), PEANUTS (R), ED HARDY (R), TRUTH OR DARE (R), MODERN AMUSEMENT (R), BUFFALO (R), NICK GRAHAM (R) and PONY (R) brands. The Company licenses its brands to a network of leading retailers and manufacturers that touch every major segment of retail distribution from the luxury market to the mass market in both the U.S. and worldwide. Through its in-house business development, merchandising, advertising and public relations departments, Iconix manages its brands to drive greater consumer awareness and equity.

About Bay Laurel Advisors:
Bay Laurel Advisors is a leading consultant to developers and IP holders in the world of Location Based Entertainment. Located in Los Angeles California, Bay Laurel is led by its founder and President, George Wade, an executive with decades of experience representing as well as advising major entertainment brands including MGM Studios, Paramount Studios. and Cartoon Network. Most recently, Bay Laurel helped translate another iconic family brand into a blockbuster destination developing and delivering The Crayola Experience destinations in Easton PA, Orlando, FL and Minneapolis MN.

·         Media relations                 Judith Rubin For Bay Laurel Advisors
(314) 853-5210
·         Project Initiatives             Lisa Welch

(818) 606-7478

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

BIG & Digital title 'Space Next' lands at Seattle Museum of Flight - director Luke Ployhar attends premiere

The Museum of Flight, a Smithsonian affiliate, dedicated its entire June 18 film schedule to premiere 'Space Next' in 4K stereoscopic 3D CGI, and the opening was timed to coincide with the NewSpace conference of entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers and policy leaders, held by the Space Frontier Foundation. At the premiere, 'Space Next' director Luke Ployhar – a Hollywood-trained filmmaker and effects artist whose credits include 'Minority Report' - will introduce the film.
“We are thrilled that 'Space Next' will be available to NewSpace 2016 conference delegates - because the movie’s message is that space research, industry and exploration are alive and well in the 21st Century global community,” said Ployhar, who founded Afterglow Studios in Minneapolis.
Museum of Flight CEO Doug King said, “'Space Next' fits the Museum’s commitment to be the foremost educational air and space museum in the world.”
Luke Ployhar
“These deep space missions, robotics, satellites, space tourism, life changing science breakthroughs and data visualization may seem like science fiction, but are part of modern-day reality,” said Tina Ratterman of BIG & Digital, Las Vegas-based distributor of 'Space Next.' “'Space Next' was designed to engage and inform the public and serve STEAM education with a realistic picture of our present and future in space.”
Cutting edge digital cinema 
'Space Next' is a movie on the frontiers of cinema as well as space. It was produced in realistic, digital animation to screen on the world’s IMAX® and Giant Screen Theaters and most advanced cinema systems - ultra-high resolution and custom immersive theaters most often found in science museums and state-of-the-art planetariums. It was formatted to accommodate multiple digital platforms in 2D, 3D, flat-screen and Fulldome, and resolutions up to 8K. (In comparison, high-end commercial cinema has not yet surpassed 4K resolution.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Michael Pharr joins Rethink as COO

BURBANK, Calif. – November 10, 2015 – Rethink Leisure & Entertainment announced that Michael Pharr has joined the organization as Chief Operating Officer, a new position at Rethink. Previously, Pharr was the Director of ACM Services at The Nassal Company in Orlando, Florida. He will report to Scott Ault, President & CEO of Rethink.

“Michael has worked in themed entertainment management for over 30 years,” said Scott Ault. “In previous roles, he has worked on some of the most demanding international projects imaginable, and he will invoke that expertise here at Rethink for our clients. With his expertise in operations and years of practical boots-on-the-ground experience, Michael will be a strong guiding force on all of our many projects.”

Michael arrives at a critical time in Rethink’s history, as the company is currently in development on multiple international theme parks and attractions. Effective immediately, he will assume responsibility for the daily operations of the company, including internal project cost and budget management, and scheduling. Mike will be working closely with the Chief Creative Officer, the Executive Show Producer and the President across every aspect of the production process.

Prior to joining Rethink, Michael Pharr led the estimating team at McGillivray Consulting (now a Nassal Company), where he helped cement their reputation for accurate and reliable cost plans. While with MCG, Michael worked on themed entertainment projects around the globe. His worldwide reputation for solid cost planning also extends to the realm of zoo and aquariums.

Michael Pharr
As Estimating Project Manager for Walt Disney Resorts Integrated Facility Plan, Pharr designed and implemented a process to estimate approximately 3,500 individual jobs at twelve resort properties. As a Project Manager, Michael led a team of internal specialists and external consultants / vendors in the re-branding of Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach. This task was completed in 90 days. More recently, he was the Team Leader for a Rethink task force to open the ComicCave themed retail store in Dubai.

Prior to service at MCG, Michael worked for Universal Islands of Adventure, where he served as the Land Estimator for Toon Lagoon. Mike began his themed entertainment career at Walt Disney World working in operations, retail, the tooling warehouse and Central Shops before moving to Buena Vista Construction Company and Facility Asset Management.

A select list of notable projects is below:
  • Paramount Parks - China, Korea, Japan, Europe
  • Meraasland Dubai
  • LEGOLAND Theme Park - California, Germany, Florida, Japan 
  • Hard Rock Theme Park & Hotel, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  • Universal Studios - Orlando, Japan, Germany, Malaysa, Italy
  • Universal Islands of Adventure
  • Fox Studios - Australia, Dubai
  • Jungala, Busch Gardens Tampa
  • SeaWorld Orlando
  • Discovery Cove Orlando
  • Tree of Life, Disney’s Animal Kingdom

About Rethink
Rethink Leisure & Entertainment is a design agency specializing in themed entertainment, including theme parks, resorts, water parks, exhibits and attractions. Based in Burbank, California in a 12,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility, Rethink is a place where storytellers, artists, architects and engineers come together to innovate under one roof. Founded in 2013, Rethink has assembled a world-class team, including employees with experience from Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Creative, Busch Gardens, Paramount Studios, NFL, MLB, Cedar Fair, and 20th Century Fox. Visit

The Rethink team will be at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando. To set up a business meeting or press interview, telephone +1 818 276 9600.

Judith Rubin Public Relations,

Special format producer Charlotte Huggins helms new VR company AXYZ Studios to bring virtual reality (VR) content to theme parks

Charlotte Huggins, AXYZ Studios
(High resolution files available on request)
Los Angeles, USA, November 10, 2015 – Charlotte Huggins, Ryan Miziker, Sean Chung and Raj Deshpande will attend the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando with their new company, AXYZ Studios (pronounced “axis”), producers of scalable, virtual reality (VR) experiences tailored for theme parks and visitor attractions.

Click here to see this release on PRWeb.

Huggins is well known in the themed entertainment space as a pioneering special venue producer of 3D content for theme parks, giant screen theaters in museums and science centers, and world expo pavilions. Some prominent work includes serving as VFX Producer on “Honey, I Shrunk the Audience” for Disney, and as Producer on “3D Mania” and “Thrill Ride” for nWave Pictures. In the feature film world, her Producer credits include “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Journey to the Mysterious Island” (New Line/Warner Bros.) and “Metallica Through the Never” (Blackened/Picturehouse).

Current VR development is predominately tied to in-home use for social media and real-time gaming. However, “We're not going to do either of those,” says Huggins. “We're producing cinematic experiences for fun, thrills and immersive entertainment: pre-rendered, 360° shows 4-18 minutes long, for out-of-home venues”.

In order to further improve the quality of their cinematic VR experiences, AXYZ is currently developing a custom 360 camera system which will be more portable and easier to use for location based live-action photography, and will also help simplify the post production process.

AXYZ Studios is active within the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and a sponsor of TEA's booth at the IAAPA Attractions Expo.

Charlotte Huggins, Sean Chung and Ryan Miziker of AXYZ Studios
(High resolution file available on request)
The AXYZ Studios team has embraced the challenge of innovating for out-of-home experiences in the new VR platform and already completed a library of five shows. Titles include "In the Tank" (in partnership with the Tennessee Aquarium), "Live from Compass Studios” (recording with Keb’ Mo and Alison Brown in Nashville in partnership with Compass), and "Flying over Los Angeles" (with Group 3 Aviation). They are working with top directors distinguished in special format cinema, including Bob Talbot (“Ocean Men: Extreme Dive”), Sean Casey (“Stormchasers”), and Sean Phillips (“Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure” for National Geographic Cinema Ventures).

“Today's VR technology has the speed, precision, detail, accuracy and robustness needed to deliver a quality guest experience in the demanding, 24/7 theme park environment,” says Chung. “And with players such as Google, Facebook and Sony Playstation investing billions of dollars, VR will only get better and more versatile.”

Applications of VR as seen by the AXYZ team include:

  • Dark rides and 4D theaters: VR will be used to refresh existing rides or be integrated into new attractions. The classic pre-show/main show/post-show format can apply. The VR world that guests experience through their headsets will be complemented by the physical ride environment and by in-theater effects. One difference to seeing the content in VR instead of on a theater screen, Chung points out, will be “that everyone has the best seat in the house.” 
  • Roller coasters and hard rides: Integrating VR with a new or existing thrill ride is already being tested. “With Hollywood style cinematic visuals, AXYZ will increase the emotional and physical impact of the experience,” says Huggins. 
  • Scalable, motion-based experiences: “Footprint doesn't matter,” says Chung. “No matter how small the actual physical space, AXYZ will deliver a giant, immersive VR experience.” 
Sister company to AXYZ Studios is Pulseworks, a leading manufacturer of motion ride systems and digital content for media-based attractions. The two companies share technology and resources, and Deshpande is a principal of both. “This is absolutely the time and the team for producing VR to deliver the next generation of media-based guest experiences,” he says. We're very enthusiastic about this venture.”

For more information, or to set up a business meeting or media interview with AXYZ Studios at the IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando, contact Vacheh Shahmoradian,, +1-310-980-4020.

Judith Rubin Public Relations, +1-314-853-5210,

Ryan Miziker takes the lead at Miziker Entertainment Group

Ron Miziker and Ryan Miziker
High-resolution version available on request
As MEG marks its 30th anniversary, founder Ron Miziker transitions to creative consulting role.

Company to emphasize parade design and production for theme parks 
Los Angeles, USA, November 10, 2015 – Ryan Miziker has taken over as the head and creative director of Miziker Entertainment Group (MEG), with his father and business partner Ron Miziker remaining in a supporting consultant role 30 years after founding the company.

Ron Miziker has had a busy year, collaborating with Franz Harary Productions to design and build the House of Magic, a live, permanent entertainment attraction now open at Studio City Casino in Macau; and being honored by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) with the Buzz Price Thea Award for a Lifetime of Distinguished Achievements.

A summary of Ron Miziker's career was written on the occasion of his Thea Award in spring 2015.

Ryan Miziker says, “Ron continues to bring experience and insight to every project. I have always valued my opportunities to work with him on live shows and media-based attractions in the themed entertainment industry, and with so many talented people. I’ve learned a lot, and we both felt the time was right for me to take the helm of the company that he created.”

Joining Ryan Miziker as an MEG executive is producer Charlotte Huggins. The two completed a project for the Wanda Group last year, and are also business partners at AXYZ Studios, a virtual reality (VR) content production house serving theme parks and visitor attractions.

“I’m a film producer, but I also love being able to produce a live show experience. It’s a different kind of storytelling,” says Huggins. “And I’m proud to have the opportunity to work with Ron and Ryan.”

Spectaculars have always been a hallmark of Miziker with a focus on designing and producing spectacular parade shows for theme parks. Miziker and Huggins will attend the 2015 IAAPA Attractions Expo in Orlando to talk parade production with park owners and operators, event organizers and design firms.

“Parade shows are a big part of our company legacy,” says Ryan. Every parade is celebration and spectacle, with music, costumes, and colorful characters. But it is also a technically-intense production, that includes all the show systems, special effects and safety considerations of a live show, while moving multi-ton vehicles safely just a few feet away from park guests.”

The company's parade expertise began when Ron Miziker produced the original Main Street Electrical Parade at Disneyland, which Disney reports was seen by over 1 billion people during its run. He went on to produce several more Disney parades, then produced and staged the first parade for Lotte World, and subsequently designed parades and floats for numerous other theme parks overseas including Universal Studios Singapore and - closer to home - the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

Both Mizikers and their company are currently engaged in production of a new nighttime parade for Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Zhuhai, China, opening in 2016. “Chimelong has been a great partner,” Ron says, “bringing a lot of enthusiasm and a desire to make something special for their guests. We are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, in the same way that we did 40 years ago with the Electrical Parade at Disneyland.” Two other projects in development will be announced soon.

“Parades are perfect for theme parks and resorts in Asia, which favor big shows and spectacle: costumes, color, and of course, great music,” says Ryan. In addition to parades, the company produces all types of spectacular shows as well. "As the theme park industry continues to grow internationally, it is exciting to think about all the cultures, festivals and traditions there are to draw upon,” says Ryan.

According to Ron, “The original parades at Disneyland started as an extension of small-town American celebrations. The Main Street Electrical Parade and Fantasy on Parade were big leaps forward, creatively and technologically. In contrast to any other theme park show, parades provide moments in which guests can interact directly with performers or characters - a smile or a wink, a moment of eye contact. People crave it. Being picked out of a crowd in that way is a special moment of interaction that is not part of everyday life.”

“There’s no secret why parades are important to us,” says Ryan. “They’re larger than life. They bring people together for a moment of celebration, and joy. We all want more of that in our lives. I’m looking forward to the next 30 years of Miziker Entertainment Group.”

For more information, or to set up a business meeting or media interview with Miziker Entertainment Group at the IAAPA Attractions Expo, contact Ryan Miziker,, +1-818-913-0363.

Judith Rubin Public Relations, +1-314-853-5210,

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


The international licensing deal calls for first branded 20th Century Fox resort

Los Angeles, Calif. – November 3, 2015 – Al Ahli Holding Group (AAHG) in an international licensing partnership with Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products, announced today plans to build a Fox-branded theme park and resort in Dubai. This will be the second 20th Century Fox World theme park and the first Fox-branded resort. The deal allows for a roll-out of up to three additional Fox-branded resorts in territories outside Dubai.

20th Century Fox World, Dubai, an immersive entertainment destination, will encompass themed lands featuring unique attractions, rides and retail outlets that will bring to life the studio’s iconic film and television franchises. The licensing partnership with AAHG also calls for the creation of the world’s first Fox-branded resort, where themed rooms and dining opportunities will offer visitors a chance to further immerse themselves in the entertainment brands and rich history of 20th Century Fox.

Highlights of 20th Century Fox World, Dubai will include:

  • Theme park consisting of themed lands and attractions based on Fox properties, including, Ice Age, Rio, Planet of the Apes, Aliens, Predator, Night at the Museum and Titanic, The Simpsons and Sons of Anarchy. 
  • A broad attraction mix, ranging from media-based dark rides to thrill rides that will tell new stories based on Fox film and television brands. 
  • A themed retail street featuring unique shopping and dining based on Fox properties. 
  • The world’s first Fox-themed resort hotel. 

“20th Century Fox World, Dubai is the second Fox theme park destination and marks an important step forward in our global theme park strategy. Fox World will be a world-class destination that will help fuel Dubai’s emergence as a global tourism destination,” said Jeffrey Godsick, President of Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products. “This park builds on the foundation being laid by 20th Century Fox World, Malaysia, currently under construction.”

Mohammed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group said, “AAHG’s history in the genre of entertainment is replete with successful partnerships with top motion picture studios. We pride ourselves in understanding the pulse of the audience and catering to it with novel and breakthrough projects.”

“Fox's rich history of great entertainment-based intellectual properties from movies, television shows and animation concepts will help us spearhead this project and add value to our latest offering in the global entertainment space. As part of our international deal with Fox, we look forward to building these attractions and resorts globally starting with Dubai as the first location and additional Fox branded resorts that we hope to open across other territories in the future,” added Khammas about AAHG’s deal with Fox.

“We are thrilled to partner with Al Ahli Holding Group on this exciting project,” said Greg Lombardo, Senior Vice President of Global Live and Location Based Entertainment for Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products. “20th Century Fox World, Dubai will provide an ongoing platform for immersive brand engagement with our consumers from around the world, including key international markets of Europe, Russia and China.”

“The synergy created by AAHG’s partnership with Fox will enable 20th Century Fox World, Dubai to offer the consumers in the Middle East and global tourists visiting Dubai to experience world-class facilities with unique attractions and retail outlets that will take themed entertainment to a different level,” said Manoj Aheeray, Director of Investment and Strategy for AAHG.

20th Century Fox World Dubai is slated to open in 2018, Design and Production services are being provided by Rethink Leisure & Entertainment.

About Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products 
A division of 21st Century Fox and recognized industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products licenses and markets properties worldwide on behalf of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Twentieth Century Fox Television and Fox Broadcasting Company, as well as third party lines. The division is aligned with Twentieth Century Fox Television, the flagship studio leading the industry in supplying award-winning and blockbuster primetime television programming and entertainment content.

About Al Ahli Holding Group (
Al Ahli Holding Group is a multi-diversified international conglomerate with over four decades of successfully dealing with business activities ranging from real estate to turnkey construction, engineering and infrastructure, retail and trading, technology and logistics, lifestyle and fitness, entertainment, hospitality and innovative developments. With great passion and a very active portfolio in the entertainment industry, AAHG operates innovative and ground-breaking projects in the UAE. Amongst its portfolio, AAHG owns Dubai Outlet Mall, which is the first outlet mall concept in the Middle East; constructed major landmarks in the Eastern region of UAE; holds the exclusive largest franchise rights to US-based Gold’s Gym International in the Middle East and Africa; established Al Ahli Plastics, one of Middle East’s largest plastic manufacturing companies; holds licenses to publish Marvel, Warner Bros., DC Comics and Sanrio comics and activity books; recently opened Comicave, the world’s largest comic and superhero collectibles destination store at Dubai Outlet Mall; launched Singapore-based Comicave Studios, a manufacturer of high-end collectibles and toys and launched a premiere international events company, Universal Events, which will initially organize the Asia Pop Comic Con events, amongst other international events. Across its multi-entertainment based platforms, AAHG has strategic alliances with Fox Studios, Marvel-Disney, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., and other leading Hollywood studios. With around 9,000 employees, AAHG is headquartered in the UAE, with representative offices across 20 countries globally


For further inquiries, please contact:

20th Century Fox
Geri Robert

42West for Fox
Shari Culpepper

Rethink Leisure & Entertainment
Scott Ault